Tactical Tailor

‘Grunts of the Air’ The A-10 Video The Air Force Doesn’t Want You To See

The Air Force is trying desperately to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt II, arguably the best Close Air Support platform ever fielded, so that it can spend more money on the F-35. They have attempted to suppress this service produced video on the capabilities of the A-10. They are also claiming that the A-10 is only pulling Sandy duty in support of Combat Search And Rescue in current operations in Iraq even though the Warthog, as it is affectionately known to ground troops, is regularly raining death and destruction on our enemies.

73 Responses to “‘Grunts of the Air’ The A-10 Video The Air Force Doesn’t Want You To See”

  1. Lee Owens says:

    Do not end the service of the A-10. It cannot be tallied, how many of our guys are still alive because of it. If you retire it, you might as well be killing our troops yourself, in all actuality, that’s what you would be doing.
    striketeam2551

  2. Archangel says:

    Thanks for posting this. All of your readers should lobby their legislators to keep the A-10 active for the sake of our troops, now and well into the future.

  3. AJ says:

    75th ATTACK!!!!!!!!

  4. Grunt says:

    The only Bird in the AF that worth a is a shit! Hey air brass your fucked up! Maybe stop spending money on apartments style barracks for airmen and use that money to build more badass A-10s. Your stupid ass networked super jet is a good but, the A-10s can carry more payload and will take a punch in the chin! Not like your exotic super fair.

    Just some guy on the ground

  5. blehtastic says:

    Sure, great, we should totally keep an obsolete weapons system with exponentially increasing logistics costs just to placate a bunch of political lobbyists because grunts created a youtube vidja.

    God forbid we get to the point that we need a 30 mm cannon in the air and uparmor a super tucano or mod a Predator to carry the cannon, or take any number of more logistically supportable platforms with similar airspeeds to the warthog and throw a cannon on them. No need to consider ROI or mission needs. Warthog is the tank of the air!

    • Felix says:

      You can describe the effectivity of an A10 with technical data.

      Served in AFG and I witnessed the psychological effect the A10 has in enemy and allies more than once. No kind of UAV can replace this.

      A10s do the business close and personal!

      • Felix says:

        *cant describe

      • blehtastic says:

        Oh yea, no other platform could ever carry a 30 mm cannon with similar airspeeds and armor. No way. Could never happen.

        • 1stidguy says:

          Problem is making that type of platform. The gau 8 has the power and accuracy because of its cyclic rate. So nothing in the armory can replace it just yet.

        • joe says:

          Because the airforce us so great at making new air platforms on time and on budget, that are also cheaper than the old platform they’re replacing…

          You must work for lockheed

        • Whitesands says:

          I feel like we’ve forgotten that the A-10 platform was purpose built around the Gau-8. It’s not a weapon system that could just be placed in any platform now or then. To state that we can just move it to a different, non purpose made platform is ludicrous. It is truly a dramatic and jaw dropping sight to see them rolling in hot! God bless there Pilots!

          • 1stidguy says:

            State the right way white, until a new platform is fully ready to replace the a10. The old girl should still fly.

            • Jon says:

              The gau-8 is huge, there is no reason to put it on a drone, so they wouldn’t. Additionally, the aircraft is designed to go slow for the anti-tank role, which also works for CSAR and air support ops…that being said, a drone cannot replace the pilot on the scene making split decisions in support of ground troops. Using a drone would add a delay between troops on the ground and the pilot, a delay that could cause lives. The aircraft should be maintained, if not by the airforce, by the marines. It has a specific role that is very important. OR it could go to the Special operations side of the airforce house and be funded that way. Honestly the f-35 is still a ways away as for an operational tested aircraft, the A-10 is proven and with minor upgrades would continue to serve well in multiple roles, for cheaper.

              Though we do need to paint them camo again.

        • balais says:

          You DO know how big she (the GAU8) is right?

          it is a 620 lb gun that is 19 ft long. Cant fit it in any legacy aircraft. Definitely not a F35 or a drone.

          They tried a 30mm on a proposed CAS variant of the F16 (4-barrel variant). It didn’t turn out to work at all.

    • majrod says:

      There’s a reason no UAVs are armed with a gun. There is a time lag (called latency) between the operator to the drone as well as the video feed. Those couple of seconds make it dangerous to put a gun on a UAV with troops in the vicinity let alone make it effective enough to hit a point target.

      Then there’s payload…

    • N says:

      Spoken like someone who truly has no idea what they’re talking about

    • bozo says:

      lol – “MOD a Predator”? If by “mod” you mean completely totally redesign from the ground up (except the need for having wings and propulsion), then yes.

    • straps says:

      You could make all these arguments against the C-130 and the B-52. Yet even in the age of technology and Ryan Seacrest we need to insert hard men into dusty places, and support them with ordinance delivered from the skies above. The (obsolete) Cobras and Chinooks are other examples of aircraft thought to be obsolete, then proven once again in fights at altitudes “modern” systems weren’t “doctrinally” specified for.

      If CAS by UAS (Type I or Type II) is doable now, and all that needs to happen is training, by all means let’s do it. Then retire the Warthog.

      The concern is that the Air Force is doing what every defense-industry-lobbied branch of the military tends to do, at the expense of blood and treasure: megabuck solutions to problems that haven’t yet been solved, in support of fights that haven’t yet occurred, sustained by cuts to proven systems that don’t do sexy stuff. If anything needs to go unmanned, it should be the strategic delivery systems. But manned zoomies are cool. So effing cool. So cool that you can use video of fighters to recruit cops and IT and Services and all manner of personnel who never even leave the ground.

      On the ground, the M1114 is a PERFECT example of this. First, we decided that we would ONLY prosecute symmetric conflicts with things called FEBAs. We deigned that there was a line behind which the locals would throw flowers, and armor was unnecessary. We wrote the doctrine, and got our first taste of its flaws in a dirty, close-in gunfight in Mogadishu. Early in 2004, we started hard-siding flat-bottomed HMWWVs, an effort to put lipstick on a whole different hog. Those trucks killed and maimed a lot of people before we got smart and looked back to the 60s-era African conflicts for modern v-hulled rolling stock that could take a hit.

      Or, just have Congress re-jigger the weight, payload and performance standards for fixed-wing aircraft and Army can do its OWN CAS.

    • balais says:

      Drones cannot replace the A10 for a number of reasons.

      -payload
      -latency between the pilots station and the aircraft thousands of miles away
      -spatial awareness of a human pilot versus a camera affected by aforementioned “latency”.
      -high costs of drones versus a dedicated CAS aircraft
      -the reliance on attacking targets from long distances versus >2000m LoS. This is fundamentally flawed for supporting troops in close proximity.

      The super tucano?

      -inferior survivability
      -inferior payload
      -inferior speed
      -inferior firepower compared to the versatility of the 30mm for CAS

      Otherwise, it is a better CAS aircraft than drones in my opinion

      “exponentially increasing logistics costs ”

      LOL you DARE cite increasing logistics costs when the drone program costs more per hour than the cold war-era SR71? or when the Air Force is poised to replace the 10 million dollar A10 with the 150 million dollar F35?

