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Air Force considering A-10 replacement

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posted on Feb, 23 2015 @ 09:58 AM
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a reply to: PaddyInf

I think the answer for most is "both" - but the Apache is certainly more versatile, with better sensors and situational awareness. The hog, on the other hand, can arrive sooner, stay longer, and carries an immense load-out - and is more survivable in built-up areas where someone can just pop-up on a rooftop, and fire a direct-fire weapon, which the Apache is more vulnerable to, particularly in daylight.

The problem I see is that in the operating envelope of the A-10, it's replacement is going to look a lot like, well, another A-10. Years ago, the AF wanted to develop an "A-16" for CAS - never saw the value of an a/c flying by at 10,000 feet/600 knots in a CAS environment. To my mind, the AF conflates "CAS" with "TAC Air."

The only real "replacement" for the A-10 is/will be either:

a) Evolutionary improvements in the number of sensors, synthesis of information and speed of reaction - overhead UCAV's providing surveillance, ground-based video sensors, etc, being fused and processed more quickly, calling in indirect precision fires, like Copperhead, Excalibur or GMLRS, or ac-delivered PGM's from stand-off a/c. That is, no A-10 "CAS" a/c at all (at least, not a manned a/c)

or

b) An a/c similar to the A-10 - heavily armed and armored, with better sensors and data-sharing for improved situational awareness, surveillance, and targeting. Radar stealth is kinda pointless, as they operate in the envelope of direct fire HMG's, optically-tracked SAMs, etc. Now, if "visual stealth" were on the table ...




posted on Feb, 23 2015 @ 11:10 AM
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How about a Frog foot?...just joking!



posted on Feb, 23 2015 @ 06:55 PM
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originally posted by: squittles
a reply to: PaddyInf
Radar stealth is kinda pointless, as they operate in the envelope of direct fire HMG's, optically-tracked SAMs, etc. Now, if "visual stealth" were on the table ...


I believe it is.

Also your TAC vs CASAIR analysis is spot on.



posted on Feb, 25 2015 @ 12:11 AM
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a reply to: squittles
Absolutely spot on assessment squittles. Only you and noeltrotsky waaay back on page one of this thread have though outside the box and realized that CAS may not mean an aircraft necessarily. Massing indirect fires from multiple sources and fed with distributed sensors will be far more effective. You use the system that gives the best targeting information and the system that gives you the most rapid and appropriate response regardless of what it is.

Is the A-10 still relevant enough in the current climate of Iraq/Afghanistan style ops? Yes I believe so as long as you acknowledge its short coming and flaws and plan around those. Whats really funny in the "lets kill the A-10" debate is that while you have idiots like Major General James Post trying to shutdown and strangle the truth getting to Congress regarding A-10 effectiveness, they just deployed 2 squadrons to the Middle East and Germany to combat ISIS and remind the Russians to play nice in the Ukraine. I personally think the fighter mafia's bluff needs to be called and rip up the Key West agreement and give the Army control of air assets where relevant. The A-10 would be a good place to start.

Now on the assumption that you still want or need to have a CAS aircraft to replace the A-10 post 2027 you need to look at what the A-10's strengths and flaws are and not get caught up in emotive arguments, plus you need to consider the likely battlefield around that time which is never easy to crystal ball. I will consider this in part two of my post.

LEE.



posted on Feb, 25 2015 @ 12:14 AM
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Part two.

So to continue these are my thoughts on how to consider a CAS successor aircraft and its design parameters in comparison with the A-10.

On strengths the A-10 has:
1. Psychological dominance. That is enemies fear it and troops have confidence in it.

2. Rugged construction. It was designed from the outset to not only be strong and therefore survivable but to use clever design techniques to minimize parts count. Some flying surfaces for example can be used on either side of the aircraft. This not only reduces your operating cost per flight hour but reduces your logistical tail. It also reduces build cost.

3. Able to use a wide variety of munition types again with minimal infrastructure.

4. Operate from austere bases. Something others like the F-35 will not be able to do.

5. As already mentioned in point 2, it has (had) relatively low build cost and its CPFH is lower than many contemporaries. Operating costs need to factored in when you consider how much an enemy will cost to neutralize. Why spend 30,000 per hour when you can do the same job for 10,000?

