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Expeditionary basing, logistics and seaplanes (yeah it's a seaplane thread)


Clark Griswold

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Article on seaplanes being discussed and potentially considered, not sure if this is the new light attack platform being "considered" but enjoy:

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/40694/amphibious-mc-130j-transport-is-on-special-operations-commands-wishlist

5a9z06.jpg

Ok, would this really be useful or just damn cool or both?  

Expeditionary logistics to remote islands or ships at sea, long range maritime CSAR, ISR, Patrol & Attack, probe and drogue AR (helos), etc...  

Edited by Clark Griswold
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I was going to get excited, but then just saw it's a herk on pontoons.

I'm not sure that repurposing the C-130 as a base airframe for an amphibian saves any development cost, and probably would really just be chucking money at LM.

That being said, we must not allow an amphibious aircraft gap!

https://www.businessinsider.com/worlds-largest-floatplane-takes-first-flight-in-china-spruce-goose-2020-8222edffa18202e512ebbc20e51fbc82c.jpg

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1 hour ago, Clark Griswold said:

Article on seaplanes being discussed and potentially considered, not sure if this is the new light attack platform being "considered" but enjoy:

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/40694/amphibious-mc-130j-transport-is-on-special-operations-commands-wishlist

5a9z06.jpg

Ok, would this really be useful or just damn cool or both?  

Expeditionary logistics to remote islands or ships at sea, long range maritime CSAR, ISR, Patrol & Attack, probe and drogue AR (helos), etc...  

So I’m gonna eat a little crow here cause I believe I gave you some shit on this topic a couple years ago; now this “may” become a reality.


 That being said, yes SOCOM/AFSOC is seriously looking at this.  It would provide several interesting capabilities for the peer fight (not sure if specifics are appropriate for this forum).  I think the major stumbling block (besides funding) is that the command is really shooting for the Moon (and maybe Mars) on what they’re asking for capes wise.

I’d volunteer to fly it in a heartbeat but I don’t think it’ll become a reality before I retire.

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12 hours ago, DirkDiggler said:
So I’m gonna eat a little crow here cause I believe I gave you some shit on this topic a couple years ago; now this “may” become a reality.

 That being said, yes SOCOM/AFSOC is seriously looking at this.  It would provide several interesting capabilities for the peer fight (not sure if specifics are appropriate for this forum).  I think the major stumbling block (besides funding) is that the command is really shooting for the Moon (and maybe Mars) on what they’re asking for capes wise.
I’d volunteer to fly it in a heartbeat but I don’t think it’ll become a reality before I retire.


No worries as to shit giving, it’s the fertilizer to make threads grow

That is amazing that this is seriously being considered by the powers that be but when you consider the ballistic missile capes now and in the future, traditionally land, fixed base forces are gonna have to seriously consider concepts and systems that can mitigate / avoid that threat at least at the onset of hostilities

Curbing my enthusiasm a bit and really thinking about what is feasible from a resource perspective the Japanese US-2 or an improved version of it (AR, more cargo, defensive & offensive capes, comms & links, etc) seems the best / shortest route with likely the lowest development risk

A flying boat or float Herc would be awesome but the chance of it going development FUBAR methinks is high, maybe not but as there is already a modern seaplane available now capable of military missions, why reinvent the wheel and waste years in development?

Rhetorical question as I saw “The Pentagon Wars” aa a lad but occasionally we do the right thing.

Looking at this as an outsider:
- Strategic or Tactical asset?
This to me is about range primarily and would drive the discussion to a large, medium or small platform.
I’d define strategic as the ability to launch from US territory / waters and deploy nonstop to the Indo-Pacific, with or without AR.
My vote, this is a Strategic platform, size matters and distance is tyrannical. Get at least a 3000 NM range without AR.
- Multi-role or Focused role?
If you want it all in one plane be prepared to put all your money in one plane.
My vote, figure out what’s really important and the next thing and if those two things are similar enough call it good and KISS it.
- Loaded with options at delivery or base model with the capacity to accept options as they become available or affordable/needed?
My vote, base model with the space and power to get the new toys. Tech moves fast and acquisitions doesn’t, having the space but not committed to one architecture/system keeps you from being locked into the best tech of 5 years ago

Just thinking


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Along the same line of thought, is an amphibian needed, or would a pure seaplane suffice?

