Actually the A-10C IS the old A-10A, just upgraded. They modified the cockpit, put multifunction displays in so it's a semi-glass cockpit, and
upgraded the electronics.
Here's a link that explains the chnages to take it from an A to a C and why it skips the B designation.
The A-10 is merely lampreying off the Falcon Up and CUPID programs (part of the CCIP plan) and is NOT worth the effort. Indeed, I wouldn't be
surprised if those pathetic 5X5 MFDs (too small to be looking at digital maps and high rez targeting imagery) were not in fact the old 'green
screen' systems pulled from F-16s as the Vipers get the color models.
Even the SADL/DSMS system upgrade has a bigger (longer) display area.
It should also be said that, no matter how 'virtual' the A-10 gets, it sucks and blows at high altitudes. The flat-rate on the TF34's is cooking
the cores up real fast and even the 19,800lbst that is theoretically available up through the mid 20's now only provides less than a .5:1 T/Wr on a
jet which weighs 40,000lbs on takeoff.
Ironically, this is about where you want to be lasing with the new 'high altitude sparkless' targeting pods and is in fact as much as 10-15 THOUSAND
feet below optimum JDAM flyout altitudes.
Indeed, even /with/ the added power of the TF-34-GE-101a engine, the A-10 doesn't fly well above about 17,000ft because the thick, heavily cambered,
wing starts to burble and detach supersonic flows so the jet is walking a tightrope of stall line somewhere between about 230 knots for power and VNe
@ 270 knots.
All of which adds up to taking /forever/ to get anywhere at 'birdstrike from behind' airspeeds, even once your past the 10-15 minutes it takes to
get up to 'transit altitude'.
Keeping in mind that 'transit altitude' has dirt above the canopy in parts of Afghanistan.
Which is not at all surprising when you consider that the A-10 was originally invented to defeat the AH-56 and supplant the A-1 for _Vietnam_ based
CAS operations wherein a 5,000ft transit was above all but 1-2% of the trashfire and no target was more than about 60 miles from a FARP/FOL
Even once the metric went from SEA to NATO, the need to fly high for any distance (Bentwaters to the German FOLs) was minimalist because the radar
SAMs which were thicker than ticks on an Alabama coon hound, could kill you /well/ short of the FLOT.
For the modern mission, the A-10 is worthless. Even in Afghanistan, during OEF, the fast jets were preferred because they didn't try to do the
'overhead' method with wagonwheel intimidation leading to excessive yank and bank counter threat maneuvering on the aircraft. Which spoils SA and
makes accuracy suffer.
Because the 300 knots is still 300 knots and the pilots frequently had little talk-on cue.
Big Engine aircraft with high altitude capable wings are better for CAS -if- they come with the targeting avionics (laser spot tracking, 3rd
generation FLIR wells, imaging radar, digital map database and a DATALINK) to get the job done using a CAS-stack methodology to get into and off the
target so the next man can shoot.
None of the above equipment is presently integrated on the A-10. ALL of which, if integrated, will reduce it's 'bare field' ability to operate.
The only thing the A-10 brings to the fight is a bunch of pylons and even that is deceptive because most of them are not PGM rated (assuming the
AAQ-28 is even onboard to designate).
And it still takes upwards of 40 minutes to get to and from the fight if you are (say) playing Anaconda games out of Bagram or Kandahar. That means
your ability to put iron on target is LESS THAN a 'both pylons today I tell'ya!' F-16.
The best weapons system for the CAS/OBAS/MAS mission is one which provides 'COP' or CONTINUOUS OVERHEAD PRESENCE. Because not even a Harrier, based
at a FOL '15 minutes out' can match 300-4000 F-16's which are always in rotation (CAS-stack, formerly Cab Rank) to service targets on a 2 minute
basis. Because they can throttle back and sip gas while riding the merry go round of a CAS-stack marshal for 2-3 /hours/ if need be, F-16/18
platforms are better.
And the BEST system is the A-45CN UCAV. Because it combines a bizjet engine core with a massive kite-wing which takes that loiter function up to
about 10-15hrs, while preserving a 400 knot cruise option.
Combine this with the new generation of GBU-38 and 39 IAMs and you can even multi-rack challenge the A-10 for total carriage.
