Saturday, May 14, 2011

USAF Light Attack and Armed Recon?

The USAF is doing a Light Attack and Armed Recon comp.  To be honest both aircraft in this are appealing but to be honest, if I had my druthers the USAF would buy American (not assembled in the US...US built).

My opinion and the USAF will do what it wants.  Info on both planes follows.




Note: Embraer does not have a brochure for the AT-29


  1. i have heard about this for a while, they are wanting something that isnt as vulnerable to groundfire as a helo but the loitering abilities, a prop plane would be good, slower speed for low intensity conflicts. Kinda seems like a step back but good for special operators to have one of these flying above, much like a mini spook or spectre.

  2. i get the idea, but i'm just not feeling it. the USAF is mainly (from what limited reading i've done) wanting this to do a "aviation" partnership mission set. they want to be able to better train foreign forces.

    good in theory but many of these foreign forces are seeking advanced capabilities. i mean seriously...outside of forces in Africa who are they going to train? even there they have high speed Russian equipment.

    in Asia? everyone is high performance.

    as far as use by the US Special Forces...i mean really? what are you going to put them on? unless you have permission from foreign nations to base them then you're talking a naval campaign which means you're flying helicopters off the deck of a ship...not a light airplane.

    all in all, its a good works program but i don't find the utility in it.

  3. In reality the USAF zoomies are not interested in this kind of bird. The program should be given over to Marines or Army who may need something like this. Man would that break some rice bowls!!

    SOF is looking more for UAVs they can control to cover their ops IMHO.

  4. totally agree on all points. but i think the Army would probably be the only real service interested in this type of airplane.

    the Marines are wedded to the Cobra and the F-35...this doesn't fit in with the neck down campaign...but neither did the UAV cargo....

  5. Big AF must at least pay lip service to the CAS mission, and this program has more chance of funding than wet dreams like MQ-X. AFSOC has their own mini air force and it meets operational and budgetary needs. If Big AF doesn't do something real, Army will follow AFSOC's lead.

    The real wildcard is what is the cost delta to make these CAS trucks optionally piloted? If there's no pilot in the cockpit, Army can probably buy them itself and USAF loses its last reason to deploy. Now how many F-35s will you buy?

  6. I think an AT-6 aircraft will be a great compliment to the F-35. Aircraft have a finite amount of flight hours available. The Air Force, Navy, and Marines flew F-16s, F/A-18s, and AV-8Bs on long counter-insurgency missions over Afghanistan and Iraq. Those aircraft are now running out of flight hours years before originally planned. We could find ourselves in the same situation again with the F-35. A low cost aircraft to fight in low intensity conflicts makes sense, as does saving our advanced aircraft for major conflicts.

  7. Kelly,

    The USAF does a helluva lot more than just pay lip service to CAS.

    These planes are slow, short-legged and can't carry very much. Maybe that's why the USAF isn't very excited.

  8. Smitty sure there are parts of the USAF that perform very well and truly work in a joint manner to support ground troops (A-10s and AFRS just to point to a couple),
    BUT the majority of USAF projects and funding are controlled by fighter and big bomber and missile types who are not wedded to CAS by any means. Current CSAF may be the exception to the rule?

    The Key West Accords keeps the Army from flying fixed wing aircraft and that decision must be re-thought.

  9. This is getting support precisely because it has so little capability. What is needed is a modern equivalent of the A-7 or possibly SU-25: something that can fill the bomb truck role in places like Iraq and Afghanistan or most of the world once air defenses have been destroyed/suppressed.

    Such a plane would, however, be seen as an alternative to vastly more expensive super fighters (like the F-35) which are basically all the USAF wants to buy. This program is a way for the Air Force to pay lip service to low cost CAS while avoiding far better alternatives that might endanger F-35 procurement.

  10. still have a hangover from saturday night do you BB1984? a replacement for the A-7 or a USAF equivalent of the SU-25 is already flying ... its called the A-10.

    this program or a replacement for the A-10 has no affect on the F-35. haters hate and your bias is obvious.

  11. @Soloman: "what are you going to put them on?"

    Why not hang them off the wing's of a C-130 or other medium to heavy cargo plane? A prop plane should be light enough.

    Its been done before.

    Also I could easily see these launched from the deck of a small anphib carrier, or even a container ship.

  12. the Marine Corps is doing this with its Harvest Hawk program, but that isn't my point. the point is that the USAF already has this covered. if this is actually necessary then the need for the Predator UAV disappears. the need for US Army Attack Helos disappears....and the deck of an Amphib is full enough with more capable platforms, i still don't see a justifiable need.

  13. Lee,

    What recent evidence is there of a lack of commitment to CAS?

  14. that's really the answer. but the real question is this. why aren't we using them more in Afghanistan?

  15. btw sol, with due respect to the 35, i cant not imagine the F35 taking over all of the A10s abilities. The amount of ordinance, the cannon and just the abilities of the A-10 are so strong the F35 wont be an equivalent to it. The F35 has its roles definitely and will be superb aircraft but the A-10 may not the stealthiest bird at the ball but when it comes to being a CAS bomb carrier, nothing beats the A-10.

  16. a test pilot for the F-35B program when talking about the airplane lauded its stealth properties and talked about a time on future battlefields when stealth would be required to provide close air support!

  17. The world of CAS has changed a lot from the days when the A-10 was developed. Btw, the A-10 was not developed as a CAS plane, but as a armor buster to stop hordes of Russian armored columns coming through the Fulda Gap.

    In the beginning of the A-10's life there were very few PGMs. This is why it had the GAU, because it could deliver firepower precisely where it is needed. The A-10's typical warload (besides the gun) was a bunch of dumb bombs, rockets, and cluster bombs. It could carry up to 16k (less than the F-35's 18k) of weapons. It was designed to fly low & slow (and armored to survive) in order to find it's targets since the technology (FLIR & SAR mapping) needed to find, ID, and track targets from higher altitude did not exist.

    Jump forward to today with the F-35's ability to carry 32 SDBs combined with EOTS, SAR mapping, EODAS, DIRCM, JAGM, JDRADM, & rapid future weapon integration (via UAI) and you get an idea of it's ability to complete most of the CAS missions just as well, if not better than the A-10.

    Will the F-35 do EVERY CAS mission as good as the A-10, not likely as fear factor alone makes the A-10 one mean MOFO.


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