Author Topic: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX  (Read 7642 times)

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Offline Thucydides

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #25 on: August 06, 2018, 22:17:29 »
While having close air support is always laudable, I do have to wonder if going back to "Contact Patrol" fighters is really an improvement? (For historically minded people, Contact Patrol fighters were armoured biplanes brought out in the last days of WWI to conduct ground support missions with bombs and machine guns in support of "Plan 1919". The Sopwith Salamander and Buffalo were the single and two seat examples of that philosophy). Today, we can fill the sky with sensors ranging from small UAV's to helicopters and high flying aircraft, network their observations and dispatch a multitude of weapons to service identified targets, including artillery, helicopter gunships, glide bombs which can attack targets from 100 km away and other tools. Even ground launched missiles can have "man in the loop" capabilities and operator override whale being able to service targets up to 60km away (Avibrás FOG-MPM).

The reasoning for "low and slow" was pretty clearly defined back in the Viet Nam war when Skyraiders (aka "Spads") were much more valuable to the troops than "fast movers" like the F-100 or F-4, and a plethora of jet and propellor ground attack aircraft were developed around the idea.

Fast forward to today, however, and even a handful of Spetznaz operators with handheld MANPADS essentially swept the skies over the Donbass from Ukrainian airforce SU-25's (which are the Soviet era analogues of the A-10) and you have to wonder how well a large, manned platform will do in these sorts of environments?
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #26 on: August 06, 2018, 22:46:17 »
I agree that the USAF would be better off with the A10 or an armed drone.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #27 on: August 07, 2018, 14:28:48 »
Fast forward to today, however, and even a handful of Spetznaz operators with handheld MANPADS essentially swept the skies over the Donbass from Ukrainian airforce SU-25's (which are the Soviet era analogues of the A-10) and you have to wonder how well a large, manned platform will do in these sorts of environments?

Not very well if they are trying to win the war on their own from the skies, as has been learned and re-learned throughout history.
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Offline Furniture

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #28 on: August 07, 2018, 17:42:57 »
While having close air support is always laudable, I do have to wonder if going back to "Contact Patrol" fighters is really an improvement? (For historically minded people, Contact Patrol fighters were armoured biplanes brought out in the last days of WWI to conduct ground support missions with bombs and machine guns in support of "Plan 1919". The Sopwith Salamander and Buffalo were the single and two seat examples of that philosophy). Today, we can fill the sky with sensors ranging from small UAV's to helicopters and high flying aircraft, network their observations and dispatch a multitude of weapons to service identified targets, including artillery, helicopter gunships, glide bombs which can attack targets from 100 km away and other tools. Even ground launched missiles can have "man in the loop" capabilities and operator override whale being able to service targets up to 60km away (Avibrás FOG-MPM).

The reasoning for "low and slow" was pretty clearly defined back in the Viet Nam war when Skyraiders (aka "Spads") were much more valuable to the troops than "fast movers" like the F-100 or F-4, and a plethora of jet and propellor ground attack aircraft were developed around the idea.

Fast forward to today, however, and even a handful of Spetznaz operators with handheld MANPADS essentially swept the skies over the Donbass from Ukrainian airforce SU-25's (which are the Soviet era analogues of the A-10) and you have to wonder how well a large, manned platform will do in these sorts of environments?

The point of the AC isn't to fight against peer/near peer regular and SOF troops, it's to provide air support in operations like Mali, Afghanistan, Iraq. Places where enemy AD is not present/not effective, and the USAF is spending big money(fuel, maintenence, airframe hours) flying around very expensive fighters to deliver ordinance to ground targets. If a smaller, cheaper turboprop can deliver the same effect on the ground why not have a fleet of them for those type of constabulary operations?

I'm not en expert on all things aviation, but my understanding is small airplanes are cheaper to fly/operate than helos as well, so replacing some attack helo's on these types of missions is likely a cost saver as well.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #29 on: August 07, 2018, 17:56:56 »
The point of the AC isn't to fight against peer/near peer regular and SOF troops, it's to provide air support in operations like Mali, Afghanistan, Iraq. Places where enemy AD is not present/not effective, and the USAF is spending big money(fuel, maintenence, airframe hours) flying around very expensive fighters to deliver ordinance to ground targets. If a smaller, cheaper turboprop can deliver the same effect on the ground why not have a fleet of them for those type of constabulary operations?

