trpmb6
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News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Tue Jun 26, 2018 3:26 pm

A U.S. Navy pilot participating in the ongoing Light Attack Experiment died Friday, June 22, 2018 when the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft he was flying crashed inside the Red Rio Bombing Range inside the White Sands Missile Range.

A second crew member successfully ejected and has sustained minor injuries.

No word on cause of the accident.

The Aviationist wrote:
The USAF’s controlled commercially-owned A-29 was about to demonstrate its capabilities as part of the second phase of the Light Attack Experiment on Jun. 22, when it crashed.
 
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Dutchy
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:23 pm

RIP, testing and flying aircraft is still dangerous.

On a related note, that can't be good for the evaluation points for the Embraer A-29. Does this mean more chances for the AT-6?
Many happy landings, greetings from The Netherlands!
 
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Moose135
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:04 pm

Dutchy wrote:
On a related note, that can't be good for the evaluation points for the Embraer A-29. Does this mean more chances for the AT-6?

I think until they know the cause of the crash, it will be hard to determine what effect, if any, it has on the evaluation of the aircraft.
KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
 
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Dutchy
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:11 pm

Moose135 wrote:
Dutchy wrote:
On a related note, that can't be good for the evaluation points for the Embraer A-29. Does this mean more chances for the AT-6?

I think until they know the cause of the crash, it will be hard to determine what effect, if any, it has on the evaluation of the aircraft.


I understand, but on a subconscious level, it can't help.
Many happy landings, greetings from The Netherlands!
 
Ozair
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:41 pm

Dutchy wrote:
RIP, testing and flying aircraft is still dangerous.

On a related note, that can't be good for the evaluation points for the Embraer A-29. Does this mean more chances for the AT-6?

Same engine in both so it if is propoulsion related it shouldn't dent any chances.
 
Nean1
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:46 am

About 250 A-29s have been delivered to 18 operators. Many of them are heavily employed, in remote regions ander unfavorable climate. The competitor is still a concept without customers.

A little bit of calm before jumping to hasty conclusions would be great.
 
Ozair
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:16 am

As a result of the crash it looks like the Light Attack experiment may be rolled up as long as they have enough data to draw conclusions.

USAF suspends light attack experiment and looks to end contest early

The US Air Force suspended its light attack experiment at Hollomon AFB in New Mexico after the fatal crash of a Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano on June 22.

The USAF is examining the data collected thus far in the about a month-long second phase of the experiment to determine if it has enough information to end the contest early.

“The experiment team is currently reviewing the data collected from the current phase of experimentation, as well as last year's experiment activities, to determine the way ahead,” said the USAF. “The forecast for return to flight operations for the experiment is still to be determined.”

The USAF’s light attack experiment team is providing support to the Safety Investigation Board in its investigation of the A-29 Super Tucano’s crash. However, the service decline to share additional details on suspected cause of the crash.

One pilot was killed and another had minor injuries after both ejected from the aircraft about 56nm (105km) north of Holloman AFB at the Red Rio Bombing Range.

The crash came about five weeks after the USAF started the second phase of the light attack experiment on 17 May. Phase two was to examine sustainment requirements, networking with allies’ platforms and flying costs of the A-29 Super Tucano and Textron Aviation's Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine.

The first phase of the contest was held in July 2017 and included Textron Aviation’s Scorpion jet, though that aircraft was rejected by the service for further consideration in phase 2.

The USAF plans to use data gathered from the experiment phases to decide whether to buy hundreds of light attack aircraft. The hope is these fighters could be cheaper alternatives to using aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-35, Boeing F-15 or Fairchild Republic A-10 for surveillance and ground attack missions.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... -e-449818/
 
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keesje
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:36 am

I wonder if the USAF has second thoughts.

Of course the cost benefits of Tucano & AT6 are evident.

But the safety of aircrew involved can't be compromized too much.

And a shoot-down / captured pilot is all over the internet in minutes.

