The news that the Pentagon was sending a pair of refurbished and highly-upgraded Vietnam-era OV-10 Broncos to Iraq to take on ISIS raised a lot of eyebrows. It was a new twist in a decade and a half of counter-insurgency warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the United States has never used a light air support and surveillance aircraft. For many, the OV-10’s appearance in Iraq had been very long overdue.I had read accounts of the OV-10's in action but this confirms something I've been thinking for a while now.
Now, The War Zone reveals details of what the pair of OV-10G+ Broncos were doing in Iraq, and how they went about it with impeccable results.
The USMC needs to truncate its purchase of F-35's and turn to on getting back into the business of Light Fixed Wing Attack. During the height of the Marine Corps power (arguably...by capability/versatility), it operated the F-18, AV-8B, A-6E, A-4F, OV-10, AH-1, UH-1, CH-46 and CH-53.
What's missing today? The light strike portion of that portfolio. Even if you accept budget reality that a "neck down" approach to aviation HAD to be done, it makes no sense to save pennies if you lose capability.
I contend that if you're saying that the MV-22 is revolutionizing the way that we conduct operations from the sea (and I find that debatable) then it only makes sense that a fixed wing airplane that is able to keep pace and still operate from LHDs makes nothing but sense.
The OV-10 was not only a potent striker/close air support platform but it also filled the helo escort role! The last model that the USMC operated, the OV-10D had as part of its portfolio an anti-air mission!
Of course we could always dust off the plans of my personal favorite in the competition that the OV-10 won, the Convair Model 48 Charger!
Either way we go - OV-10, Convair Charger or Super Tucanos - one thing is obvious. We have a hole in our future air wing. We will have the super expensive A-6 equivalent F-35 that will be too expensive or impractical for many missions, the relatively long legged MV-22 ferrying Marines and the AH-1Z that is too slow to keep up.
A light strike fixed wing helo escort is what's missing. Canceling a few dozen F-35s to pay for this plane would be well worth it (and while you're doing it you could also put down a serious down payment on the ACV).