“Uglier things have been spotted in the sky, but not by reliable witnesses”
This for whoever came up with that quote -->
“Uglier things have been spotted in the sky, but not by reliable witnesses” – and, in the case of the A10 “Warthog”, it'll be the ugliest thing in the sky for a lot longer than the US Air Force wanted. Devoted to the Toothless Tiger Moth, the F-35, the Air Force wants the ancient-but-nearly-indestructible A-10 decommissioned …
"Like all Vogon ships, it looked as if it had been not so much designed, as congealed. The unpleasant yellow lumps and edifices which protruded from it at unsightly angles would have disfigured the looks of most ships, but in this case, that was sadly impossible. Uglier things have been spotted in the skies, but not by reliable witnesses.” - Douglas Adams - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
You like a pint, he likes a pint, everyone gets a pint.
My take seeing an F-117 Nighthawk up close @ Paris airshow was that it looked like a cheesy low-budget space fighter mockup put together by the FX guys from Sharknado for a Battlestar Galactica 1 ripoff directed by Kim Jung-On, based on a novel by LR Hubbard. Its angles just grate on your optic nerves and feel wrong on a plane. You don't get that impression from afar, but in real life it is one ugly duckling.
By that token, I find the Warthog quietly impressive. Plus, its ability to do low speed & height overflights because of high damage tolerance is pretty relevant nowadays when the idea is to avoid nuking the locals' weddings. Or not doing some blue-on-blue because you are flying by at 600 mph and 20000', just in case you collided one of HMs 24 $150m low-cost/hi-volume plane with a mosquito pushed by an angry tailwind.
Good call on the A10, assuming it's for sound military reasons and not just the local senators looking out for their pork come what may.
Or not doing some blue-on-blue because you are flying by at 600 mph and 20000',
Alas, in the heat of battle, confusion, lack of communication, misunderstanding, talking of different targets...
Death of 1 British soldier and 5 injured.
British inquest returned a narrative verdict.
Not the first, won't be the last
"Few have seen the elusive Airbus Beluga..."
Come over to Spain, I see it quiet regularly at the Military / Airbus side of Seville airport, it brings in A400 bits and pieces for construction there.
The A10 is like the Harrier, a very good design and superb at ground support due to its slow speed and superb armour. The PBI have need of a platform such as this when fast movers are just not practical.
Keeping a known-working design like this flying for a while longer actually seems like quite good sense. Especially as recently we seem to have been having a run of war and insurgencies involving not so sophisticated adversaries against whom a modern fighter jet is overkill. A Warthog on the other hand is very well armed, quite well armoured and extremely good at delivering a large amount of damage to a target at little risk to its self.
Michael Moore down voted by Trumpeteers and Palineers, how odd. Moore has a point, all points. He like me, can feel the pain among Republicans. If you don't vote for Trump you feel bad about not voting Republican, If you vote, you know you are voting for a twat, if you vote third party, you know it's futile and if you vote for Clinton you feel you have voted for the enemy (in a two party system). I can feel your pain and I don't envy you at all. It's not your fault, thing just vent very wrong inside the GOP years ago.
It's a relic just like traditional paper weights. Motorized paper weights are much better and so is the F-35. Progress must not be held back for the sake of tradition.
The jet engines on my paper weights hold my documents more firmly to my desk than any gravity powered ones. I will transition to rocket powered paper weights as soon as they become available and fervently support research into ion drive paper weights. Only this attitude will save the US military.
Have a pint (and an upvote)!
" I will transition to rocket powered paper weights as soon as they become available and fervently support research into ion drive paper weights"
The rocket-powered paperweight is only good for short-term usage, so as long as you only require your papers to be held down for a few minutes at a time then you're OK; the ion-drive paperweight is a long-term solution for those that require their papers to be weighted for months (possibly years) at a time. They address two different sets of requirements, so you don't need to replace your rocket-powered paperweights with ion-drive paperweights.
I find my rocket-powered paperweights to be very good...as very shortly after deploying them on a new set of paper invoices and despatch notes they all disappear leaving behind just some black and charred remnants...it certainly makes book keeping very easy as there's nothing to input ;-)
However, my accountant is insisting I downgrade to ice paperweights, which makes the ink run but the paper still looks like paper, and hence he can embellish our accounts a little more thoughtfully, when submitting our annual nett loss to Companies House ;-)
Noone who's ever been either in front of, or behind an A-10 will ever call it a relic. It's worth remembering that the US marines bought out the UK of all Harrier stock they could get their hands on. And while the UK won't have anything that can fly off their new carrier for a while still (provided pilots weigh in correctly and there's no tail wind, and the computers all work, etc) the marines are still more than happy with their relic jump jets. New in the military is frequently nothing more than a way to funnel public money into rich people's pockets.
