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Shhhh...Don't talk about the A-10


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10 hours ago, HuggyU2 said:

Post retired a few months ago.  Good riddance.

Any idea where he went?  I'm guessing it wasn't the airlines.  

I saw him talking with Lockheed at the Air and Space conference the year he made the treason comments. Wouldn't be surprised if he's involved with them and the F-35 now.

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The Project on Government Oversight offers a good write-up on the Air Force's latest underhanded efforts to "retire" the A-10.  Some pretty damning charges in this article; would be interested if anyone in the A-10 community (pilots, maintainers, depot workers, etc) could corroborate any of this.

https://www.pogo.org/analysis/2021/09/new-document-shows-how-the-air-force-is-starving-the-a-10-fleet/

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To better make their case to retire the A-10, Air Force leaders have done everything they can to hobble the fleet to make it appear too old and incapable of providing useful service. Over the course of several years, Air Force leaders have slow-rolled an effort to build new wings, diminished the capacity to conduct needed overhauls, and refused to provide the necessary parts by allowing supplier contracts to lapse. A source within the A-10 community says that many of the flight-worthy aircraft can’t shoot their iconic GAU-8 cannons because the squadrons can’t get needed replacement parts. The same source says the fleet’s current struggles are the result of the contempt Air Force leadership has for civilian oversight.

 

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So I saw this quote from the ACC chief in AFA's magazine:

China is our…pacing threat. If we’re going to keep pace with what they’re doing … you’re not going to do it by refurbishing a fleet of 40-year-old, single-mission, 210-knot airplanes. You’re just not, regardless of how much they’re loved and the great performance they’ve done.

- Gen. Mark D. Kelly, commander, Air Combat Command, offering his view of the long-term effectiveness ofkeeping the A-10 in the combat air forces, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Life Cycle Industry Days streaming seminar, Aug. 3.

He has a point and with that I'm not saying the other side doesn't have a point on preserving the A-10. 

But are we really talking about preserving single mission / focused mission set squadrons?  The A-10 is a unique platform in the mix that ACC has a single focus, ditto for the F-15C I guess.

Would the A-10 community make a better case if they pursued recapitalization vs refurbishing the A-10?  New airplane same mission focus vs keeping the Hog?  

New platform could defeat the arguments against their survivability in a contested environment and relevance to the big fight scenarios.

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28 minutes ago, Clark Griswold said:

So I saw this quote from the ACC chief in AFA's magazine:

China is our…pacing threat. If we’re going to keep pace with what they’re doing … you’re not going to do it by refurbishing a fleet of 40-year-old, single-mission, 210-knot airplanes. You’re just not, regardless of how much they’re loved and the great performance they’ve done.

- Gen. Mark D. Kelly, commander, Air Combat Command, offering his view of the long-term effectiveness ofkeeping the A-10 in the combat air forces, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Life Cycle Industry Days streaming seminar, Aug. 3.

He has a point and with that I'm not saying the other side doesn't have a point on preserving the A-10. 

But are we really talking about preserving single mission / focused mission set squadrons?  The A-10 is a unique platform in the mix that ACC has a single focus, ditto for the F-15C I guess.

Would the A-10 community make a better case if they pursued recapitalization vs refurbishing the A-10?  New airplane same mission focus vs keeping the Hog?  

New platform could defeat the arguments against their survivability in a contested environment and relevance to the big fight scenarios.

The question is: “where can we accept mission risk?”

Can we accept a capability gap in supporting the Army in a contested tank-on-tank land battle? How likely is that scenario? What other capabilities do we sacrifice to sustain the A-10? What unique capability does the A-10 bring to the most likely scenarios that other platforms don’t? Is the A-10 so unique that only it can fight the COIN fight, considering AGR-20/GBU-49/GBU-54/Hellfire and the flying hour cost compared to, say, an A-29, which I presume can employ most “COIN weapons?” Will the defense industry support a logistics train for such a small (and becoming niche) fleet? At what cost? Does the A-10 have a role in the homeland defense mission? How does the A-10 fit into networked warfare such as JADC2?

These questions are being asked about all fighters, Fourth and Fifth Gen.

The exquisitely upgraded A-10 has been the world champ at fighting wars in accessible battle spaces for the past 30 years.

Edited by Pancake
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We’re getting to the crux of the problem: that Hog pilots would gladly accept a new CAS jet if it were superior to the Hog in every way, but acquisitions/industry is no longer able to build them one. Give them a manned jet, stealthy enough to operate around a contested FSCL, carries a GAU-8 and racks of weapons, and can take 37mm rounds on the chin and they’d hop right in it. In other words, make it an improvement in every way, which should be easily possible 40 years later. Instead, industry gave the Marines (ironically, given the author above) the F-35B, which doesn’t even have a gun.

