Home » Air » Air Force » A-10 Warthogs Could Serve Until 2040

A-10 Warthogs Could Serve Until 2040

by John Reed on July 22, 2011

So it might be 2040 before the Air Force’s fleet of A-10 Warthog attack jets is replaced by the F-35 and whatever drones emerge in the coming years.

Check out this solicitation for tooling necessary to keep the jets flying until 2040.

Here are the basics:

The Government is contemplating to contract for engineering services on behalf of the A-10 Systems Program Officer (SPO).  The services contemplated include the following:

1 — Develop plan to identify available A-10 Tooling that will be needed to support and sustain the A-10 Aircraft until 2040.
2 — Prioritize tooling based on need and critical nature of tool.
3 — Develop Teamcenter product structure and workflows to properly link and manage the engineering data, scanned data and physical tools with the Air Force Global Logistics Support Center and A-10 production facilities.
4 — Digitally scan the tools according to the priority list and validate prior to linking to engineering data in the A-10 Teamcenter Database.
5 — Develop CAD/CAM interface data by reverse engineering (scanned data) where needed.

This would put the invaluable Hog up there with workhorse jets like the B-52 Stratofortress and KC-135 Stratotanker as planes that will serve until 2040.

This may be due to the fact that the A-10 is such a unique and cost effective weapon. It’s a relatively simple plane that’s tough as nails and can do everything from kill tanks to loiter low and slow over a battlefield dispatching enemy insurgents.

While it’s pretty easy to see the F-35 performing the ground attack and fighter missions of jets like the fast-moving F-16s, it’s harder to see the JSF rolling in slow and unleashing a torrent cannon fire on a beehive of enemies. Do you really want to risk getting a stealth jet all shot up on CAS runs?

Furthermore, could this be a sign that the service is considering slowing of reducing its F-35 buy in favor of keeping more Hogs in service and while focusing on using the JSF to replace F-15s and F-16s, (at least initially)? This last one may be a stretch, but who knows?

Thanks to tipster Brandon for spotting this.

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{ 149 comments… read them below or add one }

jamesb July 22, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Good look for the military that wanted to get rid of the old ugly airplanes that the grunts probabaly love to see……

How about giving the Army a CHEAP loaded to the gill's propellered a/c to compiliment the A-10?

Ooops!
Did is say give it to the ARMY???

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Shail July 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Perhaps that's a latent fear in the ranks of USAF Brass, that when they announce the retirement of the A-10, the Army recognizes their utility and tries snatching them up?
The Army then informing Congress/DoD it doesn't really need a lot of USAF help for supporting ground forces (CAS),
might it result in reduced funding to the F-35…after all, why fund an expensive CAS-capable aircraft when something perfectly suitable is available closer at hand to the Army?

Bad enough the USAF can't keep sufficient logistics flowing into two theaters, to the point the US Govt has to lease Russian cargo aircraft to take up the slack…

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TROJANII July 22, 2011 at 5:50 pm

It's not that the Air Force can't, but that the government won't fund the capability to do so.

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brian July 22, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Yeah the A10 doesn't belong in the Air Force, CAS should belong to the ground pounders. Let the Air Force focus in on its core mission instead, strategic deterrence & air supremacy

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Josh July 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I love the ignorance on this blog…

Yeah it makes total sense to turn an air mission over to a service that isn't logistically equipped to handle it from almost every angle. The reason they aren't retiring it is because… wait for it… there's still a need for it. There's a good chance even when/if the F-35 is ready for CAS missions the A-10 will still be preferred in the current climate of fighting people who sometimes resort to throwing rocks at their enemy.

But all the trolls posting from their parents' basement will insist that developing a NEW prop driven aircraft flown and maintained by the Army (who can't requisition a rifle without f-ing it all up) is somehow better than simply ensuring the A-10 is tooled up to keep flying.

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Nadnerbus July 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Isn't the Army already running some of their own UAV fleet? Having them operate CAS aircraft might lose a lot of the economies of scale that putting all aviation under one service provides, but they have legitimate reasons to suspect the air force's commitment to the ground attack mission that is so essential to their survival. The Air Force has announced the impending retirement for the A-10 a couple of times now, despite howls from the Army, if I recall correctly.

And for what it's worth, I'm not in my parents basement. And I even put on pants today.

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Josh July 22, 2011 at 6:44 pm

The Army operated UAV fleet is pretty minimal, and it's not even the same animal. (small, av gas, no life support, etc) The Air Force provides more than adequate CAS (I'm speaking from experience) and has an advantage over Army gunships in speed and range. The "lack of AF commitment" or "high alt. high speed bombing" stuff is very much an internet thing has has little to do with what actually happens on the ground. A firm commitment to see the A-10 stay is good news for everyone… I'd even like to see an upgrade to the avionics. Operating combat aircraft takes so much overlapping logistical support that trying to prop up ANOTHER service to provide the same thing makes sense to nobody that is familiar with it.

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A-10 Loader July 22, 2011 at 5:48 pm

There is a Congressional mandate that goes back decades that does not allow the Army to possess armed fixed wing aircraft. This is why the AF has them. Also, as for zipping around to get back to base for tee time….are you kidding? How many AF pilots are still MIA from Viet Nam, who died covering the butts of the ground pounders? How many were shot at/ down during Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom? Tee time my ass……. Get real. We are on the lines just like the dirt darts and Jarheads. Its time to get over yourselves. My old man spent 20 years in the Army and he told me stright up, the Army brass wouldnt trust their own with that kind of firepower then and I definately wouldnt now.

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Riceball July 25, 2011 at 10:51 am

To the best of my knowledge, the Key West Agreements signed between all of the branches of the military was not mandated by Congress, it was something that was done more or less internally. At the very least all of the details in the Agreements were hacked out by the military themselves and were not mandated by Congress.

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TROJANII July 22, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Um, AH-64?

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A-10 Loader July 22, 2011 at 7:06 pm

The -64 does not have the hang around and loiter capability that the Hog has. Nor does its gun have the range or ammo capacity. The A-10 can carry twice its own weight in ordanance, in flight refueling, 300+ MPH down to just above stall (under 130MPH).

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TROJANII July 22, 2011 at 7:32 pm

He did say prop driven, I doubt that would be able to match an A-10 either.

