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AF Light Air Support Aircraft


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6 hours ago, Danger41 said:

Just an FYI for the masses, the “Armed Overwatch” program is different from the “Light Attack” program. The Light Attack experiment with the A-29, AT-6, etc is done and is not simply being continued into Armed Overwatch. The analysis of several proposals is taking place now. 
 

Now that’s not ammo for Tank to get out of the scotch bet. Just saying.

Copy, so we need a 21st century dedicated attack aircraft to replace the A-10, which is running out of hours on the airframe from being used so heavily. The JTARs show the guys on the ground want big guns and lots of ammo/weapons, aka AC-130s, A-10s, and attack helicopters. SOF dudes, and infantry in general, want a platform that they can feel safe having employ within 20m of them during a TIC. Which is ops tested plenty of times on our deployments. 
 

My biggest issue with light attack is the requirements were unrealistic. You don’t get long loiter with tons of shit hanging off the jet and no AR unless you put tons of gas in it. You don’t get austere/short field capes with tons of gas or weapons hanging off it (I’ve seen A-10s sink up to the hubs in dirt from the weight of not being fully fueled and carrying some JDAMs, and digging them out was a bitch). Weapons in and of themselves require a lot more Mx and ground support from loading, arming, dearming, to just moving them around. 
 

So what they want is dedicated attack aircraft. Build a modern single mission attack aircraft to fill the roles that A-10s currently perform (CAS, CSAR, FACA, etc), and make it AR from a boom or an MC-130s drogue. 

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Honestly I don’t even know why you guys take the time to discuss this. We’re not any closer to fielding a new airframe than we were 10 years and 1400 posts ago. The Air Force will never make the

Not a CSO, but this worked for me  

Hopefully one that's rigged to explode mid-flight

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4 hours ago, Clark Griswold said:

Is the requirement substantially different than Light Attack necessitating very different platforms than the ones being officially considered for LA?

Yes

AFSOC is getting 3x A-29‘s for CAA training and will be stationed at Hurlburt.  
ACC is getting 3x AT-6’s for JTAC training and OT&E and will be stationed at Moody. 
 

The LA and AO requirements are substantially different.  

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9 hours ago, tac airlifter said:

I like Glenfarclas FYI.

Lol

Do they have to be physically sitting on the ramp by 2021 or does the contract and CONOP need to be signed by 2021?!?


The contract is signed and we’re starting our Tech Pubs Review and Training Working Group to discuss the training syllabus, ops plan, etc. next month.  

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2 hours ago, Hawg15 said:

Copy, so we need a 21st century dedicated attack aircraft to replace the A-10, which is running out of hours on the airframe from being used so heavily. The JTARs show the guys on the ground want big guns and lots of ammo/weapons, aka AC-130s, A-10s, and attack helicopters. SOF dudes, and infantry in general, want a platform that they can feel safe having employ within 20m of them during a TIC. Which is ops tested plenty of times on our deployments. 
 

My biggest issue with light attack is the requirements were unrealistic. You don’t get long loiter with tons of shit hanging off the jet and no AR unless you put tons of gas in it. You don’t get austere/short field capes with tons of gas or weapons hanging off it (I’ve seen A-10s sink up to the hubs in dirt from the weight of not being fully fueled and carrying some JDAMs, and digging them out was a bitch). Weapons in and of themselves require a lot more Mx and ground support from loading, arming, dearming, to just moving them around. 
 

So what they want is dedicated attack aircraft. Build a modern single mission attack aircraft to fill the roles that A-10s currently perform (CAS, CSAR, FACA, etc), and make it AR from a boom or an MC-130s drogue. 

First of all, this is 100% not an A-10 replacement. It’s simply not designed to be survivable enough in MCO nor have the anti-armor capabilities. It is going to be a dedicated attack aircraft designed to support SOF from austere environments. As such, the austerity is a big emphasis but (as you correctly ID’d) everything has a trade-off. Some of the proposals are very austere but are lacking in some other area. And vice versa.
 

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19 hours ago, Hawg15 said:

Copy, so we need a 21st century dedicated attack aircraft to replace the A-10, which is running out of hours on the airframe from being used so heavily. The JTARs show the guys on the ground want big guns and lots of ammo/weapons, aka AC-130s, A-10s, and attack helicopters. SOF dudes, and infantry in general, want a platform that they can feel safe having employ within 20m of them during a TIC. Which is ops tested plenty of times on our deployments. 
 