Amphibian adds complexity, and landing on water with a gear hanging would basically guarantee the loss of the aircraft and the cargo it carries, and possibly the crew. You can usually recover an aircraft following a gear up landing on land, but a gear down landing on water is typically catastrophic.

If anyone's interested, this is a pretty interesting seaplane story set in WW2:
https://www.panam.org/the-long-way-home
The book is a touch dry in the story telling, but tells the (true) story of a Pan Am flying boat that was in the Pacific when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and the crew's/aircraft's journey back to the US the long way (eastbound starting in the Pacific, attempting to avoid the fighting in both the Pacific and Europe)

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1 hour ago, jazzdude said:

Along the same line of thought, is an amphibian needed, or would a pure seaplane suffice?

Amphibian adds complexity, and landing on water with a gear hanging would basically guarantee the loss of the aircraft and the cargo it carries, and possibly the crew. You can usually recover an aircraft following a gear up landing on land, but a gear down landing on water is typically catastrophic.

If anyone's interested, this is a pretty interesting seaplane story set in WW2:
https://www.panam.org/the-long-way-home
The book is a touch dry in the story telling, but tells the (true) story of a Pan Am flying boat that was in the Pacific when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and the crew's/aircraft's journey back to the US the long way (eastbound starting in the Pacific, attempting to avoid the fighting in both the Pacific and Europe)

did you mean westbound? East is the short way home to the U.S. West coast, unless they were down under India somewhere and then it's closer to 50/50 on what direction to fly.

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did you mean westbound? East is the short way home to the U.S. West coast, unless they were down under India somewhere and then it's closer to 50/50 on what direction to fly.


Not if you start from Hawaii. Went through India and Africa to make it the US east coast. Interesting story, especially if you put yourself in the Captain's shoes and go "what would I have done in this situation?"

Edit: I'm dumb, you're correct, westbound
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55 minutes ago, jazzdude said:


 

 


Not if you start from Hawaii. Went through India and Africa to make it the US east coast. Interesting story, especially if you put yourself in the Captain's shoes and go "what would I have done in this situation?"

 

That’s west. 

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8 hours ago, jazzdude said:

If anyone's interested, this is a pretty interesting seaplane story set in WW2:
https://www.panam.org/the-long-way-home
The book is a touch dry in the story telling, but tells the (true) story of a Pan Am flying boat that was in the Pacific when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and the crew's/aircraft's journey back to the US the long way (eastbound starting in the Pacific, attempting to avoid the fighting in both the Pacific and Europe)

 

Cool read about a crew making it happen!  That book led to me picking up a few more books on Pan-AM (one linked above), which are a pretty cool bit of history if you're a WW2/Airline nerd.  You really get and idea of how Pan-Am was able to become such a power house...not many can compete when the government is propping you up!  Great stories of doing what needed to be done for the good of the nation.  I'd like to think today we'd do what needed to be done, but the cynical side of me thinks American's would be dying because assets would be delayed as they were tied up in litigation.  

 

China Clipper - The Secret Pre-War Story of Pan American's Flying Boats.

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10 hours ago, jazzdude said:

Along the same line of thought, is an amphibian needed, or would a pure seaplane suffice?

Amphibian adds complexity, and landing on water with a gear hanging would basically guarantee the loss of the aircraft and the cargo it carries, and possibly the crew. You can usually recover an aircraft following a gear up landing on land, but a gear down landing on water is typically catastrophic.

True as to complexity, cost, risk, etc... but just my opinion the juice is worth the squeeze.  The water based ops capability is more of a have to rather than a default mode of ops.  

R3Y Tradewind was seaplane only and needed the docking skirt for amphibious operations, just seems like an Achilles' heel and LIMFAC, prepositioning these could solve that but seems to be counter to the intention of independent maritime / amphibious distributed ops (if required) due to land base attack / disruptions.

R3Y historical video for background and info:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHo5R4DJTGU

US-2, AG-600, CL-415, etc... all are amphibious seaplanes with to my knowledge no known extended gear water accidents and in all likelihood this platform would spend most of its operational life operating from land with water ops as required.  That begs the question if this capability is really worth it but my two cents is yes but be thoughtful in how much you need as it ain't cheap to buy and maintain.