Same with why the KC-10 guys scoff at the 46. It’s a great 135 replacement, though with unnecessary fluff. But there are clear, glaring deficiencies over the KC-10 regarding fuel and cargo capacity. Had the AF bought a 777 or a A330 tanker, KC-10 guys would’ve gladly made the jump. U-2 vs RQ-4, F-15C vs EX, etc. No F-15A guy ever complained about going to the F-15C.

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We’re getting to the crux of the problem: that Hog pilots would gladly accept a new CAS jet if it were superior to the Hog in every way, but acquisitions/industry is no longer able to build them one. Give them a manned jet, stealthy enough to operate around a contested FSCL, carries a GAU-8 and racks of weapons, and can take 37mm rounds on the chin and they’d hop right in it. In other words, make it an improvement in every way, which should be easily possible 40 years later. Instead, industry gave the Marines (ironically, given the author above) the F-35B, which doesn’t even have a gun.
Same with why the KC-10 guys scoff at the 46. It’s a great 135 replacement, though with unnecessary fluff. But there are clear, glaring deficiencies over the KC-10 regarding fuel and cargo capacity. Had the AF bought a 777 or a A330 tanker, KC-10 guys would’ve gladly made the jump. U-2 vs RQ-4, F-15C vs EX, etc. No F-15A guy ever complained about going to the F-15C.


For F-35B and KC-46, we pretty much got what we asked for. Hard to say industry sucks at providing a KC-10 replacement when the AF asked for a KC-135 replacement.

The real problem is the budget is largely a zero sum game: getting new weapon systems/capabilities means getting rid of something to pay for that capability, whether it's legacy platforms or people. If something is important to the AF, it'll be funded. If not, well, then the AF doesn't think it's all that important relative to the things it did fund.
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2 hours ago, Majestik Møøse said:

That wasn’t a very well researched article. “Air Force leaders” was the evil straw man in every argument. And a really really surface level perception that the Air Force only cares about interdiction.

Agreed, some of the logic and statements seem suspect.  I wish the author provided more sources, or at least more background.  Hence my ask if anyone in the A-10 community could corroborate any of the claims.

His statements on the A-10 depot work for example.  He jumps around from claiming it's an issue of parts, then an issue of manpower that leaves the depot with about half the throughput they need for the A-10 line.  That's a pretty significant claim, with not much more than some hand-waving as a source.

For me, it's not so much the question of tactical relevance of the A-10.  It's more the question of to what extent is the Air Force going against the will of Congress to starve the A-10 fleet out of existence.

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1 hour ago, Blue said:

Agreed, some of the logic and statements seem suspect.  I wish the author provided more sources, or at least more background.  Hence my ask if anyone in the A-10 community could corroborate any of the claims.

His statements on the A-10 depot work for example.  He jumps around from claiming it's an issue of parts, then an issue of manpower that leaves the depot with about half the throughput they need for the A-10 line.  That's a pretty significant claim, with not much more than some hand-waving as a source.

For me, it's not so much the question of tactical relevance of the A-10.  It's more the question of to what extent is the Air Force going against the will of Congress to starve the A-10 fleet out of existence.

The depot folks are leaving for other programs because they feel there isn’t job security in the A-10 enterprise.

Industry doesn’t want to invest in programs with unpredictable longevity.

My perspective is that current AF leadership is as or more supportive of the A-10 in their 4+1 construct as any in my AF career.

The A-10 draws an emotional response, however, this is about the right mix of 4th, 4.5th, 5th, NGAD, etc. AF leadership has been very transparent about their future fighter construct and as far as I can tell they’re following through as advertised.

Edited by Pancake
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22 minutes ago, Pancake said:

The depot folks are leaving for other programs because they feel there isn’t job security in the A-10 enterprise.

That's part of what I question.  My experience with the major depots (Ogden, Warner Robins, Ok City) is that the folks doing the depot line maintenance are all govt. civilians, who work whatever line they're told to.  They're employed by the depot, not any particular production line.  Maybe @Prosuper can chime in here.

Edited by Blue
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That's part of what I question.  My experience with the major depots (Ogden, Warner Robins, Ok City) is that the folks doing the depot line maintenance are all govt. civilians, who work whatever line they're told to.  They're employed by the depot, not any particular production line.  Maybe [mention=8948]Prosuper[/mention] can chime in here.

I’d venture their job security is far more cemented in the seniority of their Congressional Representative in a given district/State vs anything that actual occurs in the building.

Same as it is for guys in ship building.


