The A-10’s Little Brother: USAF’s OA-X Light Attack Demo Shines Spotlight on Close Air Support

Original caption: "A Textron Scorpion experimental aircraft sits at Holloman AFB." Taken July 31st, this photo was taken in the run-up to the August 8-9 OA-X demonstration. USAF photo by Christopher Okula. Public domain.

Close air support (CAS) – the direct support of ground forces by low flying combat aircraft – has been a key function of military aviation since World War I. However, since the formation of the Air Force as a separate service in 1947, and especially the Key West Agreement of 1948, CAS as a role has been something of a redheaded stepchild among the priorities of Air Force aviation programs. Flashier bomber and fighter programs have always stolen the spotlight, but that has been changing recently with the Air Force’s OA-X Light Attack demonstration announced in March. The event, conducted at Holloman Air Force Baseon August 8th and 9th, saw no less than four entrants from five companies fly in front of Air Force and foreign officials, demonstrating their capabilities. These entrants were the A-29 Super Tucano from Embraer and Sierra Nevada, the AT-802L Longsword from Air Tractor Inc. and L3 Communications, and the AT-6 Wolverine and Scorpion jet from Textron Aviation (formerly Hawker-Beechcraft).

OA-X is intended to pave the way for a new light attack aircraft that bridges the gap between unmanned drones and high performance manned jet aircraft like the A-10 “Warthog” Thunderbolt II and F-16 “Viper” Fighting Falcon. The aircraft demonstrated earlier this month offer longer loiter times and lower procurement and operating costs than high performance jet aircraft or attack helicopters, while maintaining most or all of the capability to deliver modern precision guided ordnance onto enemy targets in contact with allied forces. The concepts presented in the OA-X demonstration have been preceded by various experimental and operational aircraft throughout history, such as the OV-10 Bronco, but the much higher efficiency of modern precision weapons substantially enhances the close air support power of a small aircraft of this type beyond anything that was possible previously. While the A-10 Warthog was designed to operate with a full load of mostly or entirely unguided ordnance on all of its 11 hardpoints, this is unnecessary today. A lighter aircraft carrying precision weapons would be just as effective, while being cheaper to fly and maintain.

Original caption: “An A-10C Thunderbolt II from the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron flies above Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 1.” Note the low amount of ordnance carried – just one 7-shot LAU-68 rocket pod and four bombs. More ordnance is unnecessary with modern guidance systems, but the A-10’s size is arguably excessive for such low payloads. Photo via US Air Force, Staff Sgt. Dayton Mitchell. Public domain.

 

Participants in the OA-X demonstration run the spectrum of aircraft within this smaller size class. The Air Tractor/L3 Longsword is the smallest, being a converted crop duster, while the Textron Scorpion jet is much larger and more powerful, and could be thought of as a 21st Century little brother to the A-10. In the middle are the assume front runners, the Embraer Tucano and Textron AT-6, both of which possess different advantages and disadvantages. The Tucano is more capable and has won similar contracts before (including a USAF program to equip the Afghani Air Force with CAS aircraft), while the AT-6 is based on the T-6 Texan II already used as a trainer by the USAF, USN, and USMC. In addition to potentially providing an intermediate light attack capability, the OA-X demonstration also serves as an “industry day” for foreign governments who may be interested in aircraft with these capabilities.





Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • EdgyTrumpet

    But does it go BRRRRRRRTTTTTTTTT?

    • Dan Lunn

      “While the A-10 Warthog was designed to operate with a full load of mostly or entirely unguided ordnance on all of its 11 hardpoints, this is unnecessary today. A lighter aircraft carrying precision weapons would be just as effective, while being cheaper to fly and maintain.” I can only imagine the hostile reaction to this from the JTAC community and by extension Army.

      The Gau 8 gun is beloved by the mudders.

      • Major Tom

        And the A-10’s 11 hardpoints are NOT mostly used for entirely unguided ordnance. It was designed as a tank buster carrying large loads of missiles. The ability to drop old school gravity bombs is just added capabilities.

        • “While the A-10 Warthog was designed to operate with a full load of mostly or entirely unguided ordnance”

          The number of hardpoints (minimum of six) was actually specified in the 1966 Requirements Action Directive for A-X.

          The only guided A2G ordnance available at the time were the Maverick, Walleye, and early Paveways. When the A-10 was introduced, it did not have a laser designator pod, which means it could not deliver Paveways. So it was limited to Mavericks and Walleyes only. I’m not sure it was every qualified for the Walleye, as they were pretty old by that point and the Maverick had come online. So it was limited to the Maverick, plus unguided ordnance. The Maverick was considered one of the A-10’s primary weapons, but it was literally the only PGM the A-10 could use (as designed).

          • Blackhorse

            That’s like giving the statistics on the M16A1 for the M4A1.

            The Air Force’s own site states Quote
            “A-10 has received many upgrades over the years. In 1978, the aircraft received the Pave Penny laser receiver pod, which sensed reflected laser radiation from a laser designator. Pave Penney has now been discontinued in favor more capable advanced targeting pods. The A-10 began receiving an inertial navigation system in 1980. Later, the Low-Altitude Safety and Targeting Enhancement (LASTE) upgrade provided computerized weapon-aiming equipment, an autopilot, and a ground-collision warning system. In 1999, aircraft began to receive Global Positioning System navigation systems and a new multi-function display. In 2005, the entire A-10 fleet began receiving the Precision Engagement upgrades that include an improved fire control system (FCS), electronic countermeasures (ECM), upgraded cockpit displays, the ability to deliver smart bombs, moving map display, hands on throttle and stick, digital stores management, LITENING and Sniper advanced targeting pod integration, situational awareness data link or SADL, variable message format, or VMF, GPS-guided weapons, and upgraded DC power. The entire A-10 fleet has been Precision Engagement modified and now carries the A-10C designation.

            The Thunderbolt II can be serviced and operated from austere bases with limited facilities near battle areas. Many of the aircraft’s parts are interchangeable left and right, including the engines, main landing gear and vertical stabilizers. Avionics equipment includes multi-band communications; Global Positioning System and inertial navigations systems; infrared and electronic countermeasures against air-to-air and air-to-surface threats. And, it has a heads-up display to display flight and weapons delivery information.

            The Thunderbolt II can employ a wide variety of conventional munitions, including general purpose bombs, cluster bomb units, laser guided bombs, joint direct attack munitions or JDAM, wind corrected munitions dispenser or WCMD, AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, rockets, illumination flares, and the GAU-8/A 30mm cannon, capable of firing 3,900 rounds per minute to defeat a wide variety of targets including tanks.

            Background
            The first production A-10A was delivered to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., in October 1975. The upgraded A-10C reached initial operation capability in September 2007. Specifically designed for close air support, its combination of large and varied ordnance load, long loiter time, accurate weapons delivery, austere field capability, and survivability has proven invaluable to the United States and its allies. The aircraft has participated in operations Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Provide Comfort, Desert Fox, Noble Anvil, Deny Flight, Deliberate Guard, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

            General characteristics
            Primary function: close air support, airborne forward air control, combat search and rescue
            Contractor: Fairchild Republic Co.
            Power plant: two General Electric TF34-GE-100 turbofans
            Thrust: 9,065 pounds each engine
            Wingspan: 57 feet, 6 inches (17.42 meters)
            Length: 53 feet, 4 inches (16.16 meters)
            Height: 14 feet, 8 inches (4.42 meters)
            Weight: 29,000 pounds (13,154 kilograms) Maximum Takeoff Weight: 51,000 pounds (22,950 kilograms) Fuel Capacity: 11,000 pounds (7,257 kilograms)
            Payload: 16,000 pounds (7,257 kilograms)
            Speed: 450 nautical miles per hour (Mach 0.75)
            Range: 2580 miles (2240 nautical miles)
            Ceiling: 45,000 feet (13,636 meters)
            Armament: one 30 mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun; up to 16,000 pounds (7,200 kilograms) of mixed ordnance on eight under-wing and three under-fuselage pylon stations, including 500 pound (225 kilograms) Mk-82 and 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms) Mk-84 series low/high drag bombs, incendiary cluster bombs, combined effects munitions, mine dispensing munitions, AGM-65 Maverick missiles and laser-guided/electro-optically guided bombs; infrared countermeasure flares; electronic countermeasure chaff; jammer pods; 2.75-inch (6.99 centimeters) rockets; illumination flares and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.
            Crew: one”
            That doesn’t mention it can use your favorite 70 mm guided rockets and can use either the SNIPER or LITENING targeting pods and AN/ACQ-131 or AN/ACQ-184 ECM pods.
            Your information is decades old and haven’t been operational for just as long.

          • No, it’s not, because we are talking about why the A-10 has eleven weapons stores when it virtually never needs to use even half of them.

          • Blackhorse

            The retaking of Faluja saw them repeatedly returning empty.
            Now your picture has issues since we don’t know if it was returning or departing in that pic.
            Now almost every platform, including the B1, B52, F16, F15, F22, F/A-18, A10, helos, and drones repeatedly returned with without using all its weapons. It was because of a lack of targets spread over multiple air assets in a given area.
            Now the one munition that was most often used up if the aircraft engaged was the GAU-8s 30 mm rounds. The A10 regularly returned with bombs/missiles with an empty gun magazine.
            Back to the 11 hard points.
            1-2 targeting pods (since the A10 can switch between for best features while in flight-even the F15Es and F-16C/Ds and F22s can’t do that)
            1 ECM pod
            2 AIM-9 Sidewinders
            1 air defense countermeasures (flares/chaff) pod
            That leaves 5-7 remaining.
            If you add the target marking flare pod it’s now 4-6 hard points.
            If you add a communications data link pod for communications for ground to air and between services (to help units share data and info) then you get to 3-5 hard points left.
            In a COIN environment it would only have
            1 targeting pod
            1 ECM pod
            1 target flare pod
            That still leaves you with 8 hard points.
            Enough room to carry as little or as much as you need. That is almost twice the hard points of other CAS platforms which can reduce it from 2 aircraft to just one if you need it

          • Dude, check DVIDS. They do not go out with more than 4-5 pieces of ordnance.

            Yes, Hog pilots love using the cannon. That’s irrelevant.

            Seriously, you said above that you agree with me. So why are you still wasting my time?

          • Blackhorse

            They go out with only 4-5 munitions per aircraft because they have hundreds of platforms all over the sky to have multiple assets on station for any given area.
            A city like Mosul could have 20-100 air assets from drones, helos, F16s, F15s, F/A18s, and B52 all at different altitudes and on different “race tracks” so something is always searching and others are close by ready to shoot.

            HOG pilots love the gun as much as the troops receiving it’s support.
            The least liked are drones that carry those smart munitions that are so accurate but repeatedly are denied because of collateral damage/casualties.

          • “They go out with only 4-5 munitions per aircraft because they have hundreds of platforms all over the sky to have multiple assets on station for any given area.”

            Which – even if true – suggests they don’t need any more than that. Once again, you are wasting my time by just throwing random stuff out there and hoping it will stick.

            “A city like Mosul could have 20-100 air assets from drones, helos, F16s, F15s, F/A18s, and B52 all at different altitudes and on different “race tracks” so something is always searching and others are close by ready to shoot.”

            Yeah, great, and they’re all armed with precision weapons, so they don’t need eleven freaking pylons per aircraft. The reason the A-10 has so many is because it was designed when unguided ordnance was the dominant payload. Even though the Maverick was supposed to be the primary weapon of the A-10, it was still a requirement for it to be able to carry lots of unguided ordnance, just like the A-1.

            “HOG pilots love the gun as much as the troops receiving it’s support.”

            Yeah, and it’s the least effective weapon on the plane, so what does that tell you? That people – even pilots – are irrational beasts. I mean heck, I like the GAU-8 a whole lot too. It’s awesome. But that’s just how I feel, it’s not reflective of the reality.

        • Mike Perry

          Also, only two ordnance stations are wired up for the Maverick, and each of those stations are both limited to carrying three missiles.

          • Brett baker

            I read in the 80’s that standard load was 6 Mavericks and 4 cluster bombs for anti-tank missions

      • The GAU-8 is the least effective weapon the A-10 carries, but the most beloved. Tells you a lot about how people feel relative to reality, I think. 😉

        • Major Tom

          Well you got to consider too that precision bombs rarely if ever rout a horde of enemies bearing down on you. The Fart of God routinely does so.

          • Yeah, you know, Taliban routinely just shrug off rocket strikes like this:

            And bomb strikes like this:

            Don’t stop believing, Major Tom.

          • iksnilol

            Oh come on, you can just walk it off. Ask any drill instructor or sergeant.

          • And the medic will give you a couple of 800mg Motrins that will fix it right up.

          • iksnilol

            See, you know what’s up.

          • Madcap_Magician

            If it’s really bad you might have to drink water before you can walk it off, though.

          • Jim Smith

            Or rub some mud on it if the skin is broken

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, but your battle buddies wouldn’t let you live it down then.

            Grit your teeth and man up and all that jazz.

          • Klaus Von Schmitto

            A juice box is 10X more effective.

          • Blackhorse

            Type in A10 gun run into YouTube and watch the real fun……it’s real no matter what you think.

          • So your argument is that because getting shot at by 30mm isn’t fun… What? Rockets and bombs are a picnic?

            Like we get it, you think the GAU-8 is special and perfect in every way. A realistic look doesn’t really seem to reflect that level of enthusiasm, but fine.

          • Blackhorse

            Show me where I said any of that…..NEVER happened.
            I was showing you your video was moot since there are plenty of them on the 30 mm too.

            I NEVER said it was perfect. Honestly I think the US needs a dedicated COIN platform while maintaining the A10 for other threats.
            For COIN the 30 mm is over kill and the A10 is too expensive with our limited budgets.
            A prop COIN platform could fly multiple for the cost of one A10.

          • So then why on Earth have you been arguing with me? Sounds like you’ve just wasted my time for no reason. That’s not very nice.

          • Blackhorse

            Your the one posting irrelevant videos to prove a point not me.

          • Hahahah, ok dude.

          • How much is that psychological vs actual effectiveness of the enemy?

            Because the GAU-8 is nowhere near as precise as other aimable guns. It is a “F everyone is this general direction” vs a “F that guy, and that guy, and that guy and everyone around them” Nor can the A-10 pilot easily adjust (or even notice in some cases) when you have people that make it off the line of attack.

            If I were designing a true CAS platform, and not a tank buster, I would make a survivable min-AC-130. It would be two man with some sort of gun that the gunner/WSO/CSO can aim down the side. Because putting the gun on the side allows the aircraft to do basically a pylon turn on the target, which allows them to stay on target longer. It also allow them a better view of the battlefield through electro-optics while the A-10 pilots can only see little blobs as they pass over at high speed. Of course it should still have plenty of room for bombs, AGMs, and rockets.

          • Ron

            I think you have highlighted part of the problem, most people don’t know what CAS is, true to the definition it is air action by fixed or rotary-winged aircraft against hostile targets that are in close proximity to friendly forces but what is often left out is the “which requires detailed integration of each air mission with fire and movement of these forces.” What you see it today is often just Strike in close proximity to friendlies, maneuver and ground fires are not integrated and there is not greater scheme of fires. Making it much more complicated is that most laymen only a notion of CAS is type 1 control, and don’t know what type 2 or 3 control is and which of the 3 is most often used in combat.

          • Jim Slade

            I know every wing-wiper who ever pulled the trigger on a GAU-8 never has to buy his own beer if there’s a soldier or marine in the bar who saw one do it in anger.
            The new guys who belly up to the bar and brag on tossing a small-diameter bomb at MUJ from 36,000 ft will just get a free dirty look.

          • And girls in high school date the football and not the geek that may be more successful, and provide them a better life.

            The people that grunts will buy beer for doesn’t answer the question. Nor does it prove that the A-10 gun runs are the most effective way to deliver CAS. The goal is to kill the enemy, so the question should be what is the most effective way to do so while minimizing collateral damage. Not what airborne weapon gives ground troops a hard on.