Buy enough to deliver direct in a contingency a force about the size of a MEF if ISO a conventional / grey zone fight, that's a fleet size to more than support SOF. 

60 tails at 25 PAX plus gear and cargo (assuming 90% availability rate) gets you some localized combat power into theater quickly.  

Make it happen Congress.

Float plane stuff:  https://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/was-this-huge-wwii-floatplane-going-to-deploy-mini-subs-1715138166

Edited by Clark Griswold
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13 hours ago, Clark Griswold said:

You read my mind. The US-2 essentially IS an amphibious C-130, with a little lower max weight and payload. Even has the same engines and props as the C-130J.

If the goal is a small fleet for SOF, buying and supporting a few US-2's would seem to be an expeditious option. Similar to the other SOF-unique transport airframes like the C-145 and C-146.

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8 hours ago, HerkPerfMan said:

You read my mind. The US-2 essentially IS an amphibious C-130, with a little lower max weight and payload. Even has the same engines and props as the C-130J.

If the goal is a small fleet for SOF, buying and supporting a few US-2's would seem to be an expeditious option. Similar to the other SOF-unique transport airframes like the C-145 and C-146.

Word

Just armchair general here but if the Joint Team seriously wants this my two cents would be for a more robust capability versus a niche fleet, a joint purchase of X planes with some tailoring for each of the services buying.  For me, a purchase by the USAF, USN, USMC, SOCOM and USCG makes sense, provides a total fleet size that provides for immediate response and surge capacity, a fleet size industry will be motivated and confident in to support and can cover requirements in a very wide theater.

Alman-4.png

Looking at this profile view and just thinking about mods:

AR pods and recepticle(s).  Boom and Probe/Drogue systems for max flexibility.

Military avionics and capabilities integrated well into existing US-2 avionics.  

ECM, IR, Decoy provisions

Hardpoints wired and plumbed on the wings. 

EO/IR turrret under the radar or wing mounted dual sensors.  Wake/Spray might make under the radar not feasible but just a thought.

Wideband BLOS blister 

Rollup door for jumpers with blast deflector and platform. 

Door gun kit.  40mm or better, floor bracing and anti-recoil provisions.  Gun kit not exactly roll on roll off but my requirement would be 3 hour install or removal with 200 rounds.

Expendable munitions capability thru doggy door in main door(s).  

Unpalletized load/unload system.  Could be a floor based belt system or overhead railing to get shit on/off fast and with the crew available.

 

That's just my Christmas list off the cuff but IMO any US procured US-2 variant would not necessarily have to have those as we would be buying them for 5 different US customers but the capacity to accept and operate with those if the customer choose to install them.  Basically a US-2+ model, not sure if that is one 10% bigger or other what but one size that could fit all.

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23 hours ago, HerkPerfMan said:

Similar to the other SOF-unique transport airframes like the C-145 and C-146.

Now that we're out of Afghanistan, it will be interesting to see what becomes of those fleets.  We don't have a good track record of supporting "novel / niche" weapons systems (see C-27).  Also, guess we've already retired 2/3rds of the C-145 fleet?

Some US-2 specs from Wikipedia below.  Hard to put a lot of stock into them, since it is Wikipedia, and so much of the performance depends on loading.  But I wouldn't have expected the US-2 to have a 2,500 nmi range.  Impressive.  Also, would have to imagine hanging all the enormous amphibian gear off the C-130 will have a big hit on its performance.

The US-2 needs a congressional caucus to go bat for it.  Gather up a couple ANG units in coastal states that are in danger of losing their iron.  Pick a US defense contractor in an under-served state to provide the modifications needed to bring it up to our desired specs, etc.  You know, throw some money and power around.