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tiger July 23, 2011 at 6:09 pm

The Super Tucano is on the shelf and ready to buy………..

bigRick July 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm

The air forces can't stand flying low and slow anyway and they even hate the idea of owning a ground attack aircraft (they truly think that the F-16 can do the job)

just give the whole "support the troops on the ground" mission to the Army, give them 3/4 of the fleet and 1/4 to the Marines. The Army and Marines will do a better job of supporting the troops on the ground anyway since it's their butts on the line.

the air force country club boys just want to zoom past in their F-16 spitting out a few 20mm and get back to the base so they don't miss their tee time

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No Thanks July 22, 2011 at 1:03 pm

And you base this retarded assumption off what exactly?

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jamesb July 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm

It's based on the Air Force Dog robbers stealling ANYTHING the ARMY wants to fly to do THEIR misiion NOT go Fast like the guys mentioned above…..

GET IT?

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Josh July 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm

This is easily the dumbest post on this blog entry (saying a lot there). EVERY CAS mission I've had come in to support our ops went low and dropped precise ordnance. I've had a B-1B crew risk that enormous aircraft to do a show of force fly by to keep heads down for us in broad daylight at a couple hundred feet, as they ROUTINELY do, when nobody else was around. You and bigRick probably want to get your facts straight… or better yet, just don't post on things you very obviously know NOTHING about.

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SMSgt Mac July 23, 2011 at 12:11 am

I concur. (But it does dovetail nicely into my latest: http://elementsofpower.blogspot.com/2011/07/debun

Nadnerbus July 22, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Yeah, this is getting pretty hyperbolic. Questioning the Air Force's commitment to supporting the troops in the field is inflammatory and counter productive. Each service works towards success and victory, and insinuating otherwise is pretty asinine.

I do think the institutional differences mean different priorities for the branches, and that those different mission priorities might make it more efficient for the Army to provide it's own close air support, the same way artillery and ISR are. The Marines have their own organic air support, despite the duplication of Navy aviation capabilities for exactly that reason.

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Andrew Richards July 22, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I don't think it could be said any better

SMSgt Mac July 23, 2011 at 12:14 am

Concur with your first paragraph. Disagree with the Army Does CAS gig for reasons impossible to go into in a comment thread.

TROJANII July 22, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I thought the Marines already had their own CAS aircraft?

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Zip July 24, 2011 at 5:07 pm

I agree…you are retarded and must belong to the Army or Marines…you have no clue about air power.

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Alex July 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Just a thought: I wonder if it even came up in the meetings that they could redesign the A-10 from the ground up using modern tech. Instead of just refurbishing/modernizing it as it gets old and systems wear down. And if they kept it simple and didn't try to attatch all the EMW tech to it like the F-35 and just went for a tough as nails plane built for close air support (for the K.I.S.S. and tough as nails they could take a page from the venerable P-40), instead of trying to qualify it for multiple roles. Having a multy mission aircraft is nice but sometimes it really pays to have a weapon that can do one thing really well. And if they do want some anti-air there are aircraft out there with hard points mounted on top of the wings for Sparrows or some such. But with the budget the way it is now… probably not.

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Will July 22, 2011 at 2:40 pm

The AF is not going to sacrifice F-35s for a dedicated CAS aircraft, even for larger numbers that will justify more pilot jobs. The Army might prefer a fixed wing STOL attack plane over a new helo as an AH-64 replacement IF it was allowed to operate fixed wing attack planes. Most likely, though, is that the CAS mission will be turned over to UAVs.
Sparrows? Where have you been? AMRAAM

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Alex July 25, 2011 at 8:49 am

I don't really keep up on current missles as you found out from my post, ergo the reason I added "or some such".

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Tyler July 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm

The A-10 doesn't need to be redesigned. the whole point is it focuses on WW2 type tech in it's flight controls and what not to make it tough as nails. The "redesign" would pretty much just be more electronics for radar and comms, maybe even a bit more for targeting. The A-10 is a good plane for the job it is in and doesn't need much changed.

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tiger July 23, 2011 at 6:15 pm

It's for killing tanks. For the duty we want it for, it's too much. There are few targets worthy of a 30mm DU shell.

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Tyler July 23, 2011 at 7:57 pm

It's for low and slow, take a lot of damage. You can strap whatever you want to it, and of course that 30mm has plenty of targets. Any target is "worthy" if it's threatening a US soldier.

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joe July 25, 2011 at 3:26 am

So send it up loaded with something else. Somewhere in the arsenals of four major armed forces there must be a compatible 30mm HEI round, and I imagine that much high explosive incendiary would do a pretty good number on anything sub-tank.

No, the A-10 is not a sophisticated plane. But it's tough, it's reliable and it works. The thing is, that it doesn't need to be sophisticated – it's the sort of plane that only gets used when you already have unquestionable air superiority…

TROJANII July 22, 2011 at 6:03 pm

The A-10 is already able to carry air to air missiles.

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tiger July 23, 2011 at 6:16 pm

In a world where we face no air to air threats….

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bUFFALO July 24, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I think China is a pretty credible air-to-air threat. Or an all-around threat!

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John Moore July 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Makes sence to me, I never understood how a Jet like the f-35 could fill a role the a-10 is perfectly suited for.

Evern the amount of damage one can take and still make it back to base, I figure it would be hard pressed to find a fighter jet capable of taking the same punishment!

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George July 22, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Redesigning the A-10 with new engines and stealthy characteristics (low observability from the ground, low IR signature, low RCS from above) would be the single most cost-effective project the Congress could pass.

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chaos0xomega July 22, 2011 at 3:25 pm

I could understand low IR, but why low RCS? Thats a total waste of money, considering that the main threat to a CAS aircraft comes from below, and at the altitude it flies at to accomplish its missions it can be tracked pretty easily visually anyway. Ditto with the risk from above, if a CAS craft is in an area where there is enemy top cover and it doesn't have support from its own topcover, no amount of stealth in the world is going to save it.

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George July 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Don't let present conditions fool you; the modern battlefield is not limited to what we see in COIN missions. Any decent opposing force will have a mixture of IR and radar guided SAMs along with 20-30 mm autocannons on tracked vehicles. Reducing IR and radar signature will go a long way towards ensuring survivability. Getting the pilot back is very important but getting the aircraft wasted by enemy fire doesn't help in a war of attrition. A new platform should be able to handle itself without tieing down valuable air assets for wild weasel and CAS.
I've manned a dual 20mm cannon and I can tell you there's no such thing as "easy tracking" against a jet aircraft. Reduced engine noise and reduced reflections is a must.

