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A-10 Movie time (for fans of the Venerable A-10)

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posted on May, 30 2006 @ 08:12 AM
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Crgintx,
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Now I'm just a knuckle draggin' Ammo troop
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And it is that attitude which ensures that the people who do the real work, the hard work, the ones who in fact have the /real/ expertise to make a weapons system _function_. Are in fact getting the pat-pat "So glad you could come to the party, the kitchen's entrance is over there..." lowest pay grades in a service where the ability to employ a weapons system has nothing to do with a college diploma or some special kind of innate skill. But is simply a monkey-presses-button 'officer grade' casted abitrary system heirarchy. The sad fact being that we could do an equal job with P-47s and flying officer ranked enlisted as we are with jets, simply because they have superior loiter and 'appropriate weapons systems' for the kinds of engagement that the A-10 is being used for. While the act of flying in combat itself does not require any higher intellect than the average arcade monkey can bring to bear.
Put another way, if we took away the approximatedly EIGHT BILLION A YEAR that is expended on salary and flying hours for the 'core force' of tactical aviators to retain their nominal 120-200hr/year currencies, we could pay the wrench turners enough to not have to see massive turnovers in the higher E-grade ranks.
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...who worked the Hawg's in the ROK, Pope, and Deseet Strom. The role of CAS(fixed or rotor) is that of force mutliplier.
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No it is is not. Because where your FSCL has you out 10-20km in front of the leadning edge of a force (as opposed to searching 'kill boxes' another 50-100km forward or on the flanks because the tasking agency isn't reactive enough to sustain a high rate of cab rank styled shooters) you are not _supporting_ anyone. At best you are shaping the battle through intimidation, more typically, you are just wasting gas. The 'two prong' system of OIF is a key example of this. Furthermore, where each contested engagement is potentially a _political loss_ for the POTUS yet the enemy will not fight a standup battle against main force levels of numbers, even if you use a Marine system or ground agencies to bring the cutoff line in closer, you are still losing by virtue of allowing the enemy to achieve first shot with suicide/irregular forces or desultory attacks against secondary (HUGE) CS/CSS elements in the camp-follower 2E. Now add to this a limited time on station and a generally mixed-bag level of competencies, performance profiles and weapons system capabilities to deliver munition-of-the-moment bombloads and things get really ugly because everything is not only _reactive_. But _lagged out_ to the extent that you can bring an asset off a tanker and get him into the chute AFTER the _ground elements_ have contacted the threat. By the time it takes a controlling agency to task, orient, assess and reengage, not just one but multiple platforms (which, in this case, were on ground alert the better part of 250 miles out.) the enemy is gone and you are, at best, blowing up residual logistics cache` or covered ambush sites.
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Basically, it's flying artillery.
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No it is not. Because it has fewer rounds generally able to do a LOT more damage but only limited time availability at much greater radius. And so unlike artillery which can be talked on through multiple drop or push commands between spotter rounds, with perhaps 4-10 guns able to deliver as many as 40 rounds per minute and 1,000 rounds total _but has no organic targeting_, you have to make the best use you can of a system which can function as a SCOUT asset. To kill targets as they move up. Something which an asset with X4 Mk.82 and 700 rounds of 30mm is hardly 'dots on the windscreen' likely to be skilled at.
Artillery can do achieve a similar mission capability, with highly costly (in the long run) throwaway assets like Silent Eyes and LAAM/SMACM. But in general, artillery delivered apertures don't have the altitude, endurance or sensor resolution to perform a really useful ISR mission. A drone which brings it's 2-3 million dollar FLIR+TV+LST+stabilized optics _back_. Can.
i.e. Airpower is NOT 'artillery'. Those who use it as such, especially in a limited threat environment where total engaged numbers are small and rapidity of deployment to a contested APOD/SPOD is often a precondtion, are fools.
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The US Army and USAF may not get along all that well but in the '70 when the A-10 was created they were very open about its capabilities so that the Warsaw Pact would get the idea if they charged their tanks into Fulda Gap that the combination of A-10's and Nato tanks would turn the area into a kill zone.