E.g. speed & a second engine make a difference.
"Never mistake motion for action." Ernest Hemingway
 
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seahawk
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:39 am

For a service that will soon by flying mostly single engine fighters?
 
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Aesma
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:21 pm

In what circumstances would that aircraft be used ? Does the US plan a new invasion of Vietnam ?
New Technology is the name we give to stuff that doesn't work yet. Douglas Adams
 
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keesje
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:46 pm

seahawk wrote:
For a service that will soon by flying mostly single engine fighters?


At different heights and speeds.

Image

If the enemy starts to shoot back, the slow, low ones go down. Even in Vietnam 50 yrs ago that became clear.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_losses_of_the_Vietnam_War#USAF_fixed-wing

Maybe a T-X platform can become a relatively cheap compromise.
"Never mistake motion for action." Ernest Hemingway
 
mmo
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Tue Jul 03, 2018 1:20 pm

keesje wrote:
I wonder if the USAF has second thoughts.

Of course the cost benefits of Tucano & AT6 are evident.

But the safety of aircrew involved can't be compromized too much.

And a shoot-down / captured pilot is all over the internet in minutes.

E.g. speed & a second engine make a difference.



The OA-X concept is not designed or planned for high threat areas. They are envisioned as counter-air for areas where there are "feet on the ground" in order to supplement the needs of the ground forces. Right now, the A-10 is covering that role, as well as other "fast jets". However, there is a need for an A-10 replacement and the current thought would be to supplement the existing force with an OA-X type aircraft. The F-35 was planned to assume all A-G roles, but given the high price tag and operating costs a simpler platform was envisioned.
If we weren't all crazy we'd all go insane!
 
Nean1
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:03 pm

Since the 1970s there has been little improvement in the performance of high-cadence cannons. On the other hand, there has been great progress in terms of accuracy and range in air-to-ground weaponry. This favors solutions like the A-29.

You should keep in mind that attack helicopters were viewed as a solution by the military greatly because of restrictions on operation operation of fixed wing aircraft. In practice, these attack helicopters are much less effective due to the lower speed and autonomy. They are also much more risky for their crews because of the lower mechanical reliability and absence of the ejection system.
 
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keesje
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:47 pm

"Never mistake motion for action." Ernest Hemingway
 
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seahawk
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Wed Jul 04, 2018 7:19 am

keesje wrote:
seahawk wrote:
For a service that will soon by flying mostly single engine fighters?


At different heights and speeds.

Image

If the enemy starts to shoot back, the slow, low ones go down. Even in Vietnam 50 yrs ago that became clear.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_losses_of_the_Vietnam_War#USAF_fixed-wing

Maybe a T-X platform can become a relatively cheap compromise.


As the turboprop can use LGBs and guided rockets just like the jet, it does not need to fly low and would probably operate at 15.000+ft anyway. (A-29 is rated for up to 35.000ft) Sure it is a bit slower than a jet but the heat signature is probably also a bit lower. In exchange for that it burns less fuel and has a longer loiter time.
 
ThePointblank
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Wed Jul 04, 2018 9:11 am

Nean1 wrote:
You should keep in mind that attack helicopters were viewed as a solution by the military greatly because of restrictions on operation operation of fixed wing aircraft. In practice, these attack helicopters are much less effective due to the lower speed and autonomy. They are also much more risky for their crews because of the lower mechanical reliability and absence of the ejection system.

Attack helicopters were invented to escort transportation helicopters, and providing fire support to the helicopter-borne soldiers operating from the transport helicopters.

Helicopters also have the advantage of being able to hug the terrain very tightly; they can hide behind crests and tree lines and pop up, fire at targets, and duck back down before the enemy can respond.

They also have persistence to stay in the battle space and attack targets very close to friendlies.
 