Harrier is a completely different thing than A-10. A-10 is just very susceptible whenever other aircraft or drones are nearby. It drags refueling craft within 250 miles of the warzone, too. It is NOT useless, just becoming more limited in scope. A-35 and Drones are supposed to take-on this work, but they will do it very differently.
There are no more Hawker Siddeleys in active service, since the late 1980s.
Seriously dude, you must not be an engineer or a ground pounder who wants some air cover for more than 5 minutes.
There those in the USAF who wants a single aircraft to do it all. However, the A10 as a specialty aircraft has no competition. The only downside is that it shoots depleted Uranium rounds which are best when used against tanks other hardened targets.
Go back to WWII and take a look at the P-47 and the P-51.
P-51 air superiority fighter. But for ground attacks... the P-47 wins hands down.
You can go thru a bunch of stories and stats, but most of the P-51s that were shot down were shot down on ground attacks. P-47... they took a beating and kept on flying. They wouldn't win a lot of dogfights, but as a ground attack aircraft.. they tore shit up.
If we're being pedantic the P-47 was optimised for high-altitude combat - the fuselage was basically a massive turbosupercharger, and the late-war P-47M could do 470mph at 30,000 feet, which was pretty slick for the 1940s.
The problem is that it had a very short range, and when the P-51 was available in quantity the P-47 was repurposed for the ground role. The huge size and powerful engine could carry almost as much ordnance as a light bomber.
Sadly the vast majority were scrapped at the end of the war, which was problematic when Korea came around; the P-51/F-51 was still available but, as you say, the liquid cooling system was very vulnerable to ground fire.
The P-47 Was built around a huge radial engine. Bit different than the P-51s and could take a lot more punishment.
With the supercharger the P-51 was a superior air to air fighter, but again, couldn't take the punishment.
There are stories where the Germans ran out of ammo while attempting to shoot down a P-47.
The nice thing is that you can go on to You Tube and find videos about all of these aircraft.
".....They wouldn't win a lot of dogfights....." I upvoted the rest of the post but the idea the Thunderbolt couldn't dogfight is simply untrue. The original P-47Cs had problems with slow climb rates and acceleration over Europe, but even the early P-47Cs were knocking down Luftwaffe fighters long before the paddle-bladed propeller was added. I suggest you read up on Hub Zemke and his Wolfpack for an idea of just how effective the P-47 could be in aerial combat. Ironically, Zemke himself was captured when the wing of his P-51 Mustang was torn off by turbulence, something that would have been unlikely in the tougher Thunderbolt.
The A-10 is one welcome sight by any ground-pounder in a firefight. No bells and whistles, no super-fast speed. It just loiters over the battlefield, does it's job and gets the pilot back home. With the AF mentality that they're about "fighters and bombers.. oh and rockets.." they have hated the A-10 since it was first brought out. I'm truly surprised that the DoD hasn't taken it away from them and either given it to the Army and the Marines since they fly their own close air support. Well, not as much now as they did in Vietnam with the Cobra and the OV10. But I'm sure the frontline troops would appreciate it.
Isn't the Apache a better loiterer?
Nothing quite beats an aircraft that can engage with a remote stand off from AWACS targeting and remain out of sight!
I recall a firepower demo that the A10 used to do in Warminster, They used to routinely fly it up a valley to take out dummy targets against real small arms fire.
Ugly and scary!
"Isn't the Apache a better loiterer?"
No, helicopters carry less fuel and are more thirsty, fixed wing aircraft have much longer loiter times to the tune of several hours (time they can remain airborn).
The Apache has a much longer "time on target" as it can hover and stay pointed nose on where a fixed wing aircraft will by necessity overfly the target to remain airborn. I'm wondering if that is what you meant?
Isn't the Apache a better loiterer?
Loitering is not the only thing. The Feet want something overhead that is slow enough to be accurate, tough enough to take punishment, dangerous enough to take out everything from a piece of concrete to a main battle tank and bowel looseningly scary. That's an A10 then...
Those things sound weird!
I can't remember the exact details but the US Army aren't allowed fixed wing tactical combat aircraft under the Key West agreement which defined the roles of air power in the three services. So currently there's no way they could operate the A-10. I suspect the Marines wouldn't want them as their doctrine is to be able to deploy as part of a maritime force on USN shipping and good as it is the A-10 isn't carrier capable. Actually I think the USMC doctrine is currently to go for an all VSTOL fleet but that's another issue.
True, but the USAF "prima donna" attitude is becoming a real issues. Especially when rules of engagements actually neuter much of the power of the airplanes it likes so much, while those it doesnt' like (the A-10...) fit perfectly (and are probably cheaper to deploy and maintain on-site).
Also, it looks it never learnt anything from the "missile only" debacle of the sixties. It still stubbornly believes in "one multirole airplane model, one weapon technology only" doctrine (now, it's radar stealth), despite reality shown it worked and works on paper only.