"Tracked pretty easily"…I've manned a

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Mastro July 25, 2011 at 11:23 am

Agreed- maybe if/when we reengine them we put some IR masking on (something like the F23's exhaust) – mainly to make it easier for flares to fool a manpad.

As for stealth- probably better to have a stealthy UAV act as a spotter so the A-10's can make one pass only.

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Nadnerbus July 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm

That takes the KISS principle and throws it out the window. Doing so would turn the A-10 from an economical ass kicker to a gold plated jobs program. No thanks.

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jhm July 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm

instead of stealth, how about IR reduciton. the a10 usually flies under radar cover, as it has to constantly strafe those bastards shooting our troops

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SMSgt Mac July 24, 2011 at 8:30 pm

'Stealth' isn't scabbed on in any part of the spectrum. It has to be designed in. From an IR POV, that did happen with the A-10 with the positioning of the engine exhaust between the twin verticles, and the slightly scarfed tailpipe of the hot section exhaust.

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G.B. July 22, 2011 at 1:54 pm

There is nothing that personell on the ground love more than having an A10 giving them support, because it does exactly what it says on the tin, and it does it better than anything else out there.

I completely support the move to keep these beautifully ugly monsters flying as long as possible!!

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m.f December 22, 2012 at 8:50 am

i agree. its great that you have hight-tech f35. but sometimes you have to go low-tech to get the job done….and it always works

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Joshua July 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm

The A-10′s role is low ground attack’s, so I fail to recognize why stealth would be needed for this role…?

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jamesb July 22, 2011 at 2:29 pm

It doesn't…….

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large July 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Maintaining Wart hogs doesn't get anybody re-elected . . Buying new, expensive (but perhaps useless) F-35s will . .

The future will demand more "Small War" equipment and less high tech Expensive Levithian armaments . . The only people who fail to understand that are the Politicians and those who profit from them.

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DauntlessCelt July 24, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Hate to break it to 'ya, but I don't think the American people in general follow this enough for it to be even a minor issue to them. Sad truth.

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Lance July 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm

The USAF isn't replacing the F-15 with the F-35 originally the F-22 was to replace the F-15 but now with the F-22 cut away the USAF says the F-15C will fly well beyond 2025 and the F-15E well beyond that date as well. The F-35 will replace the F-16 though.

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chaos0xomega July 22, 2011 at 3:33 pm

So reading this from my engineering background, to me it sounds more like the AF wants to preserve the tooling for the aircraft digitally (#4) in order to develop CAM/CAD data which could be used to produce new aircraft (#5).The second half of that is a bit of a stretch, but you'll note it says 'where needed'. The CAD/CAM data most certainly already exists for a large portion of the aircraft, it would be needed for any sort of porduction of spare parts/upgrades to the airframe (like the recently undertaken upgrade to the wings). The 'where needed' bit seems to imply collecting the data for the tooling for the rest of the airframe, which you would only really need to produce a complete airframe…

or maybe its just wishful thinking on my part. <3 A-10.

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Nadnerbus July 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I'd say that's wishful thinking. Being able to produce unique spare parts on a small scale is entirely different from producing entire aircraft.

The way I read is they want the capability to fully maintain the A-10 fleet indefinitely, knowing that existing supplies of spares will be exhausted before the likely retirement date.

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Nadnerbus July 22, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I'd say that's wishful thinking. Being able to produce unique spare parts on a small scale is entirely different from producing entire aircraft.

I see this as a move to guarantee spare parts flow after the existing supply runs out. The plane is going decades longer than predicted, and new parts are going to be needed.

That said, I would scream like a Beatles fan if they started turning out new ones.

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Nadnerbus July 22, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Interesting. The first post didn't show up for an hour so I reposted. Now they are both here.

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Grantland July 24, 2011 at 6:45 am

This is the plane that Korea needs in the hundreds to stem the massed Northern ground forces. F-15s are too few, too expensive., too fast. Co-build it in Korea. Replace the old US airframes with a cheap upgraded version.

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DethLok July 24, 2011 at 9:25 pm

It least it means the A-10 will keep flying, though not always by USA.
I'm sure the digital plans will find their way to China etc, who will build copies of the plane.

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Alex July 25, 2011 at 8:56 am

And fall in love with it.

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snakebymistake July 25, 2011 at 10:08 am

You make sence. Biggest argument at Boeing over the V-22 was who owned the Jigs and layup machines. They wanted them for making commercial sales. Many days in meeting with Bell were devoted to this point. They even continued development of a modification of a hydrolic dampener off of the CH46D after the make or buy decision had been made because they were spending R & D funds.

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Tribulationtime July 22, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Exactly happens when F-16 was going in USAF. They keep the A-10 and discarded A-16 variant. A bread knive is not swiss knive and is not a skinning knive, not a combat knive, not rescue one, etc etc. One frog is not fish nor it is lizard. Force stay with you

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Mike Halvorsen July 22, 2011 at 4:08 pm

As far as the CAS prop-job that was suggested earlier (and just as promptly ignored by the USAF…) we would have to re-tool to build it, but the overall design is there in the venerable and beloved (to those who know her) A1 Skyraider…aka the Sandy, the Spad, and the Able Dog. One HELL of a CAS aircraft, even by today's standards…and much cheaper to build, maintain and operate than any jet! And if there was ever a COIN aircraft that was better, I'd be willing to debate the relative merits…

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Matt Holzmann July 22, 2011 at 5:18 pm

as far as I know, most of the tooling is gone. The Fairchild plant on Long Island is now a shopping mall.

But then, it was a fairly low cost program as I recall.

And remember, the next war will be little like the last war. The A-10 was built to kill Russki tanks. Now it's doing yeoman's work in Afghanistan and is well suited to the environment.

The one truism is that we will always need ground attack aircraft that can pinpoint targets and come in low and slow. More time on target means more ordnance on target.

The AF types have wanted to kill this project from the beginning. Give it to the Army.

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TROJANII July 22, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Seems like if they really wanted it killed, after all these years and Democrats as CINC, then it would have happened.

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TROJANII July 22, 2011 at 7:36 pm

I would think if the Air Force really wanted to kill the program from the beginning, considering the length of time and number of Democratic CINCs in office, it would have been done.

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tiger July 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm

They kill it by making it a Air Guard bird. I doubt there is a single active duty sqn.

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Tad July 23, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Of course they wanted to kill it. You said it was cheap, plus it's been extremely effective – that combination is just not the Air Force way.

