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I guess the thing most people don't see is how fast the logistics system can be when it needs to be. If it's a no kidding combatant commander priority, it can move stupid fast, faster than the timelines proposed in this thread for light airlift. Even if it's a completely inefficient move.

The thing that's missing from the adaptive basing concept is that it only focuses on ops, but as much as aircrew don't want to admit it, support plays a big role as well. Sleeping quarters, bathrooms, water, food; all that has to come from somewhere, and you can't really sustain a fight without it. Hell, even just fuel and munitions to sustain a real shooting war. And it's stuff that doesn't make sense to put on light airlift because it just won't fit, at least not in a meaningful quality.

You can only move the fight as fast as you can move your logistical tail. This hasn't been a problem for the Air Force since probably WWII.

Light airlift makes more sense in sustainment mode, where I need a widget fast but the station flow just isn't there. My bet is if we truly executed adaptive basing, there would be plenty of airlift available to get pretty items in quickly anyways.

All the arguments made for light airlift are the exact same arguments the Army uses to try and get their own dedicated lift. The Army won't settle for the same level of service they are getting now if Air Force units are getting more; they would (probably rightfully so) demand to be treated as equals, or be allowed to acquire aircraft to support themselves at the same level.

Remember when we had light airlift recently? Like when the Army convinced Congress to let them get C-27s for exactly this reason (light airlift, on demand), but the AF complained about efficiency and roles of the services, got control of most of the C-27s through Congress, then promptly flew them straight to the boneyard?

We are our own worst enemy.

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On 8/23/2019 at 5:54 AM, jazzdude said:


Are the light aircraft going to be on the ATO? Who schedules? Who works dip clearances?

Who deconflicts port capacities? Yeah, the ability to carry palletized cargo is awesome, but if no one is on the other end to offload that cargo because the port is working a C-5/C-17/C-130, then your stuff is sitting and waiting on the ramp.

What’s an ATO and port?  

Light lift uses civilian handlers and FBO’s. The users just come get their stuff and it’s mostly loaded by hand. 

I know it’s hard to think this way if you’re AMC but it’s much easier and way more fun. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, jazzdude said:

The thing that's missing from the adaptive basing concept is that it only focuses on ops, but as much as aircrew don't want to admit it, support plays a big role as well. Sleeping quarters, bathrooms, water, food; all that has to come from somewhere, and you can't really sustain a fight without it. Hell, even just fuel and munitions to sustain a real shooting war. And it's stuff that doesn't make sense to put on light airlift because it just won't fit, at least not in a meaningful quality.

You can only move the fight as fast as you can move your logistical tail. This hasn't been a problem for the Air Force since probably WWII.

We are our own worst enemy.

If we’re talking adaptive basing for survivability, we don’t need bathrooms, food, etc. We need airlift that takes off when the shooters do, survives one volley, and sustains one more iteration of the enemy removing pieces from the map while we do the same to them.

We can’t assume our traditional command and control mechanisms will be intact. Comm might be limited to LOS radios and signal panels.  Meaningful quantity at that point is one combat load of fuel and weapons because the enemy’s weapons are inbound X minutes/hours after we land.  Totally spitballing (not an airlift expert), but a train of light(ish) airlift to deliver enough for one more sortie, taking off with the direction of “find and resupply with priorities X, Y, X” seems like a likely solution in this nightmare scenario.

You’re absolutely right about only being able to move the fight as fast as the logistics tail, but if we need to fight an away game against a near peer, we need that logistics tail move faster than the targeting cycle of the adversary’s medium to long range weapons.

Edited by jice

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4 hours ago, jazzdude said:

Light airlift makes more sense in sustainment mode, where I need a widget fast but the station flow just isn't there. My bet is if we truly executed adaptive basing, there would be plenty of airlift available to get pretty items in quickly anyways.

All the arguments made for light airlift are the exact same arguments the Army uses to try and get their own dedicated lift. The Army won't settle for the same level of service they are getting now if Air Force units are getting more; they would (probably rightfully so) demand to be treated as equals, or be allowed to acquire aircraft to support themselves at the same level.