I'm not en expert on all things aviation, but my understanding is small airplanes are cheaper to fly/operate than helos as well, so replacing some attack helo's on these types of missions is likely a cost saver as well.

UCAVs are the future of CAS:

https://tacairnet.com/2015/04/06/ucavs-are-the-future-of-close-air-support/

Oh, wait, the MQ9 Reaper is already doing it better than the A10 in some cases:

https://breakingdefense.com/2017/05/reaper-drones-the-new-close-air-support-weapon/

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #30 on: January 18, 2019, 16:31:58 »
Not entirely unanticipated actually, no USAF enthusiasm (cf. A-10):

Quote
US Air Force’s plan to launch light-attack aircraft competition is now deferred indefinitely

 The start of a competition to provide light-attack aircraft for the U.S. Air Force has been postponed for the foreseeable future, as the service decides the way forward for additional experiments, the Air Force’s No. 2 civilian said Friday.

The Air Force started evaluating light-attack plane offerings in 2017 and was set to release a request for proposals in December 2018 to potentially lead to a program of record. But the service is not ready to commit to a program just yet, and wants to continue the experimentation phase, Under Secretary of the Air Force Matt Donovan told reporters after an Air Force Association event.

"We're going to broaden the scope a little bit,” he said, potentially alluding for the possibility of new aircraft types to enter the competition.



Asked if this meant the two aircraft positioned by the Air Force as potential contenders for a contract — the Sierra Nevada Corp.-Embraer A-29 Super Tucano, and the Textron AT-6 Wolverine — were no longer in the running, Donovan responded: “We’re not excluding anything.”

The Air Force’s decision is a somewhat surprising one. The light-attack experiment began with four aircraft involved in flight tests at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico: the A-29 and AT-6, but also Textron’s Scorpion jet and L3’s AT-802L Longsword.

The AT-6 and A-29 moved onto the second phase of experiments in 2018, which were mostly centered around the planes’ maintainability and network capability.

When the Air Force put out a draft RFP later that year, the solicitation stated that Textron and the SNC-Embraer partnership were “the only firms that appear to possess the capability necessary to meet the requirement within the Air Force’s time frame without causing an unacceptable delay in meeting the needs of the warfighter.”..


An Afghan Air Force A-29 Super Tucano returns from a sortie in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 14, 2015. (Staff Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr./U.S. Air Force)
https://www.defensenews.com/air/2019/01/18/the-air-forces-plans-to-begin-a-light-attack-aircraft-competition-are-now-deferred-indefinitely/

Mark
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Offline CBH99

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2019, 17:16:50 »
"An unacceptable delay in the needs of the warfighter..."

That's rich.  So the company can get the aircraft to you on time, the problem is - you just decided to potentially order the aircraft 20 years too late, then intentionally dragged you feet on the matter until the current conflicts wrapped themselves up...



This type of aircraft would have made great sense from 2001 to about 2016 or so.  Now that only 7000 troops will remain in Afghanistan and a predominantly SOF oriented Syria contingent, with with pockets of SOF throughout Africa - the USAF needs to start gearing up for it's next big fights: China and Russia.

If the USAF were to acquire this type of aircraft, it should have done so 10 to 15yrs ago -- before flying their high end fighters to the end of their service lives. 

Now though, it makes more sense for them to replenish the fleet with high end fighters for the upcoming conflicts.     :2c:
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Offline Colin P

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #32 on: January 20, 2019, 17:48:03 »
The USAF is big enough that they could have tapped 1-2 NG squadrons to fly these and move their bigger aircraft to beef up other squadrons. You have them for the conflicts that make sense, places like Mali, etc.

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #33 on: February 06, 2019, 14:04:25 »
Could Boeing/Saab T-X also be basis for O-AX (authors say as a follow-on but OA-X not looking a very sure thing https://milnet.ca/forums/index.php/topic,125319.msg1559566.html#msg1559566 ) and more? Start of a detailed piece:

Quote
Blurring the Lines, Part I: A Promising New Trainer Aircraft and Its Combat Variants

In the 1950s, Northrop Grumman designed a lightweight fighter wrapped around two compact jet engines, designed for the Navy’s escort carriers. Soon after, the Navy dispensed with escort carriers entirely, so the N-156 was instead offered as a supersonic trainer to replace the Air Force’s aging T-33s, the aircraft then used to train pilots to fly jets. The N-156 entered service in 1961. Eventually, Northrop would build 1,146 of the aircraft, renamed the T-38 Talon. The Talon served as the airframe for the highly successful F-5 Freedom Fighter, which has been in frontline service since 1962.  The F-5A Freedom Fighter entered service in 1962, with a second version (the F-5E), following in 1973. Widely employed, including in combat operations with the Air Force in Vietnam, the F-5 is still in service — as is the T-38.