You're right, I did misunderstand you. I think the A-10 will survive any changes to the AF, strictly because the Army loves them, and the primary
mission is Close Air Support for the Army.
'The Army' has no frickin' clue how to do CAS. And everytime someone brings a jet back with '200+ holes in it' (note she was actually clearing
the approach lanes to her BIA at the time, not really supporting active ground ops against a well equipped enemy) they prove it.
Jet's which are CAT-A Write Offs do nothing for 'the mission' they are supposed to be executing except make it clear that it needs to be done
better. Because we cannot build more A-10's (and if we could it would be for numbers closer to 20-30 million, not 7). And trading one for a squad
of infantry is thus moronic.
In this, the A-10 is only marginally superior to the AH-64 and AH-58D which were nominally (JAAT) intended to make /it/ safer.
What you want to do CAS is something that can fly in the 10-16K range with the two crew and MMR/FLIR of a Longbow Indian. While maintaining a solid
It must have MAWS and DIRCM and a decent (Towed Decoy) RFCM system besides. It doesn't need to have a lot of pylons, because the munitions it
carrries are all small/multiracked to the extent that they don't require individual parent pylon carriage.
It _sure as hell_ doesn't need the GAU-8 cannon. Because the LCPK mod to the 70mm FFAR beats that monstrous waste of volume in both lethality,
accuracy and multishot capabilities using LAU-131 or 3A pods.
What you WANT then, is something which the Army and Marines both can use to replace their choppers (which are nothing but targets now) while
maintaining the same or slightly better STOL field performance as the AV-8B.
Something like this-
350 knots on the clock (enough to escort a V-22) and a range of micro CAS weapons on FOUR pylons. Plus a big delta wing for gas and an SDLF to help
lower approach speeds to about 80-90knots, at which point reverser clamshells in the massive 'cool cowl' keep the landing run to under 400ft.
P.S. The notion that AMRAAM is useful and that LRAAM 'are only for bombers' is brainless. AMRAAM comes off the rail at around 14-17nm, max.
Impacts are then as short as 8nm. At which point, almost every SRM heat shot out there is a valid pyrhhic threat.
Similarly we fired something like /10/ AMRAAM, Sparrow and Phoenix at TWO MiG-23/25 aircraft challenging our OSW/ONW containment of Iraqi air
defenses. The jets, still probably the top high speed performers in the world, simply turned and extended out from under the threat (though the
MiG-23 suffered a fuel kill). And we could do _nothing_ to continue the pursuit because of potential SAM traps.
This is _exactly_ where the 'bomber killer' LRAAM becomes an absolute necessity for fighter operations. Because a missile can violate a line on a
map and nobody cares. Because a missile can /reach in/ to match contemporary radar's ability to _look in_, such that wheel in well kills are
realistically possible without being engaged by anything from SA-2 to SA-8 base defenses in the flyout.
AMRAAM sucks as a missile. It does so because it was designed to be carried on F-16 tiprails so that LANTIRN interdictors could beat back MiG-23's
with AWG-10 levels of 'shoot down' while themselves pinned like butterflies to TFR profile.
Unfortunately, a 7" diameter, 347lb, weapon just doesn't have the motor impulse or warhead kick to be useful on a jet like an F-15 to which the
carriage of 8", 500lb, Sparrows is 'no big deal'. Because they have thrust and the low drag carriage modes.
But they also have a massive frontal RCS plus a Rodan wing which effectively keeps them outside the 20nm SAM ring. And the 8nm radar merge.
Yet guess who still gets the A2A mission because they also can't drop bombs? That's right. The ol' Albino.
At which point the F-16+AMRAAM combination is just another B-17 gun turret to the P-51 sweep force.
A missile that sustains Mach 3.5 to about 150km is /very much/ necessary for both today's and tomorrow's air combat. Because optics (OSF and
PIRATE) plus DEWS will further extend the detection threshold to the 30-40nm rangepoint. Behind which RFLO jets must 'hide' their EO signatures.
While avoiding approach to terminal laser/maser/HPM target defense.
Unfortunately, thanks to the lightweight fighter mafia, we are stuck with not only a useless long range interdictor. But weapons sized for it that
must be replaced lest they become the 'new SRM' in turn.