Nean1
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:55 am

ThePointblank wrote:
Nean1 wrote:
You should keep in mind that attack helicopters were viewed as a solution by the military greatly because of restrictions on operation operation of fixed wing aircraft. In practice, these attack helicopters are much less effective due to the lower speed and autonomy. They are also much more risky for their crews because of the lower mechanical reliability and absence of the ejection system.

Attack helicopters were invented to escort transportation helicopters, and providing fire support to the helicopter-borne soldiers operating from the transport helicopters.

Helicopters also have the advantage of being able to hug the terrain very tightly; they can hide behind crests and tree lines and pop up, fire at targets, and duck back down before the enemy can respond.

They also have persistence to stay in the battle space and attack targets very close to friendlies.


ThePointblank,

The question arises that historically helicopters were employed in Afghanistan for COIN actions. Let's look at a comparison between the Tiger Attack helicopter and the Super Tucano:

                                                      Tiger A-29

Unit Cost (US Millions) 27-36 9-18
Endurance (in hours) 3.5 8.5
Maximum Speed (km / h) 315 590
 
ThePointblank
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:29 am

Nean1 wrote:
ThePointblank wrote:
Nean1 wrote:
You should keep in mind that attack helicopters were viewed as a solution by the military greatly because of restrictions on operation operation of fixed wing aircraft. In practice, these attack helicopters are much less effective due to the lower speed and autonomy. They are also much more risky for their crews because of the lower mechanical reliability and absence of the ejection system.

Attack helicopters were invented to escort transportation helicopters, and providing fire support to the helicopter-borne soldiers operating from the transport helicopters.

Helicopters also have the advantage of being able to hug the terrain very tightly; they can hide behind crests and tree lines and pop up, fire at targets, and duck back down before the enemy can respond.

They also have persistence to stay in the battle space and attack targets very close to friendlies.


ThePointblank,

The question arises that historically helicopters were employed in Afghanistan for COIN actions. Let's look at a comparison between the Tiger Attack helicopter and the Super Tucano:

                                                      Tiger A-29

Unit Cost (US Millions) 27-36 9-18
Endurance (in hours) 3.5 8.5
Maximum Speed (km / h) 315 590

The French must be given credit for the first truly armed helicopter. According to French Army Major j. Pouget, in the early and mid-1950's, they used US H-21 helicopters, armed with SS-10 missiles, fixed machine guns and free firing machine guns against the Algerians in their conflict.

In the US, the first attack helicopter was invented for the Vietnam war, when they started arming UH-1's with rockets and machine guns. Their job was to escort transport UH-1's for the air mobility mission, and provide fire support to suppress ground fire when landing.

When it was realized that arming UH-1's wasn't ideal because the extra weight and drag slowed down the armed helicopters, they developed a purpose built helicopter for the role; the AH-1 Cobra. And once it was realized that the existing weapons weren't ideal against enemy AFV's, the decision was made to arm attack helicopters with anti-tank missiles.

From then on, the primary missions for US Army attack helicopters has been:
1. The destruction of enemy armour and mechanized forces;
2. The destruction of enemy air defence assets;
3. Supporting friendly maneuver forces with fire support;
4. Coordinate fire support from indirect assets (artillery, tactical air), as required;
5. Provide aerial escort to support aerial assault missions;
6. Destruction of enemy helicopters that pose an immediate threat to the mission;
7. Destruction of enemy logistics and communication lines
 
Nean1
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Thu Jul 05, 2018 3:16 am

ThePointblank wrote:
Nean1 wrote:
ThePointblank wrote:
Attack helicopters were invented to escort transportation helicopters, and providing fire support to the helicopter-borne soldiers operating from the transport helicopters.

Helicopters also have the advantage of being able to hug the terrain very tightly; they can hide behind crests and tree lines and pop up, fire at targets, and duck back down before the enemy can respond.

They also have persistence to stay in the battle space and attack targets very close to friendlies.


