Posts Tagged ‘Air Force’

Light Attack Aircraft: A Niche That Doesn’t Exist

Monday, August 7th, 2017

The Air Force has an experimental program to deliver a low-cost light attack aircraft for ground support duties. The light attack aircraft experiment, or OA-X project, has produced propeller-driven aircraft that look like a cross between a Diamond DA40 and a rejected ME-109 prototype with modern weapons on underwing hardpoints.

The program theoretically exists because it’s not cost-effective to use an F-35 (at $32,000 per hour of flight time) to kill poorly-armed insurgents.

I think the entire program is bunk. (And not just because John McCain is pushing for it.)

It’s not that the need for a light, low-cost aerial attack platform doesn’t exist, it’s just that there’s no military or technological justification (at least in the American armed forces) for that platform to be a manned aircraft. Those mission parameters are already satisfied by cheaper drones whose capabilities continue to improve by leaps and bounds. The problem isn’t that the Air Force can’t fly drones (the MQ-9 Reaper is extremely capable), but that the Army, the Navy, the Marines and the CIA can all fly them as well.

The entire Light Attack Aircraft program exists because of an inter-service political issue: The Air Force neither wants to do close air support, nor wants to give up that role to the Army. Put a pilot in a fixed-wing aircraft, and the Air Force gets to keep the mission, along with the money and headcount that go with it.

And as for why the Air Force keeps trying to kill the one plane they already have perfectly suited for ground support, the A-10 Warthog, well, I and others have already written about that at length. As Jerry Pournelle once put it, “USAF will always retire hundreds of Warthog to buy another F-35. Always, so long as it exists. And it will never give up a mission.”

LinkSwarm for July 29, 2016

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Finally, the Democrats have a presidential candidate that combines the honesty of Bill Clinton, the electrifying personality of Walter Mondale, the down-to-earth demeanor of Adlai Stevenson, the even temper of Lyndon Johnson, and the humility of Barack Obama.

In short: The candidate they deserve.

A LinkSwarm:

  • Angela Merkel decides that she isn’t going to let a little thing like repeated terrorist attacks and mass rape dissuade her from welcoming lots more Muslims into Germany. It’s like she’s a sleeper agent designed to destroy the CDU from within…
  • DNC unable to fill seats, hires actors to fill them up.
  • Did Palestinian flags outnumber American flags at the DNC? I’m sure they did Monday, when the DNC realized they had no American flags…
  • John Stossel explains how Clinton Cash works. (Disclaimer: You just can’t read that site without AdBlock.)
  • Clinton Foundation investigation referred to IRS. I wouldn’t get my hopes up that anything comes of it.
  • It seems some disgruntled DNC delegates altered their HILLARY signs to read LIAR.
  • Seen on Facebook:

  • You’re not allowed to tweet about the Olympics without approval. So much for my live tweeting the 100 Meter Zika Infection…
  • Speaking of futile bans, China bans Internet news reporting. That’s not in any way the last-gasp desperation move of a country whose smoke-and-mirrors economy is imploding…
  • Trump gets big post-convention bounce.
  • UK Union of Students works to make the organization Judenfrei. Funny how “antizionism” starts to look a whole lot like garden-variety antisemitism…
  • Examining top world fighter planes, including the F-22, China’s Chengdu J-20, Russia’s T-50/PAK FA, the Eurofighter and the Sino-Pakistani JF-17. (Hat tip: Bad Blue.)
  • “Nearly 15 Years After 9/11, Retired Colonel Meets the Man Whose Life He Helped Save.” Man, there sure is a lot of pollen in the air today… (Hat tip: Ted Cruz’s Facebook page.)
  • NFL all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman reiterates that all lives matter. I find it hard to believe this is even remotely controversial… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo? Could work pretty well. He was excellent in Hail, Caesar!.
  • Woman assaults man with burrito, then knife.”
  • Florida Man Charged With Picking Magic Mushrooms While Carrying An Alligator. Oh Florida Man, don’t ever change…
  • Wyoming Man Found with 30 Eyeballs in His Anal Cavity. Authorities are keeping an eye on him…
  • Finding the Stall Speed on an SR-71

    Thursday, January 21st, 2016

    Q: What happens when you discover the stall speed on an SR-71 while doing a low pass?

    A: Best flyover ever!

    Air Force Finally Gives Up On Trying To Kill The A-10

    Saturday, January 16th, 2016

    Remember last year’s story about how the Air Force was trying to kill the A-10 Warthog, with one now-cashiered general saying airmen talking to congress about saving the venerable plane was “treason?”

    Well it appears that the Air Force has finally given up on attempts to kill America’s most effective tank-killing aircraft:

    The U.S. Air Force is reportedly scrapping what has become an annual attempt to retire the A-10 Thunderbolts from the fiscal 2017 budget request being drawn up.