      Funny.

  6. Christopher says:

    The A10 has always been one of my favorite aircraft followed by the AC130 and Apache. If the Airfoce wants to maintain a stealth high speed image reactivate the Army Air Corp and let the A10 squadrons be transferred there. For the mission at hand there is not other better tool for the job.

  7. jonnyb says:

    Just sell them to the Marine Corps. We’re known for taking everyone else’s old shit and squeezing 20 more years out of it. Plus, it integrates perfectly with the Marine air mission.

    • Strike-Hold says:

      He has a point….

      • Nikuraba29 says:

        +1, I can see it now, 20 years from now the Marine Corps will be stealiing parts from A-10 exhibits and museums all over the country to keep them in the air (just like te 46). Oh, and it will still be killing shit at the cyclic rate.

      • MED says:

        That is a good point.

    • KP says:

      Main problem is that they can’t launch off of amphib assault ships and require land based airstrips. Not that it’s impossible as the Marines do operate air stations but it makes for a hard sell when SecNav needs to pay for an air wing that doesn’t fit into the expeditionary mission.

      That said, if the Marines Macgyver a way to attach a landing hook and make the A10’s engines pivot downward then hey, you might just have yourself a cheap STOL that everyone can love.

      • Terry B says:

        Guys, you are kidding yourselves if you think another service can afford to own a fleet of aircraft above and beyond the platforms they already have the budget for.

        BTW, this isn’t the first time the Air Force has wanted to kill the A-10. As I recall they first floated the idea right after Desert Storm. According to them the F16 could do everything the A 10 could do + be a great air to air fighter.

        As a plan Bravo the Air Force also opined that the Army could just take ownership of the CAS mission entirely. Then “ARMY” A10s could be married up with Apaches in hybrid attack regiments. And the Air Force could build the fighters they wanted without having to worry about CAS at all.

        The problem is cost. Not just for the aircraft and parts but pilots, maintenance personnel, ammunition, hangars and runways, etc. Because of course the Air Force wants to keep all those things that are already paid for to support their other aircraft.

        That is why Marine CH46s and Air Force MH53s had to go away in order for their personnel and spaces to become available to support fielding the Qsprey.

        So NO, neither the Army nor the USMC is going to be taking the A10 onboard. If the Air Force doesn’t keep flying them they will go away.

        TLB

        • majrod says:

          Their is a money and infrastructure issue to move the A10 into the Army but the greatest factor is the Key West Agreement that limited service roles and the antiquated and self serving USAF belief that the Army shouldn’t have armed fixed wing or could handle them.

          The Army in fact has more aircraft than any service, the airfields to deploy them from and the resources to build airfields. It would need some additional funding to stand up the fixed wing capability but it’s no more difficult than the exapansions the Air Force has made into the ground role. The difference is you don’t see the Army blocking the Air Force when it acquires armored vehicles. There’s the lesson.

          BTW, the CH46s are going away because the Osprey is supposed to replace it (not because of a maintenance shortage) and the MH53 went away when the Air Force abandoned its SOF rotary insertion mission and before the USAF even decided to procure the Osprey. The SOF insertion mission (which has been and remains a primarily Army mission – TF160) is just now being revisited with (wait for it), the Osprey in Air Force markings.

          • Terry B says:

            majrod,

            I don’t disagree that there is a division of labor that is codified between the Air Force and the Army. However, IF the Army chose to accept the CAS mission and the Air Force concurred I’m sure those agreements could be updated.

            Number of airframes aside, basing and running fast movers on the same airfield with slower fixed wing or rotary wing aircraft is not nearly as simple as you make it sound.

            Infrastructure on Army airfields is totally inadequate to support a large fixed wing fleet. You would be talking upgrades in the billions if not trillions of dollar range. Why should the taxpayer support that kind of high cost shell game?

            Yes, the CH46 is going away because it is being replaced. They are also going away because they are very old and need replacing. But the point is the crews and the maintenance personnel and the physical spaces on land and aboard ship are being remissioned IOT field the Osprey. They are the same people in most cases – and are certainly the same slots.

            You are mistaken about the MH53 timeline. First, I don’t recall AFSOC ever “giving up” SOF rotary wing insertion missions. I know SOCOM has never intended for that to happen.

            And I know that AFSOC was involved in the Qsprey project very early on in the development of the airframe. I sent team guys out to Yuma Proving Grounds to fast rope and conduct HALO operations from the Osprey prototypes in 97-98 timeframe.

            When GEN Brown (former 160th Cdr) was still the SOCOM commander he was very concerned that keeping the MH53s flying to support SOF in OIF was going to delay the transition of aircrews to the MH22.

            BTW, we inserted multiple teams into Iraq via MH53s in 2003. And the 53s kept supporting us in Iraq until late 2009 as I recall. And then those crews went home to transition. By that time the Marines were deploying some of their Qspreys into Al Asad.

            The larger point I was trying to make is that it is a zero sum game. If the Air Force keeps the A10 they have to give up something else eventually. And so would any other service.

            Nobody has the resources to have it all.

            TLB

            • majrod says:

              The last Pave Low mission was in Sep ’08. The 53 is still in service but not with the Air Force. The first USAF CV22 squadron reached operational capability seven months later. That handful of CV 22 and even the whopping 17 in existence have a minor role in the insertion of SOF. “Abandoned” is admittedly too strong a word but there is no doubt the Air Force does not have the primary role when it comes to rotary wing insertion of SOF.

              There is no way the Air Force would ever allow the Army have the CAS mission let alone fly armed fixed wing aircraft. Check out the history of how the Air Force reacted to the Army arming observation aircraft in Vietnam the exact same type of OV-1’s the Air Force armed. Heck, the Air force for years blocked the Army arming Hueys, developing the Cobra or tried to steal the AH56. These same kind of tactics were used to wrest the C27J from the Army with the promise the Air Force would fly it for the Army. Once the Army acquiesced the Air Force took over the program and last year mothballed the program to include brand new aircraft. BTW, the Army is allowed to do intratheatre lift but even this small mission is considered a threat to Air Force fly hegemony.

              300 airplanes is not a large fixed wing fleet. The Army has about half that number right now. Do you think the Army would have to station all it’s A10’s on just a few airfields? The Air Force doesn’t. You do realize that most Army airfields routinely have fixed wing flying out of them let alone shared airfields like Pope and McChord (or the big Army ones at Benning, Campbell etc.

              A trillion for the Army to fly A10’s? At $12mil a piece the 300 A10’s we have left represent $360 million already spent dollars. Even if we used the Air Force pipeline for training pilots (ignoring the option of allowing already trained pilots to transfer to the army) we are talking millions.