          • I think a cannon is useful, but having an enormous high velocity Gatling that is so powerful you need to design the entire airframe around it is probably excessive. A Tucano with a couple 20mms in pods will probably do just fine.

          • I don’t disagree, and bullets are cheap… err cheaper than PGMs. I just don’t think the A-10 is the best CAS platform.

            But I think if you are designed an aircraft from the ground up the weapon should be side mounted and aimable. The AC-130U is probably the most effective CAS platform with its combination of AGMs and the fairly precise side mounted guns. If we could put that in a more survivable platform it would be a CAS god.

          • MattCFII

            I used to think that the AT-6 was the better option too for the logistics of the T-6 but honestly since the A-29 was built from the ground up a a COIN plane it is a better option, such as better rough field performance, better FLIR pod placement, more power, internal cannons.

          • The way I look at it though unless this unit is stood up under AFSOC the probability of the unit surviving 5 years is about 50/50. With AT-6s you can probably work them into the flight school after the unit is disestablished.

          • MattCFII

            Good point, which is sad to say because I’m still a believer in a COIN plane having it’s place in how we are currently fighting wars.

          • Blackhorse

            The A-29 originally was a trainer before it became a attack aircraft.

          • r h

            ..more expensive more complicated.. more opportunity for the contractor to increase the price for “unforseen technical issues”

            just once lets buy whats cheaper and will work good enough
            “perfection is the mortal enemy of good enough”
            ~Mikhail Kalashnikov.

            just once…..

          • Blackhorse

            The AT-6 is about 85% compatible in parts with the T-6 and has multiple advantages including radar and it’s helmet targeting.
            I agree on that completely but since the Air Force is in love with fast jets the Scorpion will probably win since it can also function as a 2nd rate fighter if needed.

          • The Brigadier

            A Puff is great against cars, trucks and infantry. They have to fly high to avoid machine gun and small cannon fire and are very vulnerable to it. The howitzer can destroy a tank, but the AC 130 is much bigger than an A-10 and they are not used against armor that are protected by anti-air cannon. The Warthog can maneuver very fast and take out anti-air cannon, by cannon fire, by Mavericks or by the small rockets in the pods on each end of their wings

          • How the A-10 deals with embedded anti-air assets in theory, and in actual practice are two separate things.

            Based on actual practice the A-10 is not to used a low level with armor units that have embedded anti-air assets. Because in actual practice the anti-air assets chew the A-10 up. Sure typically the pilot gets home, but the aircraft is not usable for months in some cases.

          • The Brigadier

            Yet the A-10 has been shown to be effective against BMPs. Much better than Apaches on flat land. A-10s are not invincible, but once a BMP is taken out by a Hellfire or a Maverick then the armor the ZSU was protecting dies..

          • Again how well those beliefs worked in testing and how well they worked in a real battlefield are two separate things.

            During the Gulf War Gen Horner prohibited A-10s from engaging Republican Guard units, because the embedded anti-air assets were shooting up the A-10s too much. He turned those units over to strike assets that used 500lb Paveways and had much lower attrition rates. Like dramatically lower, I posted detailed statistics in another post.

          • The Brigadier

            He also could have flown four B-52 over and dropped thousands of bombs over them. You are taking one example of a force with tremendous anti-air assets and trying to say an A-10 is useless against any anti-air assets. A-10s were used extensively in Iraq after the Republican Guard were eliminated.

          • The Republican Guard is a model of the Soviet Doctrine of using embedded anti-air assets. You decry this program in another comment because it isn’t robust enough to face the Chinese or the Russians. Well based on our experience against the Republican Guard even the A-10 would be of limited value in an anti-tank role.

            In a war against Chinese or Russians stealth assets like the F-35 would be of more value. Because they are abot to operate above enemy embedded anti-air assets without relying too heavily on SEAD missions to prevent them being being smacked out of the sky by radar guided missiles.

          • The Brigadier

            Again any stealth fighter with tails or without can now be seen by Long-Phase Doppler Radar. I just read about this a week ago. If an enemy builds enough layered radar pickets with SAM capability, every stealth fighter will be shot down. The F-35 is relatively slow compared with other fighters and if the stealth advantage is taken away we are back to needing speed and overwhelming counter response to take out the radar picket/SAM sites. The F-35 is good in forward VTOL situations where you can launch attacks against groups like ISIS with limited tech. Against front line air defenses it is now next to worthless.

          • There is literally not a single reference to “long phase doppler radar” indexed on the internet by google. More than likely you are talking about low frequency radars, which again are nothing special.

            Besides which you’ve repeatedly shown that you have very little knowledge about aviation, its combat tactics, and equipment.

          • Mr. Katt

            Sorry to take slight disagreement, but when it comes to killing the enemy, there is no such thing as ‘excessive’ force. Okay, yeah, it’s a bit of overkill, but what the heck.

          • The problem with that argument is that the GAU-8 is horrendously inefficient as an anti-personnel weapon, and pretty outdated as an anti-vehicle weapon. Compare and contrast target effects of the GAU-8 and M230 chain gun to see what I mean.

          • Blake

            Also, having a bunch of depleted uranium lying around (both on the battlefield & in the hangar) has a certain number of drawbacks…

          • Blackhorse

            You do know only the armor piercing rounds are “depleted uranium” and not the semi armor piercing explosive rounds aren’t.
            Plus “depleted uranium” rounds aren’t hazardous until they hit something. As long as you don’t sleep with them in your bed or carry then in your clothes or bare skinned, there is ZERO hazard with them being stored in a hanger.

          • Blake

            right.

            But anywhere they’re used (battlefield, training range, even scraping a bit of the penetrator on other metals while loading etc.) creates a potential scenario for lethal toxicity:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depleted_uranium#Health_considerations
            https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/depleted_uranium/

          • Blackhorse

            Your own links has ZERO evidence of health risks associated with storage or handling DU penetrators.
            Scraping a DU penetrator to come in contact with the DU core would be almost impossible in normal handling and loading procedures. If it got that damaged it would be rejected and not be loaded.
            That depleted uranium core is surrounded by aluminum shell almost as thick as the core.
            They’re required to wear gloves while handling and thus even if it gets damaged that badly (extremely unlikely) there isn’t any skin contact.
            To be an inhalation hazard it has to become dust or a vapor, which won’t happen even by scraping.
            Now use in combat with impacts causing vapor and dust is a different story, which I NEVER said otherwise.
            So again,
            There is ZERO health risks associated with storage, handling, or loading.
            By the way when they load the rounds are in linked belts and not individually. The just reload the magazine which extremely easy doesn’t require forces needed to scrape a round that badly.

          • Blackhorse

            The The GAU-8 Avenger still has better fixed wing aircraft characteristics than the M230 does. The M230s rate of fire is too slow and the reason why it’s only mounted on rotor aircraft and not fixed wing aircraft.
            Plus the The GAU-8 Avenger can still destroy the top armor of any modern tank or knock out any with top cover reactive armor at the least.
            It was never designed to defeat frontal armor and top armor hasn’t kept up with that as well.

          • Mystick

            The GAU-8 is not an anti-personnel weapon. It’s design intent was soft targets like trucks, APC’s, and other secondary support equipment… and it has even proven effective against some tanks. If you are trying to target the men, your munition is not going to be a hardened penetrator, but rather a fused high-explosive/fragmentation round. That’s where FFAR systems and smaler gun pods come in – both of which are available for the A-10.

          • The Brigadier

            Thank you Mystick. My points exactly.

          • Bill

            There’s no kill like overkill

          • Major Tom

            There’s only “Open fire!” and “I need to reload!”.

          • carlcasino

            Err on the side of Never enough !

          • Brett baker

            Since It’s a counterinsurgency plane, wouldn’t GAU-134 pods work better? Hard to argue with The “laser beam” effect.

          • I’m not sure what pods you mean. There is no “GAU-134”. Are you talking about the SUU-11/A with a GAU-2 (M134) minigun?

          • Brett baker

            Yes. Thanks, I was brain-farting worse than usual!

          • No problem. A couple GAU-2 in SUU-11/As would certainly be an option, but that’s the beauty of modular armament stores.

          • Blackhorse

            The Air Force tried it and after firing it the mounts were destroyed and it shook the aircraft so bad it effected it’s stability.

          • Stephen Paraski

            The Men & Women of Selfrige Air Guard Base north of Detroit, the 127th Wing, Love their A-10’s more than their KC-135. The A-0 is a flying Tank.

          • Blackhorse

            Those 20 mm pods are less accurate than internal mounted guns and the 20 mm is less accurate than the 30 mm.
            Add in gun pods cause drag and vibration that also effects targeting and that’s not even accounting for the recoil forces and muzzle flash pushing the airframe when fired.
            The Tucano has internal wing mounted 50 cal guns anyways. It doesn’t need gun pods for COIN work, which is what the Air Force requirements are for anyways.

          • The Brigadier

            Its a 60 mm cannon Nate, not an AR. A one second burst can kill a tank, and the pilot’s seat is on top of the magazine.

          • raz-0

            Is the goal to kill the enemy or which platform racks up the most wins?

          • The goal is the crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women.

          • KidCorporate

            Then turn around an attempt to be arbiter for their paleolithic village and explain why their girls need to go to school.

          • Samuel Millwright

            And drink their beer…

            Maybe kick their dog a time or two too, depends how hard the fight was how cold their beer was and etc..

          • carlcasino

            Bada Bing, Bada Boom! NY slang for that’s what I said.

          • ManI’mUgly!

            Agree. I don’t think our grunts care if it’s from an A10 or stripped down version as long as it kills the enemy up close and survives to fight another day. Dead-is-dead as long as it’s the enemy.

          • The Brigadier

            So you go with a lighter armored skinned plane lacking a large cannon, fewer missiles, no infantry rocket pods, and flies too high above the battlefield to score multiple hits against the enemy? You sure aren’t making a convincing argument. Remember the Army’s Strikers vs. Abrams. Its the same bad argument.

          • Evil13RT

            The lack of discrimination is of some value when you’re shooting at guys hiding in the bush and not a specific clearly defined target.
            The more important point is that you have a large and effective weapon that can penetrate the enemy’s cover and keep your attack plane in the fight after its expended its allotment of bombs and rockets.

            Smaller planes have a use in more limited conflicts, but there’s always that Gulf war or North Korea scenario where more plane is necessary.

          • Even in those cases the side mounted gun is still superior,
            because the electro-optics of the side mounted gun allow the gun to spot the dude hiding behind the bush. Or exactly where the fire is coming from when the troops on the ground only know the general area where the fire is coming from.

            There aren’t very many scenarios where the A-10 is better than a more modern clean sheet CAS specific design. Heck even in the North Korea and Gulf War scenarios the modern SAMs would smack the A-10 out of the sky. And stealth aircraft like the F-35 would have much more freedom to operate.

          • Evil13RT

            Yet they still performed very well. Stealth assets were more tasked with deep penetration and destroying air defenses (which still needs to be done to clear a path for any ground attack aircraft) and bombers were always limited in availability (many responding from outside theater).
            Smaller CAS aircraft like the OV-10 still suffered from enemy air defense, being in easy range of manpads and AA while lacking the protection and payload of a larger aircraft.
            You can spend ten times as much on an AC-130 or an F-35, but you’d end up with something that’s a far too specialized to fill in for an A-10.

          • Performing well and can be done better are two separate things. If you are going clean sheet, you also get rid of the assumptions that you have to do things like you done in the past. In fact I just got a brilliant idea of how to do it. Make a retractable pod for something like the 20mm Bushmaster, and maybe even a 50BMG GAU-19.

            Stealth assets were tasked for those deeper strikes because they had so few of them. So they had to prioritize them to tasks that they were uniquely suited for. In his book Gen Horner is very clear he would’ve used any additional stealth assets assigned to him, as there were a number of losses on conventional strike aircraft because no stealth asset was available to hit that target. The F-35 changes the ball game, now instead of less than 200 stealth aircraft, you have 1,200 stealth aircraft with better sorties rates, better electronics, and the option to go non-stealth when the mission allows it.

            But that scenario is one where these aircraft and the A-10 are of limited utility until Air Space Dominance is ensured.

          • Handsome Jack

            Guns are cool, but don’t forget how good napalm is for getting the monkey off your back. It’s kind of scary when the delivery vehicle is a flying brick like an F4. Yes, I’m old and love Sky Raiders.

          • Brett baker

            Wondering when someone was going to bring up the a1.

          • Handsome Jack

            There were two Sky Raiders on station. One pilot was by the book, the other not so much. He started his run into the target doing aileron rolls, level flight…drop bombs or make a gun run to aileron rolls out.

          • Kelly Jackson

            Except that they didn’t, during both Iraq wars A-10s caught Iraq’s entire armored battalions driving in a straight line through the desert and they were easy pickings.

          • The A-10s weren’t being sent deep, they were mostly kept close where SEAD efforts had the biggest impact.

            TBH we got lucky in the Gulf War, the French supplied intelligence on the Kari Network which when combined with stealth, and GPS it that allowed the US to dismantle the integrated nature of the network in the opening nights of the war. So only isolated SAM sites were the only threat, which were easily dealt with close to the lines.

            But even with these limitations the Iraqis a large amount of soft kills on the A-10s when they were foolish enough to get into the range of AAA and MANPADs.

          • Blackhorse

            Over 4 times as many survived MANPADS attacks and AAA engagements with battle damage.
            They won way more than they lost.
            Only a third of Iraq’s SAMs were destroyed the rest shut off their radars until they spotted the aircraft by sight first. Then it was left on only long enough to fire.
            Even then A10s were used to hunt radar sites/SAM systems and was very effective at it.
            The A10 has the highest overall kill/destroyed record of the war for a reason.

          • “The A10 has the highest overall kill/destroyed record of the war for a reason.”

            Based on what numbers? Per the DOD’s Gulf War Air Survey the A-10/OA-10 had 6 aircraft losses. The F-16 only had 3 combat losses. The F-16s struck nearly twice as many targets. So yeah. That is wrong.

            Now if you want to do it by sorties things get even worse because we have attrition rates to work with (damaged aircraft).
            A-10 attrition per 1,000 sorties 1.6
            OA-10 attrition per 1,000 sorties 1.5
            F-16 attrition per 1,000 sorties 0.3

            A-10 losses per 1,000 sorties 0.5
            OA-10 losses per 1,000 sorties 3.0
            F-16 losses per 1,000 sorties 0.2

            The A-10 is as gold plates as most people make it seem.

          • Blackhorse

            The A10C can use both the SNIPER and LITENING targeting pods which does the exact same thing but closer up and not at 7,000 ft operating range for a AC-130. Which is still way within MANPADS range.

            Most A10 casualties in Iraq were against dug in battalions or larger with their MANPADS and AAA still active.
            The British Tornado sustained more losses doing fast attack strikes on less defended targets.
            Even the Marines Harriers lost more aircraft doing CAS on even weaker defended targets.
            The A10 has survived multiple MANPADS in Syria engagements.
            The modern A10C isn’t the same aircraft that was in the Gulf War. Not even close.

          • Martin M

            There IS a mini-AC-130. The AC-27. The AF dumped their C-27s because, you know, F-35s are sexier than CAS.

          • The AC-27 would be an interesting supplement to the AC-130, though I am not sure it would qualify for an A-10 replacement anymore than the AC-130 can.

            In fact I just got an idea that might work. You take the Scorpion, and use the internal bay to house a retractable gun pod similar to the MV-22 gun. You can probably fit a 20mm Bushmaster if you leave the barrel in the air stream. And it could easily house a GAU-19.

            Ammo would be a bit of a concern, but if you modified the aircraft to have internal ammo handling it could work.

          • Samuel Millwright

            There was a pretty neat sorta OV-10 inspired concept floating around a few years back called the arbalest, you’d really like it.

            Had a ventral turreted gun, a pair of smaller nose guns like ah-1, one or more buried turboshafts powering a pair of steerable ducted fans towards the back third of fuselage, a joined wing configuration, and just generally fit with the sort of design philosophy you’re advocating.