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Which is ridiculous because at the time, the A-10 was being represented as a multi-Mk.82 carrying Super COIN type platform in a CAS world about to change utterly with the arrival of the SA-7. A world which was about to see UH-1's deliver TOW from beyond small arms fire and a world which had been working on the AAFSS as a _stabilized_ gun platform able to deliver low-slant 30 and 40mm fires from upwards of a mile /with/ TOW (and Hornet) as options.
i.e. The A-10 was conceptually obsolescent at the time A-X replaced the Cheyenne as the 'latest and greatest' thing.




posted on May, 30 2006 @ 08:13 AM
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Of course when the A-10 /did/ arrive in NATO it was as a platform that didn't have a computing bombsight. Didn't have an autopilot. Didn't have an INS. Didn't have working TISL. Was using AGM-65A and B at a time when the operative ceilings and hazing conditions in Europe were such that you often couldn't get lock before passing Min-R, well into gun range. The A-10 put that Maverick on a LAU-88 trirail that was massively draggy and electrically unreliable and STILL only gave you FOUR GUIDED SHOTS (compared to eight on an AH-1 or up to 16 on an AH-64, whose M299 quadrail was in fact qualified on the A-10 with the potential of 16 rounds). These A-10s, based at Bentwaters Woodbridge were expected to transfer to some six FOLs (of which only one had an active detachment at any given time) within 100 miles of the IGB after a two hour transit lag, there to fight until relieved by CONUS units out of Louisiana, Texas and North Carolina, a minimum of 18-24hrs out. KNOWING that NATO was facing a 5 and in some places 7:1 armor deficit and that OMG breakout onto Hitler's Highway network was virtually guaranteed (see ODS and realize that the enemy had 40 damn years to prep their leapoffs and refine their battle plans). So that these FOLs would be overrun in half that time. At best.
Not to mention that the A-10 was a joke for NATO because half the time the minimums were so low that you COULD NOT FLY visual CAS. Most especially while reading a high density map with one hand and steering the plane out of the high tension lines with the other using 'visual reference points'.
For this 'awesome performer' we essentially threw away the one platform we had which could do 400knot ingress in all weathers, had an honest 500nm radius (out of England) with a fully linked autopilot and HUDWAC. Plus both TISL and an APQ-126 radar with interleaved T/A and Pinbeam mapping modes for high speed laydown. Which is the ONE tactic for which _cross-FLOT attacks_ with massive CBU deployment might have hit a sufficiently bunched enemy to do some good. Because cluster bombs from 200ft at night are worth ten times what a GAU can achieve for point targets on a battlefield configured armor formation. In the time you have to engage an enemy that thinks nothing of throwin away 200 vehicles at X to break out at Y, Z and A with a 1,000 more.
THIS was where 'artillery' should have been made to work. With SADARM/TGSM on MLRS or ATACMS and a survivable (which is to say 1983, not 1991) Pave Mover. In such a condition, airpower, like tanks, is little more than a chanellizing agency and the majority of kills have to be saturation based for the amount of time you can expect airpower to survive over a contested battlefield.
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The Warsaw Pact with its now known limited fuel supplies wisely decided against any action in Western Europe.
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The GSFG saw us deploy in less than four years both the P2 and the Gryphon. Both of which had the potential to turn Moscow into a self illuminating parking lot 'at least 18 minutes before' they could do the same to WDC. So they tried an endrun to the PG to -cut our oil economics- (dollar fiat currency) through AfG. And lost because they refused to win with genocide tactics and 'externals' into Pakistan.
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Soviet strategic plans changed to target the Middle East because of its oil reserves.
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Oh please. The Sovs have enough petrogas in the Siberian tundra to feed their needs for a hundred years. Low birth rates, low social mobilization factors (no consumerist tape worm) and minimal 'incentive to excel' were all that kept them from self sufficiency to begin with and now that Western companies have rebuilt their infrastructure, they are quiet happy to live within the means of their renationalized (say stolen back) production capacity. They 'fought' the way they did in the cold war because our system was as corrupt as theirs and they could understand it. Moron to Moron.