Still, while they're putting new wings on, they could make them fold. The airframe is pretty beefy already, so weld on a tailhook mount and uprate the front undercarriage a bit...
BAe managed to toughen up the Hawk into the carrier-capable Goshawk for the USN, so there is a precedent.
"uprate the front undercarriage a bit..."
That may not be necessary. The A-10 already has ruggedised landing gear to fulfill it's role of flying from forward bases with only semi-prepared runways. It also has something else going for it, it has short take off and landing capabilities and could easily launch from a American sized carrier deck even without catapult assistance..... all that's missing is the arrestor hook.
I have heard previously from some American aircrew that A-10s have used Nimitz as an FOB on occasion this is plausible, but I have zero proof to back their claims.
As for the A-10 launching from a carrier
It passes the stall speed requirement and can fly at the speed + attack angle you have after leaving a Short Takeoff ramp. So it will not have an issue.
Not that this is likely to happen any time soon in the current political climate. Even if ISIS takes half of the world (not likely), the yanks and the Russians will continue to bicker whose hired goons are less murderous today. Same as they do across the middle east at the moment.
You're not thinking of OV10 bronco's are you ?
A10 has always suffered from being decidedly 'non cosmetic' (Gen Spike Momyer) and therefore not USAF'y just like the Skyraider did before and THAT was a navy aircraft too....
". I suspect the Marines wouldn't want them as their doctrine is to be able to deploy as part of a maritime force on USN shipping and good as it is the A-10 isn't carrier capable."
Neither is the C-130 Hercules in theory - but that doesn't alter the fact that the C-130s carrier capability has been demonstrated.
It's not just the Brits that the Americans don't like. It wasn't with an A-10 but in Afghanistan there were some Canadians out doing nighttime training. An American out in his fighter jet coming back from patrol and despite being told of the training he thought that the flashes of the gunfire meant that he was being attacked and so he dropped a bomb on them.
When the US Army Air corps was split in to the Air force, the Army was prohibited from flying fixed winged aircraft. The Army flies a lot of attack helicopters but they have their limitations... e.g. at high altitudes.
If you wanted to bring back a Viet Nam era fighter... The Sky Raider (A-1) .
Not for the US, but for its allies. I think the Brazilians sell something similar?
One of my fav aircraft...
But back to reality, its seems its a very cost effective one too:
$17K per hour vs £70K for the combat ready F22... I suspect the F35 will be in this ball park too once its deployed. Even if it reaches the deployment size of the F-16 ($22K per hour), it will still be more per hour...
Keeping it on staff is money well saved!
There's an Aussie book called 'The Year of the Angry Rabbit' in which Australia holds the world to ransom and gets everyone to stop fighting. World economies collapse and they resort to building tanks in coastal resorts and drive them straight of the production line into the sea to get economies going again.
Many a word written in jest...
> $17K per hour vs £70K for the combat ready F22
I believe they passed on the option of buying the Super Tucano, a COIN aircraft that has an endurance of over 8 hours and costs $1K per flight hour.
There is a variant of the Texan II trainer that's fitted with the A10's avionics and costs a tiny fraction of what an F35 costs to buy and run. It's arguably even more useful than the A10 in the wars the US are actually fighting. They probably won't buy those either
Meanwhile the UK's premier moustache wearing club allegedly has a hanger full of Tucanos that aren't being used. Sadly they made sure to buy the version that came without the hard point wiring so they can't be armed and no-one else is interested in buying them...
I get it that the press ALWAYS cites noisy dissenters for less-mature aircraft (e.g. A350). F-35 will be much cheaper to operate than F-22. F-22's special paint and other stealth technology is quite expensive to maintain (not quite as bad a space shuttle 'tiles', but it give you the idea). F-35 is more practical, in that regard.
F-35 is not going to 'linger', like A-10 did. It is designed to function in contested airspace, where A-10 is VERY susceptible to Drones and faster Aircraft. ISIS has been getting quite good with Drones, that is why you don't hear much about A-10 in the middle east, these days.
I'm sorry son, you don't know what you are talking about.
There is nothing magic about UAVs (or "Drones" as you call them). The UAVs that are used by so-called ISIS are hobbyist UAVs that haven been adapted to carry an explosive device. A small explosive device that is probably not going to scratch the armour on an A10. A hobbyist UAV is going to be insignificant to an A10 now and for the foreseeable future. It's a little like claiming that ISIS could strap a hand grenade to Milton-Bradley Bigtrak and take out a Main Battle Tank. It's not going to happen.
The F35 continues to be a festering pile of dingoes kidneys. An ill-conceived aircraft that will linger around for a time then be rightly forgotten. It's a shame that the money spent on the F35 wasn't put in to improving the Harrier. However it's difficult to sway the airforce and their peanut gallery from whoopin' it up for anything capable of supersonic flight. The Top Guns like to ignore the fact that few aircraft can outrun a missile and none can outrun a Starstreak. They also like to ignore the fact that when Harriers went up against Mirages, the Harriers won.