Remember when we had light airlift recently? Like when the Army convinced Congress to let them get C-27s for exactly this reason (light airlift, on demand), but the AF complained about efficiency and roles of the services, got control of most of the C-27s through Congress, then promptly flew them straight to the boneyard?

Concur on it being primarily a sustainer after the momentum is established by the Medium/Heavy Airlifters and that could be (enough airlift if we drank the adaptive base kool aid, I believe we should as the Russians & Chinese didn't build 6.9 thousand surface to surface and cruise missiles for nothing) but having a little bit of a plan B would not be bad or too expensive, IMHO.

As to your point that the arguments being made now for another light airlifter are the same as have been made before, true but that doesn't invalidate them necessarily.  

Light and nimble are two things the AF is going to have to learn, not that acquiring a few light airlifters is going to completely build out a robust mobile combat capability in the AF that but it would be a step in the right direction.

Low foot print, dispersion capable attack/fighters supported by Light Airlifters capable of quick resupply then hop back out of range of the enemy's long range fires; low cost high availability military airlift to move the small loads during normal ops, win-win.

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Roger that - that's a possibility.and agree with you that the concept not the details are what is to be argued for.
What is it the customer wants or what the authors think the customers need but are not getting supplied by the AF right now?
Faster light airlift and more direct interaction with the airlift supplier.
How do you do that?  From the cuff, I could see Lt Airlift Dets with light FW capabilities on tap for pax/cargo that's not palletized, requires no special handling (hazmat), not a regular re-supply, less than 4,000 lbs. (just a number to start with) and parties of less than 12 (another starting number) that need movement within 36 hours.  Requests can not be placed in both airlift request systems (main and mini AMD) to prevent gaming the system placing two requests and seeing which one gets service first.  Every 36 hours the slate is wiped clean and new request queue built.
Smaller cargo requirements to remove those requests from the big AMD's plate, inside the typical planning cycle with some restrictions on the type of requirements to keep it to small cargo/pax movements that need direct customer service.
 

Those units that rate direct customer service typically game the system and double boom lift. There a many inefficiencies built into the current system downrange, and it’s less to do with platforms as it is the tasking process built to service those lift requests.

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11 hours ago, MechGov said:

Those units that rate direct customer service typically game the system and double boom lift. There a many inefficiencies built into the current system downrange, and it’s less to do with platforms as it is the tasking process built to service those lift requests.

No doubt, that is what the authors with a better platform than my erudite postings on BO net should argue with, concept/platfrom/application (admin, costs, capabilities)

Another in the series (Airpower Orphans) this one on Liaison Aircraft:

https://warontherocks.com/2019/08/airpower-orphans-part-ii-whatever-happened-to-liaison-aircraft/

Like the Carbon Cub but you always want more, Pilatus PC-6 would be my choice:

https://www.pilatus-aircraft.com/en/fly/pc-6

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On 8/25/2019 at 8:36 AM, fire4effect said:

Actually this is on my wish list for when I hit the Lotto. My ultimate get away from it all SUV. 

Badass right? Been on the factory tour; bunch of miscellaneous stuff goes in one door, flying airplane comes out the other.  And the building, on an uncontrolled field (KSZT), isn't that big to start with.  Put it on amphibious floats and you've got a real (expensive) fun machine there.    :beer:

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If we’re talking adaptive basing for survivability, we don’t need bathrooms, food, etc. We need airlift that takes off when the shooters do, survives one volley, and sustains one more iteration of the enemy removing pieces from the map while we do the same to them.
We can’t assume our traditional command and control mechanisms will be intact. Comm might be limited to LOS radios and signal panels.  Meaningful quantity at that point is one combat load of fuel and weapons because the enemy’s weapons are inbound X minutes/hours after we land.  Totally spitballing (not an airlift expert), but a train of light(ish) airlift to deliver enough for one more sortie, taking off with the direction of “find and resupply with priorities X, Y, X” seems like a likely solution in this nightmare scenario.
You’re absolutely right about only being able to move the fight as fast as the logistics tail, but if we need to fight an away game against a near peer, we need that logistics tail move faster than the targeting cycle of the adversary’s medium to long range weapons.


I get your point. But that gas and missiles/bombs has to come from somewhere.

