Monday, January 02, 2012

A Decade Late, but We'll Take Them


Well before AFG we knew we needed these - I still remember people saying, "It would be nice to have a few OV-10s around ... "

From the start of the march from Camp Rhino, we doubly knew we needed this capability.

The same mentality that hates the A-10 hates this even more. They are the same people, BTW, who will tell you with a straight face that the F-35 can replace the A-10. Yep - "those" people.

Anyway, a decade late and a "good enough" - if we can keep them. This doesn't pack quite the punch it should - but it is good enough.
It’s official, the Air Force has selected Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano as the Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft, better known as a counterinsurgency (COIN) plane. ... a couple of years ago the Air Force planned to buy dozens of cheap, turboprop-driven COIN aircraft that could be used to provide light air support and ISR for troops fighting insurgents in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The planes were supposed to take the burden for such unglamorous missions off of jet fighters like the F-16, which cost far more to operate. However, the draw-down from Iraq combined with shrinking defense budgets forced the air service to dramatically reduce the program. Now, the service will use the small fleet of turboprop planes to help build up the nascent Afghan air force, and “other nations.” Those last two words leave the possibility open for more Super T sales beyond those to the U.S. Air Force and Afghan air force.
I know that the USAF will try to kill this as soon as they can - just like I know there are many in the Navy who want to kill Riverine again - but for now let us say, "Good."

... and yes - they will be built in the USA; can someone get me a ride?
The A-29 Super Tucano will be built in Jacksonville, FL by American employees with parts from American companies. Aircraft training will be provided in Clovis, NM. More than 70 U.S. suppliers in 21 states will supply parts or services for this contract. At least 1,200 U.S. jobs will be supported through this contract
It would be nice if the USN could get a squadron or three for NSW support. Put them in the Reserves if the active duty Hornet Mafia gets the vapors. Two squadrons in Norfolk, two squadrons in San Diego. Better yet - make is six total; 3 & 3. One active and two reserve squadrons per coast.

I know Captain Hendrix could tell us how they would fold in well with influence squadrons - if you could get the NSW folks to let a DET or two go for a few months.

You will have no problem getting pilots to sign up that's for sure; it has guns in the wings for goodness sakes!

118 comments:

Naval_Historian said...

DoD has a predictable habit of preparing to fight the last war; This isn't a modern aircraft. We went all-jet for tactical aircraft for a REASON, Sir. Put me solidly in the "want to kill it" column; nothing here a Legacy or Super Hornet (or F-35) can't do with JDAMs or a good old fashioned Mk 82 Snakeye with a fuze extender, or Rockeye or Gator, or.... The Marines have been doing Close Air Support with Hornets for 20+ years.

Tregonsee said...

I am skeptical, given the relatively narrow window of opposing technologies which will permit this to live.  However, good or bad, it is a cheap project.  Comparable to propping up a doomed to fail solar power company, for instance.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

NH,

As a fire support guy, I strongly disagree. 

In theaters with marginal air defense, an a/c such as this is vital.  Especially with not enough of the legacy systems left to go around, and no prospect for buying enough of the newer, exorbitantly expensive systems, you need something.  This aircraft is handy, has loiter time, carries sufficient mix of ordnance, and is able to be carried on big-deck amphibs. 

Besides, in a medium-threat environment, the survivability of an aircraft IP inbound in at 280 knots is not significantly lower than an aircraft IP inbound at 380 knots. 

sid said...

Ok...

Gotta bring it up.

WCOG said...

Typical CF, the Department of the Air Force apparently mailed the RFP for the LA/AR  program to the wrong address at Beechcraft so the AT-6 wasn't in the running for this competition. One would think that an aircraft based on a trainer already in service would be a better choice...I guess one turboprop is much the same as the next though.

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

I dig it, but if we are supposedly getting out of the COIN business, why are we just fielding these weapons now?  Here we go again rebuilding the US military in order to fight the last war!

As for Riverines, already happened.  The RIVRONs are going to be reorganized into Mobile Expeditionary Security Force squadrons (MESF).  You may remember them as the "Mobile Security" Squadrons that also sucked up the Naval Coastal Warfare (NCW) Squadrons (Inshore Boat Units / Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Units) but deleted about 3/4 of the inehrent capabilities.

The RIVRONS are a cool idea for Iraq.  However, they have limited applicability in any other country, even Columbia.  SOF has their own ride:  the SWCC.  So what are we going to use RIVRONs for?  Are we going to go screaming up the Yalu river with them?  Not likely.... 

WCOG said...

That's what the ejector seats are for...?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Flight pay.  'Nuff said.

Byron said...

You forgot to mention you can buy a lot of Super Tucano's for the price of one F-35...a couple of air forces worth.

My son-in-law is retiring from the Navy next October. He's going to send his resume to Embraer (he's a turbine mech by trade, and was in charge of power plants for the East coast -60 helo squadron replacement engines...if you're on a ship from the east coast, chances are you have helo engines my son-in-law was in charge of building)

cdrsalamander said...