You don't hear much about A-10s in the Middle East these days because of Obama's draw down on forces. Not to mention the fact that Obama's budget cuts (sequestered cuts) have hurt our forces readiness capabilities
Drones have nothing to do with A-10s.
As to 'linger', ask yourself what's the stall speed of each of these aircraft?
The A-10 is slow. Its a flying tank. You're sitting in a titanium bathtub FFS! It can take immense ground fire that neither the F-35 or F-22 is capable of handling.
You can look at the cost of running the A-10 per hour vs the F-22 (one of my favs, along with the A-10)... however, both aircraft do two different tasks.
The F-22 is an air superiority fighter. Meaning its role is to own the skies and to provide air cover for the A-10s. Imaging if all you had were A-10s and some yahoo comes in with F-15s Or the Soviet equivalents. You're toast. You can kill tanks but in terms of capabilities in air to air... you're limited. So you need something to watch over you. A-10s need F-22s and AWACs to keep control of the air so it can do its job taking out tanks and other hardened positions.
I have always had a soft spot for the A-10. I managed to make some pretty decent snaps of one doing mock runs on a castle ruin I was visiting in England when I was a student (must have been early '80s). Really impressive aircraft. Bit like the Il-2 Sturmovik, not pretty, but terribly tough, and lethal to tanks.
They loiter so gracefully, for such ugly birds. I once saw a couple of them playing around in a slow-motion mock dogfight, and thinking that other aircraft would be falling out of the sky at such low speeds - possibly looking like a metallic Swiss cheese if they found themselves on the wrong end of the hog's gun.
they may well have done, they used to use my primary school as a dummy target in the 1980s at play and lunch times, they'd even come back round low enough to wave. Very popular with us, but not as popular as the lightnings who'd occasionally give us airshow quality passes and climbs that I'm pretty sure they wouldnt have officially been allowed to do either
I remember seeing a pair dog-fighting over Norfolk in the late 80s.
It's the one thing that worries me about them - they've done all that low-level zooming about for so many years, you'd have thought the airframes would be a bit knackered by now.
I suppose replacing the wings is going to help a lot though.
They'll also be replacing avionics and presumably control surfaces. They'll have upgraded cockpits. So at some point they'll replace some of the fuselage, and we're into Trigger's broom / my grandfather's axe territory.
When you're fighting stone age insurgents a near stone age aircraft seems to work quite well.
I can understand the big-wigs needing to justify their expenditure on new shiny shiny but they also have to consider the job that needs done.
And the big ugly is better at most current conflicts and probably a lot cheaper too.
Nope. I think you misunderstand the Bigwigs. If the senior officers of the US airforce (or the RAF for that matter) had wanted to spend their time helping squaddies - they'd have joined the army. But they didn't, they joined the airforce, because they like fast planes that are pretty. They like flying them, and they like getting budget so lots of them keep flying. And they like even bigger budgets to buy newer, shinier ones. They only buy ground-attack aircraft when forced to at gunpoint. And even then, they'd much rather spend that cash on a fancy new fighter or strategic bomber, and then do a ground support version later.
To be fair, the B52 makes an absolutely awful strategic bomber nowadays. At least, against anyone with an airforce. But it can carry an awful lot of laser guided bombs, and hang around for an awfully long time, so squaddies with laser designators can have bombs when they need them. So they are willing to compromise.
But sometimes, nothing beats a fucking enormous cannon strapped onto the front of an incredibly ugly aeroplane. Which carries a big bunch of bombs as well, just in case.
The common joke among BUFF pilots is that the planes are older than the pilot's parents.
To your point... They can carry a lot of GPS and laser guided bombs and loiter over target or at a high enough altitude at a stand off distance that they can still deliver bombs on target. They fill a niche that other bombers can't.
But I wouldn't want to be in one trying to take out an enemy's air defenses. There I'd want to be in something a tad more stealthy.
The point is that we are better served by not under specializing. By having the F22s, A-10s, B2s B-52, etc ... and all of those other specialized aircraft (AC-130s, EC2, etc ...)
In the gulf war, A10s performed multiple missions, attack (A) and reckonnosance (R) missions were multiple. One shot down an Iraqi chopper (F), and finally, they performed wild weasel missions as well. By the end of the war, they were running out of letters to add before the -10, much to the chagrin of the F16 squadron that they were sharing base with.
How could a F-35 replace a A-10 on antitank / ground-attack missions?
