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USAF may extend A-10 life beyond 2028

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  • USAF may extend A-10 life beyond 2028

    The US Air Force may seek to retain and continuously upgrade its Fairchild A-10 fleet far beyond its currently planned retirement date of 2028. "There are bigger numbers throwing around that are much [later] than that," Air Combat Command chief of requirements Lt Col Ralph Hansen told Flight International on 21 August.

    Armed with a nose-mounted 30mm cannon, the A-10 was first deployed in 1976 to destroy enemy tanks, but its mission has been expanded since the end of the Cold War to also include close air support duties and co-operating with special forces for combat search and rescue purposes.

    The programme has in the past faced sceptics within the air force's leadership, with then-Maj Gen David Deptula reportedly having asked a subordinate to draft a memorandum justifying the retirement of the A-10 fleet in April 2003, with the invasion of Iraq still in progress. This effort was dropped after a highly publicised backlash and in 2004 the service announced a new plan to re-engine the A-10 fleet and upgrade the aircraft to use precision-guided weapons.

    The so-called "Super Hog" plan fell apart a year later when the air force killed funds for the re-engining plan, but a separate precision engagement programme was awarded to Lockheed Martin to upgrade all 356 A-10s with digital weapon stores, multifunction displays, the situational awareness datalink and smart weapons such as Boeing's GBU-38 JDAM. The first redesignated A-10Cs will make their combat debut in September, following a crash effort to accelerate the precision engagement programme by 18 months.

    The air force also plans to replace the thin-skin wings on about 250 A-10s with a more robust wing structure, and awarded a $2 billion contract to Boeing in July to complete the modifications. A wide range of additional upgrades may also still be in store for the A-10, ranging from new networks, additional weapons and reviving the engine upgrade proposal.

    Roger Il Grande, Lockheed's precision engagement programme manager, believes integrating new networks tops the priorities list, with the Link 16 and Tactical Targeting Networking Technology considered candidates.

    The programme also is reviewing options for installing the Lockheed AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missile, says Hansen. The air force has meanwhile proposed reviving production of Raytheon's laser-guided AGM-65E Maverick missile, as A-10 squadrons have been forced to acquire the missiles from the US Navy for operational needs.

    Hansen says the Air Combat Command will also reconsider inserting funds for the General Electric TF-34 engine upgrade kit in the next five-year spending plan starting in fiscal year 2010.
    http://www.flightglobal.com/articles...yond-2028.html
    Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated... again...

  • #2
    yeah the us air force changing its plans again ... a few years back they were going to scrap the hog but since gulf war 2003 its all changed... but now its needed more than ever ...
    owner of the yahoo group for WW1 ,WW2 and Modern TO&Es
    (Tables of organisation & equipment or Unit of action )

    http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/TOandEs/

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    • #3
      Just goes to show the speed boys at Air Force HQ get it right occasionally. Although I see the track record for upgrading the A-10 is a little iffy. IF they follow through this time I will be impressed.

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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      • #4
        The hard part is convincing the Zoomies they don't need the newest, most expensive aircraft on the block.

        Fantastic aircraft! I can only hope it carries on as long as the B-52.
        If you can't set a good example, be a glaring warning.

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        • #5
          Always good news if ya in the covering force. Good update....

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          • #6
            I was led to beleive the F-35 was the A-10s replacement... guess they want this old plane to continue the "dirty" work!

            Funny how some 'Cold-War' designs are still in service and continue to have major upgrades.
            "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
            Ernest Hemingway.

            Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?

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            • #7
              I still don't see the point in upgrading the Warthog when UCAVs and AC130s have largely obviated it's role in an OOTW/SASO mission. Which is all they're used for, because despite the uparmouring and protection measures, in a high-intensity conflict, they're going to be meat to MANPADS and SHORAD. (Not to mention BVR AAMs!)

              Then add in the fact the majority of pilots are reservists, the length of deployments of the nature that the A10 will be used in (Afghanistan-style ops etc) - it makes more sense to spend the money on the training and purchase of USAF assets, not ANG ones.