On weaknesses the A-10 has the following:
1. Speed. Contrary to what some think speed is everything, speed is literally life when it comes to transiting to prosecute a target and re-engaging the target or carrying out post-strike assessment. It also greatly reduces your exposure as the CAS delivering platform and therefore reduces your risk as well as the troops you are trying to support. Slow is fine for some flight phases but if you called in for CAS and you had the choice between a platform that will take 10mins and another that will take 6mins to reach you which are you likely to want if the chips are down? Slow platforms can get people killed. Some here have suggested a swing-wing platform and while it isn't I feel ideal it is on the right thinking track.

2. Copious armour. A lot of armchair generals love to wax lyrical about the A-10's legendary armour. If it wasn't as slow as it was and relying on a primary weapon that gets you far too close to the enemy you wouldn’t need to lug it around. Plus if it’s so great then why don’t some of those extolling its virtues jump in the pilot seat and see how they like being shot at? This reminds me of the behemoth MBT slugfest mentality, you realize it’s just stupid once you step outside that little mindset.
However you still need to consider it because on the one hand you don’t want to expose your pilot and vital systems but on the other you don’t want to weigh the aircraft down so much it risks exposing them unnecessarily anyway. However if you use some of the more modern lighter weight composite armour's and assuming you don’t build in a heavy GAU-8 type weapon then you can protect the pilot and systems adequately for a smallish trade-off. I do like the idea of optical camouflage though, that may prove more beneficial than some other technologies again assuming it can be cost justified and not a maintenance nightmare, otherwise you need to rely on broadband jamming.


3. The GAU-8. Yes I know as a psychological weapon it has few modern peers and we have all spent our teenage years marvelling at its milk bottle sized rounds able to punch straight through any Warpac top armour. But the gun has a fundamental flaw on the modern battlefield, range. The optimum engagement range for the GAU-8 is a paltry 1200m, max effective is around 4km. That is dangerously close on a modern battlefield where you are a sitting duck at those ranges to any MANPAD wielding fanatic even in a bush war, let alone going up against multi layered defences with much nastier goodies than that. And although that big drum mag holds something like 1800 rounds at its now locked fire rate of 3900 rpm, even at an optimal 1 sec engagement burst that only gives you a little over 26 shots, half that for 2 sec bursts.

A better substitute would be to use APKWS or its cousin DAGR. which with only a four tube load out would give you 28 engagements with much greater range (currently between 1-6km at sea level and up to 12km from 20,000ft, but there has been talk of extending that further with newer motors) and very high accuracy (of the order of 0.5m CEP) and for vastly reduced weight and complexity, plus it can be designated by either the launcher or any other ground or air asset. If designated by other than the launcher the aircraft can break away and set up for another launch. The round also has superior warhead performance compared to the GAU's 30mm rounds, plus it comes with a flechette warhead. Also it has already been successfully test fired from the A-10 at heights up to 15,000ft. And this is just one weapon with others on the drawing board that will appear over the next few years. DEWS is another area that may prove game changing sooner than later so whatever you build it better have the mother of all generators on its engine accessory drives.

3. Avionics and night ops. This is where the A-10 has been REALLY hamstrung and it didn't get much better since 1977 till the C model came along over 2 decades later. Fairchild made a good attempt to sell the USAF or anyone else the 2 seat night attack/adverse weather version for which it built a demonstrator around 1979 but it wasn't taken up which was a great shame. Any A-10 replacement will have to have a good avionics and sensor suite to take full advantage of advanced weapons, get a clear picture of the battlespace in a CAS environment and keep it out of harm’s way at a safe standoff distance. BUT it needs to be relevant to the mission and not gold plated.

4. Engines. These should have been upgraded on the A-10 years ago and it isn't like there are not any decent contenders in that thrust class. New motors would reduce fuel consumption and increase the T/W ratio not to mention simplify maintenance. Any replacement needs to bare that in mind.

Anyway that's my broad thoughts on the subject.

LEE.



posted on Feb, 25 2015 @ 07:47 AM
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Good AvWeek article.

m.aviationweek.com...



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 05:41 AM
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So much for the army taking it...army says no



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 07:33 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58
Agreed it is a good article. Some of what General Carlisle said has been mentioned elsewhere. At least he seems to be open minded about debate on it.