US-2

  • Maximum speed: 300 kn
  • Cruise speed: 260 kn
  • Range: 2,500 nmi
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Now that we're out of Afghanistan, it will be interesting to see what becomes of those fleets.  We don't have a good track record of supporting "novel / niche" weapons systems (see C-27).  Also, guess we've already retired 2/3rds of the C-145 fleet?
Some US-2 specs from Wikipedia below.  Hard to put a lot of stock into them, since it is Wikipedia, and so much of the performance depends on loading.  But I wouldn't have expected the US-2 to have a 2,500 nmi range.  Impressive.  Also, would have to imagine hanging all the enormous amphibian gear off the C-130 will have a big hit on its performance.
The US-2 needs a congressional caucus to go bat for it.  Gather up a couple ANG units in coastal states that are in danger of losing their iron.  Pick a US defense contractor in an under-served state to provide the modifications needed to bring it up to our desired specs, etc.  You know, throw some money and power around.
US-2
  • Maximum speed: 300 kn
  • Cruise speed: 260 kn
  • Range: 2,500 nmi

Not a bad strategy, not a Guard mission but looking at WX Surveillance as mission set, the Hurricane Hunters getting recapitalization along with the NY ANG with LC-130 ski modification if the US-2 could be adapted to ski ops also the rescue 130s the Guard operates on Long Island and in CA, IIRC the WY ANG operates 130Hs for wildfire fighting during the summer, another customer, just some Reserve/ANG missions off the cuff that I think could be recapitalized with US-2+ legitimately
The HIANG or AKANG getting equipped with it also is reasonable IMHO


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17 hours ago, Clark Griswold said:

Word

Just armchair general here but if the Joint Team seriously wants this my two cents would be for a more robust capability versus a niche fleet, a joint purchase of X planes with some tailoring for each of the services buying.  For me, a purchase by the USAF, USN, USMC, SOCOM and USCG makes sense, provides a total fleet size that provides for immediate response and surge capacity, a fleet size industry will be motivated and confident in to support and can cover requirements in a very wide theater.

Alman-4.png

Looking at this profile view and just thinking about mods:

AR pods and recepticle(s).  Boom and Probe/Drogue systems for max flexibility.

Military avionics and capabilities integrated well into existing US-2 avionics.  

ECM, IR, Decoy provisions

Hardpoints wired and plumbed on the wings. 

EO/IR turrret under the radar or wing mounted dual sensors.  Wake/Spray might make under the radar not feasible but just a thought.

Wideband BLOS blister 

Rollup door for jumpers with blast deflector and platform. 

Door gun kit.  40mm or better, floor bracing and anti-recoil provisions.  Gun kit not exactly roll on roll off but my requirement would be 3 hour install or removal with 200 rounds.

Expendable munitions capability thru doggy door in main door(s).  

Unpalletized load/unload system.  Could be a floor based belt system or overhead railing to get shit on/off fast and with the crew available.

 

That's just my Christmas list off the cuff but IMO any US procured US-2 variant would not necessarily have to have those as we would be buying them for 5 different US customers but the capacity to accept and operate with those if the customer choose to install them.  Basically a US-2+ model, not sure if that is one 10% bigger or other what but one size that could fit all.

The big problem (conceptually) with the US-2 concept IRT to SOCOM employment is the lack of a cargo ramp/door.  Its pretty difficult and expensive to engineer that capability into an aircraft that wasn't designed with it from the ground up.  Unfortunately the MC-130J float concept, as Blue mentioned above, is going to suffer from a massive increase in drag index since it wasn't engineered as a floatplane from the ground, thus limiting it's performance/capabilities.

  The biggest problem with an American US-2 is that it's extremely unlikely (though not impossible) that SOCOM would unilaterally source and pay for brand new iron; they'd only pay the SOF peculiar mods to it after somebody else (theoretically the USAF in this case) buys it.  I'd doubt that Air Force leadership would have any interest in this with all the other things they're buying/recapping right now (NGAD, B-21, new ICBMs, hypersonics, AWACS/JSTARs/Compass Call replacements just to name a few).  Navy isn't gonna jump on it either, they've got SSN/SSBN procurement and new surface ships on the mind, which means the Corps won't get it either.  Coast Guard isn't getting any aircraft right now that isn't a hand-me-down from somebody else.  Hurc Hunters and Guard Rescue guys have relatively new J models so recap for them isn't a viable argument.

  Ideally I'd like to see an MC-130 specifically designed as floatplane (similar to the C-130 floatplane concepts that Lockmart pitched back in the '60), if SOCOM is serious about this.  Unfortunately I don't think there's a snowballs chance in hell of that happening.      