          • demophilus

            Pylon turns maybe don’t work so well in some scenarios; they generally make for a easy lead, if you’re not not in the kill zone being orbited. IIRC, we lost AC-130s to SAM-7s in 1972 or so because pretty much all weaponry was on one side of the ship. Charley shot from a different angle.

            The GAU-8 is a fearsome weapon, but it usually requires a straight on gun run, and that will eventually render the airframe susceptible to enfilade fire — for example, by MANPADS, especially with EFP payloads.

            Any of the airplanes in the OA-X contest might be better suited to hosting the 70mm APKWS laser guided system. They can orbit a given AO outside AAA or MANPADS ranges, and launch 70mm weapons to be terminally guided by the customers who called for them. The Scorpion and AT-6 needn’t be street fighters– they can be snipers.

            Apart from that, the Scorpion looks to be designed to air cool its central mission bay, and its E/O ball turret. Maybe that’s a laser designator, dazzler, or weapon system. That would be interesting. . .

          • Blackhorse

            Wrong
            The GAU-8 Avenger 30 mm has an accuracy of 80% within 5 ft at 4,000 ft. That’s a 5 milliradian of 5 and the M61 Vulcan 20 mm has a 8 milliradian.
            Its bore center on the 9 O’clock firing position that makes it the most accurate airframe mounted gun in the world.
            Using rudder and stick controls an A10 can pick off compact car sized targets the first pass.
            Just type in A10 gun run into YouTube or A10 gun range and see how accurate they really are.

            Mounting a GAU-8 Avenger from a C130 would be difficult because it’s almost 10 ft long at almost 620 lbs.
            The M61 Vulcan used now in AC-130 now is 6 ft long at over 200 lbs.
            The mounting for a stationary 30 mm would require hundreds of pounds more and a flexible mount, which is cost and airframe prohibitive now on the AC-130 for the M61 Vulcan.
            Even the AC-130 fires from approximately 7,000 ft well within MANPADS range and anything over 35,000 to be safe is too high to accurately engage targets. Even the accurate GAU-8 Avenger it would be lucky to hit anything closer than 50 ft at that range with a impact area almost the size of half a football field.
            A smaller aircraft couldn’t carry a side mounted GAU-8 Avenger let alone be effective at anything more accurate than hitting large buildings.
            The A10C has the modern Sniper and LITENING targeting pods and can fly a little over 140 mph under 100 ft. Which plenty slow enough to distinguish human targets as A10 pilots have reported regularly.
            AC-130 guns can’t engage “danger close” with the enemy any closer than 100 ft because it’s not that accurate and it will endanger friendly forces.
            An A10C can targeted enemy forces as close a 50 ft from friendly forces with its guns and has.

          • Actually you are the one that is wrong. First I wasn’t suggesting that we mount a GAU-8 is the new design. The GAU-8 is as big as it is because it is designed to penetrate Soviet tanks. It is way overkill in an AP and light armor context that it is being used in COIN situations.

            Second your danger close distances are way off. The danger close distance for the GAU-8 is 100 meters. While the AC-130 can engage as close as 80 meters with the 105mm, or 35 meters with the smaller guns. Granted things might have changed as the guide I have access to is a few years old, but if anything the distances for the AC-130 would get small with improved optics, and fusing options.

          • Blackhorse

            Wrong
            You can find multiple accounts (and official reports) from troops and pilots of engagements down under a third of what you posted.
            105mm kill radius is over a 80 m by itself. Safety buffer will be beyond that.
            The 20 mm has a 8 milliradian compared to the 30 mm 5 milliradian. Then at close to 7,000 ft it would be over 70 ft for 80%.
            While the A10 with modern sights and a lower altitude of even at 500 ft puts 80% within a 20 ft zone/cone with everything else within 30 ft.

            Now I’m not advocating for anything over 20 mm unless something like a grenade launcher on a COIN platform.

          • Ron

            The numbers you cite for a non-moving aircraft, typical low angle beaten zone for a 100 round burst is approx 150x 60ms

          • Oh they can be used closer if you are willing to accept the risks. But these are actual tested figures using a professional methodology to compare one weapon to another. Anything else is simple anecdotal.

            Also your kill radius seem quite off, because I’ve seen numbers for the 155mm smaller than your number for the 105mm. But I don’t know that stuff that well.

          • Ron

            when you use the tables from JFIRES both inherent errors and warhead affects

            an 105mm normally has a 35m ECR, but when you combine it with aircraft movement, etc you hit .1 percent probability of causality for standing exposed target at 190m / 624’

          • Blackhorse

            Sorry miss read yours (meters) for (feet).
            My 80 m was a typo (auto correct) should of said 80 ft.

            So 35 m is 115 ft which is about correct for range and caliber.
            That doesn’t change the A10 has engaged targets closer with its gun to close to over half that.

          • Ron

            You are not factoring in aircraft movement. How far does that 5 milrad spread when point of origin is a hundred different from the first round of the burst to the last?

          • Blackhorse

            That’s why they attack perpendicular to the friendly troops or start firing between the troops so stays away or moves away from the friendlies.
            Plus it doesn’t attack in level flight. It fires from a dives which reduces the spread (stringing) of the burst (120-160) which would be 30 ft while by 60-80 ft spread. Still real accurate.

          • Ron

            Having done the JTAC thing before I understanding routing from the IP to target and application of fire. High angle straffing and doing a negative G pushover while firing helps minimize dispersion but it still is pretty large. One thing I notice in discussions of these system is those that often cite CEP forget it does not take into account aircraft movement and it also is an indicator that they really may not have any real world experience in the subject.

          • Blackhorse

            I’ve done live fire with A10s, F16s, and F/A18s and seen what they can do.
            Pop up and dive is still the most accurate gun run around which reduces lateral movement of dispersion effects on target.
            Which the A10 and it’s pilots excel at.
            I’ve watched A10s hit a two car garage sized target with short bursts repeatedly with almost zero out of box hits. Now true they were running low and slow but that’s the point of CAS in COIN.

          • The Brigadier

            You sound just like one of the old Stryker drivers. Same arguments and with the same outcomes. Our next war is going to be against the latest front line equipment on the planet. Its not going to be against armor or raggedy troops fighting with AKs and RPGs. Putin wants a fight and the Chinese want our resources and think they can simply take it. A general of theirs wrote a piece about this that their leadership did not disavow so it most probably a goal of theirs. First to crash our economy and then attack during the rioting and disarray. We need heavy weaponry and the Air Force better get on the Army’s side. Our F-35s are going to get chewed up and we don’t have F-22s. We better get our CAS planes right. Times running out.

          • LOL, anything non-stealth is going to get chewed up more than the F-35 would. First off the A-10 wasn’t built for CAS, it was designed to slow down the Soviet tanks streaming through the Fulda Gap. The A-10 was built with the expectation that none of them would last a war with the Soviet Union defending the Fulda Gap, since the Soviets believed heavily in mobile anti-air assets, because they weren’t expecting to have air superiority.

            The F-35 at altitude dropping PGMs is more likely to survive such a scenario because the stealth reduces the targeting range of all radar bands, but in particular the X band that is best used when facing a maneuvering fighter.

          • William Elliott

            Updated OV10 Bronco [O/A-10 Mustang II?]
            they had a version with an turreted 20mm hanging off the tail…same concept, but use something a bit more precise with better versitility…maybe the new 40mm telescoping cased weapon? Its about the same size as a Bushmaster 30mm but hits like a friggin Bofors

          • DH2

            So basically an OV-10D NOG, which was used successfully in Vietnam in the exact role and weapons load being discussed here. It would need some modern engines and avionics (like on the OV-10Gs the Navy has been using recently) to fully come into its own, but it offers a large amount of flexibility and redundancy that the single engine planes above lack.

          • r h

            check out the OV-10X they are way ahead of you and its my hope thats what we go with..
            “if it aint broke give it better engines and dont fix it ” 😀

          • The Brigadier

            A pilot I knew in Vietnam flew an OV-10 and his anti-infantry weapon was a frag grenade in a mason jar. They would buy a case of mason jars in the PX and very carefully pull the pin and place a frag grenade in the jar. It just fit and kept the charging handle tight. They would fly over the smoke and start dropping jars out the doors. The jars would hit and break and a few seconds later, booom. Very low tech, but the “push me-pull you” wasn’t an armored plane and its role on close air assault was minimal at best. Huey’s, Cobras and various WWII aircraft were used to greater effect.

          • carlcasino

            There must be more economical materials to enhance the survivability of these A/C besides Titanium. The side mounted “strike fear” weapon using head’s up helmet technology should be a no brainer. However knowing how the Swamp procures weapons is more of “share the wealth” program than what the Grunts actually sending stuff downrange NEED. Shame that out of the Two programs actually mandated by the Constitution they both are bureaucratic nightmare’s.

          • CommonSense23

            Have you ever actually been involved with any sort of CAS.

        • Ark

          Oh, I don’t know about that. Less effective in terms of actual destruction, but nothing dissuades an attack on an outpost like hearing 30mm depleted uranium being farted at your head. If I’m the guy in the trench wondering if I’m about to be overrun and beheaded on Youtube, I want the damn A10 flying back and forth doing strafing runs.

          • The presence of air support almost always dissuades an attack be it an A-10 or another aircraft.

            There are numerous examples where the tactics of the Taliban were before CAS arrives they do one of two things, run dropping their weapons (which makes them safe under our ROEs), or are in such close proximity that CAS can’t be delivered safely.

          • Major Tom

            And that’s where the gun on the A-10 comes in. You have to practically be on top of our guys to be safe from it. Unlike a JDAM where anything closer than 100 meters is too close.

          • Yes, but the same is true for any cannon, really. And in fact, versus infantry, the M230 on the Apache is much more effective per shot due to its HEDP warhead (the GAU-8 only has API and HEI available). Watch gun cam footage to see what I mean.

            You don’t need a gigantic sedan-sized 4,000 RPM Gatling cannon to do this job. You just don’t. A medium sized 30mm or a couple of 20mms would be plenty.

          • Ron

            Current combat mix is HEI and TP

          • TP LOL.

          • JSmath

            I mean… if it works, it works, right? 380grn of inert anything is still going to put an imperial ton of hurt on any soft to light targets.

            Actually, had to read up on the 30mm, and I think Ron’s dead serious and correct. I might double check with them to make sure, but I’ve definitely heard multiple times from weapons ex-coworkers that the current combat mix has been 50/50 HEI and lead for a while.

          • Oh I am not doubting Ron at all, I just think it’s funny that they’re using TP in combat. I suppose it makes some kind of economical sense, but at that point why not a 2,000 RPM gun firing all HEI?

          • Ron

            The HEI actually has penetration problems on mud brick walls, TP goes through the wall and doesn’t give the PR nightmare of using DU.

            The HEI in use really is more for setting fires to destroy material. Its thick construction and low explosive weight does produce much frag

          • Ron, yep, I get why they use it. It’s still amusing, because we’re talking about the vaunted GAU-8 here. 🙂

            As far as I can tell, the 30x173mm PGU-13 HEI is roughly as effective as the Apache’s 30mm M789 HEDP against infantry, but this is pretty disappointing as the M789 HEDP has better penetration and demolition capabilities despite having a projectile that’s almost 40% lighter. This means, as you point out, the A-10 has to go in with 525 rounds of PGU-13 HEI and 525 rounds of PGU-15 TP to get basically the same effect as ~500 rounds of M789 HEDP. This is because the A-10’s gun is simply not optimized for this mission. Yes, it can do it very well – nobody’s arguing it can’t – but looking forward, we just don’t use cannons for that job (tank busting) anymore. So the cannon of the next CAS bird should be optimized for the anti-personnel/anti-light vehicle mission. A good choice for that role IMO would be a variant of the M230LF with the same rate of fire as the M230 (combining the LF’s longer barrel with the ~625 RPM of the 230). You’d get all or virtually all of the target effect of a GAU-8 while being far, far lighter. I think you could go even smaller than this – 25mm or 20mm don’t sound unreasonable to me – but if equal effectiveness to the GAU-8 is what is desired I think the M230 can provide that.

            I realize I’m editorializing here, and that this isn’t addressing anything you’ve said. My hope is that we won’t have a situation where the dazzle of a big cannon like the GAU-8 overrides all common sense and practicality. Having said that, please let me know if you feel anything I’ve said here is off-base or maybe not entirely correct. I’d love to hear your feedback.

          • JSmath

            Wouldn’t sound as awesome. :’)

          • 😀 Exactly.

          • Samuel Millwright

            I’ve seen guys like ralph zumbro advocate for using a gau-8 armed “female” version of his tankita concept where he mentioned specifically using TP rounds especially in urban ops to break up cover etc.

          • Blackhorse

            The M230 is too slow a rate for fixed wing aircraft. At over 100 mph it might be lucky to get 1 hit out of a burst in a pass.
            20 mm is less accurate and less lethal than the 30 mm.

          • It’s a chain gun. The rate of fire can be bumped up if necessary. Modern targeting systems also help alleviate this issue.

          • Blackhorse

            A chain gun will never get close to a Gatling style multi barrel gun.
            The GAU -8 still with over 3,900 rpm will only get 10-16 impacts per pass on a tank at 200 ft with a 120-160 Rd burst at a 1.1°-4.4° attack angle.
            The M230 can’t run over 800 without issues. So that would equate 2-3 hits at best and at its 625 rpm rate that now drops to maybe 1-2 hits. Which greatly reduces the chance of a knockout git let alone a kill hit on a vehicle sized target. Even a smaller chance on smaller targets.
            Modern targeting doesn’t change the accuracy or rate of fire of the system at fixed wing aircraft speeds.

          • 1. I thought you said the GAU-8 was a super accurate weapon? Sounds like the GAU-8 is whatever you feel it needs to be in the conversation. That’s not very reasonable.

            2. No, a chain gun can’t equal a Gatling for rate of fire, but it also doesn’t need to.

            3. An azimuth controlled gun mount and targeting system of the type we’ve had for 30 years would compensate for this no problem.

          • Blackhorse

            1) It is if your not flying tank busting missions at over 200 mph with with quick pop up dive tactics while limiting AAA and missile threats.
            Popping Johnny Taliban with light weapons allows steadier and slower attack runs with almost zero worry of those AAA and missiles. Huge difference.

            2) You’re right for rotary aircraft. Now for COIN it is moot either way since trying to kill tanks won’t be a worry.
            The A10 wasn’t designed for COIN but to attack a standing army and it’s assets. Huge difference. As of today the A10 is the most effective COIN and cheapest for that. Drones are extremely limited in payload and weapons selection.

            3) Azimuth controlled gun would cause stability and control for the aircraft not to mention (depending on caliber) would require a extremely reinforced airframe to handle the recoil forces at all angles of fire. Now you’re getting into a an expensive and large airframe to handle this.
            Flying at over 100 mph doing this isn’t as easily as from a vehicle.

          • 1. LOL who the hell takes out tanks with a gun nowadays? They didn’t even do that in Desert Storm most of the time. If we’re operating in a high threat environment against tanks and sophisticated AAA systems, you shouldn’t use an A-10 anyway. Their attrition rates in Desert Storm were too high according to General Horner, and they were actually removed from duties in those environments. No, if that’s the mission, then we’re talking F-35 dropping precision ordnance, not an A-10 on a strafing run.

            2. Right, and the A-10 has also been proven to be too vulnerable for a high threat environment. That’s been known for close to 30 years. So any A-10 replacement is either replacing it in a high threat environment (i.e., F-35), or it’s replacing it for COIN. We’re talking about the COIN replacement.

            …But even if we weren’t, that still wouldn’t change things with the cannon because nobody freaking kills tanks with a cannon anymore.

            3. LOL that is patently false:

          • Brett baker

            No Wagner?