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SMSgt Mac July 23, 2011 at 9:39 pm

RE: The AF types have wanted to kill this project from the beginning. Give it to the Army.
Demonstrably false.
But the A-10 is just danady in a low threat COIN environment

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SMSgt Mac July 23, 2011 at 9:40 pm

'Dandy' (I have not been able to type AT ALL today)

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Matt Holzmann July 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm

not true. The AF has steadily reduced the number of operational squadrons ever since the end of the cold war. The battles to keep the A-10 flying were fierce in the 1990's.

And remember, the A-10 can probably take more damage than anything else built. Titanium tub and all sorts of armor. The plane was built to mow down Russian tanks and anything else on the ground in the highest threat environment conceivable at the time.

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SMSgt Mac July 24, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Myths built in absence or perversion of historical fact.
1. There's fewer squadrons becasue they're wearing out. Which is OK, since the AF had to buy about 150 more of them than they needed in order to appease a Congressional Committe Chair (or two).
2. It was designed for an environment that today would be called 'permissive': 23mm AA and no MANPADS.
3. The Maverick missile is the real tank killer off the A-10. the pilots just love the visceral feel of the gun.

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Matt Holzmann July 24, 2011 at 10:36 pm

The A-10 was built to kill T-72's and BMP's and anything else on the battlefield, specifically in Fulda Gap and beyond.

The design called for low speed, high maneuverability, and extreme survivability. It was upgrade from the AD-1 Spad which was known as the infantryman's friend built specifically for the 5:1 armor advantage the East Bloc had in armor in Europe.

Russia had the SA-14 Grail and other missiles designed specifically for low flying attack aircraft. The mission changed and the AF pulled a number of squadrons off line. It would not survive larger SAM's but if flying at 300' and 400 MPH, I doubt most SAM''s could even arm that fast. It proved its worth in Desert Storm.

I was fortunate to attend a demonstration years ago and watched it tear apart a BMP and T-72 with its gun. A 3,200 fps muzzle velocity, 30mm, and depleted uranium round tends to do that.

Riceball July 25, 2011 at 11:23 am

From what I've the AF (or at the least the AF fighter mafia) has been wanting to replace the A-10 for a long time, first with the F-16 then the F-35 but the (first) Gulf War proved its value and worth. It sounds like that the AF fighter mafia has lost some of its pull and I'm guess the bomber mafia, assuming that the A-10 falls under the influence of the bomber mafia, is getting a bit more pull in the AF now.

anon July 22, 2011 at 6:00 pm

It'd be interesting to see if they try to replace lost tooling by strait copying, or take advantage of some of the advances in fabrication that have occured.

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OMEGATALON July 22, 2011 at 6:14 pm

The A-10 Warthog might remain in US inventory until 2040 because of two reasons, technology and flight hours; the A-10 until the first Gulf War did not see much action as for a time, it was thought that the F-16 could accomplish the program mission of the A-10 and secondly, technology has allowed the A-10 to mature gracefully by being capable of doing more things than when the aircraft was first introduced as in 2030, we might see some of the A-10 aircraft be transformed into the ultimate UCAV for extreme ground support.

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George July 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm

flying low puts great stress on those airframes, the total number of hours can be deceiving when compared to a medium altitude jet

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SMSgt Mac July 24, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Very true, and contrary to popular belief, the A-10 has had structural chalenges its entire operational life.

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Allen S. July 22, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Simply put, we need the A-10 regardless of where, or with whom, we find ourselves fighting next. I also cannot see any kind of UCAV taking on this role, having a pilot with Mark I eyeballs able to loiter for a long period of time is far more valuable than someone sitting in front of an air conditioned console room thousands of miles away, it is simply not the same thing. I truly believe we are putting far too much stock in UCAV's as a be-all do-all future replacement. While there are areas I can see UCAV's excelling in (recon, one-off precision strikes, perhaps even deep air interdiction against enemy fighters), other roles will always be better suited to human pilots (CAS, Strategic Nuclear Mission, etc.)

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Carl July 22, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Since 1947 the U.S. Army has not been allowed to have fixed wing fighter aircraft. How stupid is that. The marines have their own private little air force complete with F-18's and soon the F-35 JSF. Give the A-10 to the Army.

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Bronco46 July 22, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Marines have their own plans because they've been burned before by relying on the other branches for close air support on the ground. They want Marines helping Marines when they need it; not after Air Force or Navy brass get around to it.

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chaos0xomega July 22, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Unfortunately this is an outdated method of thinking. Since the Goldwater Nichols Act passed way back when, we've been a joint force. There is almost never going to be a situation when Marines, and only Marines, are engaging the enemy without involvement from another branch of service, especially considering the combatant commander in the position of overall authority over those Marines is more often then not an Army officer, and the officer in a position of authority over the USMC aircraft that would be providing them aircover is more often than not an Air Force officer.

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Bronco46 July 23, 2011 at 12:17 am

Joint force or not. When jar heads call 911 they turn to Marine Air when every possible. That is unlikely to change anytime soon. Marine units still have their own AO's, not unlike Viet Nam.

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Guest A July 26, 2011 at 9:02 am

The Marines have their own "private little airforce" because they pretty much pioneered CAS, and have been practicing it since before WW2. They also pioneered helo insertion of ground troops and helo gunships in Korea in the 50's among other things…

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Bronco46 July 22, 2011 at 9:00 pm

The A-10 doesn't need to be messed with. Upgraded yes, but this design works extremely well and it's one of toughest planes ever flown. If the tooling still exists this line should be restarted; a better close air support airplane doesn't exist.
The F-35 will never be able to do the job the A-10 does. Not since the Ilyushin ll-2 (Shturmovick) has a plane been so lethal and protected the pilot so well.

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terryl6 July 22, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Finally something being done right! The A-10 stands for everything the U.S. military is. Its tough, resilient and packs more then enough punch to do a ton of damage. It is one of a very few jet fighters that can lose several critical system and still be able to bring its pilot home. The Marine Corp should invest more of it funding in the A-10s rather then F-35s. The cost of one F-35 can buy the Corp ten A-10s.

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Tiger July 23, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Until they can launch from a ship, they are no good to the Marines.

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Riceball July 25, 2011 at 11:32 am

FYI, it's Corps not Corp. Corps is a military unit consisting of 2 or more divisions, a corp is an abbreviation for corporation.