              I never said running an airfield with rotary and fixed wing was simple. I’m saying it’s not beyond the Army’s capabilities as there are scores of Army airfields that do it on a daily basis and have done so for decades.

              Money is tight. It’s no coincidence that CAS gets the ax right after intratheatre air. Both Army centric missions. I agree nobody has the resources to do it all.nor should they be blocking any other service from pursuing its own vested interest.

              • Terry B. says:

                majrod,

                Let’s not exaggerate, the Air Force is not “axing” CAS by proposing to scrap the A10.

                I have been supported on the ground by all manner of platforms including the A10 and the top cover was always appreciated regardless of what plane was above me.

                The Air Force believes that they can continue to provide CAS support to ground forces without the A10.

                You or I might not agree but that doesn’t mean that I assign any malevolent intent to the Air Force position.

                I think a transition of the A10 to the Army or Marines (if such a thing were to happen) would be a financial disaster for the receiving service.

                Exactly what the cost would be neither of us can accurately predict. But what is clear is that significant additional funding would have to come at the expense of a lot of existing Army programs – unless the Congress wants to write that check.

                Which seems unlikely because at the end of the day they would be paying to keep a capability they already bought once.

                Finally, I get older every day and sometimes the deployments run together. But I’m pretty sure the MH53s were still supporting us in Iraq when I was there in 2009.

                TLB

                • Terry B. says:

                  correction:

                  majrod you are right about Sept 2008 being the last missions flown by the MH53s.

                  And I was right that my memories of rotations to OIF and / or OEF sometimes run together.

                  In other words 2009 looked a lot like 2008 for me.

                  TLB

          • majrod says:

            Also…

            The USAF tried to kill the A10 twice before post Desert Storm. They tried to back out of fielding the A10 when the Army cancelled the AH56 Cheyenne http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/reports/2009/R906.pdf p 30-35

            and a decade later before Desert Storm where there was a move to give them to the Army to serve in a FAC role. Senate Bill 2884 20 July 1990,

            • Bman says:

              Major Rod,

              you are always spot on with your assessment of the facts. I am more then ready for everyone to jump on my but I have long said it is a waste of money to have the Air Force as its own service branch. It would reduce the bureaucracy that is the Department of Defense and save HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS every year and the services might actually know how many enlisted staff members generals have and be able to audit their books, stop mixing and matching uniforms, rank insignia, medals, badges and the like. Then they could “speak the same language” or in other terms, fight more effectively as a team.

              • majrod says:

                I wouldn’t go as far as totaling boarding up the Air Force. There are valid missions that support a separate branch e.g. air superiority (the Air Force’s favorite mission), strategic bombing and airlift.

                You’re absolutely right about the other issues. These are symptomatic of a DoD more concerned with expanding its bureaucracy than actually managing and coordinating the services, fighting useless branch partisanship and stupid policy.

  8. Jon says:

    Jonnyb has it right, honestly an applicable answer. The airframe aligns with that mission very well. This would also probably bring updates to the airframe much like the cobra or hornet have gotten.

    The airforce isn’t focused on multirole ground aircraft anymore, they want a future aircraft to fight nostalgic dogfights…So hopefully the marines will lobby to take the airframe.

  9. Terry says:

    Yes, the A-10 should probably be replaced. A large, modern drone platform with similar capabilities being the most logical choice (not an upgrade of an existing platform mind you, a purpose built heavy drone that ticks all the right boxes is needed).

    In the current defense environment, it would take many years to design, test and field such an aircraft though.

    In the meantime, the A-10 needs to keep flying and possibly go through a modernisation programme. At the end of the day, it is a highly capable ground support craft that is actually relatively cheap to operate and maintain, relative to other combat aircraft types.

    It also makes your enemies shit bricks, for obvious reasons.

    Cheers,
    Terry

    • PETE says:

      Not so sure we are ready for UAVs doing gun runs and other danger close ordnance delivery. It is a long way from Nevada to most of the down range locations and too many opportunities for things to go wrong.

      As Terry noted, effectively the A10s engine is flying everywhere on regional people haulers. Cheap and effective.

  10. MK EOD says:

    Whenever this topic comes up, the bullshit flows like water. So let’s go over a few points.

    http://elementsofpower.blogspot.com/2011/07/debunking-close-air-support-myths-part.html

    -The last A-10 was built in 1984. The airframes are all now well beyond their designed service life.

    -They can’t build more A-10s. Fairchild Republic no longer exists. The aircraft was designed in the 1970s. The people who built it are retired, or dead, and the tooling is gone. It would literally be more cost-effective to develop a new design from scratch.

    -The Marines have never flown a dedicated jet close air support plane like the A-10. The closest thing they have is the Harrier, which is much faster, and better suited toward general interdiction and strike missions. Also note that the Marines are mortgaging their future to buy the F-35, but it’s the Air Force who is always accused of hating the grunt.

    -Sooner or later, the A-10s are going to the boneyard. It’s inevitable. Right now, the boneyard is the number one parts supplier for the A-10. The plane has already been in service for something like 36 years. It may be hard to believe this in an era when the aircraft industry is seemingly slowing down, but there was a time when a 36 year service life was unheard of for a front-line warplane.

    -The F-35 wasn’t designed to be a dog fighter. It was designed to be a multirole, multi-service bomb truck to replace the F-16, F/A-18, F-15E, and AV-8B. Ground attack is its primary function. The Air Force version is the only one with an internal gun. Whether or not we need an expensive stealth fighter to fill the bomb truck role is debatable, but that’s what it is.

    -You can’t “give” the A-10s to anyone, unless you intend to forcibly transfer tens of thousands of Airman to the Army or Marines. Not just the pilots (who I’m sure would love to be demoted to Warrant Officers), but the maintainers, the instructors, the people who teach the maintainers and the instructors, the entire logistical chain. Hill AFB, UT, where the A-10s are refurbished. Numerous other installations. Civilian contractors. Billions of dollars in infrastructure.

    -The Army or the Marines aren’t going to fly the A-10 any better than the guys who fly it now. The Army, especially. The same thing would happen if you gave Coast Guard Cutters to the Air Force or tanks to the Navy. Decades of institutional knowledge would, in essence, be thrown away.

    -In any case, it doesn’t matter who flies it. I was an Air Force EOD tech at an Army patrol base in Afghanistan. The aircraft in our AO ranged from A-10s, F-16s, Navy Super Hornets, Army attack helicopters, and even a B-1. They flew from the same bases and were beholden to the same joint command running the war. Changing the patches on the flight suit of the A-10 pilot isn’t going to fix anything, despite all the chest thumping.

    -The A-10 wasn’t designed for close air support in the way it’s presently being utilized. It was designed to hammer the first line of the Red Army as it came across the Fulda Gap. It was a tank buster. You don’t need the GAU-8 to blow up a terrorist in a Toyota pickup truck. He’s not going to be any more dead than if you shoot him up with a .50 cal. “But it’s so cool” isn’t a good justification for something in this fiscal environment, when all the services are punting tens of thousands of people out.

