The Air Force, institutionally, really isn't all that interested in the CAS mission. I'm not sure it ever will be. That is a separate problem, I
think. I agree they view it as an undesirable job.
roguetechie The reality is when it comes to dollars and cents you could pretty easily retrofit much of the capability needed to the
several hundred airframes we already have, most of which Air Farce has abandoned in the desert, at a pretty small fraction of the cost of what it
takes to run new build preds or reapers off the line! Not only that but with this mod alone you'd already be pretty competitive in total cost per
flight hour to keep them in the air.
It's not even close, really. If you can get four hours of flight time out of a Reaper or one hour of flight time from an A-10 for the same money, it
starts looking like an easy decision. Especially since the Reaper has much, much higher endurance. Generally half of the two hour endurance of the
A-10 is going to be to and from the station, while the Reaper is spending 10 hours on station at a time.
The Reaper has a unit cost of only 12 Million. Rebuilding an A-10 would cost more than that per airframe when it was all said and done. New engines
alone would cost half or more of that. Six million or more for new engines, and then strengthening the airframe to take the heavier larger engines and
the wings to extend the service life. You want to add sensor capability; that's a big ticket item (and probably better suited to the two-seaters which
they should have made more of). That's not counting development costs.
The Reaper is going to be hanging out at a height that is beyond the reach of small arms; it is essentially invisible to the naked eye and isn't
putting out anything like the IR emissions that the A-10 down in the weeds is doing. While providing functional ISR capability to commanders on the
ground. The A-10 cannot do that. The cost to make it do that would be prohibitive.
If it's not a low-threat environment, the last place I'd want to be is in an A-10 at medium altitude providing ISR or "throwing long bombs". I'm not
sure why you think that's viable. If you want ISR at altitude, we already have airframes for that. Manned and unmanned. Same for carrying ordinance.
In a medium- or high threat environment, we have other assets. That's why we have precision munitions so that we don't have to get low and slow to hit
even small targets like tanks. It doesn't need to be a UAV -- there are plenty of fast-movers capable of carrying precision munitions. You don't fly
much CAS in that environment anyway. You fly SEAD missions until CAS is possible. We have assets that can do both and don't have to sit on the ground
until it's safe to get low and slow. If you're a bean counter looking at where to spend dollars under a tightening budget environment, it's an easy
The only scenario in the near future where I can see we would really want the Hog back would be if the North Koreans started rolling armor across the
DMZ. Even then, we'd have other assets to rely on. Would we be better with the A-10, yes. Is it worth paying for that capability long-term just in
case? I'm not so sure.
Airframes have been reduced 13% by the Air Force because of budget cuts. All other things being equal, I'm sure they'd keep the A-10 or they wouldn't
have poured money into the update. But the money isn't equal anymore. The budget is being squeezed.
I love the A-10. Some of my fondest memories involve A-10's overhead. I think with current capabilities, while we're making reductions in force
structure, it is a smart cut. In the weeds, fighting tanks, it is without peer. But that mission doesn't really exist anymore, and when it does pop
up, we have rotary-wing forces, UAVs, Spectres/Harvest Hawk, JSOWs, etc to undertake that mission.
edit on 11-1-2014 by _Del_ because: (no