F-35: one jet engine, a 25 mm GAU-22/A 4-barrel rotary cannon, internally mounted with 180 rounds, muzzle energy for API round: 107.5 kJ, Hardpoints: 6 × external pylons and two internal bays with two pylons
A-10: two jet engines for redundancy , a 30 mm GAU-8/A Avenger rotary cannon with 1,174 rounds, muzzle energy for API round: 203.3 kJ, Hardpoints: 11. Cockpit and parts of the flight-control system protected by 540 kg of titanium aircraft armor.
I wonder how many retired Air Force generals involved in the F-35 program are now highly-paid "advisors" in private companies, especially at Lookheed-Martin?
The F35 is a ludicrous design, fit for nothing in particular. It keeps the tax dollars rolling in for Lockheed-Martin and that's about all it is good for. The decision to lug around a great big fan that does nothing for most of the time in the F35B version is particularly laughable. I'm convinced that the Generals and Air Marshalls who sign off on this stuff are swayed only by how shiny they think it looks, the possibility of a paid consultancy when they retire and the freebies while they are working.
The A10 dates from an era when the US had come to its senses and designed a ground attack aircraft by having a designer listen to ground attack pilots and build the aircraft they wanted. That seemed to be a unique sweet spot in military requirements with the best aircraft that the US has/had being designed roughly in the same decade. The A-10 is now not wanted by air force pilots because they all want to be Top Gun (or Biggles in the UK) and fly something that does not stay aloft by repelling the ground with ugliness.
you don't really want a support aircraft to be constantly whizzing past at near mach 1 burning fuel like its out of fashion expending a highly limited supply of expensive missiles as its too fast to point a gun at the ground safely from a useful height.
A10 may be old, but what may be needed is a new type of A10 not new faster shinier expensive aircraft with far less damage resilience. The objective was to have a low stall speed, able to usefully aim and fire weapons accurately from low altitude and take some punishment without catastrophic failure (crash). F35 seems to have very little of these attributes and can only make up for it by using more expensive, larger, heavier (and therefore far fewer) guided/standoff munitions.
Its noise is also a morale boost/drain (depending on which end you are facing) which is also a soft weapon in its own right.
As far as I can see the whole debate has been more around paying for faster and more shiny aircraft rather than controlled deployment of copious amounts of ordnance.
"A10 may be old, but what may be needed is a new type of A10 not new faster shinier expensive aircraft with far less damage resilience."
... is the right answer. It probably also galls the aircraft manufacturers that the A-10 showed that a cheap aircraft can fit a combat role perfectly. The $1.7 million budgeted cost per aircraft is a fraction of the cost of the F-22 ($380m per aircraft) or the F-35 ($130 m, airframe only, engines an "optional" extra).
I'd imagine the future of close air support is seen as drones. The close bit of it meaning that you expect higher pilot losses than any other type of mission. Current drones aren't up to it of course, they're great for hours on end of recce and the odd missile strike - but don't compare to what the A10 can do.
For some reason nobody seems to believe that they can knock out a few hundred of a new design all that cheaply anymore. How much that's down to the defence industry, the requirement for things to be every shinier or the fact that nodody can write a decent spec and stop bloody tinkering with it is a matter for the reader to decide...
It's been done with armoured vehicles in Afghanistan and Iraq when the US Hummer and UK Landrover were totally inadequate. So why not planes? One of our light recce vehicles (the Jackal I think) was designed, tested and into first production in 18 months.
The downside of the huge multi-role plane project is that it becomes a monster, as it's expected to do so many jobs.
The downside of having multiple weapons systems is that you need multiple supply chains - which makes logistics and training much more expensive and difficult. Whether 10 years is really enough to replace the A10 with drones seems very doubtful to me though.
Brfiliant piece of kit for 'assymetric' battles. I think it was even designed so that you could take bits of the left side of an aircraft and stick em back on the right side, The idea being that an A-10 will alwasy get you home but the remains can be cannibalised to patch up it's siblings and go back out again.
On a more serious point imagine how effective a few of these would have been enforcing a no fly policy against Assads barrel bombing helicopters, before the Russians turned up..
Well anything we've got in service could have easily dealt with Assad's airforce. It was politcal will that was lacking, not hardware.
Harrier, Jaguar and the A10 were designed around the same time to do the same job, close air support on the front lines in Germany - where decent runways were going to be in very short supply, if not actually covered by mushroom clouds. Logistics was also going to be a right old mess. Their job was going to be supporting the forward troops to keep them alive long enough for NATO to mobilise and get troops there before the front lines collapsed totally. The mainly Germany, British and US professionals on the border weren't expected to last many days into WWIII - even if it didn't go nuclear. I don't think there was much hope held out for the close air support either.
The A10 and also various TOW vehicles were designed for that particular theatre of operation. The expectation was that a massive amount of Russian armor would be leading the attack and NATO needed something to absorb the brunt of the attack and also take out as much of the Russian armor as they could. The main battle tanks, etc. would then move in and deal what was left of the Russian Army.