    -On a more active battlefield, against an opponent with a real military, the A-10 is going to have a hard time these days. Modern air defenses are several generations ahead of where they were during the Gulf War, and even then, the A-10s got pulled off of attacking the Republican Guard from the losses they were sustaining.

    This is from an interview with Charles Horner, the General who served as the Air Boss during the First Gulf War:

    “Q: Did the war have any effect on the Air Force’s view of the A-10?

    A: No. People misread that. People were saying that airplanes are too sophisticated and that they wouldn’t work in the desert, that you didn’t need all this high technology, that simple and reliable was better, and all that.

    Well, first of all, complex does not mean unreliable. We’re finding that out. For example, you have a watch that uses transistors rather than a spring. It’s infinitely more reliable than the windup watch that you had years ago. That’s what we’re finding in the airplanes.

    Those people . . . were always championing the A-10. As the A-10 reaches the end of its life cycle– and it’s approaching that now–it’s time to replace it, just like we replace every airplane, including, right now, some early versions of the F-16.

    Since the line was discontinued, [the A-10’s champions] want to build another A-10 of some kind. The point we were making was that we have F-16s that do the same job.

    Then you come to people who have their own reasons-good reasons to them, but they don’t necessarily compute to me-who want to hang onto the A-10 because of the gun. Well, the gun’s an excellent weapon, but you’ll find that most of the tank kills by the A-10 were done with Mavericks and bombs. So the idea that the gun is the absolute wonder of the world is not true.

    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 fine 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.” ….”

    *******

    -Again, no matter what, in few years, the A-10 is going to the boneyard.

    It is a great airplane. It is almost universally loved. The F-14 Tomcat was a great plane, too. So was the F-4 Phantom before it. They all end up in museums eventually.

    The desire the retire the A-10 on the part of the Air Force is entirely driven driven by financial pressures.

    http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20140202/NEWS04/302020005

    “Q. Should we expect to see multiple platforms removed from the budget?

    A. Yes. That is the only way to make the numbers meet, the direction we were given. Now, again, whether the politics will let us do those things are another thing. Unfortunately, if I am told, “OK, we understand about the A-10, you can take half the A-10 fleet” — that, sadly, does not leave me in a very good place because now we have to keep all of that infrastructure that supports the A-10. I get to save some portion of money by cutting certain squadrons, but they will save the large dollars that goes with that infrastructure piece, and now I have to go after squadrons of other airplanes so I reduce the overall capability of the Air Force, and I am in a worse place then I would have been if I just cut the whole A-10 fleet.

    Q. Do you believe those program cuts can make it through Congress?

    A. Your guess is as good as mine. With the budget, we told them what we thought we needed to do, and now it is a matter of the politics of things, whether they will allow us to do it. There is a lot of opposition on the Hill, but that opposition does not come with money saying, “Here. You use this money and keep that fleet.” They are just saying, “No, you cannot get rid of that fleet.”

    But they are still cutting the budget so I have to do something, and, unfortunately, the something that is left is worse than cutting the A-10 fleet. It is far worse for the nation if I have to keep the A-10 and cut a bunch of other stuff because they will not give me enough money to keep it all.”

    The budget situation all the services are facing right now is brutal, as is to be expected when the nation itself is eighteen trillion dollars in debt. Honestly, not having enough airplanes is probably the least of our worries in the coming years.

    I know, I know. TL;DR.

    • SSD says:

      Let me guess, BONE EWO

      • MK EOD says:

        I don’t know that means? At first I thought you said, “BONE EWOK”, and I was all, “eew”.

        • Jon says:

          MK EOD- You a navy tech or?

          • MK EOD says:

            Air Force. Was prior Army Nat’l Guard. Now I’m a cake-eating civilian with too much time on his hands and a rapidly expanding waistline. ^_^

            SSD, I apologize for the opening shot. There’s erudite and then there’s rude. Still, I’ve had this discussion before, and the same arguments always come up.

            Really, though, I wonder if this whole thing wasn’t a ploy to secure funding for the A-10 so they didn’t have to dip into the F-35’s money. Nothing gets people riled up like the Air Force talking about retiring America’s beloved Warthog. Lo and behold, it seems they’ve secured funding for the A-10 in the next NDAA.

            That may be giving Big Blue too much credit though.

            I love the A-10 as much as anybody. I’ve worked with them, seen them being rebuilt and refurbished at Hill AFB (Boeing built new wings for them as part of the upgrade to the A-10C), and watched them tear up the Taliban in Afghanistan (from, thankfully, a plenty safe distance).

            But its mythical status may not be in keeping with fiscal reality.

        • Andy says:

          B-1 Electronic Warfare Officer

      • majrod says:

        SSD This guy always tells less than half the story and has been pummeled with his mis-statement or lack of the historical record on DoDBuzz.

        The A10 is out of production. Yes. So has the B52 for far longer and yet it still flies and will fly.

        He gives short shrift to the way aircraft are detailed. They aren’t all in one big pot and the Army’s rotary wing has been exponentially more responsive because it doesn’t take a request two days before the need to be sure they are out there supporting the ground commander. The only reason the Army invested so heavily in attack helos is because they would own them and ensure they would be available even though they are less efficient than fixed wing fight the Army lost in 47.

        Yes he cites a USAF general that says the war (DS) had no role in how the USAF viewed the A10 but conveniently decides to ignore the decisions after DS that kept the A10 from going to the Army or getting mothballed. Logically that doesn’t follow. Kind of like the recent Air Force excuse to kill the A10 because they needed the maintainers for the F35 except that this has NEVER been mentioned in ALL the fielding discussions surrounding the F35 that just by the way is primarily supposed to replace the F16. What happened, F16 maintainers can’t be sent to work on the F35? The excuse was a weak shell game that congress recognized for what its worth. http://gruntsandco.com/sitrep/2015-national-defense-authorization-act-includes-carrier-a10-apache-provisions/

        He applies modern air defense systems lethality only to the A10. Guess what? They can shoot down everything we have and even more so the F35 that doesn’t have the protection of an A10 AND gives up stealth when it has to fill the CAS role to get anywhere near the A10’s payload.

        As for the Army’s ability to field the A10. The USAF used that argument along with “efficiency” to try and Bogart all UAVs. Congress in its uncharacteristic wisdom told the USAF to pound sand and guess what? The Army developed a UAV capability that is more responsive than the USAF’s system and BTW includes Warrants and enlisted doing the exact same thing officers do in the USAF. Give the Army the A10 and it will figure out the rest just like the Air Force is doing with cyber and a bunch of other missions when they see an opportunity or need to expand their role.

        Finally, yes, all planes go to the boneyard. That’s a historical fact. Just like the USAF’s longtime aversion to CAS. Since we’re reaching way back, in January 1972, General Momyer, the Commander of Tactical Air Command, stated: “For almost twenty-five years the Air Force has attempted to develop close air support doctrine for joint operations. This effort, unfortunately, has met with little success and, consequently, our retention of this historical Air Force mission is being seriously challenged.”