As to your comment, a Navalized A-10 for Marine service would be awesome but that would pretty much require a total redesign of the A-10. It would have to be designed with folding wings, reinforced landing gear, reinforced undercarriarge, landing hook, and corrosion resistance. Nice idea but just not practical.

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bigRick July 22, 2011 at 9:54 pm

The reason CAS works so well for the Marines is that it always works best when brothers are supporting brothers and everybody is on the same page. Every Marine is an infantry man first, including pilots. So Marine pilots understand what it means to be on the ground, , and everybody seems to know everybody. If you're a Marine pilot and you're flying a CAS mission there is a good chance you actually know some of the Marines on the ground. If you screw up a CAS mission you just can't fly away and "forget" about it because your fellow Marines won't let you forget about it. If the Air Force pilot screws up a CAS mission he'll simply fly away and the grunts on the ground will never see or hear from him again, no so with the Marines, if you screw up there'll be hell to pay when you land.

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chaos0xomega July 23, 2011 at 12:00 am

I can tell immediately you have absolutely no idea how things work in the real world…

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Riceball July 25, 2011 at 11:43 am

While bigRick may be oversimplifying and exaggerating things some what he says is essentially true. Marine pilots start off their training the exact same way as every other Marine officer no matter their MOS. They start with OCS and after that they go to TBS where they learn to lead an infantry platoon so a Marine pilot could easily have classmates who are grunts, or logistics officers, or tankers, etc. To further the bonds Marine pilots also serve ground duty as FACs which means they get a chance to know other ground officers or reacquaint themselves with former classmates.

Like bigRick said, this gives Marine pilots not so much an edge but a little more drive since the people they're helping are not only brother Marines but possibly friends they've served or trained with before. This is not to suggest that AF or Army pilots aren't as dedicated and wouldn't care so much to leave Marines hanging but I think that because of the potential bonds and friendships the Marine pilot shares with his comrades on the ground he would try just that much harder to accomplish his mission than a pilot from another branch.

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SMSgt Mac July 27, 2011 at 11:44 pm

I agree, and he's awfully close to (or already over the line) slander.

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Mad Acolyte July 22, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Rare smart decision in many decades by the blue-suit hierarchy, funny how that wasn't so a few years back, they openly loathed the WartHog and the role of CAS, now they sing a different tune. The grunts on the ground love the close air support provided by the effective, rugged (gets the pilot home, a priceless stick & rudder asset) and efficient A-10 and that is enough to keep her in the air indefinitely and when called for close to our troops.

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Kurt Landry July 23, 2011 at 3:26 am

I totally love the A-10 especially when they do their occasional training fly overs near my home in the western mountains of Maine! I've seen them training as well out in the middle of Kanc over in N.H. a couple times too!

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Anlushac11 July 23, 2011 at 4:59 am

The last I heard some A-10's are reaching limit of airframe hours. Boeing was contracted to design and build new zero hour wings for A-10 rebuilds. The problem is the A-10 was designed before CAD/CAM and the blueprints are on paper. Part of what Boeing has been doing is disassembling and scanning all the parts to digitize the whole aircraft.

Boeing was also supposed to have been given a A-10 fuselage for digitizing so Boeing can then build zero hour fuselages used for rebuilds.

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Nadnerbus July 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm

This makes the most sense. An analog airplane in the digital age.

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skink July 23, 2011 at 8:36 am

Why not just uparmor the a10 some more with the lastest and greatest then as a new show of force cas protocol have them carry the smallest tac nukes we have in inventory and use them in north warizstan so pakistan will go in there.

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Tribulationtime July 23, 2011 at 9:32 am

Another point..Im not aerospatial engineer (so…shout up!!..1 minute please). I am interesting in How Weapons work, not only performances. I think Fighters have reach limits of what current engineers can do on aerodimamics features thus Fighters from late seventies keep being offered in the markets all reborn from new electronics F-16 52; F/A-18 E/F (this one was not better than simple Hornet, differences in criteria design only) F-15 Silent Eagle, Mig 29/35, SU-27/30/35 (the airframe is much the same), F-35 is stronghest sold as "Full Awaredness/integrate systems" and try build it so stheal as posible without have to become in a "Flying cinder block". Put one computer build past 1985 in A-10, and overhauled to Zero hours. If boeing is not capable of reverse engineering…send A-10 to China. Drones no make sense in contested aerospace or more conventional wars….Who can not imagine someone hacking data links and like Science fiction drones being turn off at same time.

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Killer Korg July 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm

The current limits on fighters is not the airframe or engines. It's the human. Unless we come up with some sci-fi type stuff like inertial dampers or find a way for humans to operate in 9+ G's environment. Sounds like Boeing IS reverse engineering the tooling required to build more A-10's. If you can built all the parts, you can a complete plane.

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SMSgt Mac July 27, 2011 at 11:35 pm

RE: "The current limits on fighters is not the airframe or engines. It's the human"

Now, that one is just a generic aeronautical engineering myth instead of a CAS myth. As G-loads increase, aircraft structural weight must increase to achieve the higher loads without breaking. When the empty weight goes up, fuel weight increases to keep meeting a range or other performance requirement. that's just the structural side. If you want to take the human out, you have more black boxes. More black boxes = more environmental control system demands = more weight.

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Max July 23, 2011 at 11:20 am

If it ain't broke, don't fix it!!

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RLJune July 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm

They tried to use F-16's with a 30 mm gun pod to replace the A-10 back in the 90's. It didn't work in the Gulf War because the F-16 was too fast for proper control of the pod. So here is the A-10 still doing the work it was designed for low,slow and accurate heavy gun support. Even the Army won't let the Air Force get rid of it. It is one very awsome aircraft!

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jamesb July 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm

For the guys who say the Air Force is better equiped to fly these a/c logistically…..

Chop the whole Air Force arm that they need and send it to the Army….
Simple….
Offer the AF some new toy to make them happy…

And the law against Army aviation…
If the AF has their toys they'll let go …

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SMSgt Mac July 24, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Actually that A**hat McPeak tried to trade CAS to the Army once. Fortunately Army greed and cooler heads prevailed.

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tiger July 23, 2011 at 8:19 pm

The Super Tucano is a better fit for this mission than the Heavy A-10. Small, easy to fly, low maint., does not need concrete runways. Has the loiter time and firepower for the mission. They could be bought right now!