ThePointblank,

The question arises that historically helicopters were employed in Afghanistan for COIN actions. Let's look at a comparison between the Tiger Attack helicopter and the Super Tucano:

                                                      Tiger A-29

Unit Cost (US Millions) 27-36 9-18
Endurance (in hours) 3.5 8.5
Maximum Speed (km / h) 315 590

The French must be given credit for the first truly armed helicopter. According to French Army Major j. Pouget, in the early and mid-1950's, they used US H-21 helicopters, armed with SS-10 missiles, fixed machine guns and free firing machine guns against the Algerians in their conflict.

In the US, the first attack helicopter was invented for the Vietnam war, when they started arming UH-1's with rockets and machine guns. Their job was to escort transport UH-1's for the air mobility mission, and provide fire support to suppress ground fire when landing.

When it was realized that arming UH-1's wasn't ideal because the extra weight and drag slowed down the armed helicopters, they developed a purpose built helicopter for the role; the AH-1 Cobra. And once it was realized that the existing weapons weren't ideal against enemy AFV's, the decision was made to arm attack helicopters with anti-tank missiles.

From then on, the primary missions for US Army attack helicopters has been:
1. The destruction of enemy armour and mechanized forces;
2. The destruction of enemy air defence assets;
3. Supporting friendly maneuver forces with fire support;
4. Coordinate fire support from indirect assets (artillery, tactical air), as required;
5. Provide aerial escort to support aerial assault missions;
6. Destruction of enemy helicopters that pose an immediate threat to the mission;
7. Destruction of enemy logistics and communication lines



ThePointblank,

I invite you to imagine how the 7 activities listed by you would be executed if the Army could freely choose and operate the armament to be employed without any impediment to choose and operate fixed wing aircraft.

Poor countries without aerospace industry have realized early the advantages of aircraft such as the A-29. They were not stuck with grandiose projects.
 
ThePointblank
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Thu Jul 05, 2018 3:46 am

Nean1 wrote:
ThePointblank wrote:
Nean1 wrote:

ThePointblank,

The question arises that historically helicopters were employed in Afghanistan for COIN actions. Let's look at a comparison between the Tiger Attack helicopter and the Super Tucano:

                                                      Tiger A-29

Unit Cost (US Millions) 27-36 9-18
Endurance (in hours) 3.5 8.5
Maximum Speed (km / h) 315 590

The French must be given credit for the first truly armed helicopter. According to French Army Major j. Pouget, in the early and mid-1950's, they used US H-21 helicopters, armed with SS-10 missiles, fixed machine guns and free firing machine guns against the Algerians in their conflict.

In the US, the first attack helicopter was invented for the Vietnam war, when they started arming UH-1's with rockets and machine guns. Their job was to escort transport UH-1's for the air mobility mission, and provide fire support to suppress ground fire when landing.

When it was realized that arming UH-1's wasn't ideal because the extra weight and drag slowed down the armed helicopters, they developed a purpose built helicopter for the role; the AH-1 Cobra. And once it was realized that the existing weapons weren't ideal against enemy AFV's, the decision was made to arm attack helicopters with anti-tank missiles.

From then on, the primary missions for US Army attack helicopters has been:
1. The destruction of enemy armour and mechanized forces;
2. The destruction of enemy air defence assets;
3. Supporting friendly maneuver forces with fire support;
4. Coordinate fire support from indirect assets (artillery, tactical air), as required;
5. Provide aerial escort to support aerial assault missions;
6. Destruction of enemy helicopters that pose an immediate threat to the mission;
7. Destruction of enemy logistics and communication lines



ThePointblank,

I invite you to imagine how the 7 activities listed by you would be executed if the Army could freely choose and operate the armament to be employed without any impediment to choose and operate fixed wing aircraft.

Poor countries without aerospace industry have realized early the advantages of aircraft such as the A-29. They were not stuck with grandiose projects.

Easy; it would look a lot like the USMC, which has organic tactical air and rotary wing assets under a single command structure.