        The A10 was specifically developed in response to the AH56 which the Air force attempted to have classified as a “converti-plane” vs “compound helicopter”.

        Research Public Law 100-525 passed by Congress in 1989. The law directed DOD to: 1) Determine all the aircraft capable of replacing the A-10; 2) Conduct a fly-off of those aircraft selected; and 3) Conduct a feasibility assessment of the Army assuming the Close Air Support mission. Guess what they found?

        Not much has changed in two decades including the USAF’s efforts to kill the A10.

        • MK EOD says:

          “Always tells less than half the story”.

          I’m pretty sure you’re mistaking me for someone else.

          The first link isn’t to *my* website, because I don’t have one. It’s a guy that did some research on this, on the history of it, and presented his case.

          If the Air Force hates close air support for wanting to retire the A-10 after almost forty years of active service, I guess the Marines hate it too, because they never flew anything like it.

          The “Air Force General” I conveniently cited was Charles Horner, the air commander of the Gulf War.

          And no, you can’t just send F-16 maintainers to work on the F-35, because they still fly hundreds of F-16s, and will probably do so for another 25 years. If you retire the A-10, you free up the manpower of the massive logistical tail that goes behind supporting an airframe. The F-35 is taking a lot longer than it was supposed to have, so the F-16s aren’t being retired as originally planned either. The entire F-35 program has been a boondoggle from the beginning, but the DOD placed all its eggs in that basket, so they’re stuck with it now.

          The B-52’s airframe has rather less stress put upon it than a fighter like the A-10, don’t you think? C-130s can fly for sixty years too. C-130s don’t need to worry about tight maneuvers to avoid ground fire.

          Also, I don’t know if citing congressional acts is really a good source of information. Congress also thought the F-35 was a great idea. Congress generally doesn’t know shit about shit, as it were, and are beholden to a lot of things besides providing the US with the best fighting force.

          The Air Force’s attempt to “bogart” the UAVs came about when they wanted executive agency over the UAV program. This isn’t tantamount to control of everyone else’s UAVs. At the time, SecDef Gates admitted (later, in his book) that the UAV program was a mess, with each service doing their own thing, no coordination, overlapping capabilities, redundancy, etc. That’s the situation that calls for one service to have executive agency (for example, in my own case: the Navy has executive agency over the Explosive Ordnance Disposal program and school, even though all services have their own EOD personnel).

          But Gates hated the Air Force, so it didn’t happen, and we continue to have the services pursuing their own UAV programs, often with overlap and redundancy. Winning!

          I don’t know who “BONE EWO” is. I was an EOD tech. My name is Mike Kupari, and I’ve been reading SSD for years. I’m out now, so none of this crap is my problem anymore. I learned a lot about A-10 maintainers from a couple of them I was friends with at Spangdahlem Air Base last year. But if you’re going to jump to a bunch of conclusions based on an assumption, knock yourself out. This is one of those things like religion and abortion where everyone’s mind is already made up, and no one convinces anyone of anything.

          But really, this argument always boils down to this: “everyone” knows the Air Force hates close air support. If you gave the A-10 to REAL MEN in the Army or Marines, it’d be better in every way. Interservice rivalry rears its ugly head.

          There are also doctrinal disputes. majrod is correct when he states that the Army wants to “own” everything. The Air Force’s doctrine, going back to World War II, is that there’s one air commander who can see the big picture, and he delegates his air assets across the theater as needed. That’s the way they did it in the Gulf War; General Horner was the commander of all fixed wing air assets, including those from the Navy and Marines, and he answered to General Schwartzkopff (I’m sure I spelled that wrong).

          The Army likes to break its air power down into “penny packets”, with small formations (like the Apache/Kiowa “Long Knife” teams prevalent in Kandahar province in 2011) basically under the direct control of a commander on the ground.

          Slaving warplanes to ground commanders is something the Air Force never liked doing for a variety of reasons, but it mainly comes down to historical experience, doctrine, and OPCON/TACON considerations.

          In any case, unless Congress gives SOMEBODY the money to keep it flying, the A-10 going to the boneyard one way or another. Even if they do fund it, its days are numbered just from old age.

          • majrod says:

            Your right I confused you with the blog writer.

            Read the definitive Rand study on airpower Army Air Force Relations the close air support issue by Goldberh & Smith http://www.rand.org/pubs/reports/R0906.html It chronicles at length the red headed stepchild status of CAS.

            The Army doesn’t want to own everything. It’s not interested in directing the Air Force interdiction mission which definitely impacts the ground commander. On the other hand the Army always wants top empower the Ground Commander with the tools necessary to influence his piece of the pie. It’s why we attach an artillery battalion to maneuver BN commanders. We also maintain separate artillery formations to weight the battle.

            If you read that study I directed you to you’ll find that when aircraft were attached to the ground commander they were the most responsive. The Marines still do it that way today and have the best CAS model on the planet with the reputation to show for it. It makes a difference when the guy in the cockpit went to the same training you went to and the ground commander writes his report card. Read what happened in Korea and Nam when he didn’t. Take special note of how the Air Force had to borrow aircraft from the Navy, Marines and Army to execute the CAS mission in Nam and how they obstructed air assault doctrine.

            The Air Force’s attempt to become the proponent of UAV was much more sinister than you make it sound. They not only wanted to dictate what systems were developed but how they were used. The Air Force detests that the Army wastes assets on the ground commander vs. pooling them at a higher level and deciding who gets them.

            The A10 is fit to fly for a decade or two more. They’ve replaced the wings on scores and again just like the B52 have a unique place on the battlefield.

            BTW, Gates was an Air Force officer and instrumental in giving the C27J (an Army program) to the Air Force. A plane they promised to fly for the Army and after they got it cancelled the program and sent brand new planes to the boneyard to keep them from falling in Army hands.

            When it comes to interservice rivalry the Air Force is king.

    • balais says:

      Elements of power, sgtmac or whatever his F16.net name is, is a techno cultist that views the A10 as unnecessary and worthless, favoring a ground attack variant of the A7 instead. His vehement support for the LCS and F35 is also worthy of my personal contempt, but that is another subject for another time.

      Im going to address these points.

      1.) Yes, the A10 is out of production. That point I can agree on. There is no way that there will ever be the political willpower to produce A10 2.0. Never going to happen, unfortunately.

      2.) The F16 and F15, which are fighters, are going to be replaced by the F35 if it indeed doesn’t get cancelled (I hope it does). Why would you have a multi-purpose aircraft replace dog fighters? that is air force “logic” and utter bullshit. And all of the elaborate rumors and woo-woo BS about its air to air combat capabilities remains to be seen, and the air force has been previously wrong when they tried ambitious concepts to try to sell to the masses. Hence, why you have things like the F4 and the AIM7.

