Monday, August 06, 2012

USMC A-10's. The time has arrived.

I've resisted the idea.

I thought it was something that the USMC should not even consider.

I might have been wrong.

With the F/A-18D's about to go the way of the dodo bird, we need a replacement that is rugged, designed to operate over the forward edge of the battlefield, able to survive punishment, have room for the JTAC in back and maybe, if we luck out, can be modified to operate off LHA's much like the OV-10 Bronco's of the past.

One other thing is becoming apparent.  The aviation neck down leaves holes in capabilities forcing us to use aircraft in roles for which they were not designed and probably not the best answer to accomplish the mission.

So what mods would I like to see on this proposed USMC A-10?

*  AESA radar...drop the gun we won't be needing it, and replace it with a SABRE set.
*  Provide additional plumbing for extra fuel tanks.
*  Settle on a guided 2.75 guided rocket or brimstone type missile
*  Uprated engines for better performance...not talking about speed here but fuel economy.
*  The ability to carry SDB and other high performance weaponry for escort missions for the V-22.

I see these airplanes acting as forward air controllers as a primary mission but secondary missions will include ground support, v-22 escort, small boat defense, anti-piracy ops etc...the second seat makes all the difference.

Before you get started slamming the idea, consider this.  The Bronco operated off LHA's and with the A-10 being designed out of the box to operate from forward areas, it should (I'm just saying I really have no idea) be easy to make them do the same.  Besides, I'm sure there is a Test Pilot somewhere that will be willing to try.


  1. * wouldnt drop the gun, it just comes in handy for when you need alot of fire power over a area that only a gun can bring....their is a diffrence.

    * we have laser guided 2.75in rockets i belive if i remember right the army apache just did their first in country test and they did well called "pistols" and brimstone....just mount hellfire or whats already around L mav's.

    * SDB's are just dumb. reason why they arnt being used any more, nothing more frustrating then bombing someone and watching them run away from a bomb that just went off next to them....

    i like the bird, i alway thought it would fit well into the marine corps CAS concept, just like i would love to see a few AC-130's...or finally mount a gun on the KC-130

  2. As much as I love the idea Sol, I don't see it working out. For starters, the A-10 doesn't have folding wings and it's "short takeoff" capability means it can only take off in as little as 4000 feet...

    The aircraft is also designed around that gun, so stating that you could just pull it out and replace it with avionics and fuel, isn't quite so easy. The balance of the whole aircraft will be thrown off, I'd suggest.

    Then of course you have the wing design that is completely wrong for a carrier environment, landing gear unsuited to landing on a carrier and other structural issues.

    The idea of the A-10 serving with the USMC isn't bad, it's just not going to happen off an LHD...



  3. Without the gun you might as well have an OV-10X since the point of the armor is to survive the gun runs. The OV-10X would also make good V-22 escorts. Imagine orbiting with a gun (put an M230 in the belly and finish laser guided 30mm rounds) while having all the other fun PGMs at your disposal.

    @John: I disagree with SDB being dumb. It's just that they are not being used properly now (in your example). The SDB is good for fixed targets, or targets that move very slowly ;)

    For moving targets we have (or will have) DAGR, LOGIR, JAGM/Brimstone, LGZ (laser guided Zuni), SDB2, Spear3, etc.

  4. Seem like it would require the ability to take off/land on a carrier before the Corps would accept it. Other than that, I have always thought it would be a great addition to the Air Wing.

  5. There is no reason every Marine tactical fighter needs to operate from a carrier or LHA. Marine squadron's on carriers do not deploy from them ashore. The vast majority of Marine fighters deploy to a theater exactly like the USAF in that they fly there.

    The Corp operating the A-10 is, and has always been a great. That said Marine Aviation is downsizing and moving towards an all F-35 force. Either additional squadrons have to operate the A-10 or some programmed F-35 squadrons get the A-10 instead. Of course none of this is ever going to happen as the momentum and pressure of the F-35 is just too much to make way for anything else.