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Both sides woo'd Iraq with the Soviet's supplying the weaponry. They however had no inkling of how to fight a war in the desert with tanks. The US Army in a rare moment of wisdom started training for a desert war in the early '80's. It was pure serendipity that the A-10 pilots are all trained in the desert. The Iraqi's never stood a chance after nearly 50 days of uncontested aerial bombardment.
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I think it was the Habbaniyah division commander who said that after 30 days of aerial bombardment, he had lost 6 tanks. After 30 minutes with the VII Corps, he lost 50. Point blank: We fought over Irwin because that was where the Army had it's primary opfor adversary team along with instrumented ranges and a command and control system fit to test 'all elements' of a combined arms team. Even so, had we been 'serious' about fighting in the desert, we never would have painted the Hog in Euro-1 and made it a 'black vulture' to every VSHORADS threat out there. Nor would we have run them through a range area whose MILES gear could not register S2A kills (Congress actually had to deny funding for a year before this was fixed, in the late _90s_) using the existing ACMI pod interface. It is highly questionable whether the A-10 would have been sent to Iraq if the commanders had known the kinds of wombat-hunting missions (SCUD, Rep-Guard and Depot Busting, often more than 150nm over the fence, while the 16s played dust-raiser with Mk.84, just across the border in Kuwait) it would be used for because the aircraft was _entirely_ unsuited to that role. Slow to transit, no combat tanks, poor refueling habits, and it _still_ didn't have a computing bombsight or autopilot! You try riding a Hog with a full weapons load through a 22-25K transit up to Scud Alley or The Villas. Pig on Roller Skates atop Greased Buckyballs doesn't even come close.



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 08:14 AM
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Despite it's shortcomings, the A-10 is still the world's premier fixed wing CAS aircraft. The Soviet era Frogfoot has proven to be a gas guzzler with even less range than some of its faster brethern.
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The Su-25 is a supersonic airframe, clean, if you give it long enough. It is also a Russian airframe. It at least /attempted/ to integrate a range of smart munitions into a computing (ranger + gyro LCOSS) weapons system. 30 years and three major conflicts later, the A-10 still only has four pylons with 1760 capable wiring with less than half the force equipped with LITENING 'as standard'. In all those fights, it has never once faced the openfield AFV maneuver force threat it was nominally intended to. Nor the layered IADS to go with. And the ability to deliver point gun kills (if it ever mattered) now no longer does so because smart avionics have caught up.
Which is why, as with the F-16/A-10 debate the A-10 and Su-25 one is pointless because they are assets which belong to different nations with different doctrinal options based on availabe smart weapons. The Russians use conventional overhead CAS and BAI because they /still/ don't have a cheap PGM or a battlefield ISR system to do more. We have both affordable IAM and the bandwidth passthrough to handle remote targeting from multiple assets. We also have the aeronautical design experience to make a cheap, endurant, fast, uninhabitted platform.
Ironically, the difference between them and us is now one of our again being so embarrassed at using force for it's own sake as to send out understrength vehicle convoys to beg the attack so it looks like the savages deserved it. Vs. applying 'overwhelming force' to simply eradicate anything in a given area of operations which /might/ be threatening.
The Russians lose because they don't make friends and they are (just) conscious enough of world opinion not to take their wars to the extent necessary to enforce a national imperative. We lose, because the world sees U.S. and thinks our kindness and restraint is a sign of weakness. For which the fast-ambulance approach is symptomatic of an attitude problem. If airpower was so densely populated as to make primary fires AND targeting a preemptive event for nearly every engagement; it wouldn't matter whether our troops road naked with a bag of gold around their genitals down the Apian Way. Because every indig for miles would know better than to take the bait. And might actually start to do something with their worthless dustball living conditions.
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Every other fixed wing aircraft used in close air support are fast movers or jet trainer ill-suitedly pressed into the role.
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If you put an F-16 up at 20-30K at flight idle, pulling the 131 or 184 off the centerline and equipping it with two quads of BRU-61 loaded GBU-39, it will STAY THERE, as long or longer than the A-10. Because it only has one engine. And being a T-fan, it's got /hours/ of hangtime at low throttle settings. The problem then being the stupid pilot whose competency degrades by the second he spends boring skyholes round'n'round the CAS stack. Along with the HUGE number of MMH:FH that the 'fighter mission' systems tend to accumulate as a function of the overall DCO numbers. There is NO NEED for a 'fighter' in the CAS environment. Nor for armor and system redundancies and and and relative to the direct-attack role that is all that the A-10, as a dolled up turbo-Skyraider, can really do well.