          • Blackhorse

            1) You mean the same General Horner that reported at the end of the Gulf War…Quote
            “The A-10 saved my ass.”
            The same General Horner that told General Schwarzkopf why no A10s were planned to be deployed, and he said the F16 could do it. General Schwarzkopf ordered the A10 deployed.
            The sane General Horner that grounded the F16s the last two weeks of the war because they could hit their intended targets .
            In a “high threat” environment the F35s will be taking out air defense systems as their primary job and as they were designed for. CAS work will be for later as long as major threats exist in the area.
            The Air Force brass has never loved the A10 and has been trying to get rid of it ever since it arrived.
            If any other aircraft tried to do the missions the A10 preformed they would of lost hugely larger numbers with worse results.
            To compare A10 loss rates to the others is like comparing 11B casualties to 13B casualties and equating the 11B casualties are to high.
            The A10 fleet of 132 A-10s executed 7983 combat sorties for a 4 losses and 14 damaged aircraft. The vast majority in the most deadly environments in the war.

            2) So please show me on better COIN platform in US inventory right now that can do what the A10 can at its cost, loitering time, payload, and targeting/ECM?
            Even the F35 FLIR is older and less effective than what the A10 has available on its newer SNIPER and LITENING targeting pods.

            3) You do understand the difference between rotor aircraft and fixed wing?
            So then explain why no fighter aircraft or fast attack aircraft has NEVER mounted an azimuth gun yet? The M230 isn’t new nor is the tech.
            Show a video of one on a fixed wing aircraft then you have something.

          • Samuel Millwright

            No actually… No it wouldn’t… Unless you’re talking about a 30×173 gun in a shoddy mount on an inappropriate airframe

          • Blackhorse

            The Air Force tried it with a reduced 25mm on a less complicated fixed mounting on the AC -130s and are switching back to 20 mm and smaller because of reliability other issues.
            But please show me a video of one COIN platform with a azimuth mounted gun or even a fast attack jet.
            Its old technology and should be dozens if it was so easy.
            Heck if so easily mounted it should be even on fighter jets.
            Waiting

          • Samuel Millwright

            Oa-10 ventrally mounted autocannon turret on something one step above a f***ing crop duster…

            BAM SUCKA

            Ka-52 hokum …

            If you can do them you can do anything up to high subsonic as long as you stay the **** away from the transonic zone you should be fine…

            Why hasn’t it really been done on fast jets?

            Simple really, there’s these things called guided missiles… they are stupid cheap and don’t require any actuators at all actually interacting with high speed aitflow…

            There’s these super neat things called high off boresight missiles… It’s like a turret that’s not a turret!

            P.s. B-52 tail guns also count by your pretty pointless little scenario…

            There’s a difference between no one sees any real need for it and cannot be done.

          • Samuel Millwright

            Someone should tell the Russians their single barrel and two barrel cannons aren’t allowed to fire so fast then…

            Do yourself a favor sometime

            Look up

            Beresin shkas super shkas ultr shkas and shvak guns some time…

            Realize that was ww2 and early 50’s

          • Blackhorse

            You do know that is 7.62 and it’s maximum is 3,000 and the minigun in 7.62 maximum is 6,000.
            The GAU-8 is set at 3,900 it’s maximum is 4,200.
            So nice try though.

          • Samuel Millwright

            Yeah and there’s multiple options for very comparable lighter simpler just as destructive loadings with comparable fire rates… There’s quite literally nothing special about gau 8’s fire rates (coming from a dude who geeks out on INDIVIDUAL COMPONENT PATENTS from these guns this should tell you something that I’m saying this, but it won’t)

            Look at russian AK-630’s sometime… Or the gsh-18 pistol designed by Shipunov, aka
            Russia’s rotary cannon mistro!

            Also, you obviously didn’t actually bother to look at the beresin shkas super shkas ultra shkas SHVAK etc … You should, you might learn some stuff.

            After you do that we can talk about the gshg gas operated rotaries and or the Russian twin barrel light enough to carry to work in your briefcase high fire rate high powered guns

          • Blackhorse

            Caliber for caliber even twin barreled units don’t reach the rates a Gatling style gun does.
            My high was for the ultra which is still way below the minigun.
            Everything else is moot on this discussion. We weren’t discussing submachine guns, assault rifles, or light machine guns.
            The discussion was on azimuth mounted cannons on a COIN or other fixed wing aircraft.

          • Samuel Millwright

            P.s. with stuff like the larger shvak etc they’re still small and light enough to mount several in each wing root and even at just a 4 gun array you can now put down a far more dense pattern of fire where far more rounds hit comparatively in much shorter times…

            As you’ve had explained to you over and over again there is nothing special, unique, magical, or unprecedented about the gau-8 A-10 pairing!

            Yet here you are still playing captain save a gau valiantly defending your favorite gal (i mean gau) from all the comments about how she’s like a tricycle everybody’s rode her at one point and for most of us it was long long ago! (Even though she’s pretty obviously been put away wet about beleventy twenty three times)

            Stop… It’s embarrassing

          • Uniform223

            the M230 for the AH-64 seems very accurate to me…

          • Blackhorse

            Hahaha
            Again, show me it on a fixed wing aircraft

          • Actually it doesn’t if you look at the charts used by JTACs there are a number of PGMs that can be used closer to troops than the GAU-8. That is because GAU-8 isn’t a precision weapon.

          • I wouldn’t be shocked if APKWS could, for example, given its pretty small CEP.

          • I wasn’t list on the chart I’ve seen. But I agree, it likely can be used much closer than the GAU-8.

            Add in the various SDB, and the Griffin you have a number of PGMs designed specifically for CAS.

          • Blackhorse

            APKWS is 50 ft lethal radius which equates to 80 ft safe distance if all the safeguards are authorized to be broken.
            The GAU-8 is 50 ft with the same rules.
            Plus the APKWS requires laser designator to be used.
            The pilot can have fired and hit his target before the APKWS leave their rack.
            Even if the grunts pre lased the target and the fire switch was pulled at same time on both, the 30 mm rounds would of hit target before the rocket cleared the aircraft.

          • False equivalence. APKWS can be fired at different attitudes to the target vs. the cannon where you have to be dead on.

          • Blackhorse

            The seeker is forward facing of a 10-2 o’clock sight directly ahead. Not much of a difference when a minute rudder adjustment does the same with minor stick adjustments for the gun.
            Plus the gun you can slew/walk through the target, so “dead on” is not that exact.

          • Wait, so you’re walking shots in but you’re claiming a 50 ft danger zone for the GAU-8? Again, these double standards you are using are ridiculous.

            AFAIK the off-axis capability for the APKWS is 15 degrees in any direction. That’s a 30 degree cone, which is a whole lot more precise and flexible than a gun that fires in a 0 degree arc and which you need to generate three football fields worth of danger area to make an effective hit.

          • Blackhorse

            Walking fire into a target is no different than for a A10 as for any automatic systems.
            Just like other systems walking fire is one of multiple methods to hit a target.
            Once again you’re lumping all into one as if nothing else exists.
            PS might want to Google how a A10 does a gun run. Its not flying level and firing when a target happens to come into range.
            The pilot identifies the target, gains altitude then dives on the target. This puts the target almost in a perfect head on angle of attack with very little travel across the ground level horizontal plane.
            So three football fields are not even close. The gun is mounted so all the pilot has to do is fly at the target and the gun is pointing at the target.
            The 70 mm
            Pilot has to identify the target, lase the target, select the rocket(s), wait for the rocket seeker to identify/notify it has lock, them fire. That is if it’s within it “cone”. Otherwise the pilot will have to also steer the “cone” onto the target just like the gun.

          • “Walking fire into a target is no different than for a A10 as for any automatic systems.”

            what

            “Just like other systems walking fire is one of multiple methods to hit a target.
            Once again you’re lumping all into one as if nothing else exists.”

            what

            “PS might want to Google how a A10 does a gun run. Its not flying level and firing when a target happens to come into range.”

            Yeah I know. It’s almost like I’ve seen one do a run in person.

            “The pilot identifies the target, gains altitude then dives on the target. This puts the target almost in a perfect head on angle of attack with very little travel across the ground level horizontal plane.”

            Yeah, they’re very accurate – FOR A GUN.

            “So three football fields are not even close. The gun is mounted so all the pilot has to do is fly at the target and the gun is pointing at the target.”

            Three football fields is pretty representative of the danger space of a 30mm burst in combat conditions. We’re not talking about the spread of a burst of TP here, we’re talking about the danger space of a burst of HEI/TP or HEI/AP mix.

            “The 70 mm
            Pilot has to identify the target, lase the target, select the rocket(s), wait for the rocket seeker to identify/notify it has lock, them fire. That is if it’s within it “cone”. Otherwise the pilot will have to also steer the “cone” onto the target just like the gun.”

            Which doesn’t change the fact that the APKWS is far, far more accurate with a smaller danger space than a burst from the gun – which is what we were talking about.

          • Samuel Millwright

            It’s also much much faster here in the real world where the enemy doesn’t patiently stop their advance once the a-10 does it’s identification pass and starts it’s ascending bank to set for a gun run…

            Because lazing a target and only then jerking the nose within +-15 degrees of what’s being lazed takes like… 8 seconds….

            As compared to videos with A-10’s running repeated gun passes where there’s plainly a 20 second to 1 minute gap between each string of fire AFTER THE FIRST….the first string taking over a minute once the ground element successfully talks the pilot through an identification pass!

          • Samuel Millwright

            Wait so you make a big deal out of lazing and rocket flight time, but id’ing a target (basically requiring low slow overflight) throttling up flying in an ascending sweeping bank to gain altitude and position for the gun run and then coming back down and at the target… None of that counts for a-10 except barrel spin up time?

            (Knowing you, you’ll weasel the spin up time time too…)

            Your entire “point” is predicated upon depiction of every other system (all of which are IRL faster btw) as slow and incapable of “gau-8 promptness & precision” ….

            Somehow failing to notice how you count nothing but the time between trigger squeeze and rounds impacting for gau-8 and literally every single step including the ones which take 80x longer for gau-8 than for everything else as if you’re just the only guy smart enough to realize gau-8 defies space time bernoullis law and god himself to give ground pounders the fire they need like nothing else can

          • Blackhorse

            Throttling up isn’t always necessary but let take your times with it.
            Both on station at same time.
            Both will need to get a frontal attack profile for either and a pop up if too low.
            The pilot has to keep the site on target while waiting on the lock and through till impact. Once trigger is pulled the pilot can change coarse immediately with the gun.
            Time for seeker lock can be as fast as 2 seconds (typically 4 seconds).
            Now the pilot has to verify target and squeeze the trigger. Which takes more seconds. With flight time in seconds, depending on range. 700 m/s once at velocity which is over a second to two.
            Spool up time (contrary to Hollywood) is under 1 second.
            Over 1,000 m/s almost instantly.
            Add there isn’t any know “jammer” or “countermeasures” that can effect a GAU-8 and not the Precision Munitions.
            Depending on range to target and how close to the enemy is what determines what is used.
            Considering the 30mm comes back to base empty more than other ordnance speaks for itself.

          • Major Tom

            The GAU-8 has a CEP of 30 meters wide when fired at 1000 meters distance. You can throw a baseball further than that and its smaller than the danger radius of an air dropped bomb of any kind.

          • CEP is probably used to calculate the distance that weapon can be used around troops. But it isn’t the entire factor in that calculation. But the danger close distances of the GAU-8 is equal or more than all the laser guided bombs.

            The Hellfire has a 25% smaller danger close distance. While the Maverick is 75% smaller.

          • Major Tom

            The CEP is partially done for that. You got to figure in the danger radius of the weapon itself e.g. the bursting, kill and wounding radii.

            For example a JDAM has a CEP of less than 5 meters, very accurate. But the but the danger radius for the 500 lb versions is upwards of 100 meters owing to fragmentation and (ambient) shrapnel effects. Unless you got some sturdy lateral cover, the minimum safe distance between you and JDAM use is 105 meters or better. Call it in any closer and you risk fragmentation wounding at the fringe distances or overpressure and fragmentation kill at anything closer than 50 meters.

            The 30mm HE round used by the A-10 (as opposed to the AP one) has a danger radius of 15 meters or less. Couple that with a 30 meter CEP from 1000 meters (and it only shrinks the closer the A-10 is) and the minimum safe distance between you and GAU-8 use is not quite 50 meters. If the A-10 fires at 500 meters, that minimum safe distance is almost halved to a maximum of 30 meters. In order to be too close to friendlies and thus be safe from the GAU-8 with that kind of closeness, you’d have to be practically hand to hand combat, basically on top of our guys. (At that point, any call for fire is likely to cause blue-on-blue no matter how precise.)

          • You are really arguing about this? People who know more than you or I will ever know about this subject have calculated that the GAU-8’s danger close distance is equal or greater than any laser guided bomb, which disagrees with your statement.

            This probably has to do with the fact that the the LGB can be dropped exactly where the pilot wants within a meter. While the GAU-8 is just fired into a general area.

            And then there are air to ground missiles that in some cases have dramatically smaller danger close distances. The fact is according to official JTAC manuals the GAU-8 is not nearly as good in the danger close scenarios as you made it sound.

            Also the manual I have is quite old, and doesn’t include the new laser guided small diameter bomb. I am sure that would have an even smaller danger close distance. Probably about half the distance of many of the current laser guided bombs as it seems they increase the distance for the JDAMs since the aim can’t be adjusted in flight.

          • Blackhorse

            Wrong
            The GAU-8 Avenger 30 mm has an accuracy of 80% within 5 ft at 4,000 ft.
            The closest is 50 ft by ROE for the GAU -8.
            70 mm rocket is 80 ft
            SDB is over 100 ft
            The Precision weapons only get larger and farther away from there.

          • Actually looks up the charts, I am correct. These come straight out of a JTAC manual.

            There is more to a weapons danger zone than test accuracy of a weapon. To put it into perspective take a rifle that tests at 0.5MOA, and put an Aimpoint on it. And take the same rifle and put a 10-16x scope on it. Which on demand will produce smaller groups at various distances?

            Because that is what you have, the A-10 pilot is aiming using a small pipper on his HUD while his airplane is rocking around due to recoil, and simply due to the environment. The AC-130 gunner or strike pilot firing an AGM or a LGB using the equivalent of a magnified optic putting the cross hairs exactly where he wants the bomb. IMO if I had a more updated chart with the laser guided SDB the difference would be dramatic. The chart I have only has a larger danger zone for the SDB because it only includes the GPS variant, and for the same bomb size the GPS variant (JDAM) has a 50% larger danger zone for each Pi.

          • So, not to put too fine a point on it, but unguided rocket attacks were so psychologically effective during World War II that they on more than one occasion caused entire companies of German tank crews to abandon their intact vehicles.

            A cannon has psychological power, too, but if I’m trying to reduce the size and cost of the airplane, getting rid of the sedan-sized 30mm is the first thing I am gonna do.

          • The 500lb Paveway changed how Iraqi tank crews sleep at night. During the Iran/Iraq was the safest place to sleep was under their tank.

            After tank plinking because a hobby of the strike dudes, they started see slit trenches dug a short distance away from the tanks because the tanks were big bright targets to the targeting pods of the strike pilots.

          • Wolfgar

            Yup, that is why they use to keep the last bullet for themselves when fighting certain indian tribes in the old west. It is also why they would shoot them on sight while not bothering to see if they were guilty or not. I bet the 7th cav under Custer would have loved the A10 too. Just saying.

        • iksnilol

          Something something stopping power something something 7.62.

        • CommonSense23

          Off topic question. Was trying to find some studies comparing AK VS AR style iron sights and which one is more effective for close range combat. You know any good starting points.

          • Major Tom

            Which style of AK? They have several varieties of iron sight depending on its origin and model.

          • I’m not sure. Both of those varieties were going to be established very early, so maybe look for docs related to the M1 Garand?

        • KidCorporate

          I think to get an accurate idea of the GAU-8’s effectiveness we should talk to the people it’s being fired at rather than the ones firing it. I have a coworker that was an Iraqi translator and he said soiling oneself was not an uncommon reaction to an A-10 ripping a string at you.

          • That’s great, but a lighter cannon will still pink mist people just fine:

          • Ron

            You might be shock but many people piss themselves when shot at by even M16s.