LEE.



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 07:38 AM
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a reply to: boomer135
Ahh yes, but why is General Welsh saying no? A couple of the comment posters for that article made good points regarding the probable reluctance of the Army taking the A-10, chief amongst them was funding unknowns and exactly who would fly and maintain them. I suspect with all the politics and inter service gentleman's agreements stripped away the Army would actually gladly take on the role so as not to rely on the Air Force.

LEE.


edit on 26-2-2015 by thebozeian because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 06:27 PM
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i love the big ole hog. but if they want anew system why not a super drone a similar airframe built around a similar cannon if it ain't broke why fix it replace the cockpit with more fuel or ammo. or you could have a modular nose weapon how anout a drone with a built in thel laser instead of a cannon would still need to be able to carry similar comp. of helfire missiles and bombs



posted on Mar, 1 2015 @ 07:29 PM
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a reply to: thebozeian

They would need a large budget increase to do it.



posted on Mar, 2 2015 @ 01:53 AM
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a reply to: thebozeian
The Air force very purposefully has kept the A-10 from being upgraded specifically so that at some point they could cancel it at some point citing the lack of modern features as their reason for killing the program. Honestly the only reason I'm in favor of keeping the A-10 is my total certainty that the Air Force will either never start the replacement program, deliberately turn said program so expensive a totally useless number of them are bought (meanwhile certain other programs in financial hot water will get bailed out in the form of avionics development money provided by this new program will basically be used to finish developing key systems for the embattled programs and the new attack plane will be forced to use these entirely unsuitable avionics so no one can claim fraud), or even better the air force will get the allocation use most of the money for other stuff return a totally insanely high estimated unit price and get the program killed.
.
But realistically if you could start with a clean sheet, and there was a realistic chance of politics (intraservice, interservice, corporate, NATO, and finally congressional etc) not completely destroying any chance of getting a decent unit cost, huge numbers of airframes actually built and procured domestically, that also was very friendly to adapting new subsystems and etc made by foreign buyers, and a company behind it willing and able to do all of the above.... Yeah I'd totally favor a new build solution!



posted on Mar, 2 2015 @ 11:46 PM
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I think we're going to see tighter integration of satellites with close air support in the future. Perhaps satellites using lasers to map the battlefield to give better situational awareness to the army units on the ground, and better target acquisition to whatever platform replaces the A-10.



posted on Mar, 3 2015 @ 01:27 AM
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Laser guided mortars and what ever happened to NLOS artillery.

Guided surface to surface missiles and more drones with better rockets and missiles. Who needs an A10 when a guy under fire can take control of the weapons of an overhead uav and fire them danger close himself?



posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 11:55 PM
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One week study re-affirms A-10 retirement decision

An interesting tidbit:


Once the F-35 reaches its full potential within the next decade, the service is considering purchasing a relatively inexpensive replacement for the A-10 to perform CAS against enemies that lack sophisticated air defenses, Gen Herbert Carlisle, chief of USAF Air Combat Command says on 6 March during a discussion with reporters at the Pentagon following a weeklong multi-service discussion of CAS.


I hope they are aware that an attempt to do this was already butchered a few years ago.



posted on Mar, 7 2015 @ 12:07 AM
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The "Light attack" debacle comes to mind as r=their idea for replacement so they can get thenm CHEAPLY.



posted on Mar, 7 2015 @ 04:56 PM
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What about replacing it with a new weapon designed for CAS, something like ant personnel guided airburst cluster munitions which release say hundreds of tungsten darts and rain down in a controlled arc.



posted on Mar, 7 2015 @ 05:11 PM
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a reply to: roguetechie
any company doing DOD contracts can't just shift money or any other assets from one program to another.
this is such a big nono that it could cost said company all future contract awards.



posted on Mar, 7 2015 @ 08:01 PM
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a reply to: justdust
.....And yet it happens every day.



posted on Mar, 7 2015 @ 09:06 PM
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What about replacing it with a new weapon designed for CAS, something like ant personnel guided airburst cluster munitions which release say hundreds of tungsten darts and rain down in a controlled arc.

Thought that was one of the selling points of the Metal Storm that has interestingly never taken off considering its advanced technology.Now they are just playing around with robots.




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