Aircraft like the A-29 won't fit in; the USMC has not shown interest in this type of aircraft, nor do they want it.
 
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seahawk
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:23 am

Actually the USMC has a RFI out for a light attack plane: https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/y ... the-corps/
 
ThePointblank
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:55 am

seahawk wrote:
Actually the USMC has a RFI out for a light attack plane: https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/y ... the-corps/

From reading about the USMC's plans, they don't intend on deploying the aircraft on combat missions; they want to use it as a training platform to train forward air controllers and tactical controllers within the US. See the 2017 USMC Aviation Plan:

https://www.aviation.marines.mil/Portal ... 20PLAN.pdf

Page 180 if you want to go directly to the slide.

MARINE COMPOSITE TRAINING SQUADRON CONCEPT
USMC fixed wing adversary and fleet Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) and Forward Air Controller (Airborne) (FAC(A)) training requirements will persist, and likely grow. Headquarters Marine Corps Aviation is examining alternatives and solutions for these high demand/low density adversary and CAS training platforms.

The Marine Corps composite training squadron concept could address those needs. This squadron, likely in 4th MAW, would provide low cost, regionally distributed adversary and light attack-capable fixed-wing airframes to support fleet aviation and TACP/FAC(A) production, while improving readiness across the MAGTF.

Compositing two different aircraft regionally will support crucial local training requirements:

1) The F-5 (or similar aircraft) will support fixed-wing adversary support for fixed-and rotary-wing squadrons, as well as for LAAD and command and control training.
2) The turboprop aircraft and/or unmanned platform will augment close air support training for TACP and FAC(A)

SQUADRON COMPOSITION AND SUSTAINMENT


The USMC F-5 current fleet has a service life plan that extends the current platforms to 2025 (see F-5 Plan). Research is ongoing to examine low-cost turbo propeller aircraft alternatives to employ alongside the F-5. Marine aviation is examining options to purchase and/or lease contractor-owned and -maintained airframes that could be operated by USMC aviators from the composite training squadron and local flying units.

CAPACITY AND ACCESIBILITY
Current USMC inventory is 12 F -5s assigned to VMFT-401 at MCAS Yuma that execute detachments to away sites for training support. Marine aviation is researching the requisite manning and logistics to expand adversary and TACP/FAC(A) capacity and capability while improving accessibility by possibly placing permanent resources at MCAS Beaufort, MCAS Cherry Point, and MCAS Miramar.

CAPABILITY
The current configuration and future upgrades to the F-5 do not meet all MAGTF requirements for F-35 and F/A-18, but these aircraft can effectively service many fixed wing, rotary wing DACM, GBAD, and C2 training needs (see F-5 Plan). Additionally, an ordnance-employing light attack turbo prop airframe with variable communication and sensor suites would help support all air and ground terminal attack control training requirements.


FUTURE

Procurement of additional F-5s with significant service life remaining along with leasing or procuring a light ordnance capable turbo prop could allow the USMC to meet, with a combination of organic assets and contracted solutions, most of the requirements for adversary training and appropriately augment close air support for TACP and FAC(A) training.
 
Nean1
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:16 pm

ThePointblank,

As you well know, the USMC's requirements are different from the Army, especially due to the need for onboard operations. This logically gives an advantage to rotating wing solutions, which lose much less performance when compared to fixed wing aircraft.

But even the USMC is carefully scrutinizing options similar to A-29 concept for the advantages it exhibits. They are an expeditionary force with a strong focus on practical ideas and may want to test something functional and low risk.

Maybe you should focus more on facts and data and review some preconceived ideas.
 
ThePointblank
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:14 pm

Nean1 wrote:
ThePointblank,

As you well know, the USMC's requirements are different from the Army, especially due to the need for onboard operations. This logically gives an advantage to rotating wing solutions, which lose much less performance when compared to fixed wing aircraft.

But even the USMC is carefully scrutinizing options similar to A-29 concept for the advantages it exhibits. They are an expeditionary force with a strong focus on practical ideas and may want to test something functional and low risk.