<p>AOD,  
</p><p>1. COIN: When did we get out of COIN before? Against Tory militia in the late 1700? Indian wars from ~1492  and going on for another 400+ years? MO and KS during the War Between the States? The Mexican border areas 100 years ago? The Philippine Insurrection a few decades prior to that? I know, all through the Caribbean and Central America in the 1900s?  Wait - Vietnam.  No, Somalia in the early 90s.  No, IRQ and AFG in the early 21st Century?  Yea, thats it.  We will never be involved in counter insurgency ever again. Nope; not never.  
</p><p>2. Riverine.  You sound exactly like the people in the 1990s who killed Riverine (real Riverine with monitors and everything) during the Clinton Administration, with the last reserve squadron decommissioning almost exactly 5 years before we needed it again.  
</p><p>3. To focus on China only is about as useful as focusing only on Iran a decade ago.  
</p><p> 
</p><p>You know that phrase about those who don't remember their history ....
</p>

cdrsalamander said...

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sid said...

<span>That's what the ejector seats are for...?</span>
<span></span>
<span>Alot more to the entire subject than that WCOG....</span>
<span></span>

Byron said...

Ummm...big white square?

Byron said...

Blank white square?

Chick CDR said...

I'm so thankful I'm now at JECC...they actually allow us (without negative consequences) to think about things besides China.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

Not to mention the lower cost of  spares and repairs and the lower consumption of jet fuel and lower fuel cost resulting. Then there is the lower cost of packing, shipping, receiving and storing said spares and fuel in the field. Training might well be a bit less difficult as well.

Logistics. Finance.

Decisive when insufficient. Always.

James said...

The AT-802U would have be better in most everyway. Better payload, cheaper to buy and operate, armored, better range, three times the payload.....

pk said...

big white blank square?

C

ewok40k said...

Closest thing you can get to flying P-47 on low level strafing runs over Falaise pocket :)
If I was 20 years younger and fit for a pilot I'd know where to apply...
Empire's (and make no mistake US have one, albeit reluctantly) bread and butter is COIN, great wars mean something went really, really wrong on a strategic deterrence and diplomacy level...
Plus, entire squadron can be bought for a price of single F-35 or so...

The Usual Suspect said...

Second orientation in Ground, Clouds, Sky?

The Usual Suspect said...

Cost effective, loiter time, payload...what more could you ask for?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Chick CDR,

We are gonna talk ourselves blue about China and A2AD, but ten years from now we will have precisely the same shortcomings as we do presently. 

The panacea of ASBD will solve all of our problems.  As long as the war with China is as notional as the Power Point concepts.....

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Byron,

Hinted at it.  The empty sky (like the empty ocean) where the aircraft should be doesn't do much to help prosecute targets in the AO.  

Same deal as projecting power meaningfully without amphibious capability and without enough grey hulls.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

It's the page that the Sea Tucano fill with the glory that it will write large upon the history of NAVAIR.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Provided it is a left-handed transgender Hispanic pilot.....

steeljawscribe said...

Well, there is this -- if they follow the OV-10 model from Vietnam, it gives E-2 pilots a chance for flying something other than a C-2 and get a crack at putting some checkmarks in the air-to-ground arena, besides TFOA that is...
w/r, SJS

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

CDR, with OCO money coming out the ass we can fund anything our hearts desire.  In this fiscal environment, we can't.  I was angered when my beloved NCW became part of MESRONs.  At least there was a mission for them...an expeditionary one at that.  What are we using RIVRON for now?  What is the plan?  What are their capabilities and limitations?  I know them pretty well, so to be blatantly dismissed as clintonesque is a tad much for me.

I'm not doubting that we'll be involved in COIN at some future date.  I'm just saying that it is not a capability that we neccessarily need to be pumping all sorts of money into right at this moment.  It's like infantry or warships.  Which should we have more of?  Which are easier to grow in a pinch?

RIVRONs are nice to have.  If they will be supporting the Marine Corps, give them back to the Marine Corps.  If they are going to be supporting the SEALs, fold them into SWCC.  If they are going to be doing primarily coastal warfare--which is the latest concept--then they get folded into MESRONs.  Unless we are going to start sending MEB's to the PI, then I don't see a purpose for us to maintain a capability that is expensive and of limited utility in any contingency outside of COIN.

Frankly I am surprised to see how much you disagree.  You were just lamenting our lack of ASW training one post earlier.  where do you think a lot of our training budget went?  GWOT!  It wasn't just OCO dollars, there was a lot of internal shufling and reprioritization.  

And yes, it is a lot easier to reconstitute a RIVRON then to try to reconstitute ASW capability.

xbradtc said...

Maybe, maybe not. But better a squadron of birds in hand than two in the procurement wild...

Mike M. said...

Actually, I think we're looking at the F-35B replacement.

The concerns about spending money on COIN-specific hardware instead of more general-use equipment are valid.  We've been through this before.  You can do COIN with high-end weapons, albeit inefficiently.  COIN-specific hardware is useless in a major conflict.

On the other hand, MOOTW is the main function of the USMC these days.  Which means that Super Tucanos would be a quite legitimate acquisition.  And with F-35 likely to go the way of the Great Auk and the dodo bird, it might be an appealing option.

Bryan Clark said...

I agree having a residual capability for COIN is important, even in our fiscally-constrained times. Capabilities like Riverine, coastal warfare, and permissive CAS will be needed again and are relatively cheap to maintain at an appropriate level in the interim. They will also probably be used - in training our partners if nothing else.