What you need is the ability to see the attack coming (apertures + cheap flight hours) and _just enough_ smart munitions to make the enemy do their own math on massed-foreces=mass-casualty willingness to die for nothin'. When a small child gets tantrumy you don't go down on your knees and start slapping-back. You use Contempt Of Engagement tactics to leverage his arms behind his back so he cannot fight at all. And then you deal with the 'where's my clean well, where's my schoolhouse, where's the demining' problems that really need fixing so that he has a reason to be grateful little savage. It's long past time we stopped playing like kids with these damn primitives. We are smarter than they are and we should be the ones directing the flow and conditions of battle until they decide they are tired of bleeding for nothing.
The A-10 may be a hog. But why anyone would 'be proud' to get down and dirty when the other combattant pigs love the mud and it just makes you dirty and dumb is beyond knowing.
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As far as air-to-air, no fast jet pilot is going to waste his fuel on a low-level fight with an A-10. They'll make a pass and hopefully get a lock with a heat seaker and move on before the A10 can bring it's Sidewider's to bear on him.
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Within limits (as goes the intercept, so goes the fight), this I actually agree with. Thus the likelihood is that the A-10 will suffer the radar shot without the threat airframe NEEDING to mix it up (though an F-16 will hold a tighter circle, longer, than an A-10 will). And yet the UCAV's signature can be made so LO (no tails, no canopy, no radar, no gaping supersonic inlets = NO 'FIGHTER' MISSION) that, in combination with the standoff possible with weapons like the GBU-39, it doesn't necessarily have to sit there and take enemy fires of either the A2A or (much more common) S2A variety. Further, given an AVEL'd AIM-120D in the weapons bay and an _ADAAM_ illuminator 'somewhere in the background', there is no reason to assume that you cannot 'force multiply' your strike package based on how badly the threat air wants to trade 50 million dollar Su-30MKI for a 25 million dollar X-45/47 by coming another 40-50 miles out to try and find the shooters that are themselves unlikely to be bunched up.



posted on May, 30 2006 @ 08:14 AM
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Here, the obvious difference is that the A-10 was never intended to do the D1/R1 mission set so it's utter incompetence in the Interdiction/Strike category is not all that surprising. But the UCAV is also inherently a superior CAS asset to the A-10 /or/ any F-## insert-here. And thus it is a helluva lot more likely to be _present_, in inventory numbers, to execute BOTH missions. Because it is cheap to own. Cheap to fly. And more endurant than any manned asset.
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A last note, the A-10 is/was being heavily used in Afghanistan for really just one main reason. It's the only USAF aircraft with rough field capabilty.
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I might have believed that before they started military construction to open up all the new fields around the country (and indeed before we were effectively thrown out of Krgyzhstan). 3 years on, any runway in the country should be long enough, with both overrun and emergency arrestor gear, to handle almost any jet (certainly if a C-17 can get in...). Even in terms of FOD, while the A-10 may be rather less Hooverish than an F-16, if it can't get itself to the fight in time, it _does not contribute usefully to it_. And a UCAV, by virtue of a dorsally mounted inlet, huge wingarea, low drag, and JPALS controlled scatter, should be at least the equal to the A-10 as a short/rough field capable system. If nothing else, _during the initial buildup_ a properly configured A-45CN force (1,500 airframes with joint USAF/USN custody) could fly 700nm up from the coast, loiter with a single refueling for those same 10hours and then go home. With forward staging only happening after Red Horse or equivalent Airbase Activators could set the place up. The UCAV being so much smaller in terms of logistical footprint and required sortie generation numbers (no more 1:45 cycle) that a Carrier could theoretically bring 80-90 airframes to a combat theater and dump half of them ashore _without_ compromising it's organic airwing.
Again, all of this could be made to happen, 'if only' we could so completely destroy the flying monkey's club as to remove their 'separation of powers' effect on airpower altogether.


KPl.



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