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2 hours ago, Blue said:

Now that we're out of Afghanistan, it will be interesting to see what becomes of those fleets.  We don't have a good track record of supporting "novel / niche" weapons systems (see C-27).  Also, guess we've already retired 2/3rds of the C-145 fleet?

Some US-2 specs from Wikipedia below.  Hard to put a lot of stock into them, since it is Wikipedia, and so much of the performance depends on loading.  But I wouldn't have expected the US-2 to have a 2,500 nmi range.  Impressive.  Also, would have to imagine hanging all the enormous amphibian gear off the C-130 will have a big hit on its performance.

The US-2 needs a congressional caucus to go bat for it.  Gather up a couple ANG units in coastal states that are in danger of losing their iron.  Pick a US defense contractor in an under-served state to provide the modifications needed to bring it up to our desired specs, etc.  You know, throw some money and power around.

US-2

  • Maximum speed: 300 kn
  • Cruise speed: 260 kn
  • Range: 2,500 nmi

I haven't been in the 492nd for over a year now so some of my info may be dated.  

  The C-145 fleet hasn't been deployable/deployed for at least 6+ years now at this point.  They are solely used as a training platform for 6th SOS pilots in CONUS.  Last I heard the remaining airframes will be divested by FY23.

  The future of the C-146 is almost always up in the air every FY, mostly due to how they're funded.  The -146 bubbas do great work, but they lack advocacy in AFSOC (and in SOCOM) IMO.  AFSOC is a very tribal command; the Pave Low/CV-22 mafia, AC-130, and MC-130 groups exert a huge influence in what happens within the command.  The bulk of the work that the C-146s do is supporting TSOCs; the TSOCs ability to influence what capes AFSOC brings to the table is limited.  I've heard a lot of different COAs with what's supposed to happen going in future FYs so I'm honestly not sure what the current plan is.

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6 hours ago, DirkDiggler said:

The big problem (conceptually) with the US-2 concept IRT to SOCOM employment is the lack of a cargo ramp/door.  Its pretty difficult and expensive to engineer that capability into an aircraft that wasn't designed with it from the ground up.  Unfortunately the MC-130J float concept, as Blue mentioned above, is going to suffer from a massive increase in drag index since it wasn't engineered as a floatplane from the ground, thus limiting it's performance/capabilities.

  The biggest problem with an American US-2 is that it's extremely unlikely (though not impossible) that SOCOM would unilaterally source and pay for brand new iron; they'd only pay the SOF peculiar mods to it after somebody else (theoretically the USAF in this case) buys it.  I'd doubt that Air Force leadership would have any interest in this with all the other things they're buying/recapping right now (NGAD, B-21, new ICBMs, hypersonics, AWACS/JSTARs/Compass Call replacements just to name a few).  Navy isn't gonna jump on it either, they've got SSN/SSBN procurement and new surface ships on the mind, which means the Corps won't get it either.  Coast Guard isn't getting any aircraft right now that isn't a hand-me-down from somebody else.  Hurc Hunters and Guard Rescue guys have relatively new J models so recap for them isn't a viable argument.

  Ideally I'd like to see an MC-130 specifically designed as floatplane (similar to the C-130 floatplane concepts that Lockmart pitched back in the '60), if SOCOM is serious about this.  Unfortunately I don't think there's a snowballs chance in hell of that happening.      

Shack

That's the best argument against the US-2 but I'm not sure it's a disqualifying one.  The cargo door / ramp capability is perhaps a requirement for a mission that may have gone by or one that we will not do in the continuous spectrum of conflict / competition with China and other challengers in other arenas.

The air / amphibious delivery of cargo (mass, wheeled vehicles, etc...) may not be what this platform could / should be doing for support in the Indo-Pacific, versus smaller, lighter, on demand deliveries and support of cargo, pax & fires / effects to outposts and teams sustaining, taking, defending and securing objectives (islands, ships, platforms, etc). 

Taking a look at what the competition is doing, namely the AG600, it has no cargo door and only conventional crew / pax entry doors

HJFcNt9wF80iV4CFYxxLp47XfaegJnOIiX8vup5v

It appears they are not planning on using this as a means of rapid delivery of outsized cargo to remote locations principally accessible via amphibious ops.  As the most likely aggressor in the Indo-Pacific, if they don't see the need to have an amphibious aircraft with a cargo door, we as the most likely defender probably don't either. 