    Maj. Melissa J. Milner, an Air Force spokeswoman on budget matters, said Wednesday she could not comment on the Defense One report that the Cold War-era attack aircraft had been spared indefinitely, but boosters of the plane affectionately known to ground troops as the “Warthog” hailed the move to keep them in the inventory.

    “It appears the administration is finally coming to its senses and recognizing the importance of A-10s to our troops’ lives and national security,” said Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona and a retired Air Force colonel who flew the A-10.

    “With A-10s deployed in the Middle East to fight ISIS, in Europe to deter Russian aggression, and along the Korean peninsula, administration officials can no longer deny how invaluable these planes are to our arsenal and military capabilities,” said McSally, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, also known as ISIL.

    For the past three years, the Air Force has sought to begin mothballing the A-10s in favor of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to take over the close air support mission. Each year, the House and Senate have blocked the cuts.

    In a statement, Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona and the chairman of the defense panel, said, “I welcome reports that the Air Force has decided to keep the A-10 aircraft flying through Fiscal Year 2017, ensuring our troops have the vital close-air support they need for missions around the world.”

    The debate over the A-10s appears to have been shelved as commanders in the Iraq and Syria air war increasingly call upon the Thunderbolts flying out of Incirlik air base in Turkey and other bases in the Mideast for attack missions.

    Score a point for the restoration of sanity over institutional antipathy.

    Air Force General Who Called Support for A-10 “Treason” Removed From Post

    Friday, April 10th, 2015

    Here’s an update on my previous post about the latest attempt to kill the A-10:

    An Air Force general has been removed from his position after warning airmen not to talk to members of Congress about the A-10 “Warthog” attack jet.

    Air Force Maj. Gen. James Post III, a two-star vice commander at Air Combat Command, was under investigation by the Air Force’s inspector general for allegedly telling more than 300 airmen at a Nevada conference in January that they were not to talk to members of Congress about the Air Force’s attempts to retire the attack jet.

    In response to a question about the A-10, Post discussed “the importance of loyalty to senior leader decisions and used the word ‘treason’ in describing his thoughts on communication by Airmen counter to those decisions,” the investigation found.

    Post’s “choice of words had the effect of attempting to prevent some members from lawfully communicating with Congress, which is a violation of the U.S. Code and [Department of Defense] Directives, whether that was his intention or not,” said Air Combat Command (ACC).

    Maybe Gen. Post was just talking clues from more vocal supporters of his Commander and Chief. After all, is there any opposition to any Obama Administration policy that hasn’t been called “treason” at this point?

    The Decline and Fall of the U.S. Air Force?

    Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

    The main purpose of government is to protect its citizens from criminals within the nation (via the police and courts) and from enemies without (via the armed forces). Obama’s trillion dollar deficits not only threaten prosperity, they actually threaten national defense. Between extended missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and budgetary neglect at home, how are are armed forces holding up? According to this piece, the Air Force isn’t doing so well:

    The average age of the refueler and bomber fleet, which forms the foundation of U.S. air power-projection capability, now exceeds fifty years. Most of the Air Force’s fighters were built in the 1970s. Virtually all Air Force aircraft are decades past their planned retirement dates. Technology designed to overcome Vietnam War-era surface-to-air missiles and fighters is becoming obsolete in the face of emerging air-defense capabilities. Air Force bases built half a century ago are poorly placed to meet emerging deterrence missions. Today, a large portion of the Air Force exists only on paper, its aircraft too old to fly in combat but requiring enormous sums to maintain. If current procurement practices continue, the readiness and effectiveness of U.S. airpower will steadily worsen over time, with serious consequences for U.S. national security.

    This piece is well worth reading. However, I have to dissent from some of the conclusions. Frankly, the era of the manned strategic bomber has passed. There are few battlefield missions that can’t be carried out better by a combination of strike fighter aircraft, unmanned drones, and cruise missiles. The renowned “loiter” capability didn’t give us any advantage when we were hunting Saddam’s scuds during the first Gulf War.

    Also, to say that “emerging land- and air-based defenses are likely to render [older fighters] incapable of participating in conventional conflict” overstates the case. In a near-term conflict with Russia now, or one with CHina ten years down the road, that might be the case. There’s simply no other nation on earth that, even with our depleted air force, we shouldn’t have achieved decisively air superiority over within 24 hours, because that’s maximum Russia’s export anti-aircraft batteries can be expected to last under a concerted American air assault. (Further down the road things may well be different.)

    But the central point, that some of the biggest sticks in our air arsenal are getting dangerously old, is still undoubtedly true. Serious investment is going to be needed to rectify the problem, and sooner rather than later.

    (Hat tip: Todd H.)