I would argue, though, the Navy should be focusing on sea-based capabilities. Riverine and coastal warfare make sense from this perspective. The Super Tacano, however, does not. Why would the Navy invest in a land-based CAS and ISR aircraft? Our challenge with P-3s has been keeping them focused on maritime needs and if the submarine threat wasn't becoming faster and more capable, we'd prefer to have the P-3's capability be sea-based as well.

Now, Super Tacanos could be an option for sea-based use. Then you have to ask if we'd be better off going with an unmanned vehicle for the same mission. The choice isn't between F-35 and Super Tacano, it may be between diferrent mixes of F-35, F-18, turbo prop and unmanned.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

"<span>On the other hand, MOOTW is the main function of the USMC these days."</span>

Can we please can the use of "MOOTW"?  That is such Pentagonese.  Dropping off hums rations is "MOOTW", as is a bunch of other stuff that the USMC doesn't do much of. 

Low-intensity conflict.  Oh horrors, that term from the 1980s. 

The USMC could use this airframe, because its Harriers and Hornets will be reaching the end of their service lives, and will not come close to being replaced 1 for 1. 

BUT....  the mission of the Marine Corps is the seizure and defense of advanced naval bases and prosecution of such land campaigns as may be directed.  An amphibious force in readiness. 

Anyone thinking that is an outdated concept needs to stand in front of a map of the Pacific and explain him/herself.

Mike M. said...

URR, I'll stipulate that the Marines have the amphibious assault brief.  But I don't see this happening without carrier support.

I'd like to see the numbers, but I suspect you could operate a Super Tucano from an LPH.  Which makes it a realistic replacement for the F-35B if you constrain the mission to COIN.  Which is, i think, not unrealistic.  And that sort of "State Department's Army" work has been the bread-and-butter of the Marines for decades.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Well, yes, though there is a lot more to projection of power ashore than just amphibious assault. 

Yes, the A-29 can be made to work from a big-deck amphib and may even end up with folding wings and an arrestor hook. 

The A-29 will not replace the F-35, but can keep you from using a $120 million dollar aircraft for counterinsurgency.  Sorta like having a frigate that keeps you from using a $1.5B Aegis grey hull to chase skiffs off of HOA. 

But I digress....

Grandpa Bluewater said...

Fog of War.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Thought it was our intel picture after the Chinee disrupted our "network centric" approach to warfare....

butch said...

Hell, the Army is already denying COIN had anything to do with turning around Iraq,  Why should AF be any different?

Naval_Historian said...

Supers and Legacies are bought and paid for. Strike fighters like the '18 and F-35 can do air-to-air AND air to dirt. AND air-to-air refuel. The $$$ that would buy ONE of these can buy a LOT of Mk 80 series/JDAM/whatever as well as fund Fallon dets to go train with them. If you want a truly great all-weather strike aircraft, brand new build A-6E TRAM is the way to go. Best all-weather attack aircraft of all time. Budgets being what they are, strike fighters are what we have and what we can get funded though. More capable, more economical. What's not to like?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

I would love if we re-started manufacture of the A-6 series.  As a fire supporter, I loved the aircraft.  But we will not. 

As for more capable, the F-35 had better be, the F-18, too.  But with a unit cost twenty times what the A-29 costs, I doubt either of those two airframes are more economical in performing COIN/Light Attack.  Methinks operating costs are many times higher, as well. 

As for other "capabilities", the robustness of the F-18/35 is not needed for the missions envisioned for the A-29.  As I noted above, why have a $200M aircraft doing the job a $10M aircraft does?

Just like not building frigates or a TRUE littoral combat vessel to handle those missions, and winding up with $1.5B AEGIS platforms chasing skiffs.

Naval_Historian said...

I reckon I just don't see much of a future in brown-water ops. Simple matter of money. The A-29 CAN'T do Air Superiority, Long Range Strike or Tactical Electronic Warfare. A Hornet/Lightning II CVW can do ALL these and Close Air Support, too. We won't always be fighting dirt farmers in Jihadistan, and we need multi-mission capability the A-29 cannot provide. In short, the $10M aircraft can't do the $100M aircraft's job, but the $100M aircraft can do both.  

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Well, the $100 million aircraft is closer to $200 million. 

Yep, it can do both, all right.  But if you can't buy the numbers you need, some poor sum-bitch is gonna get a whole bunch of empty sky instead of CAS.  Or, if there are only 7-8 CVNs in commission, a whole bunch of empty ocean beneath that sky. 

When it becomes all or nothing, and you can't afford the "all", you get nothing.  So you lose guys to the dirt farmers because you didn't think you were ever going to fight them again, and didn't have enough high-end systems you could afford to risk, so that poor sum-bitch found himself and his men outnumbered fifty to one, with no combat multiplier. 

Not a good bet, not a good plan.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Besides, you can get one of these A-29s for the price of the last two Michelle Obama vacation packages.

NavyDavy said...

NH,
The A-6 could not then nor could the F-18 now provide the CLOSE Air Support that the  OV-10 did in the Delta.

Al L. said...

Army can't buy fixed wing attack without pissing off Air Force. AF cant buy rotary wing attack without pissing off Army. TADA! Solution found. And it stays on station a lot longer than a helo and gets there faster.

James said...

Yes and no.

The bird is done. UAE has already baught some others too.

James said...