    Instead of developing an A-10 follow of a survivable low cost attack aircraft it's being replaced with the F-35. While a very capable strike fighter it's rather expensive. The problem is that in today's budget environment anything that isn't an F-35 in the aviation accounts is a threat to the F-35. It might not be cost effective but we're stuck with it.

    1. Lane, I don;t really disagree with your assesment that not every tactical fighter has to operate from a carrier. I'm just saying that the Marine Corps seems to think they do. Histoically it has been a requirement, I think the instituional resistance to a plane that is not capable of carrier ops is going to be huge if not insurmaountable.

    2. well said! the Corps is all about getting feet wet again and if it can't go on ship then it won't be accepted.

    3. Actually it seemed to me that part of the motivation of going all F-35B was to stop being assigned to USN carriers. The USN always liked having some portion of Marine aviation available as an additional reserve and adjunct for carrier air. Of course the Corp then got the C rammed down their throats anyway.

      The all F-35B force sounded good on any number of levels including the versatility and cost savings going to one airframe. It's entirely an illusion in that most B's are not going to operate STOVL from austere airstrips and having other far cheaper (both to buy and operate aircraft) in addition to a state of the art strike fighter does in fact save money.

      Marine aviation has traditionally mostly operated ashore and will continue to do so. It's in fact a tad irrational, and non cost effective, for every aircraft to fly from a carrier or gator. For a service that traditionally has limited budgets and has a reputation for doing more with less it's in fact a bit odd the entire tactical aviation force is going to be brand new $150 million strike fighters. One might be forgiven for assuming a few light attack squadrons with far cheaper aircraft would be a very good idea.

  6. I'm not seeing the politics of this at all. The USMC have justified driving huge amounts of cost and delay into the F-35 program by insisting that STOVL is mission critical for them; to suddenly buy CTOL attack planes would take a lot of explaining. Then there's the USAF swearing up and down that the F-35 is the A-10 replacement (though the A-10 role is actually being eliminated) who would have to explain why the USMC is simultaneously procuring a plane and its replacement.

    Lane's comment that ". . . anything that isn't an F-35 . . . is a threat to the F-35" is dead on. It doesn't matter if this makes sense or not; the pentagon politics make it impossible.

  7. Aussie is spot on, Thunderbolt was designed around the gun, remove it and all kinds of engineering problems would have to be addressed, not saying it couldn't happen, just one more added cost. The landing gear would also have to be massively beefed up, look at the gear of a Hornet compared to the A10 and you'll see what I mean. When I was in the Wing, our fleet of A4's had been disqualified from carrier operations, the Marines have in the past operated aircraft that are not carrier qualified.
    Other than that, I love the A10's. I got a couple good photo's from the AirExpo here at JBLM of them, and got to see them in action during training at the Palms gun range.

  8. you lose the gun, put an electo optical turret up fron and you should be nearing equal weight with the gun. the landing gear on the A-10 is as rugged as any so it should be able to handle the landings...folding wings aren't necessarily necessary. the ov-10 didn't have them and the a-10's can be modded to make do.

    i'm just not hearing a show stopper. one missing part of Marine aviation is the airborne fac. we can get that back with less than 50 two seat a-10's being pulled out of storage.

  9. "one missing part of Marine aviation is the airborne fac. we can get that back with less than 50 two seat a-10's being pulled out of storage."

    The show stopper here would be that they only ever built one A-10B two-seater. It was the prototype for a proposed Night/Adverse Weather variant that never went anywhere.

  10. well that sucks. but i bet it would cost less to convert some of the mothballed A-10's into A-10B's than it would be to buy brand new Tucanos...besides we can use NAVAIR workers to do the work...they refurbish airplanes all the time.

  11. Keep the gun Solomon...the radar/IR sensors you ask for could be put in a pod...but about your post,you are not alone...a SeaHog is being talk about for a long time...I tink its a great idea...



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