              My issue with it is that by making the A-10 indispensable for LIC CAS you're basically dragooning the reservists that fly them in the regular USAF. And if you're not making them indispensable, why spend the money upgrading them? UCAVs and Spectres are the way to go because of increased loiter times, increased situational awareness and immediate BDA. Plus the fact the regular USAF will man the units using them, they can be used in a main war situation, and if one gets shot down, you're not losing a highly trained pilot.
              Now listening too;
              - Russell Robertson, ruining whatever credibility my football team once had.

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              • #8
                Ivan,

                The US Armed Forces right now are so small we have to activate the Reserves to do any fighting anywhere. The Reservists are often much more experienced than many Regular Air Force pilots.

                You are also looking at a numbers game. There will be only a limited number of Spectre type planes and armed UAVs available for use and you will have to fill in the gaps of coverage with manned strike aircraft. I am thinking the UAVs will be limited to how many controllers are available to guide them and whether a guidance link is available.

                You also have the problem of deciding whether to use a few aircraft costing hundreds of millions in a highly hostile environment or larger numbers of less costly planes. Look at the AH-64 Apache Helicopter. When being first built it was touted as being a tank killing machine. Then it was realised that for the Hellfire to work properly they had to stay in line of sight until missile impact. Next thing you know they were modifying OH-58s to carry laser designators to lase the targets while the Apaches bobbed up, shot and ducked. The OH-58 is a much less expensive machine to lose.

                Right now the new generation aircraft are being lauded as wonder weapons that can do anything and everything. Once we get them in service a while we will find out the limitations and how to use them most effectively. Just don't say they can't do anything as promised or some people here will jump all over you.

                Pruitt
                Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ivan Rapkinov View Post
                  in a high-intensity conflict, (the A-10 is) going to be meat to MANPADS and SHORAD. (Not to mention BVR AAMs!)
                  UCAVs and Spectres are the way to go because of increased loiter times, increased situational awareness and immediate BDA.
                  Anyone else see some incongruity here?

                  Look, man, I essentially agree with what you're saying... but you can't dismiss the A-10 because of vulnerability, and then turn around and recommend the Spectre.
                  Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated... again...

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by sickpup View Post
                    Anyone else see some incongruity here?

                    Look, man, I essentially agree with what you're saying... but you can't dismiss the A-10 because of vulnerability, and then turn around and recommend the Spectre.
                    I'm not dismissing the A10 because of vulnerability - I'm dismissing it because in a main war situation, it has no (survivable) role, and in a SASO/OOTW conflict, it's role is better served by UCAVs and AC130s. PGMs - UCAVs do better. Loiter times? Both do better. Steel on target? AC130s do better. My point is why spend the money upgrading the A10s when it could be used for other things; things that have a main war and LIC use.

                    Originally posted by Pruitt
                    You are also looking at a numbers game. There will be only a limited number of Spectre type planes and armed UAVs available for use and you will have to fill in the gaps of coverage with manned strike aircraft. I am thinking the UAVs will be limited to how many controllers are available to guide them and whether a guidance link is available.
                    As opposed to limted numbers of A10s? That have be upgraded first? As for the controllers, the regular USAF (or even Army!) controllers you train for an LIC conflict (and who get the experience) will still be useful in a high intensity conflict. Can you say the same for reservists flying the A10?

                    The US Armed Forces right now are so small we have to activate the Reserves to do any fighting anywhere. The Reservists are often much more experienced than many Regular Air Force pilots.
                    Afghanistan's been going nearly six years now. Reservists should not be being asked to commit to these types of deployments. They need to be saved for the main war scenarios, where their deployment is short, but much more necessary. SASO/OOTW is a long term deployment by nature. You upgrade the A10 to be used as a CAS aircraft, and it will be. The numbers of both reservists and aircraft are too limited for their to be an effective rotation cycle. Pilot fatigue will become an issue. And I'd much prefer to have to shell out for a new MQ-1C than have to explain that a reservist pilot planted it into the ground.