        • Blackhorse

          Wrong.
          The The GAU-8 Avenger 30 mm has an accuracy of 80% within 5 ft at 4,000 ft.
          It has repeatedly been used on “danger close” CAS missions and is one of the most effective weapons besides the guided 70 mm rockets which are more accurate but lethal radius is 50 ft minimum and requires a laser designator to work and the the GAU-8 Avenger doesn’t at the same ranges.
          The reason it’s so lived is because the troops have witnessed it’s effectiveness first hand compared to smart munitions from other aircraft and still prefer the A10 and it’s gun in a CAS mission.

          • Ron

            The accuracy number is not exactly right but often cited, it would be accurate to say that is accomplished when the the aircraft is stationary but we are talking when uses is that it is moving forward, often down and potentially laterally while firing. Hence why the normal beaten zone for 100 round burst is 150ms x 60 meters

          • No but Ron muh GAU-8.

          • The CEP of an APKWS is less than half a meter. But nice try.

          • Blackhorse

            Hahaha
            To be precise it’s CEP is closer to a foot.
            It blast radius is 30 ft and lethal radius is 50 ft.
            They’re totally different animals

          • Wait, so with you the GAU-8 gets measured based on its accuracy alone, and not its lethal radius, but the much more precise APKWS gets measured based on its lethal radius?

            You don’t see how terribly biased that is?

            Read the article I linked above. The GAU-8 is a much less precise and effective weapon than even Desert Storm era Maverick missiles. You are suggesting it is some kind of quasi-precision weapon. This is patently untrue.

          • Blackhorse

            The semi AP explosive projectiles have a 10 ft lethal radius. Which adds 5 ft which within my distance.
            They also use practice inert rounds that have zero DU or explosives.
            Desert Storm tank and vehicle targeting and firing uses different procedures and tactics while under heavy AAA and MANPADS fire.
            Which completely different from COIN OPS against personnel with limited anti aircraft assets.
            Equating the two is disingenuous.

          • Yeah, but they’re not using API for anti-personnel missions. They are using HEI (plus TP), which has a danger radius of over 50 feet.

            You know, danger radius. That thing that determines how close your fires can be. Which you should be using, not lethal radius which is how far you can be and still reliably kill someone.

          • Blackhorse

            The danger radius is different than lethal radius. The 70 mm danger radius is over twice that. Considering it has almost twice the warhead/explosives.
            But nice switch.

          • Blackhorse

            Irrelevant and not an answer.

          • You keep saying that, but it keeps not being true. Click the link, the GAU-8 is a fraction as effective as Mavericks.

          • Blackhorse

            Your link is comparing army on army to COIN. Different beasts.
            Now let’s talk about your Gulf War information.
            Yes the Mavericks killed more tanks than anything else besides cluster bombs (total by all aircraft).
            So let’s see why.
            They’re attacking armored formations. They’re not going to use the cannon when they have Mavericks for tanks. Just like they weren’t going to use Mavericks on BTRs, BMDs, and other armored vehicles. So they use the Mavericks on the main targets “tanks” and once out use cannon on everything else.
            That doesn’t change the A10 cannon still killed more tanks than any other platform, minus the F111 using cluster munitions on abandoned or fleeing armored formations towards the last (with zero air defenses) on a routed Iraqi Army.
            They also did all of this low and slow compared to other air assets.
            By the anti A10 groups it should of been a 30-50 casualty rate for it in that environment.

            I think it’s funny how you chide the brass for trying to replace the M4 with a 7.62 with distorted facts and fallacies and now believe their same distorted facts and fallacies on the A10.
            But whatever makes you right for whatever arguments you seem to be pushing.

          • Samuel Millwright

            You keep saying that WRONG thing and spitting out the same line….

            But you yourself pointed out that A10c can and does carry modern targeting pods meaning it brings it’s own laser and very high magnification stabilized optics with it…

            What that means is that mr A10 jockey can get a nice view of the troublemakers on his way in, light up the laser, and donate the first apkws 3000 meters before he could POSSIBLY make his first visual target id overflight… (Actually way before since he’s gotta descend, slow way down, and visually acquire to use his guns afaik…)

          • Blackhorse

            You do know that they have to visually verify their target if using their own targeting pods in a close contact “danger close”. So firing from 8,000 m won’t be happening.
            Those senor still can’t accurately distinguish between friendly forces and civilians or insurgents.
            Now it does have the benefit of if enemy are already “lased” by friendly forces they can engage a lot sooner. But then a F15 or F16 at over 8,000 ft could do the same job without that “eyeballing” the target.

          • Samuel Millwright

            Wow…. This is actually what everyone has been saying

          • Uniform223

            “The reason it’s so lived is because the troops have witnessed it’s effectiveness first hand compared to smart munitions from other aircraft and still prefer the A10 and it’s gun in a CAS mission.”

            > I have never seen or heard someone wave off an air asset that was inbound for an A-10…

            here is something that is never reported or said…
            In Afghanistan the A-10 was the least used and had the smallest areas of operation when compared to their fellow fixed winged counter parts…

            http://www.avia-it.com/act/reparti/Reparti_2017/Seg_art_ago_17/Air_Force_Weighs_Scrapping_A_10_Replacement.pdf

            The first push by Iraqi security and military forces into Ramadi weren’t covered by A-10s… they were covered by the Bone.

            http://thehill.com/policy/defense/264211-coalition-air-force-b-1-bombers-being-used-in-ramadi-offensive

            also troops don’t really care what is being used on the enemy so long as its killing the bastards giving them grief…

            Here is the Kiowa doing some good work…

            you don’t hear them complaining that it wasn’t an A-10, an Apache or a Cobra coming in to help them…

          • Blackhorse

            “> I have never seen or heard someone wave off an air asset that was inbound for an A-10…”
            That’s not what I said.
            Now there are multiple times air support wasn’t given because of cloud cover, fog, or “danger close” wasn’t appropriate for weapons available.

            The Bone has a higher fratricide rate by mission rate than another platform. It was so pathetic they had to bring in other assets including the A10.
            The A10 was one of the last airframes the Air Force deployed in both theaters including the fight on ISIS.
            Wouldn’t expect anything different from the brass that has done everything possible to eliminate it since they were forced to take it in the first place.
            Funny how all they have to do to prove the A10 can be easily replaced by the F35 is have a real open competition. Funny how immediately afterwards it got deployed in Europe to defend against Russia (when fighter jets are needed more), it got deployed in more numbers against ISIS, and the Air Force declared it will be operational for decades to come and be upgraded too boot.
            For a lousy system the Air Force is mighty scared to not run the competition.
            Funny how once the Apache starts receiving heavy fire it get withdrawn. Considering it’s vulnerable to even AK fire let alone 20 mm fire.

            You all keep confusing political will/restrictions and brass BS for effectiveness.

            1,000 bomb is moot.
            Heck why not just use B52s they have a huge payload and can loiter the best.

        • Rocketman

          The cost of an A-10 cannon shell a few years ago was somewhere around $17 while the cost of a laser guided hellfire missile was in excess of $50,000. If you want to take out an enemy tank then the hellfire is the way to go but what about thin skinned vehicles like APC’s or ground troops? Both are needed.

      • Tom J

        Have you ever heard the term “danger close”? It’s when you have to call in bombs so close to your own location that you are close to, or even within that particular weapons effective range. So, while precision bombs are great when you’re at a desk in the Pentagon, the ability to place a line of lead between you and an enemy advance is priceless. While the GAU is not a precision weapon, the rounds don’t explode the way an artillery round, or a guided bomb does. The point is, as the enemy moves closed to your own position, you need many different tools to repel the attack. Also consider that a bomb would vaporize most anything it hits directly, whereas the GAU will shred bodies. Seeing your comrades minced before your eyes is extraordinarily demoralizing to most men.

        At the end of the day, the A-10 is a tool. The GAU is a tool. There will never be one tool that works in every situation. So, it’s better to have the widest variety of tools, before you need them, instead of having to develop new ones while you’re already at war.

        • Dan Lunn

          Not sure if you mean this for me. I was TACP/JTAC. Of course I’ve heard of “danger close”

      • Ubama’sTrueLegacy

        We few, we happy few.

    • Rodford Smith

      Tank perforator !:-)

      • Qoquaq En Transic

        Airborne Can Opener!

        • The 500lb Paveway will blow their tops right off.

          • Qoquaq En Transic

            Oh no doubt!

      • Chris22lr

        GAU-8/A with improved PGU-14/B ammunition can only penetrate 55mm of RHA from distance of 1220m. That’s not enough even for T-55, and we’re talking about ammunition introduced in 1990s.

        Mavericks were always A-10 designated anti-tank weapons.

        • It’s enough for top attack.

          • FrenchieGunner

            and they’re not only shot by a single round

        • Major Tom

          Then again even a mighty BMP-3 would be quickly turned into flaming Swiss cheese by the GAU-8.

        • tt_ttf

          more than enough to chew off a track or chew up the engine etc etc

          Don’t need the kill the crew or the tank to put it out of action

          • Ron

            The beaten zone is pretty large, on a tanks sized target you only get a couple of hits

        • Kirk Newsted

          Top armor on tanks until very recently was nowhere near 55mm. The T-55 would have been swiss-cheesed.

          • Klaus Von Schmitto

            There is a video of a T55 on it’s side with a GAU-8 in a static mount shooting at it. The DU rounds not only go through the top armor, they go out the bottom too. It looks like someone is inside the tank with a cutting torch.

    • Dan Lunn

      One more thought about guns on an aircraft. The Air Force remembers that the F4 originally didn’t have them. For anyone who thinks they will do away with them in favor of PGM, this lesson was institutionally deeply learned. If they unlearned it, it would shock me.

      • That lesson has nothing to do with CAS.

        But in this case they aren’t doing away with guns, all the aircraft in this competition have gun pods available to them, and one of them even has a pair of 50BMGs in the wings. What they are doing away with is the GAU-8, not guns in general.

        • Dan Lunn

          Only making the point that the requirement is gonna be there because of the long memory of the pilot community. I reread this line just the other day: “General William Wallace Momyer. While serving in the Pentagon, General Momyer oversaw acquisition of the Air Force’s F-4, and reportedly once remarked, “ there will be a gun in the F-4 over my dead body.”

          To put a fine point on it. The lesson of Vietnam was that the pilot needed a gun for air-to-air and air-to-
          mud. General Momyer’s epitath was like Herman Goering’s claim that you could call him Meyer if an allied fighter plane flew over Berlin.

          • Except that lesson is no longer true for air to air. Since the Vietnam war outside of the A-10 helicopter kill with the GAU-8 the US doesn’t have a single example of an air to air kill with a gun.

            All kills have been with missiles, and most were at extended ranges.

            On the F-35 the USAF kept the gun due to it being expected, but I don’t think the gun is all the relevant in air to air combat. And the fact they gave the gun next to no ammo, it seems the USAF agrees.

          • Dan Lunn

            “no longer true”
            If you say so

          • 5% based on what? Because I know for a fact that removing the A-10 helicopter kill and the F-15E’s Paveway kill all US air to air kills since 1972 involved missiles.

          • MattCFII

            I agree of U.S. kills since 1981 the only gun kill was the A-10. But there were a couple of occasions where guns were close to being employed and true BVR kills are pretty rare mostly due to ROEs (“Debrief: a Complete History of U.S. Aerial Engagements” is my source). Also the Syrian SU-22 shootdown was interesting since the AIM-9X missed, meaning he was close. If there is another war with large air to air engagements especially with stealth proliferation happens driving engagement ranges back down and smaller DIRCM systems, guns might come in handy again. That is if they don’t replace it with directed energy weapons, no leading required any more, just point and shoot.

      • Ron

        The problem was not the lack of guns but a lack of training. The USN did not add guns to their variant of the F4 and did not see a need because they were trained for ACM and got kills with missiles. The AF fighters trained for delivery of tactical nukes during the catalytic phase of a general war and when face ACM did poorly

        • Blackhorse

          They all added guns to the F4.
          They both thought the missile would get the job done outside gun range, except the missiles weren’t mature and had a lousy kill record. They also found out once the missiles were launched they were already in gun range before they could turn and burn (flee).
          That’s why the gun was quickly added and retrofitted as fast as possible to all service’s F4s.

          • Ron

            The E flown by the Air Force had guns, the Navy and Marines had an external pod normally not carried for a combination of reason (lack of accuracy, drag, high vibration when fired). Bottom line it was a training issue and instead of blaming the software, the Air Force went for a material solution.

      • Samuel Millwright

        I don’t think anyone here would even CONSIDER suggesting going gunless and all pgm!

  • Brett baker

    They don’t carry GAU-8, though! More importantly, how “impact”-proof are these. I said in another site these are just the thing to be shot down by a 1940’s RPG.

    • Samuel Millwright

      If they were stupidly doing traditional A-10 CAS tactics you’d have a point… But they don’t.

      • And A-10 pilots not caring about ground fire are just as stupid. An A-10 shot up by enemy fire may bring the pilot home, but that aircraft is no longer mission capable until it is fixed. Which often takes weeks if not months.

        Against enemies with known AAA and/or MANPAD assets the tactic, even with the A-10, is to stay out of range and hit them with PGMs.

        • Ron

          exactly

        • Samuel Millwright

          I agree, i was just making a response to the brrrt types and the big bullet camp of the airplane world idiots who say it is different than a-10 and does it’s mission different because it can’t do It’s mission like a-10 because hurr durr rpg

          Therefore it sucks… THOSE PEOPLE

          Imagine if we actually sat down and explained that lifting and carrying around 5+ tons of dumb ordnance to run cas on call race tracks over Afghanistan is dumb because you MIGHT USE 1000 Pounds of it if you’re LUCKY most times!

          Or that in such a case, small pgm’s, more standoff patterns, and very low cost per flight hour in money and maintainer man hours between hops actually allows us to provide faster, better, more lethally, more readily available, and easier to get PERMISSION TO ENGAGE support for ground based elements!

          Their heads asplode is the technical term i think…

          This isn’t their fault though, Hollywood and etc create a completely asininely false mental picture in their heads of what modern combat actually looks like!

          How do the people in power expect to get people to agree when the stuff they teach people to believe teaches them to believe that our leadership is not giving people what they need in combat?

    • Risky

      If you could find an example of a fixed wing being hit by an unguided rocket I would be extremely impressed.

  • Chris

    I really hope they go with the scorpion. The propeller driven models are mediocre forlow threat environments (but not great because they are slow so the ground troops have to wait longer for cas and the scorpion with greater speed and payload can to more tasks in only one sortie reducing the amount one airframes and pilots nedded in everyday operations like in the middle east)
    But most importantly they are already unsuited for medium threat environments were you might encounter Strelas/Stinger/Iglas and ZU-23-2. They don’t have the Payload capacity to carry sensors, self protection systems, the necessary weaponry and some modular armor elements for the crew and engines. They also lack the speed to get out of danger fast.
    That just gets worse in a high threat environment. There the scopion could still do some limited CAS while the higher end airframes do air-toair and interdictions.

    • Chris22lr

      I’ll get a lot of hate for this post, but oh well…

      The idea is that low-maintenance prop-driven airplane would be based much closer to infantry operating areas, allowing for faster reaction against threats, or even aircraft being in air before threat is acknowledged – prop-driven planes have much longer loiter time, so they could be present on station during whole mission.

      As for them being vulnerable to enemy AA fire – so is flying tank A-10 (and Scorpion is not better protected than Super Tucano). Estimated losses of A-10s in case of a peer conflict in Fulda Gap were as high as 50%. During first war in Iraq USAF learned to withdraw A-10s from action if there was SAM or MANPAD threat present. Later (OEF and OIF) A-10s were operating in areas were enemy AA abilities were crushed by strategic bombers or missiles. The lack of payload to carry sensors and weaponry is simply not true. You may not know this, but Super Tucano is used for COIN for more than a decade, and it’s proved to be quite capable aircraft.

      What people seem to not grasp is that USAF is looking not for one, but two “A-10 replacements”. F-16s and Strike Eagles (and F-35s in future) are going to provide anti-tank coverage/CAS in peer/near-peer conflicts with capable AA defense, while LAAR will be used in assymetric, COIN warfare. A-10 can’t do the first task, and for second task it is too expensive and have too short loiter time. It’s antiquated targeting and observation devices are also a big disadvantage in both missions.