With the selection of the Boeing T-X to be the Air Force’s next-generation trainer aircraft, the service again has the opportunity to make a combat aircraft out of an existing jet trainer — only this time, planned in advance. The coming introduction of the T-X could allow the Air Force to get more bang for its buck, rolling together trainers, jet attack aircraft, and lightweight fighters that are all drawn from a common design. This would, in effect, blur the lines between trainer and combat aircraft in a manner that has been highly successful before. Using a common airframe for multiple roles could very well be cheaper, faster to develop, and easier to support from a common logistical pool.  Given that new aircraft programs often take decades to mature at exceptional cost, developing a single airframe in many different ways can offer a way to break out of a long, slow, and difficult acquisition process. Why not take an aircraft designed to have “fighter-like” characteristics and make it into a fighter?  The Air Force should pursue rapid prototyping effort to create a new lightweight fighter series, leaping at the opportunity to repeat a successful aircraft program from the past.

This article is the first in a three-part series intended to offer policy options for airpower that break out of the existing paradigm for training forces or employing forces, or which otherwise depart from the comfortable complacency that all large organizations find themselves in from time to time. In many cases, some of which we will call out, the Air Force has entered an “accepted” way of doing things without adequately considering how we got there and why we should stay.  Alongside these ideas, we will offer historical examples of how and why the Air Force did things differently, and why it should reconsider “old” ways of doing business. In all of our cases, we are advocating a reexamination of the strict boundaries the institution has placed upon itself in pursuit of the mission and how those lines may be “blurred” to examine other options [note Table I. further in article]...

Col. Mike “Starbaby” Pietrucha was an instructor electronic warfare officer in the F-4G Wild Weasel and the F-15E Strike Eagle, amassing 156 combat missions over 10 combat deployments. As an irregular warfare operations officer, Col. Pietrucha has two additional combat deployments in the company of U.S. Army infantry, combat engineer, and military police units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is currently assigned to Air Combat Command.

Lt. Col. Jeremy “Maestro” Renken is an instructor pilot and former squadron commander in the F-15E Strike Eagle, credited with over 200 combat missions and one air-to-air kill in five combat deployments.  He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Weapons Instructor Course and is currently an Air Force Fellow assigned to Air Combat Command.

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force or the U.S. government.



Figure 1: T-X (left) and T-38 (right).  (Photo by Mark Nankivil, The Aero Experience)
https://warontherocks.com/2019/02/blurring-the-lines-part-i-a-promising-new-trainer-aircraft-and-its-combat-variants/

Where are CAF officers writing such pieces?

Mark
Ottawa
« Last Edit: February 06, 2019, 15:48:27 by MarkOttawa »
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #34 on: February 06, 2019, 17:08:19 »
So, short form?

Why not make sure that every aircraft is weapons-capable and be prepared to employ all aircraft on operations - ASSUMING - a compatible environment?

Back to why not arm Harvards and Hawks as well as Hornets and FCAs.

The lessons of the last few years seem to me to have been that any aircraft is better than no aircraft and that you don't need a 5th gen aircraft for all roles.  Better to husband them to keep the skies clear of the opposition so that other aircraft (to include helos and UAVs) can operate.
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Offline Colin P

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #35 on: February 06, 2019, 20:51:35 »
Sheesh that's so warlike and like didn't you listen to Harassment and Diversity courses? That stuff applies to the disadvantaged peoples that are trying to kill us as well, don't you know? Don't you know how much it costs to pay off these poor souls hurt by our bombs and missiles?

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #36 on: February 09, 2019, 16:31:03 »
Could Boeing/Saab T-X also be basis for O-AX (authors say as a follow-on but OA-X not looking a very sure thing https://milnet.ca/forums/index.php/topic,125319.msg1559566.html#msg1559566 ) and more? Start of a detailed piece:

Where are CAF officers writing such pieces?

Mark
Ottawa

Busy making sure their 'IBTS boxes' are all checked off so the bureaucrats in Ottawa will leave them alone :)
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon