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Interesting argument for light (very light) on-demand direct airlift for small, specialized cargo/passenger requirement.

https://warontherocks.com/2019/06/featherweight-airlift-for-want-of-a-nail/

Is there a requirement for this?

Is it affordable?

Does it offer secondary benefits?  

It was interesting that the authors were/are respectively both fighter aircrew and not airlift aircrew advocating for this, thoughts?

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Mind as well just use a helicopter. Airspeeds and maximum altitudes are pretty much the same and you can shoot back. 

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Big AF's got no love for the Herk.  Sure ain't gonna give any respect to a Bird Dog or Husky.  I can hear the laughs when a mx squadron commander goes to AMC with a magneto funding request.

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Breckey said:

Mind as well just use a helicopter. Airspeeds and maximum altitudes are pretty much the same and you can shoot back. 

Yeah that's what I was thinking. You're probably not going to want to be flying a Cub down-range, so it seems like this would all be limited to use in the States and allied nations. In that case, it seems to be more feasible to charter a plane to make these deliveries rather than having to train pilots up on fancy T-6s only to put them in Pipers and Cessnas. What if we had CT-6s? The AT-6 is pretty interesting, seems like it would be far easier to rig up a T-6 for additional cargo.

Edited by Catman

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Imagine if the USAF would use airframes already in their inventory!

C-146, C-145, CN-235, DHC-6, C-208

Crazy idea!

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Posted (edited)
39 minutes ago, Tank said:

Imagine if the USAF would use airframes already in their inventory!

C-146, C-145, CN-235, DHC-6, C-208

Crazy idea!

Yeah it doesn't sound like these dudes even know these exist in the AF or its periphery.

Edited by AFsock
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That was my thought. Those are assigned to SOF so this may be more of an OPCON/TACON thing than a capabilities thing. 

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Copy all and was surprised that they did not seem to know about the various turbos that AFSOC has that could perform this mission.

Yeah, we kinda already have this capabilty (small on-demand airlift) but not integrated as part of conventional operations.  I think that is what they were hinting at, airlift capability directly tasked by the customer vice customer putting a request into an AMD and waiting to see when they will get airlift for the small, high priority widget or party to travel between close to moderately separated locations.

How much is enough or necessary to be operationally relevant? 

50, 75, 100 tails?... felt they should have filled out that as they allude to losing LOCs in a European conflict and needing this light airlift to fill the gaps created by losing a bridge, port, major runway, etc...

How much capability does this platform (if accquired) need? 

Range/speed, payload, defensive system, comm cabilities, NVG cockpit, etc... they seem to want to keep it basic (I would agree with that) and not too customized from a likely civilian airframe but would likely need some options not offered regularly offered from the factory...

Just my two cents but if there was a way to pull some shennanigans and gain a possibly relevant capability, co-locate these with RPA bases and some overseas locations for good deal tours.

Not the cheapest airplane but a Cessna Grand Caravan would probably fit the bill for STOL, speed, capability and adapability for other roles along with most of the desired military capabilities already engineered for this type

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Did the PC-12 already do this back before the transition to the U-28? I’d imagine it’s more expensive now though than the 208, but could still be a good option. 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Tank said:

Imagine if the USAF would use airframes already in their inventory!

C-146, C-145, CN-235, DHC-6, C-208

Crazy idea!

3 hours ago, AFsock said:

Yeah it doesn't sound like these dudes even know these exist in the AF or its periphery.

2 hours ago, Danger41 said:

That was my thought. Those are assigned to SOF so this may be more of an OPCON/TACON thing than a capabilities thing. 

Yeah those aircraft and the C-12, too. Maybe they are too utilized to be used in this context? Or maybe the fleets are so small that it wouldn't be possible to distribute them enough? SOF is... special.

Edited by Catman

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The AFSOC fleet isn't nearly big enough to do what these guys are talking about, and helos don't have nearly the range.

Logistically supporting an AOR wide aircraft dispersal plan would not be any easy task.

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Lots of bad assumptions in the article. Not saying a smaller aircraft is bad (remember all those C-27s that flew straight to the boneyard?)

Need a widget? One first has to be in the supply system. If the cargo needs dip clearances, doesn't matter how big the plane is. The haz cargo for the ejection seat would've been delayed whether it was on a C-17 or a Piper Cub. Why not throw the part on a travel pod on a fighter if you need fast dedicated lift for a small part?

With distributed ops, smaller cargo airlift would be worse than with larger airlift. Don't have to just replace a small widget now, but now full on resupply of a distributed base-ammunition, ordinance, fuel all has to come from somewhere.

Lastly, who will fly there smaller aircraft? Last I heard there was already a pilot shortage, so I don't know where you'd find the pilots to fill the seats on smaller airlift. I guess we could bring back liaison pilots, but they'd still need to get somehow in overall end strength numbers, as well as their maintainers and the rest of the personnel footprint that comes with standing up a sq.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, jazzdude said:

Lastly, who will fly there their smaller aircraft?  