So let's go with your plan. Light airlift lands at a FARP with enough gas and munitions to reload the showers and get the airborne. You execute your next sortie and are successful. Now what? You now have to recover to the next location. Who resupplies you there, especially if the enemy is advancing and the air picture is contested? Light airlift can't move fast enough or far enough to reload and be ready for round two, since if the munitions dump is close enough for light airlift to reload for the second resupply, it's probably close enough for the bad guys to kill if they are advancing that quickly. How long can you sustain that level fight? (I get it, as long as it takes, but eventually you'll need to eat and sleep) And I'm not a fighter/strike guy, but I'm betting it's easier to kill an ammo dump and achieve functional kills on our fighters (no armament) than to try to engage our fighters in the air in a fair fight.

Heavy airlift, assuming runways that can support a C-17 for 1 takeoff/landing (who cares if I crush concrete if I'm not coming back?), means I can literally pull munitions stateside, refuel as I get closer to the fight, and have airborne C2 push me to the desired FARP for the tactical situation and meet you where your going. Heavy airlift buys you an air bridge and a train of resupply jets that can move with the fight while keeping our munitions stock way out of range of a near peer.

We can combine the two ideas above and him and spoke, but that creates a hub that becomes a critical node in the supply chain.

Maybe the near peer fight won't be a fighter fight, but an exercise in who has the better standoff weapons, or hell, better cyber to cripple those standoff capabilities to allow traditional air arts to move forward. Anyone got one of those "SAC will be back" patches handy?...


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What’s an ATO and port?  

Light lift uses civilian handlers and FBO’s. The users just come get their stuff and it’s mostly loaded by hand. 

I know it’s hard to think this way if you’re AMC but it’s much easier and way more fun. 

 

But light airlift as it's being discussed for the here and now in CENTCOM means Dhafra to the Deid and back to grab MICAP. And someone is going to be at the destination, whether it's a civilian or a blue suit porter, so the ground footprint is still non-zero.

 

ETA: I'm not opposed to the above, but we have to consider that the footprint is more that just an aircraft on the ramp and a pilot to fly it and a maintainer to it.

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Low foot print, dispersion capable attack/fighters supported by Light Airlifters capable of quick resupply then hop back out of range of the enemy's long range fires; low cost high availability military airlift to move the small loads during normal ops, win-win.


Light attack support by light airlift. Nice :)

Seriously though, the downside of advanced fighters are they are, well, big. Bigger combat radius and more munitions means it takes more to resupply and support them. Maybe Boyd really was right in advocating for a simple light fighter with a light combat load, but built in mass quantities.
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40 minutes ago, jazzdude said:

I get your point. But that gas and missiles/bombs has to come from somewhere.

So let's go with your plan. Light airlift lands at a FARP with enough gas and munitions to reload the showers and get the airborne. You execute your next sortie and are successful. Now what? You now have to recover to the next location. Who resupplies you there, especially if the enemy is advancing and the air picture is contested? Light airlift can't move fast enough or far enough to reload and be ready for round two, since if the munitions dump is close enough for light airlift to reload for the second resupply, it's probably close enough for the bad guys to kill if they are advancing that quickly. How long can you sustain that level fight? (I get it, as long as it takes, but eventually you'll need to eat and sleep) And I'm not a fighter/strike guy, but I'm betting it's easier to kill an ammo dump and achieve functional kills on our fighters (no armament) than to try to engage our fighters in the air in a fair fight.

Heavy airlift, assuming runways that can support a C-17 for 1 takeoff/landing (who cares if I crush concrete if I'm not coming back?), means I can literally pull munitions stateside, refuel as I get closer to the fight, and have airborne C2 push me to the desired FARP for the tactical situation and meet you where your going. Heavy airlift buys you an air bridge and a train of resupply jets that can move with the fight while keeping our munitions stock way out of range of a near peer.

We can combine the two ideas above and him and spoke, but that creates a hub that becomes a critical node in the supply chain.

Maybe the near peer fight won't be a fighter fight, but an exercise in who has the better standoff weapons, or hell, better cyber to cripple those standoff capabilities to allow traditional air arts to move forward. Anyone got one of those "SAC will be back" patches handy?...

