posted on Jul, 6 2005 @ 06:39 AM
As a Brit, I would love to see the 'Warthog' in service with our Royal Air Force - perhaps somebody could even flog me one (or maybe 2 or 3 or just
give me the lot!)
I'd love to, it's a piece junk.
I cannot understand the need for bulti-billion dollar aircraft in a ground attack role! Stealthy? Please, don't make me laugh!
Neither can I but the fact remains that, over Afghanistan, the A-10, with it's 'overhead' CAS methodology (literally a wagonwheel orbit) was NOT
the platform of choice because it could not leave the trashfire envelope and it had a _very_ hard time coordinating with those Marine and AF (F-16/18)
aircraft which could use an offset CAS-stack (literally cardinal point system instead of an IP) to get in and off the target, _quickly_.
With magnified optics, GPS and datalink modems able to take a coordinate, auto-slew the crosshairs over the target, if need be refined the positioning
and put a GBU-12 into whatever deserved it.
What happens when the internal weapons bays are opened to eject/fire weapons? Not so stealthy then, is it?
A particularly specious argument.
Namely because the same thing occurs as happens on Day-1/Raid-1 of a 'real war'. A momentary blip on the radar.
The difference being two fold:
1. What can the enemy do about it. An 8nm SAM requires a tank or bus sized wheeled transporter (SA-13 and SA-8 respectively). A 20nm ranged SAM
requires a /fleet/ of tractor trailer sized towing vehicles for both the telephone pole sized SAMs and the various radar and command vehicles that go
with. This kind of system is costly and increasingly vulnerable to it's own signature footprint (and displacement lag time) far more than any
transient air threat. Whoopsy daisy, 10 cruise missiles vs. 1 SA-2 battery and let's see them shoot them ALL down. THEN we bring in the vulnerable
fixed wing aircraft. Stealth or no.
2. The standoff of modern munitions is going up all the time. A typical LGB could have a range of anywhere from 2n to 8nm, depending on profile and
type (the 500lb GBU-12 is the most popular because it doesn't suffer ballistic shortcomings due to weight vs. wing size). A GBU-31/32 JDAM takes
this to 10-12nm, even 15 if you drop from 30,000ft or more. A _winged_ JDAM called the Small Diameter Bomb (GBU-39/40) is now the standard of merit
by which you get 25-30nm downrange, 15nm cross range (literally, a 60-90` turn after launch) and and 50-80nm from a high altitude or supersonic
The key point of differentiation in a COIN/SSC airwar being that most barbarian threats would rather come steal an airliner because they _can't_
operate or afford a truly sophisticated S2A capability. And thus tend to shoot up in the air with unguided/tubed weapons which drop back on their
heads in as little as 9,000ft/1.5nm slant.
The A-10 is vulnerable to trashfire. A modern jet is not. Because it has the power and the stall margin to fly above 17,000ft.
Sky to mud needs a plucky little aircraft with lots of armour, a tight turning/banking circle and lots and lots of ordnance which will kill the
baddies - not some fly-by-wire, state of the art, computer controlled aircraft in which the pilot (whatever his skill) has nothing better to do than
read the flight manual or 'Playboy'. LOL.
Fine, why does it have to be an airframe like the A-10 which is bloated, overweight, underpowered, increasingly hard to maintain and utterly past it
in it's principal weapons system (Maverick and Gun) method of dealing with POINT targets.
You could put Hellfire and laser guided 70mm rockets (LCPK) under the wings of a turboprop trainer like the PC-9 or Tucano (AT-29) and get _better_
More loiter. More point-accurate shots. Better altitude performance. Better short/rough field performance. Better logistics. A second seat for
the 'duck shooter' to use the sensors and communications from.
Ground attack aircraft need to by flown by gutsy guys who like to get down low and get dirty - someone who doesn't mind if some of his a/c gets blown
away - 'cause he just knows his a/c will get him home in time for a quick bite and the next sortie.