By the time you added arrestor hook, strengthened the frame and landing gear you'd shorten its already small payload to around 1,500-2,000 lbs.

We need a modern day A-1 for Naval role.

NAnonymous said...

Sounds like a perfect IA tour for an Naval Aviator.  I'd sign up in a heartbeat.

Al L. said...

I don't think that amphib thing would work out too well. It was designed for austere runways, but not  extremely short ones. About 1200' min for take off and 1800'  min to land if my memory is correct. Not any better than a half loaded C-130. 

Casey Tompkins said...

The truth is that the American Army (and later the Marines) have spent far more time on COIN-type operations than "conventional" warfare. Only problem is that conventional warfighters get all the props and good publicity.

LCDR Black said...

My buddy was at Pax on the evaluation group for this.  He loves this plane.  He was telling me the stats on it over the Beechcraft and said it was a very capable and inexpensive plane to provide CAS.  I have always liked the A1 as it lingered and carried oodles of stuff.  I hope they follow through on this. 

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

That's fine, but you can't fight a COLD or HOT war against a conventional army with COIN forces.  You can fight them Guerilla style and win, but you have to let them conquer you first...

cdrsalamander said...

Sigh.  How soon they forget.  We really need more and better training on operational planning. "<span> it is a lot easier to reconstitute a RIVRON"  Of course it is, but it isn't there when you need it.  RIVRONS were up and running right after their greatest need.  Also, this isn't a binary thing.  You can have both, and with very light attack and RIVRON, they are not a big pull on the budget; even a shrinking one.</span>

... and for the record, both are very useful in both cold and hot wars; actually, they both quickly become "high demand, low density" assets.

Warrant Diver said...

Remember this-during Operation Anaconda in the Sha-e-Kot Valley in AFG, nightime fire support was was provide by AC-130s who had to leave during the daytime because they are a big, fat, slow, Goodyear blimp of a target. During the day, F15s and F18s could streak by at 400+ knots and drop a JDAM on a 12.7 mm gun nest, killing two and obliterating an acre when that type of overkill wasn't optimum. Apaches couldn't fill the firepower gap because there weren't enough, they weren't fast enough, and they are still relatively fragile compared to a fixed wing.

What was needed was something with LOITER TIME that wasn't rotary-wing fragile. A squadron of these, flying in rotation, could have provided all day close air support.

Mike M. said...

I'd have to see the performance numbers.  20-30 kts wind over the deck helps considerably.

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

If you really want to piss people off, recommend re-constituting the Army Air Corps.  All CAS for US Army forces to be provided by AAC, plus tactical-operational lift.  Fighters, Strategic Airlift, bombers, nukes, cyber, satellites remain within a much smaller USAF.

Aubrey said...

Yup AOD....can't remember if this is part of Plan Salamander or not, but it should be!

Naval_Historian said...

The 800 lb gorilla in the corner nobody wants to look at is the Red Air Force, North Korea and the ChiComs. This puddle jumper is all right for dropping iron on dirt farmers, but is nothing more than a target for a Russian/North Korean MiG or a ChiCom J-7/whatever. That's the beauty of the Strikefighter Concept; fights its way in, goes air-to-dirt, then back to air-to-air going back out. F/A-18s have splashed MiGs, where this thing is completely overmatched in a serious Threat environment. Loiter time? That's why we have buddy stores and KC-10/KC-135. Said it before will do so again; you can buy a lot of ordinance for a strikefighter for what one of these things costs.

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

My Operational Planning knowledge is still, admitedly, under development.  However, I do know that today's RIVRON is not designed to be sent into denied environments, unlike its Vietnam era counterpart. 

Question:  besides "Theater Security Cooperation" aka TSC Theater (snark), what can you use a <span>modern day </span>RIVRON for when not in a shooting war?

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

almost forgot.  And you fold all of the Air Force Special Operations Forces into the AAC, to include the PJs, the CCTs, and pilots / air crew.

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

you had me at "prepare to fight the last war" and then lost me at "serious threat environment."  That is like knocking an amphib for not doing BMD, or a helicopter that isn't Airwolf for not going Mach 2.

This airframe is a tough, survivable platform that has a small footprint and can be operated in forward locations that are not hospitable to our Gucci aircraft fleet.  They can get low, slow and nasty.  They will not be operated when SA-2's are all over, MiG's are patrolling, or even a prevalence of MANPADS are about.  These are a nitch platform for a nitch mission...one that exists today and will probably exist tomorrow. 

Scope.  Perspective.  We're not going to be able to buy 20 F-35s by cancelling this program.  We won't solve the fighter gap, we won't be able to afford an entire MEB.  By purchasing this cheap platform, we can stand a chance to better support SOF, allies and other light infantry units on the ground in remote locations while conducting limited COIN / CT operations.  Period.

ewok40k said...

the mission will probably exists forever since there is always lightly armed group of insurgents hating the US somewhere in the world trying to destabilise friendly nation... actually these things are in multiple places of the world :P

ewok40k said...

and it could be nice to employ to air-patrol Mexico border, btw...

FDNF'er said...

I would turn in my 2000 Hornet hours to fly this aircraft.  I also would enjoy debating with anyone here the pros and cons of this platform over a beverage on the porch.  It is terrible the FA-18/JSF mafia won't spare any funds to make this a reality for the Navy / Marine Corps.  The JSF will sadly fail and all of DOD will be left with only the opportunity cost of ten years and R&D to build a $150 million paperweight.  Sigh...  At least the fly-away cost of the F-22 is cheaper?