My biggest issue with light attack is the requirements were unrealistic. You don’t get long loiter with tons of shit hanging off the jet and no AR unless you put tons of gas in it. You don’t get austere/short field capes with tons of gas or weapons hanging off it (I’ve seen A-10s sink up to the hubs in dirt from the weight of not being fully fueled and carrying some JDAMs, and digging them out was a bitch). Weapons in and of themselves require a lot more Mx and ground support from loading, arming, dearming, to just moving them around. 
 

So what they want is dedicated attack aircraft. Build a modern single mission attack aircraft to fill the roles that A-10s currently perform (CAS, CSAR, FACA, etc), and make it AR from a boom or an MC-130s drogue. 

I think the intent was to have more precision forward firing guided munitions that are lighter and less drag.  Hellfires, Griffins, rockets etc. it’s been awhile but the drag index and weight of a hellfire and the MQ-9 rack was low. The drag index was negligible on the half rack with 2 missiles. Even with 2 racks (4) weapons the drag index was still almost 0 and the weight less that a 1 GBU-12. 
 

MX liked hellfires because from their perspective they were easy. You could upload or download them in the time it took you to step. GBUs were a project that were pretty intensive. I sure you have much more knowledge on that then me. 
 

I will agree, when I saw the requirements I didn’t think there was a way to get everything they wanted at a price point they wanted.  Basically a love child of a MQ-9, AH-64, and A-10. To me a rotary wing asset checks the boxes a lot better than fix wing but there is no way in hell this is going to go to the Army. 
 

 

 

 

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On 7/16/2020 at 10:06 PM, Danger41 said:

First of all, this is 100% not an A-10 replacement. It’s simply not designed to be survivable enough in MCO nor have the anti-armor capabilities. It is going to be a dedicated attack aircraft designed to support SOF from austere environments. As such, the austerity is a big emphasis but (as you correctly ID’d) everything has a trade-off. Some of the proposals are very austere but are lacking in some other area. And vice versa.
 

But if SOF modified their requirements and switched to a light and affordable platform, modified / optimized for this mission but still capable of participating at an acceptable / useful role in MCO would that break the ice?  There is a logic to Big Blue being hesitant to buy a platform focused on the fight the Civ Leadership / Conventional Joint Leadership is eschewing to focus on the potential big fights. 

I don't support that hesitation but I understand it.  If you can't get rid of an obstacle, go around it to get to want you want.  A new fixed wing strike capability independent of ACC that is affordable and relevant to the SOF-centric mission but capable of supporting the Joint Team in MCO.

I'm a fanboy for more robust solutions and I realize that changing the question to get a a different answer is to get consensus / buy in is not exactly what we should do but it seems close enough in this case.

More capability might mean less austere capability, more care and feeding but maybe not to an unacceptable level.

Not telling the SOF community to sell their soul to get Big Blue to buy into, maybe just a lease...

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9 hours ago, SurelySerious said:

APKWS is where it’s at. 

Depends on the intent of the strike. It’s a good weapon to carry, but has plenty of limitations that make it a poor primary. If there’s important dudes in a soft vehicle that need to die, I wouldn’t take one over a mav or hellfire. I’ve seen dudes get out of the back seat and walk away after putting one through a windshield. It can even land directly next to someone and do nothing but scare the shit out of them based on where it impacts in relation to its direction of flight. If the intent is to break contact for a SOF team in a TIC, then you want big booms and good guns. I’d also want WPs for marking/giving a reference to guys on the ground. It’s great for pax/motos/soft vics you have the time to track though. 

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8 hours ago, Hawg15 said:

Depends on the intent of the strike. It’s a good weapon to carry, but has plenty of limitations that make it a poor primary. If there’s important dudes in a soft vehicle that need to die, I wouldn’t take one over a mav or hellfire. I’ve seen dudes get out of the back seat and walk away after putting one through a windshield. It can even land directly next to someone and do nothing but scare the shit out of them based on where it impacts in relation to its direction of flight. If the intent is to break contact for a SOF team in a TIC, then you want big booms and good guns. I’d also want WPs for marking/giving a reference to guys on the ground. It’s great for pax/motos/soft vics you have the time to track though. 

Good points; although single hellfires and airburst 38s/54s are all known to have people walk away from what appear to be direct hits. 
 