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The question is: “where can we accept mission risk?”
Can we accept a capability gap in supporting the Army in a contested tank-on-tank land battle? How likely is that scenario? What other capabilities do we sacrifice to sustain the A-10? What unique capability does the A-10 bring to the most likely scenarios that other platforms don’t? Is the A-10 so unique that only it can fight the COIN fight, considering AGR-20/GBU-49/GBU-54/Hellfire and the flying hour cost compared to, say, an A-29, which I presume can employ most “COIN weapons?” Will the defense industry support a logistics train for such a small (and becoming niche) fleet? At what cost? Does the A-10 have a role in the homeland defense mission? How does the A-10 fit into networked warfare such as JADC2?
These questions are being asked about all fighters, Fourth and Fifth Gen.
The exquisitely upgraded A-10 has been the world champ at fighting wars in accessible battle spaces for the past 30 years.

Excellent questions to answer to justify or not the Hog. My two cents is that the mission risk is mainly in losing a cadre of fighter / attack pilots geared towards the Attack Mission Set with particular focus on CAS. Is that enough to justify the Hog being upgraded and sustained, maybe maybe not.
If I were AFWIC, I would consider out of container ideas like a future attack community distributed around the threat environment, high-medium-low, and look to OT&E on that concept.
High - most expensive and highest demand in requirements, platform probably needs to piggy back off an existing program with technical
specifications and improvements applied.
Attack variant of the F-35? LO weapons pods, CFTs, etc…
Medium - medium price and mission requirements, it needs to address the criticism that the Hog could not survive in a medium threat environment and still deliver a solid attack platform with persistence / lesser AR requirements. This would also need expeditionary capability to fit into Indo-Pacific plans.
Probably a Gripen or Superhornet modified to get more attack and less fighter out of the platform, not perfect but feasible methinks.
Low - first gen UCAV and AT-6s

There’s always a chance of the peer in peer fight but fighting proxies and rogue states is still more likely. A mix of manned / unmanned platforms will prevent overkill and the opportunity cost of being over invested in the few and exquisite platforms.


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I think your high/med/lo is a good concept. Kill the A-10, move the “CAS culture” to specific F-16 squadrons, as well as A-29/AT-6 squadrons. The A-10 is awesome, but it’s not sound to continue it (or the 15C for that matter) more than a few more years, given the current and future threats in the world. 
 

Read the book Kill Chain - discusses how fucked our acquisitions process is and how our thought process is backwards from what it should be. One of the main premises is how we focus too much on platforms/making new versions of platforms instead of developing revolutionary new ideas and mindsets in how to face emerging problems. It’s very interesting. 

Edited by brabus
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The biggest thing to preserve from the A-10 community is the CAS expertise.

Believe me, when and F-16/F-35/A-10 pilot talk about CAS, its very different among the communities.

The A-10 community is unique. Can it be preserved in a different airframe? I doubt it.

Does it need to? I’m not sure. I’m all for dumping outdated warfare.

I can tell you I’d rather show up to a MCO battlefield in an A-10 loaded with laser mavs than a F-35 in (laughable) beast mode.

Maybe sone better weapons will help in the future.


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2 hours ago, brabus said:

I think your high/med/lo is a good concept. Kill the A-10, move the “CAS culture” to specific F-16 squadrons, as well as A-29/AT-6 squadrons. The A-10 is awesome, but it’s not sound to continue it (or the 15C for that matter) more than a few more years, given the current and future threats in the world. 

Read the book Kill Chain - discusses how fucked our acquisitions process is and how our thought process is backwards from what it should be. One of the main premises is how we focus too much on platforms/making new versions of platforms instead of developing revolutionary new ideas and mindsets in how to face emerging problems. It’s very interesting. 

Wilco

Yeah, the platforms are the bacon to be brought home by Congressman Porkulus and as our short cycle political system works on the premise of "What have you done for me lately?' vs. "Is this the right / best thing to do?" it will need to be considered when trying to keep the force relevant for the next fight(s).  Just to get it done, do we need to request new / modified iron to get Congress interested as that will generate more spending that they can take credit for?  If so, will that drive us to cheap(er) solutions but ones that we can change out relatively quickly if we find them wanting?

Divestiture of the Hog just brings out the emotions in the churn of what to buy, get rid of, change.  I think it is (mistakenly) interpreted as the AF not caring about the 19 year old in a TIC, aviation/military reporters wanna feed that belief the AF is only concerned about fast jets, air to air and techno solutions to give certain segments of their readership the confirmation of what they believe and don't like about the AF.  

Anyway, if money grew on trees I'd wanna see the A-10 units converted F-16s while in the background, the yet to be seen but discussed new 4+ gen fighter would also get an attack variant developed simultaneously.  Noting too ambitious but one that widened the low speed envelope, expanded range/loiter, probably better EW suite, etc... 

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8 hours ago, di1630 said:

The biggest thing to preserve from the A-10 community is the CAS expertise.