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

I've been thinking about it, and I really disagree with your COIN comment.  The conventional military buildup of the 1980s won the cold war.  It also won the hot war in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Just Cause, and would have won in Grenada if not for the Cult of Joint rearing its ugly head into all of the Operational Level Planning.  Somalia was not lost for inappropriate force structure.  Somalia was lost due to piss poor definition of mission and operational level planning.  Tactically we were right on the money.  The Marines did great, the Rangers did great, D boys did great.  Same with Vietnam.

Spade said...

"<span>I reckon I just don't see much of a future in..."

I wonder how many people those words or similar have killed and how many lessons they caused to be relearned. </span>

Grandpa Bluewater said...

by Tactical operational lift I presume you mean Combat Cargo.

Outlaw Mike said...

First off, couldn't they select some twin-engine aicraft? Isn't there a descendant of the Pucara on the market? For missions like these, these aircraft will by nature (they are slow) draw far more flak and ground fire than an F16, which zooms by, ergo, when the engine is out it's over.

Flatley IV? I'm right now reading Pacific Air by Sears (am in the Battle of Midway right now, btw very good book). On the photos midbook, there's a Flatley being decorated. This Flatley wouldn't be a descendant, would he?

James said...

LOL No no.....150 is the price for the F-35A i believe the C model is more expensive and the B model is almost 200mil.

The irony.

GIMP said...

Already had these at Fallon, NV for a while and got rid of them, supposedly under pressure from KS congressional delegation that wanted a made in KS alternative. First hand reports were that the plane was very well suited to the mission, but since when did that matter?

http://www.airwarriors.com/community/index.php?threads/imminent-fury-a-29-pics.34549/page-4

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jw2513/page10/

Steel City said...

I'm not quite sure what all the beef is about the JSF.  Why I believe that it will be the best aircraft this nation has ever seen.  At least that is the opinion of the great senator from Texas by the name of Senator Cornyn.  If a bonafide patriot with no possible outside interest other than defending this country is 100% behind this plane then so am I.

Naval_Historian said...

I really think there aren't that many NavAir types here on the Porch. The Skyraider went away because it couldn't survive in any kind of semi-modern AAA environment; COMNAVAIRSYSCOM/BuAer figured that out by the mid 1960s and that's why the A-1 community went to the Skyhawk or the Grumman Ironworks. We *have* Legacy Hornets, A+s and C/Ds, that are already bought and paid for. The F-35 is already in the pipeline, never mind the Super Hornet. These aircraft can turn and burn as well as pickle off air-to-dirt Ordinance. We may not be able to buy 20 F-35s by killing this program, but here's what we CAN do by killing this: Pay for a whole lot of Fallon dets and a whole lot of yellow striped Ordinance for the strikefighter guys to drop and get good with. That or have 2 aircraft and no $$$ for training with either.

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

Yes, Sir.  C-27 Spartans and their ilk

SouthernAP said...

Because the JSF/F-35 is supposed to replace all of the following aircraft: A-10, F-18A/B/C/D, F-16(all variants), F/A.2 Sea Harrier, GR.9 Harrier, F-4F, F-4E2K, A-7P/H, AV-8B Harrier and a whole slew of 3rd generation aircraft that are still out there on the market. It is also supposed to do it cheaper, better, faster then all those other aircraft as well. There are some that think the F-35 is stretching themselves and may end up like this project, It is supposed to share between the three variants almost 80% commonality (so the belief is that if a USAF F-35A lands at a RAF base they can swap out tires and certain other parts to get the plane back airborne and back home. Also so considering that Lockheed/Martin is the lead builder on this bird and thier previous 4th generation aircraft, the F-22 had spent too much time being reworked and to date hasn't flown a combat mission.

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

I disagree with you whole heartedly.  All of their doctrine and strategy says the exact opposite.  The problem is that they are still retooling the conventional force to fight COIN.  You can't do both in this environment.

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

Ok, so the conventional forces win the cold wars (except for OIF I, Desert Storm, Kosovo), and the COIN forces win other small wars except for when the small wars doctrine isn't followed.  It isn't about props and publicity.  It is about what resources are needed to win which wars, what risk is accepted, and what is the severity of the outcome of risks being realized?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Actually, it is about the foresight to make sure we maintain an adequate capability across the full spectrum of warfare, and dominate the higher end. 

But, that doesn't leave enough money to buy a taxpayer-funded permanent government-dependent voting block that allows for perpetuation of power.....

UltimaRatioRegis said...

NAVAIR my ass.  I am a fire supporter.  I want air-delivered ordnance as a part of a combined arms warfighting doctrine. 

I DON'T want four super-duper airplanes that I can't get when I need them, because they aren't available or are too valuable to risk. 

I WANT a platform that has ordnance carrying capability, loiter time, and responsiveness. 

Marines in the fight deserve that.  Not some mumbo jumbo about how the very small numbers of a $200M airframe can't get to the decisive place and time because there aren't enough of them.

What part about not putting LA/LR missions into modern AAA threats didn;t you get?

Therapist1 said...