      • chris

        THEORETICALLY A10s would have 50% losses bin the first… blabla…
        So PRATICLLY you don’t use them all in the first few days against a full strength enemy airforce and air defence and unkown position.
        Also you don’t use a CAS Platform against a generic enemy in a generic situation but you use them along the FEBA where the main emphasis of your operation is and against braikthroughs. In this situations you don’t have the same desety of enemy air defnce especially at low altitudes.

        If they really spent billions of dollars on an aircraft exclusive for COIN missions when there isn’t even enogh for the high end systems you really got a problem.

        If you use a airframe that has more reservs and growth potential like the Scorpion you could use them for all kinds of close in work like interdictions on breakthroughs, aerial mine dispensing and CAS (wich means fireing guided munitions from 5km-20km within our own lines. You also keep all the capabilities of the prop-driven airframes (some plus the extra speed, range and payload wich in an ISIS style air war is very usefull because that are mostly pre planned missions) at one very little more cost (wich is also reduced because you can do more in a single flying hour).

        • TJbrena

          But there is enough for high-end threats. Even if we retired the A-10 after OA-X gets a selection, we still have many fighters in the US inventory capable of killing tanks and hard targets. The point of OA-X is to get an aircraft that can stay on station longer and do a better job actually supporting infantry in COIN environments than the A-10 with it’s short loiter time and overrated gun.

          • chris

            And the Scorpion does that.

      • Dan Lunn

        I’ve worked with Air Force requirements not too long ago (early 2000s) and I was a TACP during the pre-digital stone ages who has spent more than my share of time listening to pilots talk about themselves (boring) and their aircraft (less boring).

        The deal with Aircraft is always physics trade offs. Physics and cost. Cost is the hammer and physics is the anvil.

        The A-10 was always compromised as too slow, too much of a truck to do denied area strike and it lacked all the esoteric features that would allow it to go up against a latest generation Air Defense network. But what a platform for a place like Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Iraq!

        The F-35 is suffering a lot by comparison as it is costly because of the long, slow, multi-nation development effort. The longer you drag it out the more it costs. It won’t be as durable as an A-10 even when its all said and done. But, the esoteric stuff is highly necessary to get into a peer competitor’s airspace and get out.

        So, do I get why they want a light version to bring precision munitions to bear…sure. You can’t make an A-10 an F-35 or F-22 and you can’t make an F-35 or F-22 for any cheaper without losing important capabilities that you can’t discuss in a gun forum.

  • Major Tom

    ” cue 22winmag in the comments”

    Kek

  • Jack_Da Fart_Ripper

    It bears an uncanny resemblance to the SU-25

    • Jim Slade

      Meet the Northrop YA-9, the aircraft the A-10 beat out that bears an uncanny resemblance to the SU-25 that the Soviets absolutely totally convincingly did not develop mere years later via the Xerox machine. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/486bfa9fd794676909f38010cd9ebb2d4e148b91b846ed78424f092dc9ddedf1.png

      • You are seriously suggesting that the Soviets had to copy a straight wing twin turbine single seat day attack bird? Really?

        I know “the Soviets copied everything” is a nice little meme, but this is just ridiculous.

        • Jim Slade
          • Hah! Yeah, let’s go. Buran is based on the same aerodynamic study published in the US, but it’s a different airplane in many important respects (uses a completely different powerplant arrangement and can fly unmanned – so hardly a clone).

            The Blackjack looks a lot like a Bone but they are quite different planes if you pay attention. For one thing, the Tu-160 is ENORMOUS, far, far larger than a B-1. The blended body-wing aerodynamics and podded engines are shared between the Tu-160 and B-1, but these are derived from aerodynamic research that was public at the time. I could go into detail about the design progression of the Tu-160, but fortunately a very good review of this was written over a decade ago by an ATS poster called “planeman”. You can find that here.

            In both cases what was actually copied from the Americans were the requirements. Buran’s mission was cloned directly from that of the US Space Shuttle, resulting in similar cross range requirements (necessitating the same large wings). Likewise, the Tu-160’s requirements were heavily influenced by the capabilities the US was developing with the prototype B-1 at the time. So it is not a surprise that the designs would look similar, given their similar missions.

            There are some great cases of Soviet cloning. The Tu-4 is a good example. The BT series is another. But many things created by Russians during the Soviet era were original, but designed to similar specifications and are not really clones. I don’t say this to make apology for the Soviet regime or for Communism, but because as far as I can tell it is true.

        • Porty1119

          The configuration is nearly identical. To claim that Sukhoi was not influenced by the A-X program would be disingenous.

          • The configuration is about as boring as it gets (will you claim that Northrop copied Douglas’s F3D Skyknight?), and no it’s not identical. They are quite different in many respects.

      • Also, the Soviet’s invented the whole concept with the Shturmovik, so there.

  • Max Müller

    They should go with the scorpion. Surely, it is the most expensice one, but if you want air support at the same day you requested it, you should have a fast plane. They aren’t choppers that can land anywhere, you can only have them at airfields and if your ground troops are 3 hours away for your small propeller aircraft you might as well send no help at all.
    Also, being fast means that you aren’t as likely to be hit and being big means a impact from whatever weapon might not cause fatal damage to your plane.

  • john huscio

    I like the super tucano

  • Ron

    Part of the problem is the A-10 was built to kill the Army’s Cheyene program. To accomplish this it is designed to operate in an environment that probably never existed and was even considered a non-survivable aircraft when fielded, the original CONOPs for
    the Aircraft envisioned almost all of them destroyed on the first couples days of a general war in Europe. This was reinforced in Desert Storm when USAFCENT changed its mission attack profile from the low level attack they planned to use in Europe, to medium to high level attack because of number of aircraft hit by enemy fire.

    So where does that leave use, an aircraft that has a capability to survive medium caliber AAA, something exceedingly rare in the current operating environment. And in the projected operating environment, not the main threat. So why not buy an aircraft to use in the COE and if you enter MCO, you know primary fires will come from surface means (arty and mortars) because only high end aircraft survivable hence those will be servicing the CFACC’s targets, leaving very little XCAS.

    • The program may have been designed to kill the Cheyenne, but it ultimately evolved by the 1970 RFP into a Fulda Gap aircraft. And yes there wasn’t any expectation that they aircraft would survive such a war. Between soft kills from portable anti-aircraft assets that were embedded with Soviet armor units; and hard kills from larger SAM units and enemy aircraft it was expected that they would all be shot down in the opening days of such war.

      • Major Tom

        Just about every aircraft in the 1980s was expected to suffer atrocious losses at the hands of Soviet SHORAD, SAM sites and air patrols. Including stuff now seen as untouchable such as the B-52.

        • Anyone that believes the B-52 is untouchable is a complete fool and shouldn’t be listened to. We lost 31 in Vietnam due to SAMs and enemy aircraft.

  • I’ve been a huge fanboy of the A-10 since I was a kid, but in the 21st Century MANPADS are nearly as common as AKMs anywhere and everywhere we’re ever going to be shooting at people from now on (and double digit Soviet SAMs in many of those places), and it’s time to institutionally get the hell over the idea that a multimillion dollar jet aircraft that can’t break the sound barrier has any business being below 15,000 feet in a combat zone. CAS is a game now for drone-spotted artillery, attack helicopters that can hide behind tall dirt, and AC-130-alikes that can provide their own ECM and launch PGMs from way over there.

    OA-X is just another Military-Industrial Corporate Welfare Boondoggle™, it’s as simple and obvious as that. All of these things– cool as some of them may be– would still cost millions of dollars apiece, and would still get quickly converted to flaming wreckage and flag-draped coffins as soon as Jihad E. McDaeshbag pops up with one of the umpteen bajillion Strela party favors the Soviets have handed out over the years.

    • chris

      Every aircraft in the OA-X Demo can fly well above the effektive range of MANPADs and use there weponry and also carry ECM Systems.

      • Martin M

        If you can fly above MANPADs, you are still in the range of larger air defense systems. If you fly above MANPADs, you are not visible to the enemy. If the enemy is unaware of the presence of CAS, then it looses a part of it’s effectiveness. When the enemy sees the aircraft (fixed wing or rotary), they know they have eyes on them from above and they change their tactics (usually to ‘run away’).

  • A.WChuck

    I like articles like this…on another blog.

    Every time I see a supposed CAS aircraft with engines mounted low, I think “FAIL”.

    • chris

      You mean engine placement like on basicly every CAS plan except the A10?

      • A.WChuck

        Correct. The A-10 showed the way, and the way was correct. Protect your pilot, protect your engines.

        • chris

          Strange that the other design still worked and were/are combat effektiv.
          But lets all just narrow our minds to the good old ways and nevevr do anything else

          • tt_ttf

            the A-10 has shown to be a whole lot more survivable than any of the other CAS a/c in real use

            the design has very specific goals, even leaving the wheels out like the B-17 of old has seen A-10’s belly in and be recoverable

            But sure lets throw those lessons away and put a thin skinned low engined body into an environment will all manner of ground fire can hit vulnerable systems below……oh like the problems with the F-105 in Vietnam which is why the change to the A-10 in the first place.

  • Codewarrior

    Firearms, not lame CAS aircraft that still can’t replace the A10.

    • Porty1119

      Lower CPFH, equivalent actual payloads. A-10s do not fly missions fully bombed-up; a couple LGBs and guided rockets will do the trick for COIN. OA-X can duplicate the A-10’s capability for less money.

  • GhostTrain81

    Sounds like another lame Military Industrial Complex jobs & welfare program…

  • Don Ward

    All around good article.

    *Slow clap*

  • TFB Rule

    Firearms, …not CAS…?

  • Renato H M de Oliveira

    I’m surely biased here, but I sincerely think that Super Tucano is the top contender.
    1 already fully operational, some ~200 units already delivered, and it has already been proven effective in battlefields all over the world – all the others are still unproven in the CAS role
    2 less than USD 1K/flight hour
    3 two .50 machine guns built in the wings
    4 extremely robust AND designed for bad runways

    In short, it has a very good edge over the others. It’s not without reason that it defeated the “AT-6”.

    • I am inclined to agree, although the AT-6’s parts commonality is an attractive advantage.

      • Renato H M de Oliveira

        Both use the same engine (which is arguably the biggest pain in maintaining that class), so many of the parts of the AT-29 already are in USAF’s inventory.
        And I’m not sure if parts commonality will be that big, since the AT-6 demands some serious changes over plain T-6, keeping little things in common.
        In short, a brand new aircraft is almost a given.

        • Yeah, but you can ECP the T-6 to include much of those changes. Since the T-6s are training aircraft natural attrition will cycle the old aircraft out much quicker than other aircraft.

          ETA: The A-29s aren’t a permanent part of the USAF inventory. At the end of the training program they are scheduled to be handed over to the Afghan Air Force.

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            They aren’t permanent to USAF, but are more than well proven worldwide.
            That’s more than can be said of the AT-29.

    • TJbrena

      Personally, the Scorpion is my pick, mostly because it’s a jet and as such can get to the problem faster. While it won’t be going at transsonic or supersonic speeds, speed is a definite advantage. I’d imagine the engines also help with payload.

      Being MADE IN USA will definitely be an advantage here.

      As an aside, I also think the Scorpion is the best looking.

      • Renato H M de Oliveira

        I do find the Scorpion a best pick, for the exact same reasons you mentioned.
        But for the lowly CAS mission, cost is more important. These aircrafts fly a lot, but fire a little.
        A Super Tucano with 8 SDB2 is more than enough for most CAS missions around.

        • Brett baker

          Gotta agree.

    • Samuel Millwright

      I have a similar fondness for ov-10 so i get it (especially with the ventral cannon)

      My second preference would be A-37 dragonfly 2.0

      • Renato H M de Oliveira

        Both were great, but have long been phased out of production.
        Moreover, both are double-engined designs, which greatly increases the cost.

        • Samuel Millwright

          Right… However, between the performance of OV-10’s in iraq in the recent testing program, the relative simplicity with which the original OV-10X proposal could be dovetailed with other programs which will happen regardless and tbe benefits which could be reaped from doing so, and FINALLY the way the OA10 research etc could be dusted off and just how far that could be pushed in addition to the other dovetails …. I strongly believe it would have been an exponentially better and more versatile platform than any of the current offerings!

          Here’s a few reasons why and a brief coverage of a tiny fraction of what i wish we were doing (kept practical and fiscally realistic mind you)

          1. Adding the ventral turreted multimount (did the original OA-10 ventral setup fully retract the cannon when not needed?) in combination with the ov10 being a 2 seater already AND having a pretty healthy cargo bay presents some seriously major opportunities to expand the entire programs usefulness userbase and the operational diversity it’s capable of in ways that create potential for much larger buys and usefulness outside of COIN and hunting the hilux n sandals brigade! Think ISR, jieddo support, flying uav comm node able to use a turret mounted highly directional transceiver to punch through ECM etc while sitting 250 miles out at 35000 feet…
          Right there you maybe have a way to run first night of air war SEAD/DEAD using supersonic super modified ryan firebees and a squadron of loitering stealthy enough when you factor the distance turboprop command control and man in the loop nodes! Combine that with the 2 aircrew and a turreted gun instead plus our vast array of ultralight pgm’s and you’ve got mini usmc harvest hawks you can afford to risk if you absolutely have no other options!

          2. Next gen turboshafts are coming to recapitalize our existing helicopter fleets anyway. Why not pay a little extra for one to get a turboprop spinoff which still has 80%+ commonality? (Do it with the one for Apache and you’re now able to run high commonality IR suppression and engine supply lines. Why stop there though? There’s tons of other apache gear it could and should integrate!) The increased fuel economy, performance, and etc also helps this thing stay high quick and quiet when necessary too!

          There’s a bunch more stuff i want to say, but suffice it to say that far more than national pride drives my attachment to solutions other than the ones they’re looking at.

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            US military loves to snap more and more functions on their systems, which ends up costing prohibitively more and/or project cancelation.
            OAX seems to be KISS.
            Current bidders – AT-29 (which is the only one that has been used in real combat, and at several continents at that), AT-6 (which is a thoroughly revamped T-6 – so much so that it keeps little more than the name), Scorpion (a clean sheet design, the only jet and double engine design, whose acquisition and operation costs are all but sure to be considerably high than the others) and the Longsword (same basic rationale as the AT-6, but aimed at a duster).
            The operational costs of the prop-driven competitors should be basically the same for the trio, while Scorpion bets on performance over costs.
            The OAX is envisioned as a CAS aircraft for LIC. While the OV-10X indeed seems interesting, just like the Scorpion, CAS aircrafts fly quite a lot of the time, but actual engagements are rare.
            And even when they do attack, the targets are, as you mentioned, a technical and a bunch of guys on sandals.
            Drones ought to be enough, but if sometimes Eyeball Mk1 is irreplaceable; a prop driven aircraft will then do the trick.
            In this scenario, despite being NIH, Super Tucano is made in USA. It’s the least risky choice, and after the F-35 I am pretty sure that the last thing USAF needs is a risky project.

          • Samuel Millwright

            This is very true, depending upon your frame of reference ov10x is a totally different animal for different missions or a different animal who does the same missions a different way…

            Neither are incorrect.

            Now speaking from the standpoint of an American who’s interest in OAX is primarily making sure it does the things the American military needs done and is the best fit for the realities of the way America does its military business….

            I believe a very strong case could be made that the current OAX program is fundamentally flawed in that none of the OAX competitors are actually a good fit for the American Military, while a platform along the lines of what i am proposing will actually fit much better with our operational style and fill a much greater number of roles over a much wider variety of potential scenarios…

            For a great many nations any of the oax competitors would be positively stellar aircraft, just not for us…

            What I’m seeing is that they’re just unacceptably limited and genuinely do not represent a good use of resources.

            We need a larger Ov-1 Oa-10 Ov-10 style aircraft which can slim down 2 weight classes occasionally for a rare very sporadic and especially lucrative fight in the bantamweight OAX style roles “when we need them”… Which is really rarely honestly.