 

 

Awesome points; would be interested to see how many airframes would be required to generate an air bridge to sustain something like that. Asking because I’ve got no concept: Do you think it would be possible to surge and provide that type of flexible resupply (assuming the admin were no factor) for any period of time with the current fleet? What would need to change if no? Is that something the MAF thinks about/trains for?

Happy to exchange .mil/other via PM if you’re more comfortable answering there. 

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30 minutes ago, jazzdude said:


 

 


Light attack support by light airlift. Nice 🙂

Seriously though, the downside of advanced fighters are they are, well, big. Bigger combat radius and more munitions means it takes more to resupply and support them. Maybe Boyd really was right in advocating for a simple light fighter with a light combat load, but built in mass quantities.

 

Boyd existed in a time when our enemies lacked both the ability to collect targeting information at range or the precision to capitalize on it. Range is going to be critical. There was a time 150 Km left you out of reach or only reachable by a limited number of systems you could defend/deflect. Now days that simply isn’t the case. And with a fight like the Pacific all the THAAD in the world isn’t going to change the fact that China has 6-9 missiles to lob at a limited number of reinforced concrete areas that you can land big or small airplanes on. 

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3 hours ago, jazzdude said:

Light attack support by light airlift. Nice 🙂

Seriously though, the downside of advanced fighters are they are, well, big. Bigger combat radius and more munitions means it takes more to resupply and support them. Maybe Boyd really was right in advocating for a simple light fighter with a light combat load, but built in mass quantities.

 

Possibly, as to light fighters in greater numbers but we are where we are now but if we did acquire a smaller, nimble fighter like Gripen just as an example, a light airlifter force that meets the fighter at a dispersal or roadbase for a quick turnaround then launch again for all involved could be a viable concept to sustain launches while the threat of long range fires still exists.

Ex:  Two ship of light fighters recover to a road base approximately 200 NM from the FEBA and meet a light ground party who handle initial recovery and approximately 5 minutes later a two ship of light airlifters land at same roadbase with 2k of ordinance, 4k of fuel.  Ground party turns the jets in 20 minutes and they immediately launch on next combat mission, turboprops launch immediately after them for RTB for next re-supply mission and ground party departs road base for next rendezvous.  Small airport, roadbase or grass strip used for 30 minutes max to keep from attracting long range fires or enemy RPA attacks.

That scenario is a pretty tough triple flip off the high board coordination trick for ops, mx and logistics but a likely example of what will be required if we go bare knuckles with Russia/China.

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On 8/26/2019 at 7:16 PM, jazzdude said:

Maybe Boyd really was right in advocating for a simple light fighter with a light combat load, but built in mass quantities.

He saw Zhukov was actually kinda nice with it

Edited by 12xu2a3x3
.

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On 9/5/2019 at 11:16 AM, Tank said:

Copy that

If Air Tractor could modify the AT802U for a liaison / light cargo version without breaking the bank, there's a contender if the USAF wanted to get back in that business.

AT's website says the AT802U can launch with an 8k payload, use some of that payload capability for a rugged cargo pod and 4-6 pax seating with a stretched model.

AF would need to get comfortable with single pilot utility ops, not sure they could get on board but the times are changing (sort of).

On the subject of Light Airlift / Liaison Aircraft, I'm not sure if this is the right one for this proposed mission but I just know the AF needs it:

 

Edited by Clark Griswold
Better video

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On 8/26/2019 at 3:27 PM, Stitch said:

Badass right? Been on the factory tour; bunch of miscellaneous stuff goes in one door, flying airplane comes out the other.  And the building, on an uncontrolled field (KSZT), isn't that big to start with.  Put it on amphibious floats and you've got a real (expensive) fun machine there.    :beer:

I saw an amphibian version at an AOPA fly-in last year. Pretty tall sitting out there. I like the versatility of an amphibian but I wonder about the overall performance loss/drag. Not to mention the potential for me to have the gear in the wrong place for landing.😯 

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13 hours ago, fire4effect said:

Not to mention the potential for me to have the gear in the wrong place for landing.😯 

When did you start flying C-17s? 😉

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On 9/7/2019 at 9:10 AM, war007afa said:

When did you start flying C-17s? 😉

LOL Great technique for when you need to make a really really short field landing with maximum braking. Like say had KTPF been any shorter. 😲

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