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Matt Holzmann July 23, 2011 at 9:56 pm

The SEAL's bought some Tucano's. How did that work out?

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Killer Korg July 24, 2011 at 12:46 pm

A-10 doesn't need concrete runways. That one reason the engines were mounted so high up on the back of the fuselage was to avoid FOD. It low wing loading and slow stall speeds mean it can operate from short improvised airstrips. The Super Tucano is not armored like the A-10 nor does it have the fire power of the GAU-8A Avenger 30mm cannon, not to mention being able to carry items like Mavericks for tank/bunker busting. There is no better CAS aircraft than the Warthog. Period, end of story.

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retired462 July 24, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Not to mention the pilots love to fly 'em!

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George July 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Firepower? you gotta be kidding,
Empty weight: 2,420 kg (5,335 lb)
Loaded weight: 3,600 kg (7,937 lb)
Wow! That's less than a metric ton of ordnance if you take the fuel out…

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cavtroopermunoz July 24, 2011 at 12:59 am

I remember when they asked some of our pilots if they wanted to fly the hog. The AF was getting ready to trade them all over to the Army but then for some reason the whole process stopped in its tracks. This was post DS but pre-Somalia. Wasn't that well informed on the whole process but we were excited to get them. Guess in the end the AF couldn't see sending fix wing aircraft to be flown by Warrant Officers.

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William C. July 24, 2011 at 2:55 am

Love live the A-10!

Just upgrade the avionics and sensors, maybe improve the engines, and add some new ECM and IRCM gear.

You need stealth aircraft and advanced cruise missiles to smash an enemies air defense systems, yet once most of those are dealt with the A-10C is the king of close air support. JDAMs are nice but sometimes you just need a run with rockets and 30mm cannon.

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Jarockse July 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm

I was a Technical Training School Instructor from 1987 – 1994 on this awsome beast. I remember when they were thinking about getting rid of the HOG. The Gulf War came along and the Hog got a chance to prove itself. This is just an awsome plain and simple killing machine. I'm retired AF now but glad to see this baby stay around.

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Killer Korg July 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Everyone is right that the USAF brass doesn't like the A-10. It's slow, ugly and everything the Eagle drivers hate. But ask an A-10 pilot his opinion about his ride and you will hear the pride in his voice as he tells you about the things his Warthog can do that no other plane can do. It was designed from the wheels up as the ULTIMATE CAS aircraft. No one has come up with anything better. During my enlistment 35 years ago, I was with the 23rd TAC Fighter Wing at England AFB in Louisiana. THE Flying Tigers.

When I arrived, they had A-7D Corsairs. Over the next couple of years, the A-7's were sent to the guard units and we got the A-10's. Everyone agreed it was far uglier then the slightly ugly A-7. But the pilots loved it. It could turn in a dime, carry twice the ordinance of the A-7 and it had the most powerful cannon ever put in an aircraft (actually the aircraft was added to the cannon!)

I think the marines would love to have A-10's, but they also love their AV-8B's. Another aircraft with special capabilities that should be kept on.

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Killer Korg July 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm

I remember back when our guys deployed to RED FLAG out at Nellis AFB. Some of them came back with cactus needles in the wing tips. Try that with an F-15. Oh, wait, they did! An aggressor Eagle driver tried to follow one of our Hog's into a canyon. Our Hog driver pulled up into an Immelmann and then pointed the nose down. (1/2 cuban 8). And the Eagle driver found himself face to face with the 30mm cannon. They narrowly avoided a head on collision. Later, during debriefing, the photo lab submitted 8 frames of gun film from the Hog's gun camera and the awarded a confirmed "kill" to our Hog driver.

Eagle drivers do not like to play in the dirt.

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Susan July 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Invaluable aircraft, just doesn't look pretty. Never had much respect for A-10 until I got an up close look at it during a squadron event. Pilot made it dance even while on the ground.

Then came Desert Storm and they really proved themselves. Ask the Army ground troops who they want overhead and the "tank buster" will win every time.

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Dennis Barrett July 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I remember hearing about how the A10 was on the chopping block, then the gulf wars came and proved their worth. Whatever branch of the military gets them, they should stay with us. It's a tool like no other, and presently nothing can replace it. Upgrade it and with the manned versions also have a UAV model. With today's manufacturing capabilities making copies of this aircraft should be a problem.

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J.T. Watson July 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Crewed the A-10 in the late 70's to '83. Awsome aircraft. Mechanics as well as the pilots loved it. This is an airframe like the B-52 , KC-135, and C-130 that can keep serving with the periodic referb and upgrade. It's just ignorante to think that the Air Force spend the money and time to perfect this mission to turn it over to the Army.

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R-R July 24, 2011 at 1:47 pm

If they do think about deploying a UCAV version of the A-10, it would be more practical to employ it as 'wingmen' to a piloted A-10, which could control them far more effectively in a tactical sense than someone hundreds of miles away in a control trailer.

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PhantomLover007 July 24, 2011 at 4:09 pm

4 all those asking why they don’t make a prop driven version of the a-10, they already have it in the inventory. It’s called a AC-130. While it can’t drop bombs, the gatlings and 20mm and 40mm bofor cannons on it can throw some serious lead and make a left hand turn 4 hours like it was a nascar racer.. Lol

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blight July 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm

AC-130's are also very vulnerable in a modern threat environment. Spirit 03 paid for that in GW1 and was lost to a mere Strela. You can send a A-10 into the teeth of a modern opponent. AC-130's worked against opponents without viable air defense systems.

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Edman July 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Is the military-industrial complex finally getting something right? Anybody who knows anything knows that the F-35 cannot replace what the Thunderbolt II brings to the table (Yes, it is the THUNDERBOLT II, not the Warthog). Even the Army's vaunted Apache attack helicopters have proven time and again to be death traps, even when faced with low-tech foes such as insurgencies, which is probably a big reason why UAVs are gaining so much traction.

Hopefully, the military will adapt adaptability, flexibility and practicality as its doctrine, not "out-tech" the enemy.

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SMSgt Mac July 24, 2011 at 8:24 pm

LOL! VWHAT Military-Industrial Complex? The only 'complex' we have to worry about is the "Social Spending-Entitlement Complex".