How about if we change our paradigm, and dual qualify the pilots at whatever base they are located at to fly them?  

I know it's crazy, but somehow I was able to fly both the U-2 AND the T-38 within a 6 hour period, and managed to do it relatively safely.  And I'm sure there are pilots getting 50-75 sorties a year that might like some additional flying.  

We are the United States AIR Force.  It should not be that hard to... you know... fly more.  Especially during a pilot shortage.  

Edited by HuggyU2
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1 hour ago, HuggyU2 said:

  Especially during a pilot shortage.  

What? We don’t have one, everything is just great. 

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Another earlier article by the same authors advocating for light airlift and discussing distributed ops, particularly in Eastern Europe:

https://warontherocks.com/2019/05/uplifted-the-case-for-small-tactical-airlift/

1 hour ago, HuggyU2 said:

How about if we change our paradigm, and dual qualify the pilots at whatever base they are located at to fly them?  

I know it's crazy, but somehow I was able to fly both the U-2 AND the T-38 within a 6 hour period, and managed to do it relatively safely.  And I'm sure there are pilots getting 50-75 sorties a year that might like some additional flying.  

We are the United States AIR Force.  It should not be that hard to... you know... fly more.  Especially during a pilot shortage.  

Amen

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, AFsock said:

Yeah it doesn't sound like these dudes even know these exist in the AF or its periphery.

Because they don’t.

Frankly stated, this is what’s happened when fighter pilots of above average intelligence got free reign on ACC staff to explore new ideas about force presentation - they quickly got in over their heads and scoffed what the actual experts told them, coming up with “forward thinking” ideas that already exist, aren’t tactically or fiscally feasible, or have already been disproven. In this case - all three. 

Chuck

Edited by Chuck17
Tense
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4 hours ago, Chuck17 said:

Because they don’t.

Frankly stated, this is what’s happened when fighter pilots of above average intelligence got free reign on ACC staff to explore new ideas about force presentation - they quickly got in over their heads and scoffed what the actual experts told them, coming up with “forward thinking” ideas that already exist, aren’t tactically or fiscally feasible, or have already been disproven. In this case - all three. 

Chuck

I must admit, I ran into more “good idea” fairy’s in the fighter pilot culture than others.

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12 hours ago, matmacwc said:

I must admit, I ran into more “good idea” fairy’s in the fighter pilot culture than others.

That's because they believe they are smarter than the rest of the force.  They can't fathom the idea that others have already considered these options and either implemented or discarded them.

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8 hours ago, pawnman said:

That's because they believe they are smarter than the rest of the force.  They can't fathom the idea that others have already considered these options and either implemented or discarded them.

You might be right, I was at Shaw for 3+ years, longer than most at the time.  I saw enough turnover for old, terrible ideas to become new ideas again.  I voiced my opinion  but as a Captain, was told shut up and color.  Another example of why the ANG runs smoother in certain situations.

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Groking on this concept more... it seems a niche or occasional capability that might not fit into the doctrine or strategy that the Force Providers have but one the COCOMs want, if it is this small in terms of total footprint (cost of acquisition, sustainment, operation, training) is this a case (maybe like Light Attack) where the COCOMs could/should buy/own this iron?

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Groking on this concept more... it seems a niche or occasional capability that might not fit into the doctrine or strategy that the Force Providers have but one the COCOMs want, if it is this small in terms of total footprint (cost of acquisition, sustainment, operation, training) is this a case (maybe like Light Attack) where the COCOMs could/should buy/own this iron?

 

If this is to be used simply as a low density logistics asset within the given COCOM by the ACC then it could be useful, but when talking ramp space and assets in theatre the juice to buy and maintain it is questionable at best.

 

If this is as the article seems to suggest some idea of adding smaller options to the bigger Transcom Intra and Outside theatre airlift than these guys are idiots. Until we are maximizing use of pallet space in the assets already in place (IE not flying a C-130 with 2 contractors and a pallet of water bottles in a ring route looking for Space A) this is a stupid idea. And the idea of “oh well it’ll only be for high value low density cargo” ignores the fact any staff flunky will just check that box on their Air Mission Request form.

 

The last thing we need to give people to used to hitting the Easy Button when thinking about logistics is another tool to misuse/misappropriate.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Quote

In yet another recent case, a small package of Aviano F-16s was deployed on 48-hour notice to an undisclosed location on a 21-day taking. Six months later, they were still there.

A Cessna isn't going to fix issues like this.

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6 hours ago, Day Man said:

A Cessna isn't going to fix issues like this.

Name one problem that isn't fixable by a sufficiently large and armed Cessna 172 😄

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