When SOF take out someone important, they don’t use single weapons. 

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Just posted to further the idea of a jet based solution and an expansion to the capabilities of a platform to meet Light/Independent Attack - Armed Overwatch:

Light fighter/attack capes can be brought to austere op locations, some cost to be sure but not impossible or impossibly expensive.

Gripen is still in production with several variants (C/D/E/F) available.  Developing a new type would likely run cranium first into the economic problem of a small production run of a specialized type, along with development time and monetary cost, 99% non-starter so modify and procure an existing type.

Get a two seater; look to lighten the airframe for better TOLD/rough field performance, maybe more fuel capacity, get enhanced FOD protection mods, consider a new engine (higher bypass more fuel efficient), attack mission set focused avionics, organic sensors, software but still capable of reasonable self-defense / electronic protection, robust LOS/BLOS datlink capability, etc...  

Not cheap to be sure but if done with a partner nation outside of the conventional DoD acquisition system, you might be able to direct to solutions in a MUCH quicker timeline, to me this should take 3 years from green light, requirements/design mod, testing and IOC.  We used to get things done this fast, there is no reason other than an army of shoe clerks that we can't again.

An improved version of Scorpion might meet this but methinks the cost of developing it, the growth in capabilities and then size/weight/power requirements would basically create a new aircraft.  Use a design that is right now about a 50% solution, the mods asked for less in most performance areas that are difficult to achieve 

Relatively inexpensive to acquire, operate and support.  Exceeds the needs of SOF but not overkill, avoids the perceived problem of underkill of Big Blue that is a cardinal sin and could be part of the fights against capable opponents in some new roles (arsenal, jamming, sensor node, etc...)

This idea is for a requirement that doesn't currently exist to my knowledge, but folding up the Armed Overwatch, Light Attack requirements into a new one, call it something like Next Generation Light Fighter/Attack/Scout Aircraft.  Expands the access of SOF to capabilities for the current LIC/COIN fight but is capable of the Grey/Hybrid fight while being relevant to the conventional fight.

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https://theaviationist.com/2020/08/14/icarus-aerospace-unveils-a-new-tactical-air-vehicle-family-of-aircraft/?fbclid=IwAR3gRTZCtbfNGqoCvtH60DZONzVVSxzm0IG6JBVWdygjDVl2nsVP1kybyx4

 

image.thumb.png.88875b9db4c75304ec9cfea95f02b597.png

I haven't seen this one posted here (at least couldn't find it). Forgive me if I missed a previous post about it.  Claims a ceiling at arou nd 50K feet.

Their claims:

-Up to 3 times more electrical power generating capability

-Unmatched payload

-Fastest cruise speed

-Inflight refueling

-360deg AESA RADAR

-Network Centric

-SWARM Capable

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I may have missed the explanation on armed overwatch versus light attack.  Any updates on the program?

Also, SEC. 180 discusses a roadmap for SOCOM ISR.  Any bets on this getting rolled into next generation manned or unmanned ISR?

10+ year old thread.... amazing.

https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/s4049/BILLS-116s4049es.pdf

SEC. 175. Prohibition on purchase of armed overwatch aircraft.

The Secretary of the Air Force may not purchase any aircraft for the Air Force Special Operations Command for the purpose of “armed overwatch” until such time as the Chief of Staff of the Air Force certifies to the congressional defense committees that general purpose forces of the Air Force do not have the skill or capacity to provide close air support and armed overwatch to United States forces deployed operationally.

SEC. 176. Special operations armed overwatch.

(a) Prohibition.—None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act for the Department of Defense may be used to acquire armed overwatch aircraft for the United States Special Operations Command, and the Department of Defense may not acquire armed overwatch aircraft for the United States Special Operations Command in fiscal year 2021.

(b) Analysis required.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than July 1, 2021, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict and the Commander of the United States Special Operations Command, shall conduct an analysis to define the special operations-peculiar requirements for armed overwatch aircraft and to determine whether acquisition of a new special operations-peculiar platform is the most cost effective means of fulfilling such requirements.

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8 hours ago, Scuba said:

I may have missed the explanation on armed overwatch versus light attack.  Any updates on the program?

Also, SEC. 180 discusses a roadmap for SOCOM ISR.  Any bets on this getting rolled into next generation manned or unmanned ISR?

10+ year old thread.... amazing.

https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/s4049/BILLS-116s4049es.pdf

SEC. 175. Prohibition on purchase of armed overwatch aircraft.