      3.) “Whether or not we need an expensive stealth fighter to fill the bomb truck role is debatable, but that’s what it is.”

      The A10 is advantageous, alongside the F15 and F16, in that it has a more favorable sortie rate to the F35 and F22. Availability is everything in a major war, let alone a counter insurgency. Costs are also astronomically high for stealths, which is a huge problem the US military (and US) is facing now. Some proponents of stealth and the F35 completely disregard cost as if we have a magical endless pit of public money.

      4.) What is CAS exactly? what is occurring in Afghanistan and what happened in Iraq certainly fit the definition of CAS. Red Army or no Red Army.

      And the 30mm is so useful because
      a) it is low cost (again more important than people realize, fiscal times right!?)
      b) Its ability to be used in close proximity to friendly forces if necessary, which is important if your enemy decides to close in within the 200 yard range.
      c) Its fragmentation effects, however minute when compared to missiles and bombs, makes it more useful than a 50 cal.

      5.) Against a real enemy, other aircraft are just as vulnerable as the A10, especially fast and high fliers (ever hear of the S300?)

      Losses they were sustaining? in proportion to what? in proportion to the number of missions they were flying, they suffered very low losses and one of the most favorable loss per sortie ratios of any aircraft in history.

      So, meh, color me less than convinced of the merits of retiring the A10 now. Im even less convinced of the viability of the F35 for CAS to begin with.

  11. Uniform223 says:

    I can’t help but feel that I will be crucified and called all sorts of colorful acronyms, adjectives, and some very interesting choice words by voicing my views and opinions.

    Let me first say that I am at heart and former trade a ground pounder. The A-10 is a beautiful aircraft for what it does. It does its mission exactly how it was designed for. It takes the term and mission, “Close Air Support” to be very literal. There is no aircraft out there like the A-10 with the exception of the Su-25.

    This is a good video but I can’t help but feel that by the title of this post given by SoldierSystems that this is wrongfully being used as propaganda for an on going debate. I also looked at the original source on YouTube and found that this video was released by David Axe, an individual who seems to absolutely loathe the F-35.
    I have been following the on going debate/issue (whatever you want to call it) involving the A-10. No offense to anyone here but many of the uninformed have this notion and belief that only the A-10 is capable of providing CAS. I believe that people need to realize that close air support is a MISSION not a platform.
    There are other types of aircraft out there that have provide close air support to boots on the ground. Even unlikely candidates have provided close air support too. To name a few: B-1B, F-16, F/A-18, F-14, OH-58. My former PL who was with a Stryker BDE out of Ft. Lewis said when he was in Iraq between 04-05 CAS would come from any armed air asset that was in their area at the time. He told me that on more than one occasion Kiowas would do strafing runs to give them time to regroup. A somewhat old documentary called “Speed and Angels” recounted an F-14 pilots actions over Mosul 2004 to provide CAS to troops under contact. Recent technology such as enhanced targeting pods and precision guided weapons have expanded the role of CAS to other aircraft.

    No one will ever argue the fact that the A-10 and its drivers are great at what they do. No one will argue that by design the A-10 can take more punishment than any highspeed fighter/strike aircraft out there. If anything this video depicts that very clearly. What is argued is that the A-10 will have an incredibly hard time to survive in contested environments. A-10s going up against well trained well armed forces with the proper gear will put the A-10 and its pilot in very precarious positions. I heard the pilot say that the guy on the ground wont feel the tangible benefit of air superiority. I believe that is false. Has our (US and NATO) forces had to worry about an Hind, Mig, or Sukhoi roll in and give them a bad day? No, because we have air superiority and we want air superiority. Air superiority keeps you that much safer.

    On a lighter note here are some view an opinions from a JTAC

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuWxRPMu7E8

    • MK EOD says:

      You’re not wrong. There has rarely been an airplane with such an emotional attachment to it outside the aviation community as the A-10. There are a lot of misconceptions about how it’s employed, what it’s for, and its history as well. There are plenty of opinionated hacks out there whose real motive is service parochialism.

      The first thought of retiring the A-10 came in the 80s. It actually came about because of the then-current AirLand Battle Doctrine. The Army believed that they could hold off the first line of the Warsaw Pact forces, if only barely. But they desperately, desperately needed the Air Force to hit the second and third lines of COMBLOC forces before they could reinforce the front. The A-10 wasn’t designed as an interdiction fighter, and is too slow to survive in that role. It was a mission carried out by the A-7, F-111, F-4, and increasingly (at the time), the F-16.

      The Air Force’s logic was, given that a second fleet of aircraft greatly increases the logistical cost of operations, that if the F-16 could do the A-10’s job, then it was better, because it could also do other things. Remember, the A-10’s original mission was attacking Soviet armor and infantry forces. They weren’t going to be slaved to Army ground commanders or anything.

      General Dynamics went so far as to try to develop the A-16, a supposed CAS-specific F-16 variant. It had lightweight armor and even had a 30mm centerline gun pod.

      It was pretty much a failure, and the idea was scrapped.

      The A-10 really came into its own in the Gulf War. It pummeled Iraqi forces relentlessly, but so did a ton of other airframes. As General Horner noted in my first ten bazillion word post, though, they suffered some losses against higher-end Iraqi forces that had better air defenses. In that environment, the F-16 and F-15E did better, being faster. (Remember, too, that the primary means of attacking armor was the AGM-65 Maverick missile, not the gun.)

      After the Gulf War, the Air Force was effectively cut in half in the so-called “peace dividend”. Air Force Chief of Staff Merril McPeak, among other things, actually proposed giving the A-10 and the CAS mission to the Army. His idea was that since the Army already does CAS with their attack helicopters, they could have the whole deal, the “near battle”, and the Air Force, with its longer ranged strike aircraft, would manage the interdiction role, the “far battle”.

      That may or may not have worked out. If they were going to implement it, that was the time, though, I think. Gen. McPeak’s tenure of CSAF was short, and he was not missed after he left the post. (He’s the one that attempted to foist upon the USAF a very Navy looking service uniform, making them look more like airline pilots. The uniform was dropped shortly after he left the post.)

      In the last 10 years, though, the A-10 has come into its own in the counter-insurgency mission, and a whole new generation of grunts fell in love with it. Compared to other platforms, it does very well in this, for several reasons:

      -It can handle low speeds better, which is good in an asymmetrical warfare environment where the enemy isn’t wearing uniforms and riding in military vehicles, and target ID is key.

      -It has armor, in case it takes hits from machine fire from enemy forces.

      -It’s very reliable.

      -Its pilots train for their one mission, and nothing else.

      BUT…going forward, the question has to be asked: does it do anything a mix of Air Force/Navy/Marine fast-movers, UAVs, and Army/Marine attack helicopters can’t do?

      If you’re going to have an aircraft exclusively for low-intensity, counterinsurgency wars like Afghanistan, a turboprop like the Super Tucano or Air Tractor AT-802U is much, much cheaper to operate, and can loiter for much longer.