Maybe you should focus more on facts and data and review some preconceived ideas.

The USMC doesn't see a need for this type of aircraft, except in a training role. See the 2017 Marine Corps Aviation Plan for what exactly the Marines are saying they want. And the Marines are specialists in counterinsurgency and whose operations aren't governed by agreements that keep fixed wing aircraft away from their operations. Notice how the Marines don't want this type of aircraft anywhere near the two-way firing range, and instead want it as a training aircraft.

Also, notice how no other Western military is interested in this type of aircraft...

Sending large numbers of slow, limited, propeller-driven aircraft into battle is at best a false economy, and at worst potentially disastrous; look at the heavy casualties among light attack squadrons during the conflict in Vietnam, where the anti-air threat was more limited.

The whole argument of buying OA-X is predicated on the idea you have these big operating theatres where there will never be a threat to air power, which cannot be relied upon, and the economic alternative is that pilot lives aren’t worth much, so put them in cheaper planes that are easily shot down. For Western militaries that are casualty adverse, this makes no sense whatsoever.
 
WKTaylor
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:31 pm

Here is the actual loss report for the SEA conflict.

AFFDL-TR-77-115 [declass] A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF USAF FIXED-WING AIRCRAFT LOSSES IN SOUTHEAST ASIA COMBAT

The A-37B had the best combat hit-to-loss ratio of ~+12-hit to 1-loss

The old 100-series jets had the poorest hit-to-loss ratio of ~3-to-4-hit to 1-loss
 
smithbs
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Thu Jul 05, 2018 9:37 pm

The debate with light attack aircraft continues on, but I think the major services are not seeing it as viable - especially with the long move to multi-role aircraft. It doesn't leave much room for specialist aircraft like this.

As mentioned above, the most obvious trouble comes when the theater goes from light combat (some guys with AKs) to something more. Angola in the 1980s showed what happens when MANPADs arrive in quantity - A/C have to go either low or high. If you go low like the SAAF did, you are confined to very narrow attack profiles that depend on a faster performance aircraft with a good nav/attack computer and going after pre-planned targets. The Mirage F1 was barely capable of this. Re-targeting or loitering during these profiles can't be done, and so CAS goes out the window. If you go high, then you need a performance aircraft that can haul a load up high. CAS becomes possible with precision munitions and good optics. In both cases, you've had to exchange your cheap turbo-props for something like F-16s or F-15Es.

Likewise, if a conflict erupts with a major state with a competent military, those cheap attack aircraft will have to stay parked on another continent. Or, like Iraq in 2003, they will have to stay parked during the height of regular combat and could only come out once the heavy lifting is done. So the cheap aircraft provide nothing to your initial "break-in" combat, nor against "state vs state" conflict, but those are the phases when you need everything to be in the air. Funding a whole fleet that can't contribute in this scenario is, in the end, very expensive.
 
Nean1
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Thu Jul 05, 2018 11:35 pm

smithbs wrote:
The debate with light attack aircraft continues on, but I think the major services are not seeing it as viable - especially with the long move to multi-role aircraft. It doesn't leave much room for specialist aircraft like this.

As mentioned above, the most obvious trouble comes when the theater goes from light combat (some guys with AKs) to something more. Angola in the 1980s showed what happens when MANPADs arrive in quantity - A/C have to go either low or high. If you go low like the SAAF did, you are confined to very narrow attack profiles that depend on a faster performance aircraft with a good nav/attack computer and going after pre-planned targets. The Mirage F1 was barely capable of this. Re-targeting or loitering during these profiles can't be done, and so CAS goes out the window. If you go high, then you need a performance aircraft that can haul a load up high. CAS becomes possible with precision munitions and good optics. In both cases, you've had to exchange your cheap turbo-props for something like F-16s or F-15Es.