                    Look, I'm not saying that we should replace manned aircraft - I'm simply saying that in a LIC CAS situation I want something that can loiter over my infantry force, beyond enemy visible range, use PGMs and provide immediate BDA. Having a UCAV on site means the infantry unit in question can call in immediate support, take out targets of opportunity, and if need be, the UCAV operators can send in fast movers to drop a load and then leave,, not have to worry about looping about for a second look.
                    Last edited by Ivan Rapkinov; 27 Aug 07, 10:14.
                    Now listening too;
                    - Russell Robertson, ruining whatever credibility my football team once had.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ivan Rapkinov View Post
                      I'm not dismissing the A10 because of vulnerability - I'm dismissing it because in a main war situation, it has no (survivable) role, and in a SASO/OOTW conflict, it's role is better served by UCAVs and AC130s. PGMs - UCAVs do better. Loiter times? Both do better. Steel on target? AC130s do better. My point is why spend the money upgrading the A10s when it could be used for other things; things that have a main war and LIC use.
                      I'm curious as to why you feel the UCAVs are better at serving up PGMs...?
                      Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated... again...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by sickpup View Post
                        I'm curious as to why you feel the UCAVs are better at serving up PGMs...?
                        note - better than the A10. the ability to be able to immediately give a BDA, as well as self-lase; ie, the UCAV operator team (not one person) can use the UCAVs cameras, designators and GPS to "watch" the PGM onto the target - no need for a ground team, and the pilot doesn't need to have a look around while he flies high. Not to mention an A10 lacks the FBCB2 and C4ISR integration a UCAV offers.

                        The A10 can carry more PGMs, but by it's nature a PGM is a quality over quantity type munition.
                        Now listening too;
                        - Russell Robertson, ruining whatever credibility my football team once had.

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                        • #13
                          Ivan: as far as I'm aware, SOCOM hasn't lifted its ban on AC-130s being unable to fly combat missions in daylight - they're considered too vulnerable, even in Afghanistan/Iraq. On top of which, the AC-130 is in the end a single airframe consuming 13 personnel at the cost of 190 million each (for an AC-130U) - and there's just 21 in service. Now, how are you going to increase the number of AC-130 airframes to the point where you can effectively replace what the 356 A-10s are now doing? It makes a hell of a lot more sense in a cash-strapped Air Force to keep the maximum number of airframes possible in service then go for another expensive replacement which can't fly in the day and is vulnerable to the type of threats the A-10 has been proven to be able to withstand.
                          Colonel Summers' widely quoted critique of US strategy in the Vietnam War is having a modest vogue...it is poor history, poor strategy, and poor Clausewitz to boot - Robet Komer, Survival, 27:2, p. 94.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by thejester View Post
                            Now, how are you going to increase the number of AC-130 airframes to the point where you can effectively replace what the 356 A-10s are now doing?
                            by using UCAVs for the most part, and only using the AC130 when a strafing run is required. Ie, after the air defenses have been suppressed by UCAVs and fast movers. So not a lot.
                            Now listening too;
                            - Russell Robertson, ruining whatever credibility my football team once had.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ivan Rapkinov View Post
                              by using UCAVs for the most part, and only using the AC130 when a strafing run is required. Ie, after the air defenses have been suppressed by UCAVs and fast movers. So not a lot.
                              A Predator can carry two Hellfires. That's about 1/3rd the load an A-10 can carry in Mavericks alone, let alone other PGMs such as the Paveway II and JDAM (both of which the A-10 can use).

                              And unlike with a Predator, an A-10 can operate in the airspace of other aircraft. A major concern with drones is that they're a nightmare for air traffic control - which is a particular concern in a crowded CAS environment.

                              Finally, there's also the fact that A-10 is still a lot less vulnerable than plenty of other platforms routinley flying CAS in Iraq/Afrghanistan (AH-64 anyone?) I really don't see why you wouldn't extend the service life of an aircraft that's got plenty to give and frees up more high-performance assets for other duties.
                              Colonel Summers' widely quoted critique of US strategy in the Vietnam War is having a modest vogue...it is poor history, poor strategy, and poor Clausewitz to boot - Robet Komer, Survival, 27:2, p. 94.

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