      But then again, a new airframe, even a cheap one, has a massive logistical tail. Money is in short supply right now, given how screwed up the pentagon is and how screwed up the country is.

      That’s really the crux of it. The Air Force has been trying to get away from specialized airframes in favor of multirole ones for a long time. They’re not alone; the Navy and Marines are doing the exact same thing.

      The F-16 and F-35 will never, ever be as good as the A-10 at the A-10’s job, but they *can* do it. (The Marines perform that mission with the Harrier, F/A-18, and will in future use the F-35.) The A-10 can’t do the job of the F-16 or F-35. Ultimately, money and old age will be what retires the A-10. It may even fly until 2028 like they were planning a few years ago (at which point it will have been in active service for fifty years), or it may not make it that long. Time will tell. Sooner or later, though, the airframes will no longer be airworthy, and that will be the end of it.

      • majrod says:

        Actually you skipped the first thought at retiring the A10. It happened a decade earlier. Check out THE WARTHOG: THE BEST DEAL THE AIR FORCE NEVER WANTED by Dahl http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a442118.pdf

        The Air Force tried to kill the program immediately after the Army cancelled the AH56 Cheyenne.

        FWIW The stats from Desert Storm showed the A10 with the lion’s share of sorties. So effective was it that it was dragged into scud hunting. McPeak’s comments just aren’t supported by the stats (which happen to be blank when it comes to the A10 http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/gao/nsiad97134/app_03.htm) but they do align with the USAF’s traditional preference of pointy nosed fast planes over anything else.

        • MK EOD says:

          A part of the problem, I think, is people associate the plane with the mission. They think that when the A-10 is retired, the Air Force won’t do ground support anymore, and the man on the ground is going to be left on his own with no top cover.

          That’s nonsense, but that’s the reaction you get.

          You say the Marines have the best CAS model out there. Yet, they don’t have an equivalent to the A-10. If they can do CAS with Harriers and Hornets, and so can the Navy, I’m sure the Air Force can do it with Vipers and Strike Eagles.

          (They can and have been for years.)

          It’s not ideal, no. But it’s what it’s going to be, unless we all start lobbying congress to direct the DOD to develop a replacement for the A-10.

          If a ground commander wants an air asset to hover over him while he’s on the battlefield, doing what he wants done, a long endurance UAV or an attack helicopter is much better suited for that role than a jet, even an A-10. We had several missions in Afghanistan where a Reaper was overhead, talking to a FISTer guy on the ground with us. The Reaper was able to stay overhead all day.

          Now, it can’t do a gun run like an A-10 can, but it can put Hellfires wherever you need them, and it’s a hell of a lot more accurate than calling in artillery.

          But that’s the Afghanistan paradigm. The next war isn’t going to be like Afghanistan. (At least I like to think we’ll avoid twelve-year, nonconclusive COIN missions in the future.)

        • balais says:

          You are absolutely correct.

          The A10s performance statistics speaks for itself in Desert Storm. It was, by far, the most successful ground attack aircraft of the war. More successful than the much publicized science fair that was the F117 and the F111.

  12. Philip says:

    Just seems to be more typical back-office collusion in favor of the brass’ political and career agendas.

    Professional livelihoods, post-retirement favors and other assorted kickbacks are at stake, it must succeed at all costs!

    Think UCP. 😉

  13. Airborne_fister says:

    The a-10 saved a few lives while I was over in the Stan. I’m not JTAC qualified, but I am a JFO and I definitely loved having these guys on station!

  14. MED says:

    Just my opinion, but I see a lot of the same tired arguments here that were used by the Air Force and the Pentagon at the time Sprey (and Boyd) developed it. The concept of multi-role aircraft – or anything is a farce. It ends up doing many things poorly or mediocre at best, and nothing well. It’s marketed as a big win win and money saver. In the end, it costs more money than a prudent, purpose built aircraft with a service life longer than the people that conceived it and use it.

    • balais says:

      Another thing multi-purpose does is increase the cost and complexity of the aircraft, which inevitably reduces sortie rates (which is bad, especially when you are in a war).

      Technology is a good thing, and to have certain capabilties, you will have complexity, no getting around that.

      Sprey was right then, and he is right now.

  15. JB says:

    People constantly bring up the F-16 when discussing how old and past retirement the A-10 is, but, hasn’t the F-16 been in service almost as long, like a less than 5 year difference?

  16. tictac says:

    In my opinion, the F-35 is flying UCP. It is designed to do so many things, that is not great at anything.

    There is a fine line between flexibility and overall mediocrity.

    If I were to cut down on planes, it would be long-range bombers. Technology is making mass bombings less needed. The A-10 may need replaced, but the f-35 does not appear to be the best fit.

    I was having a similar discussion in a Youtube comment section. Not sure how accurate this is , but a guy said this…

    “The B-1B Lancer is aging and needs 48.4 hours of repair for every flight hour. The fuel, repairs and other needs for a 12-hour mission costs $720,000 as of 2010. The $63,000 cost per flight hour is, however, less than the $72,000 for the B-52 and the $135,000 of the B-2. The A-10 costs $17,564 per flight hour. The F-35A costs $35,200 per flying hour.?”

  17. S1 says:

    I was not in the military. I did attend training at Ft. Leonardwood and heard the A10 flying around. The scream of the engine, and the unforgettable rap of the cannon were amazing. I cannot imagine having to face this weapon in battle.

  18. Jon says:

    CAS, CCA and UAS/ISR is not a single plane. There are tons of ways ground forces are supported from the air, effectively. I survived without A-10s probably 98% of the time. The Air Force might know what its talking about regarding its own plane.