A strange thing happened though... the A10 was more effective and combat worthy than they expected.
Helicopters are regarded as ground forces, partly because they're so often tightly integrated with ground troops, but also because they fly lower and slower - and so are much more vulnerable.
Helicopters also don't like high altitude or high temperatures (both massively reduce their fuel and weapons payload).
Hence Harrier did lots of close air support for the UK in Afghanistan, until it was ditched - because it's good at going slower than fast jets, and still carries loads of stuff.
I think the brass see drones as the future of close air support. You can make them bigger, and carry more stuff, or just have more of them. You don't mind as much when they crash - and you can also take higher risks with them. Plus you can have them loitering near the enemy gathering intelligence, then drop weapons when required.
loiter time greater with A10, ingress/egress speed greater with A10, weapon payload greater with A10 (pretty hard to do a bombing run with a copter..), damage survivability (sic?) greater with A10, and (IIRC) mission turnaround time faster with A10.
copters have a role for sure, but the A10 just keeps working and working well.
... to the conditions it was designed to operate in.
Over half a ton of titanium armour around the cockpit, great maneuverability at low speed, the ability to carry lots of additional armament in addition to a huge capacity for cannon rounds, multiple redundancies in its flight systems, able to take off from short runways near the front line and designed to be easy to keep in service with minimal access to spares. The requirements of air-to-ground support haven't really changed since it was designed and built. It's now a great example of a mature design that has proven itself over decades, and that will cost less to keep in service as a result.
The F35 isn't suited to this sort of role, so trying to divert the funding from the A10 doesn't really make sense. Still, I suspect this is more about the politics of funding rather than the merits of a proven plane.
I couldn't honestly see an F35 staying airborne after this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Campbell_(pilot)
Try reading Andrew Cockburn's book Kill Chain. There's several good stories about the value of a real pilot with eyes and a human brain able to survey the area from above and judge what is going on (compared with a drone with a fuzzy camera and a narrow angle of view). There is a great story about an American operation in Afghanistan that went seriously wrong, with a pair of A10s coming in to act as airborne coordination - speaking to the troops and the aircraft above to get the explosives to where they were needed. The pilots flew something like a 12-hour mission (with refuelling) to hold it all together.
I live and work "right" down the road from a US ANG facility (Selfridge Air National Guard) that has A10s. Don't see them training much -- usually the KC Stratotankers -- but they're there (and we can certainly HEAR them). Local businesses thrive on lunch customers from the base. To the country, A10s mean defense capability; to our state/county, they mean JOBS, and our federal representatives are trying their best to keep said A10s and associated jobs.
Go Team Selfridge!
(Check my handle -- this issue is even closer to home when you regard my line of work.)
One issue is that the A10 is too easy to shoot down with a hand hold missile if it is flying low enough to use its gun. Hence in most operations it fly higher and then uses the same missiles as any other aircraft. Given that the gun takes up so much space and limits how many missiles the A10 can carry….
The F-35 is overpriced for what is needed today, but how many F-35 does the USA need for a “more advanced war”, and is it cheaper to then also use the same F-35 for operations that they are over speced for….
"One issue is that the A10 is too easy to shoot down with a hand hold missile if it is flying low enough to use its gun."
But not what the combat statistics show. Of the six A-10s shot down/damaged beyond repair in Operation Desert Storm, one was shot down by an Igla-1 MANPADS. The others were shot down by Strela-1 and Strela-10 SAMs. Of the six aircraft downed only one pilot was killed when he loitered over another downed A-10 to protect his wingman.
That doesn't make it look like an aircraft that is "easy" to shoot down with a MANPADS. It does make it look like an aircraft that has high innate survivability. Part of that is clearly the armour, another part is possibly the location of the engines.
So that's six losses for 4,102 kills. That's an impressive record by anyone's standards.
It was not allowed to fly low much in Operation Desert Storm due to the risks, also I think most of the kills were not with its gun.
Therefore maybe we need a replacement that can fly slow and remain over the solders for a long time, but can carry more missiles by not having such a large gun. Transport planes have also been converted with a large gun fixed on one door if you want the large gun.
The A-10 armor allowed it to fly low and not to be brought down with small arms, but if flying low is no longer an option…..
Well, that's why they want to use more drones in close air support.
But it's not all that easy to shoot planes down with handheld missiles. Otherwise everyone would be doing it... If you're doing close air support you can fly in from behind friendly lines - change angles of approach and the ground troops you're supporting have an incentive to identify MANPADS and deal with them or make them the first target. That's why Forward Air Controllers are so important, partly to avoid dropping bombs on the wrong people, and partly to try and ensure the survival of the aircraft.
So at the moment We have a mix of helicopters, drones and planes. I suspect that mix will change, but all will still be in use in 10 and 20 years time.