As our Marine Corps (the principal land warfighter in the Pacific) is moving to a lighter, agile, lower footprint force structure, we as the supporting services should probably OT&E a certain small percentage of our force for that.  If they intend to be unencumbered by heavy armor, fighting vehicles and the like then they should be supported by force that supports the light, small and agile.

Concur with your point on SOCOM, they like to modify iron not wholesale acquire it themselves (the fleet of platform X).  I have no solution to that fact, only the conventional force providers have that much money and wherewithal to buy, sustain and operate an entire MDS, SOCOM ain't doing that so you have to convince the USAF, USN, USMC that it is (amphibious capable air mobility / utility platform) is in their wheelhouse.  Maybe AFSOC would see this as an opportunity as the ME AOR is downsized in DoD engagement, not sure, not an AFSOC staff / braintrust guy but maybe...

 

For me, one platform, is interesting but it needs to part of an overall warfighting strategy for the air platforms of the USAF, USN and USMC, for the USAF as a part of ACE. 

An amphibious mobility / utility platform, a manned multi-role manned tactical expeditionary / dispersed ops capable platform, an unmanned modular expeditionary / dispersed ops platform and a family of systems for logistics and C2 for these systems.  A Cactus Air Force that can survive and move, fighting and supporting while under long range fires to its fixed bases and operating sites.  

ACE is great and moving in the right direction but there is only so far you can go with systems designed and built decades ago with certain parameters and expectations.  

Edited by Clark Griswold
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On 11/6/2021 at 10:29 PM, Clark Griswold said:

Shack

That's the best argument against the US-2 but I'm not sure it's a disqualifying one.  The cargo door / ramp capability is perhaps a requirement for a mission that may have gone by or one that we will not do in the continuous spectrum of conflict / competition with China and other challengers in other arenas.

The air / amphibious delivery of cargo (mass, wheeled vehicles, etc...) may not be what this platform could / should be doing for support in the Indo-Pacific, versus smaller, lighter, on demand deliveries and support of cargo, pax & fires / effects to outposts and teams sustaining, taking, defending and securing objectives (islands, ships, platforms, etc). 

Taking a look at what the competition is doing, namely the AG600, it has no cargo door and only conventional crew / pax entry doors

HJFcNt9wF80iV4CFYxxLp47XfaegJnOIiX8vup5v

It appears they are not planning on using this as a means of rapid delivery of outsized cargo to remote locations principally accessible via amphibious ops.  As the most likely aggressor in the Indo-Pacific, if they don't see the need to have an amphibious aircraft with a cargo door, we as the most likely defender probably don't either. 

As our Marine Corps (the principal land warfighter in the Pacific) is moving to a lighter, agile, lower footprint force structure, we as the supporting services should probably OT&E a certain small percentage of our force for that.  If they intend to be unencumbered by heavy armor, fighting vehicles and the like then they should be supported by force that supports the light, small and agile.

Concur with your point on SOCOM, they like to modify iron not wholesale acquire it themselves (the fleet of platform X).  I have no solution to that fact, only the conventional force providers have that much money and wherewithal to buy, sustain and operate an entire MDS, SOCOM ain't doing that so you have to convince the USAF, USN, USMC that it is (amphibious capable air mobility / utility platform) is in their wheelhouse.  Maybe AFSOC would see this as an opportunity as the ME AOR is downsized in DoD engagement, not sure, not an AFSOC staff / braintrust guy but maybe...

 

For me, one platform, is interesting but it needs to part of an overall warfighting strategy for the air platforms of the USAF, USN and USMC, for the USAF as a part of ACE. 

An amphibious mobility / utility platform, a manned multi-role manned tactical expeditionary / dispersed ops capable platform, an unmanned modular expeditionary / dispersed ops platform and a family of systems for logistics and C2 for these systems.  A Cactus Air Force that can survive and move, fighting and supporting while under long range fires to its fixed bases and operating sites.  

ACE is great and moving in the right direction but there is only so far you can go with systems designed and built decades ago with certain parameters and expectations.  

https://www.stripes.com/branches/air_force/2021-11-10/air-force-seaplanes-special-operations-command-japan-3563136.html

  Interesting AFSOC visit to the Land of the Rising Sun

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