Believe me, when and F-16/F-35/A-10 pilot talk about CAS, its very different among the communities.

The A-10 community is unique. Can it be preserved in a different airframe? I doubt it.

Does it need to? I’m not sure. I’m all for dumping outdated warfare.

I can tell you I’d rather show up to a MCO battlefield in an A-10 loaded with laser mavs than a F-35 in (laughable) beast mode.

Maybe sone better weapons will help in the future.

 

I agree with 99% of this, but that MCO battlefield allusion is really a fairytale nowadays. I can’t think of one remotely likely situation where there’s the 1980s style tank v tank without an IADS that’ll decimate the A-10. The only likely scenarios it’s survivable/effective in nowadays are things like what we’ve been doing the last 20 years, which it has done amazingly at. But, those types of scenarios in lightly defended areas can be serviced by light attack. Same situation with the 15C…it’s rapidly only becoming useful/survivable for HLD or Korea (assuming China doesn’t get involved. Hence, they need to be replaced by more capable/survivable aircraft (and that aircraft may not look/“feel” like we traditionally have thought…if we do it right). 

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http://airtim.es/0SS7oBo?fbclid=IwAR0V5EZBcqEbE1NHgL37Ub0DCv2Yu-hUJxjmAKaos3MI9H-SQn9Bjx7W8aM
 

“Kendall signaled the service could return to a more aggressive approach, where it will push lawmakers to approve the retirements of “aircraft that we no longer need and that do not intimidate China.”

“In an August interview with Defense News, Kendall said the Air Force was considering bundling aircraft divestments in a single package, which would allow the service to make cuts without having to debate every proposed retirement individually.”

“These older fleets are “consuming precious resources we do need for modernization,” Kendall said at the conference. While it’s understandable that lawmakers try to protect their districts’ economies, local political interests are coming at the expense of national security priorities, he added.”

”It was a frequent occurrence during my confirmation process to have a senator agree with me about the significance of the Chinese threat, and in the same breath to tell me that under no circumstances could the — take your pick — C-130s, A-10s, KC-10s, [or] MQ-9s in that senator’s state be retired, nor could any base in his or her state ever be closed or lose manpower that would cause impact to the local economy,” he said.”

“Kendall asked the audience to imagine a headline in a Chinese newspaper where the Chinese legislature’s representative in Hunan opposed the retirement of J-10 fighters until the J-20 had been fielded.”

“Can any of you imagine that headline in the South China Morning Post?” he asked. “I cannot.”

 

Edited by Tank
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7 hours ago, Tank said:

“aircraft that we no longer need and that do not intimidate China.”

”the significance of the Chinese threat, — take your pick — C-130s, A-10s, KC-10s”

 

 

LOL some of the only airframes that could launch after China takes down the satcoms and the interwebs “fight tonight” - 1

anyone who foresees a shooting war before a cyber war is stuck in the past.

Edited by genie90
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On 9/18/2021 at 12:27 PM, Blue said:

That's part of what I question.  My experience with the major depots (Ogden, Warner Robins, Ok City) is that the folks doing the depot line maintenance are all govt. civilians, who work whatever line they're told to.  They're employed by the depot, not any particular production line.  Maybe @Prosuper can chime in here.

If you want to leave a MDS to another you have to go to USAJOBS.Gov and apply and interview if there are openings. I'm a KC-135 guy and just trying to hang on for another year and a half, was asked to apply for the KC-46, glad I didn't get picked. Boeing doesn't share Tech data , FAA tells supervisors you can't do that. Each MDS depot is a different AMXS set up under a Group, the individual parts depot are still commodities or 2 level. At Tinker now the B-1 program is in its death throws, most sheet metal guys are going to the E-6/E-3 line or KC-135's since we have a new TCTO for most of the fleet along with PDM and Block 45.  

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As far as what planes end up where..it strikes me as a little free style for now.  We have an F-16 unit down the way pretty much sure that they are swapping to the F-35.  I wonder how solid that swap is.  The maintenance guys mention that the paint shop alone for various reasons is a major operation.  Is F-35 the fighter version of the KC-46  ?

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10 hours ago, Alpharatz said:

As far as what planes end up where..it strikes me as a little free style for now.  We have an F-16 unit down the way pretty much sure that they are swapping to the F-35.  I wonder how solid that swap is.  The maintenance guys mention that the paint shop alone for various reasons is a major operation.  Is F-35 the fighter version of the KC-46  ?

 

It's always been a freestyle and is more about your congressman than facilities/airspace/saving money.  A great example of that is the fact that the SCANG is still on their own facility when Shaw is just miles down the road.  I'm all for the SCANG keeping their own facility because who the hell wants to be on an AD base, but it seems to make zero fiscal sense.  

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