Likewise, if a conflict erupts with a major state with a competent military, those cheap attack aircraft will have to stay parked on another continent. Or, like Iraq in 2003, they will have to stay parked during the height of regular combat and could only come out once the heavy lifting is done. So the cheap aircraft provide nothing to your initial "break-in" combat, nor against "state vs state" conflict, but those are the phases when you need everything to be in the air. Funding a whole fleet that can't contribute in this scenario is, in the end, very expensive.


smithbs,

Its logic does not apply to many conflicts in which the US has been directly or indirectly involved in the past 20 years. The advances in terms of sensors and air weapons change this logic that you described for the case of Angola.

With all due respect there are several aircraft totally inadequate for low intensity / COIN conflicts such as the A-10 and F-16. In practice you are spending a lot of resources for little result.

Solutions like the A-29 allow you to team allies spending little and giving them the effective means of defense, not just airplanes to participate in aerial parades. And better, with crew and local maintenance personnel, rather than risking your own servicemen.

It is often better to have a simple screwdriver than a complex multipurpose Swiss knife. The concept of multirole aircraft sometimes goes beyond common sense.
 
smithbs
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:54 am

Nean1,

I think Angola and Afghanistan are excellent cases to look at. For very little cost, an out-of-region actor put a bunch of MANPADs into the hands of insurgents and caused massive problems for the local air force. It's almost too easy to do. MANPADs have been present in Iraq, Syria and Libya but not in large numbers...but it wouldn't be hard to do if someone really wanted to. And if/when it does happen, what then? You go to your President and tell him you have to park half the air force? "You're fired."

If you are in a geopolitical vacuum where no one else cares what is happening and the insurgents have nothing at 12.7 mm or above, then a cheap light attack aircraft is fine but I'd argue that helicopter gunships would be better.

A cheap light attack aircraft based on a turboprop would be easy to design - dozens of nations have that kind of technology (fewer have the engine technology but those could be acquired). But we don't see much of a market for it and few builders for it. I think the global market is saying something about this class of aircraft.

Don't get me wrong - the concept of an armed-up PC-7 or Super Tucano appears to make sense. But I have to admit that if I was running a procurement budget that I was responsible for, I'd have to say "cool idea, but the F-16D gives me more options."
 
ThePointblank
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Re: News on Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X)

Fri Jul 06, 2018 3:57 am

smithbs wrote:
Nean1,

I think Angola and Afghanistan are excellent cases to look at. For very little cost, an out-of-region actor put a bunch of MANPADs into the hands of insurgents and caused massive problems for the local air force. It's almost too easy to do. MANPADs have been present in Iraq, Syria and Libya but not in large numbers...but it wouldn't be hard to do if someone really wanted to. And if/when it does happen, what then? You go to your President and tell him you have to park half the air force? "You're fired."

If you are in a geopolitical vacuum where no one else cares what is happening and the insurgents have nothing at 12.7 mm or above, then a cheap light attack aircraft is fine but I'd argue that helicopter gunships would be better.

A cheap light attack aircraft based on a turboprop would be easy to design - dozens of nations have that kind of technology (fewer have the engine technology but those could be acquired). But we don't see much of a market for it and few builders for it. I think the global market is saying something about this class of aircraft.

Don't get me wrong - the concept of an armed-up PC-7 or Super Tucano appears to make sense. But I have to admit that if I was running a procurement budget that I was responsible for, I'd have to say "cool idea, but the F-16D gives me more options."


This is basically it. The situations where a light attack aircraft makes sense is fairly limited to a very low threat environment, and with the proliferation of man-portable anti-air weapons, it turns much of the low altitude range out of bounds because of the high risk.

Also, consider the manning issues; the USAF is experiencing a pilot shortage. The Air Force is currently short over 1,200 fighter pilots and doesn’t need any additional requirements which don’t relieve pressure elsewhere. Manning 100+ OA-X means over 100 pilots taken away from existing assets which are already highly stressed.

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