Why not just make more A-10s?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

So does JATO.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

What?  Make more of a useful, tough, durable, highly effective airframe to fill a vital mission?

THAT'S CRAZY TALK!

Grandpa Bluewater said...

Yeah. Cuz it isn't super sonic. 


Zoomies.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

Yeah, the First (really first) Combat Cargo flew the Hump the CBI (China-Burma-India) theater. They did resupply of Merrill's Marauders by flying low over infantry in the Burma mountains/jungle, if nobody shot at them they would turn around, fly lower and kick the cargo en parachute' out the open door on the C46/C47. And I do mean kick.

They referred to the ATC as "allergic to combat".

The new kids have some stuff to live up to.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

Put floats under it.

P3FO said...

Now we're worried about empty sky with COIN?  Seems to me like we've had the opposite problem...   a sky too packed with various communities all trying to get thier hands in the pot.

I understand that this bird is cheaper, but the point remains that its useless in the types of game-changer conflicts that we should be planning for, whereas the game-changer assets can be downscaled to meet COIN level threats.  

The A-29 is redundant in the attack role, and its close to the same in the tactical ISR role as well. With current fiscal constraints, I don't think its wise to maintain this type of overcapacity. 

...but with all that said, yes - the guns in the wings are pretty cool...

Naval_Historian said...

Fire Support (or Close Air Support) is one mission. This puddlejumper doubtless would be excellent at it. However, this thing can't be made to do TARCAP, MIGCAP, Fleet Air Superiority, medium range strike, long range strike or tactical electronic warfare. A Hornet/F-35 CVW can do all that, AND COIN too. VFAs have been delivering the mail, so to speak, over Iraq for 8 years. We're moving out of Iraq, and doubtless will move out of Afghanistan soon. It's time to get back to Naval Aviation's core combat mission of blue-water Air Superiority and Strike. This thing is signally incapable of supporting the Navy's core mission of sea-based combat operations. Kill it, use the $$$ for more Fallon dets and let's move on.

Grumpy Old Ham said...

URR:  "<span>I WANT a platform that has ordnance carrying capability, loiter time, and responsiveness.  Marines in the fight deserve that."</span>

NH:  "<span>It's time to get back to Naval Aviation's core combat mission of blue-water Air Superiority and Strike. This thing is signally incapable of supporting the Navy's core mission of sea-based combat operations."</span>

Seems to me you gentlemen are talking about two almost mutually exclusive mission sets.  The A-29 appears to be well suited for URR's requirement, and not so much for NH's.  Therefore, the question -- as it always does -- boils down to making difficult choices about resource allocation against the most likely (or dangerous) threat.

Call me Captain Obvious if you must...what do I know anyway, I'm just a put-out-to-pasture bluesuit comm puke who always thought the A-10 was/is a neat platform...

UltimaRatioRegis said...

NH,

The reason to have a dedicated attack a/c is so that it is maximized for the mission.  The "one-size fits all" has been proven time and again to be nonsense.  The Hornet can either carry ordnance, or fuel, but not both.  I don't know how it is as an air superiority platform, but it stinks out loud as an attack aircraft. 

I don't give a hoot in hell for TARCAP and MIGCAP.  I want close and continuous fire support for troops in contact.  So save the "core mission" stuff.  Marine air is to support Marines.  We fight as a MAGTF. 

Your arguments that such a mission and such an aircraft are undesirable is proof positive why Marine air will remain with the Marine Corps, and why Air-Land Battle Doctrine, and Air-Sea Battle are more or less dismal flops.  Because close support is not sexy enough for either AF or Navy air. 

The Navy doesn't want this a/c?  Fine.  Don't get it.  Let the Marines procure a couple of squadrons.  Give it to the warfighters.  Everybody else can stand around in their clean underwear talking with their hands.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

GOH,

A squadron of these aircraft can be procured for the cost of a single F-35B.  The choice isn't that difficult.  Having this capability in one's hip pocket gives effective and COST-effective capabilities in the COIN realm. 

Once again, maintain capabilities across ROMO.  Or the bad guys will make you fight in precisely that part of the spectrum you are least prepared to.

cdrsalamander said...

OMC; it is a family business.  He rode in the back of a F-4 when his father got his 1,500th trap.

FDNF'er said...

When the F-35 comes online, only the air force variant will have a gun. The internal targeting pod will not have ROVER or an IR pointer which are required by every JTAC (FAC / ground controller) in theater. You need a TS SCIF to do any mission planning. It also has only one engine. The maintenance nightmare of working with RAM (radar absorbent material) and composites will be an immense challenge. NH is correct that you cannot do a MiG sweep or many other missions with this aircraft. When was the last time we did these missions? The cost per flight hour of any 4th gen fighter (I won't even go into 5th) is around $10k. Perhaps the Super T is around $500? The air crew themselves can reload and refuel the Super T for a quick turn - what current fighter can have that same niche benefit? Yes, keep 4th gen to knock down the door but allow some Super T to come in behind and clean up the cockroaches.

Spade said...

Because
(1)the production line is closed
(2)It would cost way more money than this
(3)The A-29 isn't designed to kill tanks anyway.

CharleyA said...

The A-29's are being purchased for the Afghan Air Force, not the US military.  Doesn't mean the we might not eventually buy some of our own.  As a replacement for F-35B, it's an interesting exercise.  No doubt they could work at a auture base, but off an amphib I'm not as sure.  One of the intersting things about F-35B and its supposed CAS role is that it cannot shoot Mavericks....