            That same aircraft has to be able to put on a $1500 suit with a b&t mp380 in a shoulder holster and an ultrastubby 6.5 inch bbl pdw type AR in a trick briefcase for his occasional bodyguarding gigs between fights etc. (Aka do JIEDDO style surveillance tracking tracing and persistent visual reconnaissance without looking or sounding like a gunship flying low over the city 24/7! Hell it’s preferable not to be seen/heard at all while doing this especially if you can drop a small pgm from the same craft to strike a high value tango with zero warning even less collateral damage and not much more disruptive to daily life of the civilians thsn a fender bender!!)

            There’s a dozen more scenarios roles and weight classes a properly done super ov-10x could flex into and out of with ease….

            Pretty much every single one of which is orders of magnitude more important, vital to our national interests, and etc than the piss pot “COIN persistant CAS mission” which isn’t a real mission or need at all but a scathing indictment of our current rules of engagement and the way they’ve effectively hamstrung our ability to do indirect fire!

            That’s the really crappy truth right there!!!

            The focus on unreasonably cheap costs per flight hour, tiny ass weapons, tiny ass airframe maximum loadouts, the insistence on a single crewmember in spite that being a terrible idea as always in these aerial support and surveillance platforms, and every other idiotic completely f***ing nonsensical part of this whole cluster f*** ALL TIES BACK TO TRYING TO REPLACE MORTARS HOWITZERS BINOCULARS RADIOS AND MAPS WITH CRAPPY BUT HELLISHLY EXPENSIVE LITTLE AIRPLANES AND EVEN SMALLER EXPLOSIVE PAYLOADS ETC ETC!!!!

            We cannot square this circle and we should not buy any of these aircraft because this whole situation is stupid!

            OTOH what we REALLY NEED is basically what convair offered in the suite of aircraft they built around their model 48 charger aircraft which even had a fat fuselaged companion craft built with almost all common parts!

            So yeah… Project Lara 2.0 is what we actually need but congress are evil dickbags so we’ll call it
            ov10x-m… M for modular… Which we’ll basically build as close to from clean sheet as we need as long as the first 19 to roll off the production line look pretty much like ov10x

            (Super bug electric boogaloo 2.0)

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            Fully agree – OAX is a stupid fix for a stupid problem.

            BUT… What I think is irrelevant.

            What matters is what the USAF chief of staff thinks (or what DoD imposes on him).

            And, for the moment, it’s OAX, and the OV-10X isn’t in the run – because, as you mentioned, it doesn’t fit that bill; it fits another bill.

            Given the OAX terms (whether or not I like them), I think it is very hard for the AT-29 to miss it.

          • Samuel Millwright

            Yup tucano is what I’d buy if FORCED to buy only something from the competition too!

            Doesn’t mean i have to like it at all though, know what i mean?

            And realistically for South America itself, central America, SEA, the Philippines, MENA, and etc … Having a fairly decent fleet of tucanos augmented by a smaller fleet of OV10x (or AHRLAC) and a large pool of GP aircraft with very high parts etc commonality with your 10x alike would actually make for an extremely versatile, decently affordable , and LOGISTICALLY SUPPORTABLE fixed wing aviation core force.

            Doesn’t the phillipines use the super tucano? (I know they use ov10’s

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            No, Phil uses older plain Tucano, but them and Nigeria (among others) are seeking to buy them via FMS.

            I don’t think that OAX is smart – at all – for USAF. But there it is anyway.

          • Samuel Millwright

            Aka business as usual build another golf course and scrap 4 more transport aircraft to pay for it

        • Samuel Millwright

          Also Boeing would start an OV10X production line for 100% new build planes if they could get a guaranteed minimum 100 aircraft order

  • Darrel L. Ray

    So they want an aircraft with a smaller profile than the A-10 so it’s harder for enemy combatants to hit the aircraft when it’s making a low-flying run, right? However, are there any other aircraft that are able to take such a pounding by enemy fire and continue to fly?

    • TJbrena

      Duplicating A-10’s low and slow tactics are unnecessary. PGMs and a flurry of HE-FRAG rockets will ruin any insurgent’s day, and anyone near him. The ability to use PGMs also reduces collateral damage to civilians and troops. Being light also means more time on station supporting troops than the A-10.

      OA-X is perfect for low intensity warfare. In war against near-peer adversaries, F-15Es, F-16Cs, F/A-18E/Fs, and F-35A/B/C (A reached Initial Operating Capability last year, B in 2015, C will reach it next year) can all bring the pain to nation-states.

    • Samuel Millwright

      No, that’s not all why this is wanted

  • Longslide7

    Rather have an OV-10 or an AD

    • TJbrena

      I recall an OV-10X proposal for Afganistan’s COIN plane program. The Super Tucano won, but if the OV-10X were entered in this competition I think it would do well.

      • Samuel Millwright

        I believe OV-10X was a better pick personally, but that’s just my own take on it.

  • Mr. Katt

    Nothing says “I love you’ quite like a stream of 30m/m projectiles flying into the enemy position . . . . effectiveness is somewhat relative. A nuke tipped ALCM detonating over a target is quite effective, but probably not the best tool for CAS. A 30 mike GAU ripping up a convoy within easy eyeshot, that’s another story entirely.

  • The_Champ

    The Firearm Blog comments section: Where everyone is a CAS expert.

    Don’t get me wrong, some of the conversation is interesting, but does anyone here actually have any CAS piloting or JTAC experience beyond watching YouTube videos? Just asking….

    • Ron

      Yes

      • The_Champ

        You’ve made some interesting comments in the thread, care to share your background?

        • Ron

          Lapsed 8002, Fires guys who instructed at the fires school house and was Regt/MEU Fire Support; Regt in Iraq and MEU in AFG

          I have controlled air both prior to and after the implantation/advent of JTACs and have gone to AC130 school when I was with the MEU, even though I used them in Iraq prior to going to the school

          • The_Champ

            Very interesting, thanks!

    • CommonSense23

      JTAC experience in training, none in real world.

      • The_Champ

        Any lasting impressions from observing the effects of air strikes?

        I’ve only seen real world gun runs by Kiowas, that and a bunch of mortar and 155mm arty strikes. Never got in close to see the effects afterwards.

        I also watched a lot of live feed drone strikes, which were just a little surreal.

        I guess from a soldiers perspective, the delivery method of high explosives doesn’t really matter so long as it is timely and accurate. So I suppose this is more of a pilots debate?

  • John

    Alright, look. Build a GAU-8 gun pod that can be mounted to any jet. F-15, F-35, whatever. You can put one on each wing for balance.

    Send them out to blast a position for morale. And then for effectiveness, drop a bomb. Troops will love you AND you’ll accomplish the mission. Problem solved.

    • Brett baker

      There is a gun pod that uses a 3 barrel version of the GAU-8

    • int19h

      Maybe we can just put some really powerful speakers there, and play the brrrrrrrt sound as the bombs are dropping?

      • Riddick

        Frankly, I’d rather see the planes play some Hank Williams country music through the speakers, something like what “Oddball” did with his Sherman tanks in the movie “Kelly’s Heroes”.

    • Dan K

      They tried a gun pod on a F-35. It didn’t work very well IIRC. Also it had a pitiful load of less than 200 rounds.

    • Samuel Millwright

      I think a 30×173 rotary cannon pod was built at one point and wasn’t a good idea in practice

  • int19h

    I wonder if it’s possible for a grounds-up CAS design to incorporate a large autocannon on the bottom of the aircraft in a turret of sorts, complete with a separate gunner station to man it. It’d probably play hell with air dynamics, but it’s not so important for CAS, is it? On the other hand, if you have a 360 rotating turret, the gunner could basically engage targets on the ground anywhere in the lower hemisphere of the plane as it flies by.

    • Dan K

      The AH-64 has a large chain gun in a rotating turret. A couple issues with other than aerodynamics is the recoil. The chain gun on an AH-64 fires a smaller shell, slower than an A-10 and penetrates armor via an explosive charge rather than via a kinetic penetrator.

      If you want to engage targets on the ground anywhere as the plane flies by you can send in a spectre.

      • Samuel Millwright

        OA-10…

    • Samuel Millwright

      It’s actually been done yes

  • Joe G

    Don’t pull a f22 raptor deal. And cut the order in half or more.

  • William M Durham

    Sadly again the air farce has opted for a jet aircraft that will have no time on target and be traveling far too fast to see and do what is required. The air farce only wants aircraft that are supersonic and really pretty, even where a very capable and deadly aircraft already exist. Nothing is wrong with the A-10 but its not a jet. air farce leaders hate that. It works too well and they cannot stand it. Always wanting to spend billion on something new to play with that ends up costing 25 times more than what it replaces and does not work as well. air farce should give up A-10 to army and marines who value close air support that is proven to work and not just another fast target for the new and really deadly Russia missiles.

    • Ron

      The A10 is still t0o fast to adequately PID ground targets unless it operates like every other aircraft and goes to the overhead for a wagon wheel and uses it pod.

      The A10 has been involved in more blue on blue than any other modern aircraft, just a few of the more high vis events were they mis-ID Marine LAVs and killed multiple Marines, they mis-ID Brit Warrior IFVs and killed multiple Brits, they mis-ID Marine AAVs and killed multiple Marines and the famous straffing of the Royal Marines in AFG that was all over youtube. Luckily as is normal none of the RMs were killed because its guns sucks against troops in open.

      • William M Durham

        if the A-10 is too fast what do you think will happen to the ground soldier when the air farce puts an F 111 style jet up above them, Since you do need a powerful fixed wing, what else besides the A-10 would work that is not from the Skyraider era? Bloe on blur is just mis ID not anything else. That happens in every war/conflict when you fight. But beside that what would work, surely not another billion dollar pretty jet that will not even survive a 2 minute trip above a battlefield where Russian shoulder fired or even tracked vehicle mounted surface to air missiles are. When even the Bosnians could shoot down one of our supposedly unseeable/no radar tracking, super secret Frisbys. I really believe that this new F 35 or what ever it called will just be flying scrap when it encounters concentrations of Russian surface to air missiles.

        • mosinman

          so you think the F-22 can be shot down by Russian AA but the A-10 cannot? as for the F-117 getting shot down in Serbia, it had it’s bomb bay doors open and that allowed enough of a radar signature for the SAM missile to achieve a lock

          • William M Durham

            shot down is shot down, regardless of when, by the way, all of them have to open there bomb bays to drop bombs. All aircraft can be shot down, its just a cost thing. An A-10 cost less than any modern twin jet supersonic aircraft. sadly the cheaper they are the more we an buy and lose. After we have to pay for them, or is someone giving them away. also new aircraft have a tremendous production/pre production/research cost. Just looking at the money side also.

          • mosinman

            thats true, but the F-117 pilot left them down and forgot to close them allowing the lock on. and A-10 is a great plane, but a new attacker is needed or extensive upgrades need to be done to the A-10 to allow it to survive contact with high tech air defenses

          • William M Durham

            Best solution, up grade the A=10 and do not spend billions on something we do not want or need, only air force flyboy brass and manufacturers want it, and since all the air force officers involved will end up working as civilians for the so ca,,ed winners the only losers are the American military and taxpayer

        • Ron

          What they and even the A10 currently does, they perform key hole CAS with PGMs

          Bottomline as I said most don’t about CAS other than type 1

          • William M Durham

            Type 1/2/3. if it only exist in some theory or someones mind and not in fact.reality it is just smoke and mirrors to help feed the massive military industrial complex that will never have enough money or ever have a product that does what they claim it does . War is a rotten dirty business, best left to soldiers and the people doing the killing. Money thrown at theory doesn’t work unless it actually exist in practice and this 1/2/3 is just a pipe dream to spend money. Bombs and bullets on target are the only thing that count.

          • Ron

            They are not theories, they are the way we do business.

      • Riddick

        “The A10 has been involved in more blue on blue than any other modern aircraft…”.

        And whose fault is that? The aircraft? Really? Nope. HUMAN error.

        And, you state that “The A10 is still too fast to adequately PID ground targets unless it operates like every other aircraft and goes to the overhead for a wagon wheel and uses it pod”.

        Really? Have you ever seen an A-10 work? It can slowly fly and loiter if needed surprisingly well, though it makes it a great target for ground fire.

        And then you’re no better off than you would be with a prop plane.

    • mosinman

      the A-10 is a jet….. and is vulnerable to any army with semi capable ground based air defenses

  • Brett baker

    Shouldn’t we find an improved UAV for CAS anyway?

    • wicapiwakan

      that’s probably the future, yeah. i don’t know if it’s a matter of the tech not being 100% ready for prime time just yet, or the arms contractors wanting some payoff for their expensive investments before the transition.

      • Samuel Millwright

        Afaik the tech isn’t really100% there and there’s other much more practical concerns involving stupid people, large groups, and lefty fear mongering

        • wicapiwakan

          i think there is a valid ethical concern with regards to drones, however. if we have so little to lose from going to war, what is stopping us from going to war with everyone over the slightest provocation? call me a loony lefty if you want but i’d rather not have us bomb everyone forever.

          • Samuel Millwright

            Your concerns are perfectly valid and i share them…

            Musk suckerberg et al….

            For one there’s serious problems with how they’re defining autonomous weapons systems.

            For two these problems basically bpil down to their definitions etc being so broad as to technically be applicable to basically anything they want it applied to…

            For three if AI’s / autonomous man out of the loop systems are so dangerous, how come the overwhelming majority of AI research etc is funded by them n their friends?

            It reeks of ill intent and malicious forethought to say the least.

    • Samuel Millwright

      No because Elon Musk and mark SUCKERBERG…

  • Smedley54

    Survivability? A10’s have been known to get home pretty shot up.

    • SuperTucs are pretty well armored:

      https://i.ytimg.com/vi/LkgeladdlaI/maxresdefault.jpg

      • Smedley54

        But they’re single engine, so very vulnerable to groundfire. Best solution there is two widely separated engines, as in the A10. We tried P-51’s in Korea and – I think – in Vietnam with disastrous results, so a whole lot of nope on that one. I actually hate when our pilots get mauled.

        • Dan K

          P-51s were succeptable to ground fire because of the liquid cooled Merlin engine. P-47s in WW2, F4Us in Korea, and Skyraiders in Vietnam all performed well and they were all air cooled single engined. That’s not even mentioning the IL-2.

          Also calling the A-10 a high performance aircraft is a stretch.

          • Smedley54

            Point taken on the air-cooled engines – you’re correct. You’re also correct that A10’s are far from high performance aircraft, but then I never said they were. And it is well past time to replace them, but I’m very concerned the Air Force is looking for the cheapest way to perform a critical mission they would much rather hand off to someone else.

            I hate to see our Marines and Army infantry sacrificed so the Air Force can save a few bucks – but then I doubt Mattis would allow it anyway.

            Is there a serious analysis of A10 strengths and weaknesses? All I really hear is “we need a new A10 that’s cheaper to operate”. What I want to hear is what it does well, and where it can be improved. The article mentions that it needs to handle smart munitions better, and it has too many hard points, but what about that signature gun? It’s a proven, flexible tool, and I remember that guns were removed from our fighter aircraft in Vietnam because “it was all missiles now; dogfights are ancient history”, and that turned out badly.

            I’m suspicious that the Air Force is hellbent on getting rid of the A10 without an adequate analysis. They wanted to replace it with the F-35? They’re still in denial that knife fights happen.

          • The A-10 suffers in stealth and survivability vs. advanced air defense systems (it is toughened against AA guns, but missiles are another matter). For contested airspace a low observable, faster airplane is needed. That airplane will be the F-35, even though this has caused much consternation. As an A-10 replacement in a high intensity environment, I think the F-35 makes a lot of sense, but obviously there are some A-10 missions it cannot do. For that you need something like an A-10, but one that A.) is designed to deliver modern weapons, and B.) costs less to operate and can be operated from forward bases. This is essentially what OA-X seeks to procure.