I have always liked the A10 - A lot. It was not built to be Hollywood-pretty. It was built to do a job, and do it damn well. In that regard it is an engineer's dream: all function over form, reliable, sturdy, adaptable.
Aaand... in my humble opinion it does look good. Much like the old Land Rover Series I - III, it has a ruggedness and simplicity, derived from their functional mindset, that makes them very likeable.
In 1968 I was a re-purposed ground-radio tech doing what's now called combat control* in Vietnam. Daytime airstrikes were done with F-4, F-100 and A-1E aircraft. The latter, callsign "Sandy," were leftover WW2 recip-engine planes, but they were our favorites. Not out of nostalgia, but because at their slower speeds they had a better chance of hitting the target than the faster jets. Not that there was any fault on the part of the jet pilots, mind you.
Combat controllers now have access to laser guidance, meaning tactical air support can come from aircraft flying far above the battlefield. That's great, until the laser system goes titsup or you just don't have one. Here's where the A-10 comes in. At night, close air support came from even older planes, C-47s equipped with Gatling guns, the Spooky gunships.
The U.S. Air Force brass may feel the roles once filled by A-1Es and C-47s can better be accomplished with drones. That doesn't mean the F-35 is a good idea for other roles. "Paperweight" is a good epithet. No matter how advanced the thing is, if you can't reliably get it in the air you are screwed. Well, you aren't because you're not going anywhere. The guys on the ground are screwed. Advanced technology can solve a lot of problems. But when it comes to down-and-dirty warfare, sometimes less tech is more. As in environmental science and investing, diversity should be a major element in strategy.
*Today's combat controllers are spec-ops trained and I bow to them. Their advanced training is a good use of the defense budget. There were many days and nights in 1968 that I would have liked to have some of that training!
My country's SF troopers and arty, 161 Battery, served alongside you guys over there so THANK YOU Florida1920. The Sandy of VN is the A-10 of today. When are the air farce generals going to realise the A-10 is such an important tool in their arsenal. The F-22 has turned out cheaper than the F-35 but they still insist that the more expensive toy will win the day. The A-10 and F-16 have sure proved that theory WRONG!
See what y'all think of this:
Got this from a friend who got it from a state police organization. There are people looking into this, but probably at too low of a level to do any good.
Got this from a friend who got it from a state police organization.
Yes, the key to taking down the U.S. is surely to kill off Twitter and Netflix. I see it's time for a rerun of my favorite song: http://www.eclectech.co.uk/mindcontrol.php Note: Requires Flash, another sign of the coming apocalypse.
My family used to rent a beach house between Sunset and Garden City beaches, south of Myrtle Beach, and on the southbound departure path of A-10s out of MBAFB. Great spot for a kid interested in aviation! The base closed in the early ninetys because the Air Force wanted to get rid of the A-10 then, but they're still in the air. I wonder how many of the Generals that wanted to get rid of the A-10 from back then are still flying.
Warning - non sequitur ahead...
My parents met Mickey Spillane (Mike Hammer crime novels) in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that only "locals" knew about in Garden City. He lived in Murrells Inlet, SC.
That's the ticket! Presumably with software from the same folks who can't get the F35 to stay lit. Then three years down the road a "mandatory update" will come with a "Sadly, your hardware is not supported by this update, and there is no alternative". Cue the champagne at LockMart.
It's a great example of a single purpose air frame (ground attack) that through various political and practical pressures is one of the best in the world.
It's also a great example of airpower that the USAF/RAF haaaate to bits. Almost as much hate for the A-10 as for drones.
While it's probably the best ground attack craft, it's one of the worst things to be in if the other side have fighters or even rotary wing craft. Combined with it's usual mission of being slow and low, most airforce type pilots would rather run a mile rather than fly it. It's why a bunch of the USAF ones are designated as spotters, without any change to loadout.
It's also a very cheap plane to run, and is incredibly popular with ground troops.
Hence most of the discussions have been the USAF saying they want to get rid of them, the army, navy and marines lining up to say they'll be happy to have them, and their budget, followed by the USAF loudly protesting that it needs ALL the money for shinies, because USAF.
Went to an airshow in Daytona where it was absolutely socked in, with a 6K ft solid cloud layer.
Some bloke from the Florida Air Nat'l Guard (FANG - excellent acronym) took his A-10 up and I don't think it did less than 6gs for more than 5 seconds. There was condensation coming off the wingtips the entire time. He was able to haul a full 360 within the boundaries of the airfield at about 500 knots. The top of the wings was a complete white sheet of mist.
He also did a loop and kept it under the clouds, which was amazing. That was about 20 minutes of some excellent maneuvers.
The Blue Angels were grounded due to the conditions.
long live the flying bathtub!
ive been lucky enough to see them up real close and felt the shift of air when the vulcan cannon lets off a salvo...feck me what a masterpiece! BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRT tisch.....