  19. Lucilius says:

    I have yet to hear anyone, anywhere who’s fought on the ground in the last coupla decades make a good case for any other system capable of meeting the rqmt the A-10 currently, efficiently and effectively meets regarding the providing of CAS and related support to ground forces. The developing and almost currently available options fall short.
    UAS CAS: maybe someday but it ain’t even close now. Slow, low, urban, mountains, payload, wind and precip? Nope. Plus, you’re gonna get hacked: Best case, your unmanned aerial saviour lawn darts. Worst case, that awe-inspiring ordnance that you have absolutely no defense against has been snowdenned and is now wings level, cleared hot and headed your way with a grinning booger-eater on the joystick.
    Fdash35: cooler-than-cool but $$$/€€€ hand-crafted unobtanium(+) single engine stealth VTOL (well, sorta, just keep the payload light and run a few more FOD checks there, trooper) CAS platform with loiter time and payload? A pipe-dream that wouldn’t even pass the Hollywood-script sniff test with White House support and leaks all around. I’m sure it is unbeatable for the Air to Air industry set who vigorously support its manifold capabilities with the aplomb and discretion of a fire team of Kardashians let loose in an NBA locker room. CAS? Oh yeah, it can do that too, it’s a bolt-on accessory.
    Probably the funniest argument against the A10 is that it won’t work against peer/near-peer enemy. Here the wargamers step in with a prodigious load of…theory that puts the ancient A10 quickly out of the fight, presumably due to the hordes of MIGs, Sukhois, manpads, SA and nukes flying around….not to mention several hundred million chinese stars thrown in anger when the PLA’s knock-off fleet can’t get off the ground and they go with the low-tech BPT mission. Accurate or not, where does this theory leave all the aerial refuelers, the C-17’s, the AC-130, the V22, the even slower helos, tanks, and slowest and most vulnerable of all truck- and boot-mounted grunts? “oh and hey, Mr 200lb brain, in this scenario what happens to NYC and the rest of our major metropolitan centers?” [Moreover, have these folks yet contemplated the FOB-free battlespace? Start there, my wargaming friends, and observe the birth of your new religion.] But let’s say the wargamers are right. They’re telling me that, though cheap, reliable and effective, the Warthog is outdated and only excels in the (what one must surmise is equally outdated) COIN, Medium and low-intensity, irregular, asymmetric, etc. combat environments and those unplanned, indeterminate skirmishes that seem to keep us lowly Marine, Army and SOF “simpletons who can’t figure out what makes a good CAS platform” busy most of the year, every year and the solution is either the TBD unmanned concept on the slick PPT or the F35 Sex Panther 60% of the time it works all the time approach to CAS? I don’t get a vote with the GO’s and sharply-attired combat-hardened policy makers to whom this decision has been entrusted but FWIW, I’ll vote the A10 until USAF/DOD finds something realistically capable of replacing it and that this capability has been rigorously tested and proven superior by the ground/FAC/JTAC community.

  20. Knuckle Dragger says:

    So I read a lot of passionate responses, so I thought I’d add the thoughts and experiences of a knuckle dragging meat eater who bangs it out on the ground.

    First let me say there is a huge difference between a fast mover screaming around over head a 8-10k AGL looking at the fray through a sniper pod, and a Hawg pilot that’s low and slow in the weeds.

    Guys keep saying that CAS is a mission not an air frame, you are correct however EVERY other air frame in the AF inventory does an infererior job when compared to the A10 (excluding the A/C 130). With regard to time on station, the speed at which they gain overall SA and the confidence the GFC has once he gives the JTAC clearance to drop.

    The level of confidence from the guys on the ground in a TIC is far higher with those guys prosecuting tgts. I’ve been in situations where F16/18’s were on station for like 10 mins before they had to yoy to the tanker or both come off station to refuel. Hell depending on the situation on the ground it takes that long to talk the guys on to what the issue is. Never had that issue with Hawg or ARW only the fast movers, Hawg/ARW almost always provide the most play time. Don’t get me wrong for preplanned tgts the fast movers and bombers are great, they can bring the pain? But the difference is Hawg is willing to drop down to 500ft roll in to get SA. That pilot sees us with his eyes and their is instant connection between him the GFC and JTAC. This guy is in the fight with me, he is putting his life at risk to support me that’s hard for a guy cruiseing at 15K to replicate. So if you are wondering why guys get fired up over the play to take it away now you know. That bird is a safety blanket for anyone that has ever been in a TIC where they have shown up hammered some A$$ holes, and covered your six while you EXFIL.

    Rant complete

    • balais says:

      “Guys keep saying that CAS is a mission not an air frame”

      There’s a certain F35 supporter that uses that as his main talking point, and while I agree with that statement, it doesn’t mean what he thinks it means.

      A high tech sniper pod is not a replacement for flying low and slow, with the pilots eyeballs on the ground, being able to use terrain association and discern bad guys from good guys, and help the good guys by raining 30mm on targets within yards of their position if necessary (which you cant do with JDAMs or Missiles). By “help”, i mean also telling the guys on the ground they are wrong (which has happened before. Its not a statement against JTAC, it is a statement against the idea that CAS can be performed thousands of feet in the air, from kilometers away.

  21. sean says:

    Ok so I figured I would throw some food for thought out here. First let me start off with saying that I served in Afghanistan and I LOVED the A-10. However as has been pointed out these things are 30+ years old and unfortunately even a low a slow platform can’t be around forever. So with that as a known baseline what should be done going forward.
    Right now I work up in DC and I can tell you there is a great deal of nerves as to what exactly congress is going to do going forward. That dirty word “sequester is still very much out there, congress gave the government a pass for two years and I think everyone thinks that we get that extended into a third year so that the politicians can have a budget going into the election. Everything after that is a huge question mark, and a lot of that will depend on who gets elected. What the air force did was never about getting rid of the A-10 it was all about protecting the F-35. Also I don’t think the Air Force was never all that serious about mothballing the A-10 because they knew dam well that congress wasn’t going to let them do it. All this was a budget exorcise to protect their priority program nothing more. It may make zero sense from a grunt on the ground level, but up in Washington that is the way people think.
    So if you can’t keep the A-10 around forever and things are tight to a big question mark in the budget, how would you get a new aircraft built? First you have to understand the current DOD acquisition process a little bit. JCIDs (Joint Capabilities Integration Development System) is the current way that the DOD buys things, also I should note that a lot of current acquisition programs such as F-35 were developed in the old program (called ORDS), it’s a good process but it’s complicated a laborious. To get something from good idea to fielded widget is at least a 7-10 year process. I think you could get a new plan developed and fielded in less than the 25 years it’s taken to get F-35 into the fleet but it’s not going to happen tomorrow.
    So given that how would you get a A-X aircraft off the ground, well first you would have to show that #1 the requirement for CAS only aircraft is needed and #2 it is not inherent in any other joint solution. Here is the rub because this is going to be the primary hurdle that you are going to need to get over. While I think that it is easy to make the case that in an asymmetrical environment that having an aircraft with a high loiter time that can provide extremely close in fire support greater than UCAVs and artillery is a capability requirement for the 21st century battlefield. The problem is going to come when you say platforms such as the F-35 don’t have that capability. If you can win that fight then I think the most likely solution would actually be a joint program. This would do two things first it would protect the program from getting killed and second it be the best justification for the program because not only are you increasing the capability of one service you are increasing two or three. I am not sure if the navy would jump on the program, but there is a lot of historical precedence for it with the old piper sandy and A-6 missions. It could be called something like JCAS-A ( Joint Close Air support aircraft –advanced), but I think getting a single aircraft for a single service right now is a non-starter and everyone knows it.

  22. balais says:

    Once again, the air force is attempting the same smoke and mirrors nonsense with the A10, just like they did 30 years ago. Guess what? They’re lying through their fucking teeth, just like they are doing with the F35 and like they did with the F117.

    I’ve had lengthy debates with people that honestly believe that the F35 can do CAS just as good if not better than the A10, nevermind that it doesn’t have the A10s features that make the later a superior CAS aircraft.

    Why spend 150 million per airplane and hundred thousand dollar missiles when a 10 million dollar aircraft and a couple thousand dollars worth of 30mm can do the job?