            There are some things we should keep in mind:

            1. The A-10 can deliver precision ordnance, but it is excessively large for the small loads of smart weapons required of it. On most missions, the A-10 only has 4-6 of its 11 weapons stations in use – each usually with just one weapon (bomb, missile, etc – in theory each pylon can hold multiple ejector bomb racks with 3 bombs each). The aircraft was designed to carry more than 12 Mk 82 bombs or AGM-65s, yet it goes into combat today usually with only four JDAMs or less. So, a smaller aircraft with a substantially smaller weapon load could do the same mission at a lower cost, with potentially longer loiter time and range.

            2. Lower cost isn’t selling the soldier or Marine out. An aircraft that breaks less, is cheaper and quicker to repair, and can operate from improvised or damaged runways is one that will have a much higher sortie rate. That means more air support more often. This is nothing but a good thing for the guys on the ground.

            3. The 30mm GAU-8 is an impressive weapon, but it’s excessively large and heavy for the mission. When the A-10 was designed, the only precision ordnance available to it was the AGM-65 Maverick, which was the same weight as a 500lb bomb. These could not be used sparingly, and therefore had to be supplemented with smaller weapons. Today, the Small Diameter Bomb, Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, and other small precision weapons are available, and substantially reduce the need for a large cannon with a high ammunition load. I know that many people are absolutely wedded to the idea of a 4,000 round per minute Gatling cannon, but other extremely impressive weapons exist that are much more practical at the same time. It doesn’t necessarily make sense to attack a truck or a squad of insurgents with a high velocity very high rate of fire cannon when one can simply launch a couple of APKWS guided 2.75in rockets that will hit within half a meter. A Super Tucano can carry 28 APKWS, while a Scorpion could carry up to 76, probably (not sure if it’s qualified with either the LAU-61 or LAU-68 yet).

            This isn’t to say a new CAS bird doesn’t need a cannon, it just doesn’t need as much cannon as the A-10. Besides nostalgia for the “BRRRT” noise, I doubt anyone would notice a difference in effectiveness if the A-10’s replacement had, say, a single M230. The M230 is also well-proven as an antipersonnel weapon in the same applications, and more importantly is less than a fifth as heavy while requiring just a fraction of the ammunition due to its much lower rate of fire.

          • Smedley54

            Excellent points! It’s well known that the A10 was designed around that cannon, and the cannon was intended to take down large formations of Soviet armor. Maybe less important against ISIS or Taliban formations, but it’s the best tool we’ve had. Contemporary avionics that are fully integrated into the aircraft plus some kind of stealth technology are desperately needed, but I’m very uncomfortable with relying on small size for stealth. That seems weak when Vietnam era Stinger missiles could probably get target lock on any of the proposed replacements, excepting maybe the Super Tucano, and downed aircraft are rough on the sortie rate.

            The F-35 is shaping up to be an excellent aircraft, but nothing about it exactly screams CAS. Too big, too expensive, and too fast for the role. Stand off at altitude and attack identified targets, sure, but that’s not CAS. Ideally, any A10 replacement would be purpose designed and built instead of a beauty pageant between off-the-shelf solutions, but I know that’s unrealistic for reasons of time, cost, priorities, and politics.

            I know that we’re overdue to replace the A10, I’m just concerned about an inferior replacement.

          • I am not knocking the A-10. I love the aircraft, it’s a magical piece of kit. I think what many don’t realize is that someday the A-10 will have to be retired. When that day comes – and it’s probably sooner, not later – the replacement will need to be ready. That replacement should not be optimized for the same things the A-10 was optimized for, because we’ve had 45 years of CAS experience and technological development since it was designed.

            The F-35 can perform some CAS missions using precision weapons and its high situational awareness capabilities. It cannot do all of them, of course, which is why something smaller and more dedicated to the role would be nice.

          • Smedley54

            Every point is dead on! Threats and missions have changed, and a replacement for the A10 is overdue, but all four aircraft appear to prioritize expedience over pilot safety and CAS effectiveness.

            Textron’s Scorpion has the size and performance for the task, and the high wing design probably improves low speed stability, but stealth needs more than a smaller size alone. Defenses will always evolve to defeat the threat, and if shoulder fired missiles can chase down a helicopter, they’ll find a fixed wing aircraft. Even current battle spaces need passive and active stealth technology, and the future will be a real meat grinder.

          • Dave

            Someday those B-52s will have to be retired, too. Some day.

          • Definitely agree on the GAU-8. Too beaucoup, GI – it inflicts unacceptable design compromises in comparison to the advantages, Howver, you can get the same effective performance for half the weight, space, and significantly less recoil with a GAU-12.

            And there is still an application for strafing with high ROF medium autocannon (20mm isn’t *much* better than .50, in all honesty, while 25mm *is* significantly better than 20mm — almost as good as 30mm, and in terms of actual effectiveness on Real World targets in an air to ground role, JUST AS effective).

            Our CAS mission are flying light ordnance loads because the ROE and actual combat conditions mean we cannot take advantage of their full capacity. In THIS war, against THESE foes. Against a more open field opposition, you’ll be dragging along a LOT more ordnance (and you might find yourself needing that gun more, because precision munitions don’t grow on trees). In a higher threat environment, you can use those “extra” stations to mount countermeasures.

            As for the point that an A-10 is vulnerable to SAMs… yes, it is — but no more vulnerable than ANY OTHER NON-STEALTH FIGHTER (arguably less, because it is simply more robust, so SAMs and AAMs designed for proximity kills are less effective against it). But that assumes the SAM even gets a shot off — something that is hard to do when the A-10 stays below the horizon (which, of course, increases vulnerability to small arms fire… but if you’re doing CAS, you *already* have to plan on dealing with ground fire, don’t you?)

          • Note – I’m not saying the A-10 needs to kept around forever. It IS past time for a real replacement.

            But that replacement ought to incorporate the *good* things about the A-10 (robust, multiple, well protected engines, fairly heavy payload, and a *good* gun permanently mounted) while improving upon it’s weaknesses (such as being relatively “low tech”, sensor and datalink wise, and having to drag around an *excessively* large gun).

      • uisconfruzed

        I like my CrossBreed

  • Mark Horning

    The USAF isn’t going to be buying any of these other than as FMS assets to provide to Iraq and Afghanistan. They are set up for COIN not CAS, though they would be pretty handy for some interdiction missions in South America as well.

    Super Tucano vs. AT-6B is probably a wash, but I’ve work on the AT-6 a little, and it’s a pretty slick little plane, and L-3 Avionics are top notch.

    The Textron Scorpion though… Am I the only one who thinks it looks like a Harrier and a Hornet had little mutant babies?

  • Yes, but it was late in the war when they did a mod of the nose and mounted the 20mm Vulcan. That was late 1971. Before then they mounted a Gatling gun pod where the centerline fuel tank would normally go. It was still better than no gun at all! We might have been ok without a gun but that era of Sidewinders and Sparrows were terrible and often failed to guide on target or just dropped off the rail and never ignited just dropping to the jungle floor. Many times they would ripple fire the missiles on the chance that one would guide to the target.

  • b0x3r0ck

    It might just be me but this plane seems to be a little lacking for my taste. If it can’t do something that blows my mind like hover or turn into a sub. By the time this is even rolled out as a finished product some cheaper drone that can swarm a target will come out first.

  • Rocky Mountain 9

    Would have been really nice if you’d taken the extra ten minutes to attach a photo of each competing aircraft.

  • Blackhorse

    The B1 had the highest civilian and fratricide of all aircraft used.

    • Ron

      I believe you are talking about the BS put out by POGO, they conflation numbers and the very fact that CIVCAS is mention shows they are playing with the numbers. CIVCAS really is a meaningless number, when you fight an enemy who does not wear a uniform and US commanders often to placate local sensibility declares all those killed in the strike “civilians” to include those shooting at us, the number is meaningless.

      In 08, an element from my unit was filmed by Oliver North while they were involved in a fire fight and ended up dropping bombs on the house shooting at them. The locals and later Karzai got pissed about it, and despite the fire fight, one Marine was wounded, and the SSE to including the dead TB was on film, political pressure led to more dead being declared than there were and all of them being civilians.

      • Blackhorse

        I’ve heard that repeatedly from people I served with. Same BS in Iraq.
        That still doesn’t change the fact that the B1 had the highest fratricide numbers.

        • Ron

          No since 2001, the B1 was involved in 1 indecent that 5 were killed, during that same period the A10 was involved in 4 incidents with 10 killed. But if you open the aperture back to the 90s you have to include the LAR incindent at Kafji, the British Warrior incident.

  • Mystick

    Did I click on “DefenseTech” on accident? Two military aircraft articles that have nothing to do with firearms?

    • uisconfruzed

      Yet the A-10 IS a flying gun.

  • Blackhorse

    The Scorpion will probably win. The brass loves their fast jets and it can fill a 2nd rate fighter role and has almost all the gizmos they like. Its the most expensive at almost 20 million each and the most costly to operate and needs serviceable runway. Plus largest payload and fastest speed.
    The AT-6 has speed and 85% parts compatibility with the T-6 already in service while have all the gizmos with the third largest payload and 2nd longest range/loitering. Plus has a targeting helmet but need prepared dirt airfields at worst. Cost 2nd most expensive.
    The A-29 has the smallest payload and shortest range/endurance. Only one with internal guns (50 cal in each wing) third fastest and has all the gizmos. 2nd cheapest. Can be landed and operated off crude airfields with little prep.
    AT-802l best armored, longest range/endurance. 2nd largest payload (highest in props). Slowest with a ridiculous stall speed and is capable of using farm fields and has the shortest takeoff distance. Cheapest cost and operating cost. The gizmos are extra but still the cheapest when added.
    My favorite would be the AT-6 for cost and commonality with the bonus of the helmet aiming system.
    But for just COIN in third world killing fields the AT-802l would probably be best because of cost and loitering time with payload. It also has the most hard points of them all. Arm it with the best ECM pod and defensive systems and it could fulfill the COIN role at dirt cheap costs and it can deploy from almost anywhere with no effort. Heck it’s support elements could drive from hot spot to hot spot and keep this thing operational with the proper security and supply setup.
    Plus won’t have to rely on a foreign company restricting manufacturing if they don’t like us for any reason.
    Thus the AT-6 is the smartest and 2nd cheapest while the AT-802l is the cheapest and easiest and most flexible for COIN.

  • Sean

    95 % of our air power is dropping bombs on…cavemen. Most of it could be done by guys dropping grenades out of Piper Cubs. A much cheaper, more simple to maintain attack plane makes a lot of sense. But the generals won’t like that. No cushy jobs at Lockheed paid for by trillion dollar contracts.

    • That’s great… right up until your primary opponent *isn’t* “cavemen”… then you have an inventory full of aircraft you can’t even use in theater.

      • Sean

        But we have that. Trillions of dollars worth of that. We don’t need a $250 million F-35 to drop bombs on used Toyota pickup trucks.

  • Scott Mccullough

    Afghan = the people
    Afghani = their money

    • Moneys

      Americani , lol

  • Samuel Millwright

    The Ares was pretty neat but the air force hates asymmetry…

    So not joking on this lol

  • TeaPartyPagan

    I am so glad to see this program! Some one finally pulled their head out of their nether region long enough to realize a supersonic jet could not render effective CAS. With the jaundiced eye the Air Force tends to turn towards CAS, it might be a better idea to reinstate that role to the Army and the Marines. I know the Army was looking into a Low Cost Battlefield Attack Aircraft (LCBAA) as far back as the early 80’s

  • Bobby McKellar

    Enjoyed the article but many of the comments once again prove just how many people have absolutely zero idea what they’re talking about. Most of the comments are theoretical talk from a bunch of zeroes who’ve never had to have CAS before. Laughable AT BEST.

  • Anthony “stalker6recon”

    So what they are saying, is that these new aircraft can do what the A-10 has done for so long, with less hard points to carry lighter, smarter weapons? Sounds great, but in the mean time, why not take advantage of the proven CAS A-10, expanding the weapons load/capability of the already numerous hardpoints that it has?

    Ground pounders love it, because it is not only lethal, the fear that it brings once in theater, is often enough to get the other guys running, before a shot is even fired. They know what it can do. Besides that, anyone that has been on the ground, watching and listening to this beast make a gun run, NEVER WANTS TO SEE THAT LEAVE the battle space, or the military. I can’t imagine that maintaining/upgrading this machine, could ever be too expensive for the military. The F-22 hasn’t even been on duty yet, and they are already talking about replacing it, makes no sense.

    Right now, the US has the air advantage in almost every aspect you could imagine, maybe all. We have the F-22, barely grown out of it’s baby feathers, and now the ridiculous F-35 project, sucking up all the funding, so they want to go with a CAS on the cheap?

    We should not be procuring anything at this juncture, and they should be only doing R&D in the digital world, continue working on every possible aspect of an aircraft, before anything is produced in the physical world. The JSF should never have come out of the computer, and remained there, tested, fixed, upgraded, tested, fixed, upgraded/replaced. Once we see something on the horizon that required a new platform, we should have something so far ahead, and already modeled to a point that it would take a week to start full scale manufacturing, and all the bugs should be gone, and the actual performance should be above what they were capable of in the digital world.

    This would save us billions, and also ensure that we maintain supremacy well into the future. We are spending way too much on aircraft that are unproven, and we don’t even need at this moment anyway.

  • jcitizen

    I really doubt if the Air Force is smart enough to save the money and adopt something like this. In my opinion they’d better, because, otherwise, they will all be UAV jockeys soon if they don’t wise up. USAF still worships the F-16 as their “mud-fighter” Sure it can be effective, but if you can loiter more, save on fuel, and do the same job? It’s nuts not too. Even if the concept doesn’t turn out, they will have an excellent trainer that will save big bucks back in the US training bases. However, they will never wise up.

  • Miguel Raton

    OK, the solution is to separate the CAS function & allocate it to the people who actually *want* to do it, specifically the Navy/Marine air arms & Army flyers: the whole “Air Force gets all fixed-wing duties, Army aviation limited to eggbeaters” nonsense hasn’t worked out well, since the Air Force historically has neglected CAS needs in favor of other more “glamorous” aircraft. So tell the USAF “you get strategic and air superiority roles, everything else is being turned over to the respective combat arms for proper combined arms implementation.” The Air Force should be ecstatic, they’ve had a hard-on to shelve the Warthog almost since its 1st implementation. ::p Next step is to work up a product-improved version of the OV-10 Bronco: it’s still among the best designs for serious CAS & COIN duties [since unlike virtually *EVERYTHING* else, it was designed for the purpose!], as confirmed by the U.S. dragging all of them that could be found out of mothballs or away from the Civil Air Patrol or Forestry duties they’d been retired to in order to support the GWoT in far-off Iraqistan… Put an updated version back into production, with some of the enhancements the A-10 got [like proper hardening of the pilot’s couch] and modern materials, engines, avionics, etc and then staff them with men from the actual service branch they’ll be supporting so the pilots have a vested interest in keeping their buddies alive instead of slacking off due to some b.s. inter-service rivalry nonsense.

  • Endlesspath

    I thought that “survivability” was right up near the top of the requirements list for a CAS fixed wing (you know, redundancy/ability to take ground fire hits/etc)?
    Other then the A-10…. I don’t think a single one of these “candidates” (let alone the F-16 and the flying snowflake the F-35) are anywhere near meeting that requirement

  • The Brigadier

    This reminds me of the arguments for the Army’s Striker units versus upgrading and manufacturing more Abram’s tanks. This move to lighter close air support jets means lighter armor and a lower payload. Lighter and faster were the Striker bywords for their champions and they didn’t last as long in combat life and they were a lot more vulnerable than the Abrams. Finally the Army had enough and ended the Striker’s battle life and we are now upgrading and manufacturing more Abrams.

    This latest move by the Air Force is a bad one. With a possible war between Russia or China looming on the horizon, we are going to need the greater protection and armament that an upgraded Thunderbolt A-10 will bring to the battlefield. That is why we went with the upgraded Abrams and heavier small arms like replacing the AR with 7.62 rifles, and .308 sniper rifles with .338 Lapua rifles. Building a fleet of lightweight and smaller planes and naming it the A-10 II is a way of fooling Congress, but it doesn’t fool the rest of us.