The Secretary of the Air Force may not purchase any aircraft for the Air Force Special Operations Command for the purpose of “armed overwatch” until such time as the Chief of Staff of the Air Force certifies to the congressional defense committees that general purpose forces of the Air Force do not have the skill or capacity to provide close air support and armed overwatch to United States forces deployed operationally.

SEC. 176. Special operations armed overwatch.

(a) Prohibition.—None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act for the Department of Defense may be used to acquire armed overwatch aircraft for the United States Special Operations Command, and the Department of Defense may not acquire armed overwatch aircraft for the United States Special Operations Command in fiscal year 2021.

(b) Analysis required.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than July 1, 2021, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict and the Commander of the United States Special Operations Command, shall conduct an analysis to define the special operations-peculiar requirements for armed overwatch aircraft and to determine whether acquisition of a new special operations-peculiar platform is the most cost effective means of fulfilling such requirements.

Light Attack was an ACC led initiative that had an experiment between the AT-6 and A-29 with the ultimate plan of ACC receiving 305 aircraft and AFSOC receiving 55 aircraft.  What really came from this is that ACC is receiving 3x AT-6’s and AFSOC is receiving 3x A-29’s.  

Armed Overwatch is a SOCOM led initiative that is scheduled to have an experiment this November between 5 different strike/ISR aircraft.  The ultimate plan is for AFSOC to receive 75 aircraft to support SOCOM ops.   

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4 hours ago, tac airlifter said:

Tank,

Happy 2021!  How’s those CAA A-29s doing?

Doing good.  Taken a little longer than planned but they’re now on schedule.  

The planes will be arriving at end of this year and the CAAs will start flying them in Jan 2022.  

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39 minutes ago, Tank said:

Doing good.  Taken a little longer than planned but they’re now on schedule.  

The planes will be arriving at end of this year and the CAAs will start flying them in Jan 2022.  

Any flying hours programmed for the 2 arriving?

And what’s your delivery plan for the scotch?

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21 minutes ago, tac airlifter said:

Any flying hours programmed for the 2 arriving?

And what’s your delivery plan for the scotch?

First 8x initial cadre hours are programmed via the contracted syllabi and that’ll be the first 18 months of flying.  
After the initial cadre, nothing planned yet but those hours are being planned in the FY23 FYDP.  

PM me your address...

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4 hours ago, Clark Griswold said:

New year and all so restart the discussion...

Any unseen movements, RUMINT, hearsay, etc... for Light Attack?

Well, there’s this language in the NDAA. 
 

“The committee believes that the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) should make every effort to fully utilize the total force to meet aircrew training and operational requirements in platforms like the AC–130J, CV–22, MC–12W, and A–29 in order to meet the requirements of the National Defense Strategy (NDS).”

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1 hour ago, HU&W said:

Well, there’s this language in the NDAA. 
 

“The committee believes that the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) should make every effort to fully utilize the total force to meet aircrew training and operational requirements in platforms like the AC–130J, CV–22, MC–12W, and A–29 in order to meet the requirements of the National Defense Strategy (NDS).”

That’s from the SASC report; important context but not the actual law. The report goes on to say something to the effect of ‘don’t forget about the guard!’ in the section you quoted. 


Elsewhere in the SASC report, the committee expresses concerns over the rapid acquisition model and AFSOC/SOCOM’s ability to support.
 

In the NDAA itself (section somewhere between 130 and 150?), there’s a prohibition on the USAF from procuring Armed Overwatch through 2023 and SOCOM through 2021. So, money where the mouth is = $0 this year  

A bit difficult to determine the intent and long game.  Would love to chat with anybody truly in the know via PM. 

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18 minutes ago, jice said:

That’s from the SASC report; important context but not the actual law. The report goes on to say something to the effect of ‘don’t forget about the guard!’ in the section you quoted. 


Elsewhere in the SASC report, the committee expresses concerns over the rapid acquisition model and AFSOC/SOCOM’s ability to support.
 

In the NDAA itself (section somewhere between 130 and 150?), there’s a prohibition on the USAF from procuring Armed Overwatch through 2023 and SOCOM through 2021. So, money where the mouth is = $0 this year  

A bit difficult to determine the intent and long game.  Would love to chat with anybody truly in the know via PM. 

Good point. Thx. 

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