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Brandon July 24, 2011 at 8:33 pm

A-10 = best COIN Aircraft

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SMSgt Mac July 24, 2011 at 9:41 pm

In the not too distant future. CAS should become an 'emergency' mission only vs. a routine one. Army organic direct and indirect precision fire capability filtering down to the platoon or even squad level may mean that circa 2020, the best way to pop that Talib sitting behind a rock 500 feet above you is to drop a guided HE round down your personal hand-mortar or double click the mouse controller on your all-terrain mule.
Which is a good thing, because the Army never bi***** in public over the quality of their organic fire support.

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DauntlessCelt July 24, 2011 at 10:54 pm

I remember as a kid me and my friend used to want to fly A-10's when we 'grew up'. My dad laughed and said the US of A wouldn't be using them by then.

I'm glad he was wrong on this one.

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Nick July 25, 2011 at 12:25 am

I worked on the hog in the Stan in 06. We love that plane and we watch the videos of it in action. The A-10 is a favorite of the USAF. I have heard countless stories of soldiers thanking airmen for their help. Please stop hating, it Is just plain stupid. The troops are the Air Force not the brass, y’all got it backwards.

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@johnsin July 25, 2011 at 8:54 am

Uhm, by 2040 this plane Will be a drone!

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txkboy July 25, 2011 at 10:31 am

There is no doubting this platform’s effect on the enemy. They go running scared. Supporting the ground pounders is definately this plane’s forte. Hope it does stick around and saves more lives.

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RedLeg6 July 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm

There was a time a few years ago when the AF considered turning the A-10s over to ground pounders cause they thought it beneath their dignity to fly ground support-just wanted to bomb and fight other jets. Gawd I wish that had happened. My suggestion is the AF better start engineering a versatile ground attack follow-on for the A-10. The F-35 POS won’t cut it. If you can’t have an operational prototype in 3 years AF, I’d turn it over to the Army/Marines!

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SMSgt Mac July 25, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Hard time telling what subject you are most 'wrong' about: the F-35, the A-10, the Air Force or CAS? I think it is a tie!

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bigRick July 25, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Here's a question for the aeronautical engineers

Would it be possible to navalize the A-10?

Since the Army is legally not permitted fixed wings aircraft I say give
some of the A-10 to the Marines and fly them off of carriers if possible

I'm not an engineer so I really don't know what would be involved.

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blight July 26, 2011 at 12:27 am

Do you mean navalize as in catapult launch and deploy from a carrier? Or are you suggesting takeoff length is sufficient to fly from gator ships? One way or another some navalization modifications would be required; folding wings for starters.

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Guest A July 26, 2011 at 9:38 am

I'm not an engineer either, but I think it would make more sense time and money wise to build an entirely new airframe around that gun more suited for life on a flight deck, than to try to navalize A-10s. If the Department of the Navy were looking to do something like that.

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SMSgt Mac July 27, 2011 at 11:21 pm

I am an engineer. The Short answer is: No.
The long answer, is it is not possible to navalize the A-10 without:
1. significant weight gain from modifying the landing gear and structure to keep the landing gear from ripping out or twisting the structure, the strength of which is marginal to begin with and also added weight for the wing folds. this weight would have to be propelled by engines that are already considered 'undepowered' as compared to what pilots wish they were capable of.
2. The nose gear that would be hooked to the cat is set well to the side of centerline (gun is on centerline). Aside from the interesting engineering that would need to be completed to keep the rest of the plane following the nose gear, the thing would launch more like a Frisbee thrown from the side instead of straight down the cat. wahoo.
3. What you did to keep the nose gear attached for launching, you'd have to do with the tailhook to come home.
that's just off the top of my head. I'm sure there's more.

And why would they want a rapidly obsolescing platform in the first place?

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SMSgt Mac July 27, 2011 at 11:23 pm

'underpowered'

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marcie feildinn January 7, 2012 at 11:31 pm

hey guys, me from the uk right: A10's – these beauts used to fly in packs up n down the Amber Valley in Derbyshire back in the 80's pre any desert use, boy they impressed then and i rate as one of the most impressive hard core ATTACK flights ever seen – dont scrap 'em guys or you'll miss their design as much as the late lamented F4- PHANTOM with its unique tail end stylee.

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Boxrocker January 17, 2012 at 8:08 am

The biggest problem with being a economic superpower (now former) we get the best weapons greed can get. The greed of the client selling the US armed services a bag of crap!. Any replacement for the A10 should be built only when there is a material strong enough and light enough to construct a airborne platform with the equivalent strength of 2 ft of armor, EM shielding, magnetogravitics drive with a service ceiling of 300,000 ft.. This is just the start. not a multi billion dollar piece of expensive crap (just like the f-107cancled for the 105, the phantom and so on..

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phones January 17, 2012 at 2:33 pm

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JarheadHawaiian November 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm

We all know where the Air Force is taking the A10 since this article went to print. Regardless what the Marine Corps & Army Infantry types stated, the need for a single mission capable CAS system has fallen on the deaf & mute elected and USAF leadership. They must have spent countless hours talking in the mirror trying to convince themselves the JSF can memick or replicate the A10's capability. I hope and pray the senior leadership in the Marine Corps and Army Air Corps will pull the stops to acquire the soon to be pastured USAF warthogs.

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Matthew Burgnon August 13, 2014 at 10:31 pm

If you could, plese do an updated article on this!! Please :D. Contact boeing or something :D

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turtleairships July 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm

CAS requires observation/instant decisions for targets of opportunity. No UAV can provide this, to narrow field of vision

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chaos0xomega July 22, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Because it would effectively cost the same as an A-10 anyway… hardly 'disposable' and what would the point be. If I'm a ground pounder, I'd much rather have a guy in the cockpit then a guy in a trailer helping me out in a CAS mission.

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ziv July 22, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I have wondered the same thing, but with the kicker that the UAV version of the Warthog look as close as possible like the manned version, preferably being an older. The lead, manned, A10 acquires the target, hits it, and the UAV version follows close behind to hit it again if needed and to do a bomb damage assessment to see if the pair of A10's need to make another pass. Secondary benefit would be to make it fairly likely that an enemy would target the UAV, not the manned version, especially since the lead jet wouldn't absolutely have to be the manned version if the A10's had a datalink system that allowed the pilot to see what the UAV was seeing… Which pretty much would mean that they would need a 'backseater'…
Never mind.
Grin

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Bart Hayes July 25, 2011 at 2:03 pm

You'll play heck getting grunts real happy about close air support by a drone. I did a fair amount of CAS in a Huey in V.N………close is not some guy in a trailor 50 miles away

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Uncle Gene July 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm

If you say there is nothing wrong with the A-10 right now then why change it to a UAV platform?

