Monday, October 24, 2011

What happens when you are a decade late ...


I distinctly remember discussing this topic in theater 10-years ago with both Navy and USAF pointy-nose folks. We have discussed it here over and over the disgrace that the Navy never brought online the RW assets to support Riverine like we had in Vietnam, not to mention some light attack aircraft for SOF as well ... etc ... etc ...

Moving at a glacial pace ... this came up in Sept.
Lockheed Martin and Hawker-Beechcraft are considering pitching its AT-6B light-attack counterinsurgency plane for the upcoming Navy-led Combat Dragon II program, according to sources familiar with the effort.

The Navy recently shifted over $17 million into the Combat Dragon II program, designed to prove that a small, turboprop-driven aircraft can be used for "high end/special aviation" missions in Afghanistan.

The program was driven by the need coming out of from Central Command to have aircraft do close air support missions that larger fighters and bombers could not do, specifically in support of Naval Special Warfare units.
If you want a(nother) poster child for a hide-bound, myopic, and war-losing acquisition process - here you go.

Well - in twice the time it took to defeat the Axis Powers .... so close ...
The House Appropriations and Armed Services committees and Senate Armed Services Committee rejected a $17 million U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) request for the Combat Dragon II program, according to a Pentagon reprogramming document.
BTW - you know what we talk about Thursday. Add up all the money we spend on that in a FY and then bounce it off the figure above. Just thought I would add that in for 'ya.

Hat tip bthbts.

37 comments:

ewok40k said...

And the plane itself was off-the-shelf tech, flying in COIN versions in quite a few countries...
If USAAF would procure P-51 with such speed, Goering would never have suffered allied fighters over Berlin... Soviets would be there first, even if possibly a bit later with delay caused by lesser efficiency of allied air power.

xbradtc said...

This whole inability to find rapid response, low cost means of equipping our forces makes my blood boil. The Navy took forever to stand up its RivRons, when they should have been in theater and operting with RW/LAARA support by late 2005 at the latest. 

Anyway, for more LAARA background, I've written fairly extensively here. 

Old Grunt said...

<p><span><span><span>What else is going on here?<span>  </span>What are the real politics involved? Obviously, this has nothing to do with congress's concern for warfighgter support or cost savings.</span></span></span>
</p><p><span><span><span>$17M for </span><span>the Combat Dragon II program is chump change. Admittedly, it would cover 340 F-22 flight hours (@$50,000+/flight hour), but since the F-22 isn’t flying (yet again), there certainly is money available for re-programming.</span></span></span>
</p><p><span><span><span>Who is afraid of testing the viability of this concept?<span>  </span>Does anyone know of the politics behind this?<span>  </span>Why is Congress afraid of finding out how viable a COIN aircraft program really is? 100 (relatively cheap) airplanes (if the program is run properly), $1,000/flight hour, long loiter/time on station, dozens of accurate, small guided bombs (I have been on the receiving end of rockets and the only reason I am alive today is that they were area weapons) and (most importantly) an aircraft that can be maintained by service members and not hoards of contractors.</span></span></span>
</p><p><span><span><span>Can anyone provide some insight as to what happened? Is someone on the Hill worried that this program could impact the F-35 or the ever constant demand to re-open the F-22 line? What are the real reasons?<span>  </span>Or is someone worried that a possible aircraft from their state wouldn’t be ready to participate?</span></span></span></p>

ewok40k said...

17m $ is less than 1 F-18, FFS!

Lobotomized said...

The problem is what if the experiment works?  The real problem is that as an organization we are not capable of a non-beurocratically laden aviation unit.  The spec-ops folks want an aviation unit that can provide ISR and true CAS along with loiter time similar to a UAV but operate outside the CAOC structure.  In other words they want an aviation equivelent to Spec-Ops: high-speed/low-drag get the mission done with an increased level of risk over traditional forces and be able to be flexible in regards to mission requirements and tasking etc.  Currently this is impossible - NAVAIR and the USAF equivalent will never allow an aviation unit to operate outside of their developmental and operational construct.  Furthermore the CAOC would ultimately want operational control over any aviation element leaving the concept of true mission flexibility and timing a moot point.  Lastly - 17 million in aviation dollars is a drop in the bucket.  T6 trainer is 6-8 million per copy - add to that the cost of purchasing and integrating the avionics required for the mission would make this a 15million+ per copy and also reduce the mission requirement for the high-end pointy nose folks.  Defense contractors that build that big expensive jets don't want that at all and they contribute highly to the reelections of congressmen.  Bottom line - its a great idea that will never happen for all the wrong reasons.

Surfcaster said...

Ten years and not even approaching the point where the losing bidder sues.

e ringer said...

not a good sell when 3 out of the 4 defense committees reject the reprogramming. 

Bistro said...

The navy tends to discard things it does not want to pay for and then scramble  madly to rip away other DOD funding to support those suddenly not there required things. Army does it. Air force does it Marines do it. It's amazing what one does not need until one needs it like yesterday.

ewok40k said...

<span>Quote:</span>
<span>and also reduce the mission requirement for the high-end pointy nose folks.</span>

sounds like innovative fighter mafia that gave us Boyd and teen series fighters has changed into obstructive body of "defend your rice bowl" types associated with all-f-18 carrier wing...

James said...

I'm guessing airforce. Granted the airforce doesn't Want to buy these cheap coin airplaines BUT they sure as hell arent going to let anyone else get them.

After all "the Army do CAS with those disgusting planes that just wont DIE Damned warthog!"
Marines-or well most of the time the marines give everyone the finger and do it anyways....

Navy do what we should have done! Insane!

This Pentagon BS has got to go.

James said...

Imagine if we had something besides strike fighters to conduct air support or strike missions with. They could have longer range and loiter times. Cheaper to operate.

I know crazy right

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

It's a preadatory looking beast, isn't it?

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