No. _CAS_, like any other military mission, needs to be flown by people skilled enough and well enough equipped, to avoid being killed so that they
do not create a Blackhawk Down scenario and so that _the next sortie_ is flown by an aircraft which is not so damaged as to be useless for anything
but canbird status.
The sadness is that the concept of visual Close Air Support _died_, even before the war (Vietnam) which gave birth to the AX concept was over. The
A-10 was utterly incompetent for antitank operations in a NATO war. And it is even more so now that a combination of some very sophisticated MANPADS
and a high level of collaterals-imbedded target sets precludes the 'spray and pray' TLAR theory of Skyraider CAS.
CAS tables show the GAU-8 (or indeed almost any gun) a having a _75m_ own forces/enemy forces separation limit when used in overhead mode. Even in
parallel, it is only good down to about 25m. That is a wider 'spray' margin than a typical /street/ in Baghdad.
What we need today is a very small precision overhead weapon (Viper Strike) and a series of 'long slant' 10-20,000ft standoff munitions (JCM, LCPK
and SDB) with which to remove the 'close' element of air support from visual acquisition rules altogether.
If you have effectively made the 2/3rds of the Hogs front fuselage volume occupancy a _total waste_ thanks to the GAU's 4,200ft (low) slant range
limit, WHY invest money in things like the DSMS, SADL and LITENING to make it into an F-16 wannabe?
Not least because there are so few of these aircraft now. Something like 170 airframes still flying, last I heard. Better to shift the CAS/FAC-A
mission to the Army, give them a new budget to buy a better OTS replacement for ALL their armed helicopter missions and then give the job of loitering
'gun cabinet' bomber to the USAF with a UCAV that effectively puts ordnance where the new CAS plane calls it down on, +/- 34" (what the GBU-39 is
Because the UCAV can linger for 10hrs or more at a time with 8 bombs onboard. And the CAS/FAC plane is better for being able to _launch_ from a FOL
about 20 miles behind where the grunts are screaming 'Air, gimme Air!'
But I suppose it's a question of your amrs industry dictating the future and rubbing their grubby little hands at the thought of all the billions
they will make from your poor taxpayers.
What a joke. The Brits can't afford to build even their own STOVL fighter anymore and 'refuse' (categorically) to accept a CVTOL jet like the
Rafale or Hornet for their new carriers. So we get stuck with the _most expensive_, _most difficult to produce_, _heaviest_ of the JSF contenders.
Solely to provide them with a cheapo alternative.
The U.S. doesn't need another manned fighter. The F/A-22 and F/A-18F will do fine in the roughly 10 years before THEL type directed energy weapons
creates a massive 'KT Boundary Event' extinction and redefinition of ALL airpower.
The A-45CN is more than sufficient for BOTH the 'cruise missile with landing gear' high-threat mission. AND the 'B-52 with JDAM' loitering
It is purely for reduction of our massive national debt, accumulated being the 'arsenal of democracy and defender of the free world' that we are
trying to force a bad position with the JSF.
Rather than simply going unmanned and sizing down our manned airforces by roughly 2/3rds in preparation for the inevitable.
Remember the F4 Phantom? Did much the same job, until some desk jockey decided it was not up to the job. Same thing here.
The F-4 was a terrible CAS platform until it got Pave Spike and LGBs. Hell, it was a /terrible bomber/.
The only comparison you can make using that example with today's environment is that of saying that: "As the electro optical/SALH revolution
brought us to the one bomb, one target level of precision warfare in 1970, so too does the SAR radar and Inertially Aided Munition bring us to the
'many bombs, many targets, above the clouds' level of standoff safeties today."
And about damn time it is too. People need to dump the notion of Hollywood strafe passes and snake'n'nape level deliveries of random killing.
Instead shifting to a notion of CHOOSING your targets so that you get the leadership and the bomb factories while maintaining a _Contempt Of
Engagement_ doctrine on all the little gun bunnies who only want to make warfare into a coup-sport.