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TLAM Strike July 23, 2011 at 9:30 pm

4 shot down (1 by SA-9, 2 by SA-13 and 1 by SA-16) plus 3 severally damaged and written off in the 1st Gulf War and 1 shot down by a Roland in the second.

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SMSgt Mac July 27, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Chuck Horner after Desert Storm:

Q: This conflict has shown that?

A: It shows that the gun has a lot of utility, which we always knew, but it isn't the principal tank-killer on the A-10. The [Imaging Infrared] Maverick is the big hero there. That was used by the A-10s and the F-16s very, very effectively in places like Khafji.

The other problem is that the A-10 is vulnerable to hits because its speed is limited. It's a function of thrust, it's not a function of anything else. We had a lot of A-10s take a lot of ground fire hits. Quite frankly, we pulled the A-10s back from going up around the Republican Guard and kept them on Iraq's [less formidable] front-line units. That's line if you have a force that allows you to do that. In this case, we had F-16s to go after the Republican Guard.

Q: At what point did you do that?

A: I think I had fourteen airplanes sitting on the ramp having battle damage repaired, and I lost two A- 10s in one day [February 15], and I said, "I've had enough of this." ….

Me: shot up too bad to fly is the same as shot down with a successful E&E.

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blight July 24, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Manned aircraft use joysticks too. Except the joystick is in the plane, and not in Creech.

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Tyler July 25, 2011 at 7:43 am

I disagree, it can be used in a contested airspace. It can carry air-to-air missiles (though it would be a waste of payload) and a few topside fighters for protection would go a long ways.The A-10 is to be used whenever there are enemy tanks and other units that need to be removed from the ground units path. They go up when they are needed, regardless of the threat and precautions can be taken to allow them to do that.

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SMSgt Mac July 25, 2011 at 11:12 pm

The A-X objectives were to field a plane that could survive in a relatively permissive environment. the titanium bathtub can take a ZSU-23 hit but that is about it. The A-10 was designed to operate and survive against light Soviet ballistic weaponry (14.7mm) and the pilot is afforded protection from the 'bathtub' against heavier calibers (to a point) A-10 attrition shot up in Desert Storm when they operated in 'too intense' environs.
When the Maverick hits, the turrets often fly off. When the GAU hits, it probably/might cook off 'something' inside..eventually.
Gun is good.
Mavericks are better.
Pilots are biased towards the gun, because the 'Gun' is visceral. Pilots love the 'feel' of the gun, even though the Maverick has been shown to be the far superior tank killer.
My 'bias': AF Master Missileman, and among other things Tactical Fighter Weapons Center TASVAL79 Deployment Weapons NCOIC — where A-10 operational concepts and tactics were 'born', and we learned that having bits and pieces shot off you flying low and slow is NOT a long term survivability strategy.
A-10s days are numbered in all but the most permissive environments

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ben July 25, 2011 at 11:41 pm

The super tucano also does not carry a 30mm gatling cannon internally, and would only be able to mount the far less accurate and generally inferior gun pod.

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blight July 26, 2011 at 12:24 am

It's an alternatively interpretation of the RAND book you link to, but it points out that the air force's mission is to be an independent deciding arm, or to try its best to be so. I mean, there is a reason the AAC broke off. As part of the army, they would pretty much be shackled into a close-air-support role.

"..the Air Force has shown a greater capacity for adaptation throughout its
history. In many ways, it was a service focused on proving an idea: that
independent air power can be a decisive, war-winning instrument in
and of itself"

and

"During the ground war, these components of the air campaign continued, but the Air
Force also provided CAS to ground forces. In Operation Allied Force, Air Force officers believed that the appropriate use of air power was to employ it against strategic targets in Belgrade, rather than against Serb forces in Kosovo. In Afghanistan, air power showed its greatest utility in attacking Taliban and al Qaeda forces in the field, tipping the battlefield balance against these forces and in favor of the Northern Alliance and other Afghan forces. Finally, in OIF, the Air Force selectively attacked strategic targets but made its most significant contribution during major combat operations by shattering Iraqi forces in the field. During war the basic idea of the decisiveness of air power evolved to meet operational realities."

It may be more accurate to suggest that against nation states, the Air Force prioritizes strategic targets (GW1, GW2, Kosovo) over being a CAS-force. In counterinsurgency, the air force would have to tease out targets with the help of troops on the ground, essentially pigeonholing them into the CAS category.

I'm not sure where the history of "poor air support" begins. The air force was providing support in Korea and Vietnam from the beginning (Ia Drang), and GW1 was kind of a cakewalk, allowing the air force to operate ahead of armed forces; enabling attacks like the highway of death. And before that, Panama and Grenada.

Balkans: No serious nation-state combat requiring CAS here.

Somalia: Fought against pretty scary odds, but air support could not be used in a city, especially when the US military still hadn't come to terms with the wars they would fight a decade later. Maybe this is where the "air force is unhelpful" begins?

Enduring Freedom might be where CAS' bad rap begins. A few accidents where the wrong GPS coordinates are punched in (happens in OIF as well). Operation Anaconda had some airpower issues, and this is probably where things started to come to a serious boil.

The alternative explanation may be technical. In the days before low CEP aircraft-delivered weapons, available air support could not guarantee that weapons could be safely dropped closer than the enemy could get. Tube artillery fared better, creating the impression of less available airpower, even though it was technically present. However, one could still order munitions to be dropped close.

Alternatively, the real heart of the matter is jealousy. Some troops are closer to the front line than others, and some branches generally are closer to the front line than others. Easy to build from there.

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Guest A July 26, 2011 at 9:56 am

FACs are pilots fapped out to grunt units. There were a few that went from my squadron (HMH-463).

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SMSgt Mac July 26, 2011 at 7:59 pm

The 'bad' rap' began long before most here were alive and I believe it reaches back to the Vietnam era. I specifically remember a cartoon at my first duty station with a couple of GIs in a sandbag bunker with all the surrounding earth scoured several feet down right up to the edge of the bags. One grunt was telling the other something like: 'Yeah that was pretty good close air support, but I wouldn't let my daughter date any of them."
I'd wait for the whole series to play out befoer reaching conclusions. 'Learning Large Lessons' (LLL) is a great jumping off point and not the end all to the discussion. I love it as a great initial reference and own copies of many of LLLs original sources, as I suspect a few others here do as well.

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