NavyDavy said...

This is what happened 44 years ago. The Navy had to borrow OV-10s from the Marine Corps to augment the Seawolves who were flying UH-1s ( that were temporally surplused from the Army) to provide Close Air Support to the Riverine Forces.  History, Learn from it??

LT B said...

He is right.  There is a growing population w/in the Army denying COIN and bringing the big green machine back to the old way of thinking.  Especially as we see COIN failing in AFG, w/ in my opinion, the lack of desire to bring the stick along w/ the carrot.  I think what we've seen and as Bing West points out in his latest book, is if you give people the choice between helping them succeed and total decimation, they choose the help.  BUT, if you don't give them a choice and say, we will give you money and manpower WHILE you get to kick us in the balls, they say, "Hey, this is wonderful!  I get to kick the big guy in the balls AND he pays me for it!"  Welcome to our Afghanistan policy.  Simplistic, and doesn't capture it all, but a large part of our COIN failure there dealing w/ that type of environment.

LT B said...

Dude, look at Africa.  Definitely a river rich environment that could be in use of a decent bit of river security, especially if you want to get in and chase some of the resources and move materiel in and out of regions there.  Also, area denial and training/combined (RP SEAL) ops for anti-MILF/Abu Sh!thead in the PI.  I'd say there is a better need and use of RIVRON assets than there is for LCS.  Less money to be made for retired FOGOs though.

LT B said...

Somalia may have been higher up than operational.  If the WH was denying operational planners assets like AC-130's and choosing sides in that arena, THEN pulling out when they got their nose bloodied, then it was strategic.  If, on the other hand, we had gone in and destroyed them after the day in Mogadishu, the strategic message would have been more to our liking.  Remember, the Battle of Mogadishu (for lack of a better name) was a no sh!t tactical win.  The loss was in the response.  The guys that fought that day got beat to hell, but the damage they did to the enemy was 100 times worse.  Pressing the advantage would have been the better strategic move.  Even if you wanted to just beat them senseless before pulling out. 

LT B said...

Are you implying that we do NOT have information dominance?

ewok40k said...

and there is another local jihad brewing in the Nigeria, already...

LT B said...

Yeah, Boca Haram is now where al shabaab was 6 yrs ago.  They are quickly organizing and gaining funds though. 

UltimaRatioRegis said...

LT B, I think you hit it in the X-ring.  What happens when your foreign policy is executed by people who think everyone can work out their problems at a picnic table on the White House lawn.

Mattis:  "My Marines are your last, best hope.  Fuck with me and I will kill you all."

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Oh, LT B, I am sure we have information dominance.  We just aren't sure what that is.  And it is becoming increasingly clear that having information dominance as we define it is about as useful as having the cleanest socks. 

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Oh, no, no, no, fellas.  During UQ09, we were assured by the two-stars in our planning cells that the Islamists didn't present a problem in Nigeria...  AND if they did, our friends the Chinese would help us.  The good General even posited that we could get the Chinese to help us disarm MEND. 

It was then that I pointed out that maybe that wasn't realistic, because it was the Chinese who were ARMING MEND.

They hated having a terminal-rank Marine LtCol in the cell.

Grumpy Old Ham said...

<span>What happens when your foreign policy is executed by people who think everyone can work out their problems at a picnic table on the White House lawn.</span>

Welcome to Foggy Bottom.  I'll bet that doofus in the post above was/is in training for duty there, or angling for an internship for same.

ewok40k said...

oh, and what about the resupply of Henderson Field?

LT B said...

One of the Col's I work with talks about dealing w/ the Foggy Bottom kids down range.  He told me to read USAID's chapter on dealing w/ the military in their ops publication.  Pretty humorous. 

Bing West's latest book talking about Mullen was pretty funny.  "ADM Mullen said you can't kill yourself to victory.  That is bullsh!t from a politician in uniform that feals bad about war." or something like that.  I think that URR would agree w/ his view of the former CJCS.

LT B said...

For some reason my mom always wanted me to have clean underware.  Is that like information dominance? 

Grandpa Bluewater said...

A vital and unheralded effort, no doubt.  Of course the mountains on the way to Henderson aren't higher than the service ceiling of the aircraft involved, and Guadalcanal is one small and vital island, while the CBI was an entire theater., The support provided was all over the theater, gas in drums, mules, troops, rations, anything that would go in the aircraft, with the lowest priority of all the theaters, with campaigns going on simultaneously in China and Burma. We are still recovering aircrew remains and will be for decades to come.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

I would settle for maintaining a cadre to preserve the lessons learned and the skills. Of course mothballing the assets in hand would be nice, then you could stand it up in six months or less, not six years.

Anybody who says "we will never again have any use for (fill in the blank)" is just ensuring the next party will last a decade and end up with snatching defeat from the jaws of victory....once more.

Which is getting to be a bad habit.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

Mom was right. You should keep your underware clean, and inside your underwear, for the most part. =-O

ewok40k said...

Also there are times even when in a middle of full blown conventional war there are COIN operations to be dealt with in areas in the back of the front... ask Germans in the WW2 about their experiences in Poland, Yugoslavia and Soviet Union. Ah, and while Germans certainly were not using ethno-centric modern COIN, their target (keeping the resistance down and occupation administration working effectively) was not so much different.

