posted on Jun, 28 2005 @ 05:54 AM
The US Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force can all have fix winged aircraft but the US Army cant.
That's a lie. The USAr has had aircraft ranging from the Caribou to the Mohawk to a range of specialist EW aircraft up to thru the current era.
The question is whether they can /arm/ them. And on this The Key West Accords were specifically designed to leave the USAF standing over a crowd of
eunuchs as the sole _nuclear_ force exponent. In a time when 'Missile Command' (an Army bureau) was more or less a battlefield nuke and SAM
This 'clear division of roles and missions' was anything /but/ clear, as the USN argued often and loudly to anyone who would listen how readily they
could knock down a B-36. Even as they knew the Russians were scared pissless about carrier groups launching short-warning strikes off some 15,000
miles of coastline.
But funding was tight and there had to be some language to divide the R&M set.
The sadness is that the helicopter is and always has been a dead duck in anything approaching a medium/high intensity _tubed_ threat environment
(4,467 UH-1 and derivatives down in SEA, some of them multiple times).
That means guns between 12.7 and 57mm have greater than .3 SSPK whenever you bring the helo 'overhead' to employ like weapons of cannon and FFAR.
Now throw in RPG and MANPADS which take the threat ceiling up from about 3,500-5,000ft all the way to 12,500ft and more and the amount of money you
put into the optics and guided weapons for standoff just isn't worth the limited coverage area that these slow and vulnerable eggbeater platforms can
Thus the A-1 and OV-1 and OV-10 were /all/ superior CAS/COIN type platforms, simply because they averaged 220-310 knots and could climb out of the
trashfire without trading propulsive energy for lift. While carrying about four times the number of passes (in the A-1 this is more like 10 times,
with as many as 25-30).
The same holds true, today, for systems like the Tucano/ALX and PC-9 series turbotrainers.
More pylons, better PGM options, more ECM/EXCM, more loiter at radius and faster transit back to a forward area refueling point or 'road strip' if
If I put a squadron of these 10 million dollar fixed wing aircraft 100 miles from the nearest fight. And a 'troop' of 31 million dollar Apaches
30nm from the same fight. On shear cost of purchase AND operations (helos suck up maintenance dollars like you cannot believe, trainers, even when
armed, do not) I can put more CAS into the stack (offset orbit hold waiting for 30 second call for support) with the 20 planes than I can with the 12
helos, even though the helo's are theoretically only about 10 minutes from the fight and the fixed wingers are closer to 20.
Of course, the current USAF setup is /insane/ because the F-xx platforms suck gas in the tenths of nautical mile per pound of fuel range. And while
that might be acceptable for long range interdiction, it is utterly ludicrous for intra-country ops. A-10s, even after Hog Up (roughly 4 million
each, minus the targeting pod and datalink necessary to /pretend/ they can do the CAS job), cost a fortune to operate and have only a single crew
option for trolling fire and close coordination fights. When we could have had AT-29 type platforms, including a sensor turret and a WSO to use it,
straight off the line for about 7.
And the helos are so easily shot down that we dump Apaches (complete with Longbow suite) to old farmers with Martini-Henry singleshot rifles.
I can understand the Navy having them but the Marine Corps? They fight on the ground just like the Army does.
Marine air, at least as a 'first responder' is well night useless if the fight is serious. Largely because they have /incredibly/ inefficient
amphibious warfare ships. One of the _very few_ things John Boyd got dead on correct was the notion of 'not becoming obsessed with the beach!'.
Hence they suck up valuable hull volume with a well deck that nobody needs (you either sale into harbor in full view of god and CNN like Somalia or
you're stood off so far beyond the horizon that even an LCAC is an hour or more from the surfzone).
While what little hangar and deckspot room they have 'left over' is in equal competition between 100ft CH-53/CH-46 trooplift (and soon to be the
V-22 Moby Dick) and the 8-10 skids of the UH-1/AH-1 60ft class. There is next to NO 'running room' for STOL Harrier ops and bring back is marginal
for VL's as well (especially on the II+).
And so, even if a detachment is brought aboard for a cruise, you are looking at less than 8 airframes with marginal ability to integrate with the deck
cycle for airmobile ops.
Certainly insufficient to force a beachhead, let alone go any distance inland as escorts.
The only thing the Marines can do, 'in the immediate sense' is play embassy extraction force in a largely uncontested (i.e. 'revolutionary ally')
For anything more, you have to have at least 2 carriers and while the Marines maintain a standing commitment to support a rapid standup so that we
don't face another 9/11-10/10 '30 day late' scenario. The fact remains that they cannot REACH deployed carriers with the kind of capability to
shift Hornet squadrons rapidly into theater and then into captured airfields. Not with anything like SPEED and certainly not with their deployment
Again, you are looking at 15+ days and so it's better to fight a clean fight with the fleet train and support units you have for an existing air wing
than to pretend that the USMC is contributing to the USN's support of Marine ground forces.
IMO, especially with the shift to UCAVs (which cannot operate from 'minidecks' without STOBAR at a minimum) and the approach of DEWs (the
Israeli's, God Spite'em having sold THEL technology to the Chinese) the Marines probably need to reverse the position by which they abandoned
artillery for airpower.
Moving back towards JCM/Netfire type smart standoff attack and surveillance missiles in the 20-60km class (Israeli Spike-ER and Delilah-GL would work
too). While getting into the turreted 120-240mm, breach loading automortar as a serious (towed behind Shadow or onboard LAV) means to replace the
105mm light gun which the Army pretends it can air deploy. For multimission rounds (Smoke and Incapacitants as well as Silent Eye surveillance) and
the sub 10km 'deep in the next alley over' mission set.
Again, acknowledging that the Inchon days are /long over/ and it is better to fly past the surfline than to breach it, the need to DRIVE away from the
LZ is still overriding as we standup a true air-mech force option.
You cannot risk your airplane ticket out of the hotzone by landing ontop of your enemy. And you cannot _disengage_ from that enemy if you cannot run
on wheels or tracks faster than he can.
Anything less (foot from aerial delivery) is just another SWAT team like Delta or Force Recon.
Anything more (bigger than a platoon sized UA with big vehicles unsuitable for aerial delivery) and you are looking at deploying a force which is too
numerous to rapid-extract in the face of overrun or shifted need-elsewhere.