A few retired US pilots i know, love it like no other aircraft, no matter what it gets them home.
i actually think its lovely and pretty, i mean whats not to love!
man it gives me goosebumps hearing it :D
I seem to recall reading a while back that the A-10 had already seen at least one A-10 replacement aircraft introduced and then retired - what are the chances an operational A-10 squadron will do a flypast when the last F-35 is retired from service - to be followed by an announcement that an upgrade program for the A-10s is being introduced that will extend their service life out to 2048 to cover the gap while a replacement is developed and deployed.
One of my USAF maintenance school instructors had worked with an A-10 unit during some combat simulations, pitting a wing of F-16s against a group of MC-130s with A-10s providing cover.
There is something to be said for low and slow, when you take into account that they are also highly maneuverable.
In this mock dogfight, the defending force dirtied up the aerodynamics and pancaked down to the tree line, ending up flying low enough that they found a few small limbs from trees stuck in the landing gear afterward. The A-10s then porpoised up and painted the aggressor squadron, with the laser designator simulated 30mm cannons.
From her telling of the post flight, the F-16 pilots (including their squadron commander who was flying in the mission) were much less cocky afterward, an abrupt turn around from the pre-game attitude.
F35 mission objective, get billions in profit from subservient vassal states, it will happen and I do mean or else regime change for those vassal states. Cheapest way to operate an F35 simply send them the money and never take delivery, safer that way.
You would think they would back away from it by now but nope, through corruption they believe they can still push it right on through, how bad is the F35, that bad they have to keep the A10 alive, that bad, that F16 and F18 will be quietly resurrected a generation behind Russian and Chinese gear.
Well, it's not like they never intended to replace the F35 as soon as possible, more profits.
The Airforce has been trying to kill A10 since soon after its introduction as they do want to be in the business of supporting ground troops but rather picture themselves dueling in the sky. Too bad missiles, not jets dogfight now. It is surprising that the Marines did not pick these up since flying artillery is their kind of thing. These are much more reasonable to service than a Harrier and are hell on helicopters and any ground armor.
They should just buy - the better - Russian planes and stop pretending.
The SU-34 is superior in every way to the A-10 - and can protect itself against air attacks
Even the SU-25 is way ahead of the A-10 on every count
The trouble is that the Americans have never had to operate without air superiority. They have no idea how to fight the ex-Soviet way - as was demonstrated in the ex-Yugoslavia.
"They should just buy - the better - Russian planes and stop pretending....." Where do you start with such silliness!?!
".....The SU-34 is superior in every way to the A-10....." LOL, okey, let's take a look at the SU-34. See the way the Thud has the engines in pods well clear of each other? That's so one engine can be shot away without affecting the other. Now look at the engines on the SU-34 - both side-by-side and in the fuselage, so fire can spread between the engine bays and take the whole aircraft out. And on the Thud you can swap entire tail plane, fin sections, and undercarriage units - can't do that on the SU-34. And when the Thud runs out of luck and redundancy, you see those main-wheels sticking out? They allow it to belly in with less damage than a bellyflop in the SU-34. The Thud will take a licking and keep on kicking long after the SU-34 is a pile of smouldering wreckage. The SU-34 is just an attempt to wring some more out of the tired SU-27 design. You could compare the SU-34 to the F-15E Strike Eagle, but it would be a more of an untried, bargain basement option vs proven American weapon comparison.
".....Even the SU-25 is way ahead of the A-10 on every count...." The SU-25 Frogfoot is just a poor attempt to copy the Thud. It doesn't even have the Thud's big gun, and records from Afghanistan show it definitely doesn't have the Thud's ability to absorb battle damage even half as well. I suggest you go do some actual factual reading before you try your next post.
As a former zoomie, I have to say that not everyone in the USAF is thoroughly obsessed with shiny shiny, or even fast-faster-fastest. I'm not a fan of either the F-35 or the F-22. But I loves me some Warthog. My top 3 jets would be the F-16, the A-10, and the SR-71. So I'm really excited to hear that the A-10 just may live on for a while longer. (I still wish we had updated the SR-71s with hydrogen pulse jets.)
So redesign the A-10 engines to be even quieter (and more fuel efficient). Update the electronics and countermeasures. Even paint her with some radar-diffracting skittles if you have to make her shinier. Give her some purple hair. Something. Anything. But don't retire her.
I think, sadly, we have forgotten that the key to success is that no one is a "one man army". Divide labor intelligently to the people who can get the job done right. Somewhere along the way, a lot of brass today seem to have completely lost their common sense.
Or maybe I'm just a curmudgeonly luddite who doesn't like fixing something that isn't broken. ;) And if there's one plane that isn't broken, it's the A-10. The most she needs is some spit and polish and she'll be better than new.
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