Latent Infantry NCO said...

From a grunt's perspective, I was always happy to see something American over my head. But, OV-10 Broncos made me really happy BECAUSE I KNEW HE COULD SEE ME (an important distinction when we start playing the "danger close" game). F/A-18's? Notsomuch. (No offense to my little ANGLICO friends.)

A-,OV-, COIN, LARA, L2VMA, call it what you will but the reality is that good close air support HAS ALWAYS required a long loiter slow mover with some claws -from Skyraider to the stillborn Convair Charger to the Tucano. We have simply forced our people to go without since the Cold War closed and predictably, the humps in the dirt have paid the price. Oh, not in any headline stealing wholesale slaughters, but enough losses here and there so that a grunt butter bar is mighty sensitive about exactly what "air superiority" actually means TO HIM in concrete terms when he is outside the wire.

Is non-stop COIN really a sign of a healthy foreign policy? Smedley Butler and I say no. But, I wouldn't mind a squadron or two of these Tucanos in a nice South Texas mesquite and cedar camo scheme. We'll need 'em before long.

Latent Infantry NCO said...

Here's a beef: The McDonnell F4 Phantom II, arguably the greatest "joint" airframe ever, went from first flight to "tri-service" duty in less than 5 years for LESS THAN A TENTH of the constant dollar cost of the F35 which is projected to finally enter operational service in 2016, maybe, if we hold our mouth right, a full decade after first flight and two decades since the JSF development contract was inked in 1996. (Be glad we didn't need it for a war or something, huh?)

Dang, in the twenty years since phirst Phantom phlight, McDonnell was able to pump out 5000+ of 'em in 4 or 5 major configs for a half dozen customers while Lockheed hasn't hit 100 airframes or a single operational squadron of F35's.

What it comes down to is this:

1. McDonnell circa 1955 came up with an interceptor design that happened to be imminently adaptable. McNamara saw that and took advantage of it. Not everyone was happy but America benefited.

2. Post Cold War Lockheed has correctly surmised there is more money to be made in R&D than in production. Actually producing an operational aircraft only starts the clock on losing the contract. Since there is no threat of losing the contract until production is complete, there is no reason to ever leave R&D phase if they can help it. Mo' money. Mo' money.

The irony of all this is that Japan wants to home build some these F35's in 2016 once the jig is up for Lockheed...............so they can finally retire their Mitsubishi built F4 Phantoms that rolled off the line in 1981. Let the US taxpayer eat the R&D cost and then manufacture the product at home to maximize benefit to their taxpayer. Do they know how to stretch a yen or what?

ewok40k said...

remember, out of the all F-100+ series (there were about dozen prototypes-and phantom was F-110 AFAIK) only one was the right one... so build a lot of prototypes, test em a lot and you will eventually stumble upon the great one - not anymore possible in a combat aircraft duopoly, I guess...

ewok40k said...

non-stop COIN is more a function of worldwide cheap antiamericanism (and commonly linked antisemitism) as a policy tool of other countries than of US policy anyway... if there were no US somebody would have to take place as favorite hate pet for flag burning etc.

LT B said...

Eh, not headline?  Mogadishu might be a good example. 

Latent Infantry NCO said...

@ewok- Kinda begs the question doesn't it: What do I care if someone is "anti-American" on their own turf? Is it really my job to make every country Wal Mart ready?

@LT B - You are correct to an extent but we all know that mission creep, micromanagement, crappy tactics and lack of armor were much greater contributing factors to BHD than CAS. If anything, SOAR's CAS, limited as it was, probably saved dozens of lives.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Bing West, though sometimes a bit overripe, definitely scores with that assessment of Mullen.

He is a politically- p*ssy, a lap-dog FO who exhibits none of the personal characteristics of a warrior, and in fact seems like the type to resent those who do.  I don't think he liked Conway much, or Mattis either, nor they, him.  They would never say so, and maintained a professional relationship because they are professionals. 

But Mullen, with his four stars, would be of concern if I knew he was in command of a unit on my flank in a serious situation.  He hasn't the guts for the fight, never did. 

His "act of courage" was spouting his personal opinion, unsolicited, to Congress.   Not very impressive to guys like these:

Latent Infantry NCO said...

@ewok - Not really. The Phantom was already in operational service with the Navy when the Air Force began testing them. Prototype? Hardly -those "F110"s were actually borrowed Navy F4B's. McNamara simply forced the AF to dispense with the dual numbering nonsense when they adopted them a year later.
Further, there were multiple "right ones" in the Century Series:
F-100 SupSabre -25 years US service
F-101 Voodoo- 27 years US service
F-102 Delta Dagger - 20 years US service
F-104 Starfighter - 17 years US service
F-105 Thunderchief -26 years US service
F-106 Delta Dart-29 years US service
F-111 Aardvark-31 years of US service

You get more of what you subsidize. We co-opted an industry that was producing serviceable dance partners to instead help us pursue the prom queen.

BTW, since Iran won't be able to deliver their FatBoy via ICBM any time soon, which F35 variant is the Long Range Inderdiction model?

Speaking of which

Latent Infantry NCO said...

Ewok- You are dead on about the duopoly however!