Why is the F-35 replacing the A-10?

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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ricnunes

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Unread post19 Mar 2017, 17:38

neptune wrote:COIN

T-6
Cruise speed: 320 mph (278 kn)
Never exceed speed: 364 mph (316 kn)
Range: 1,036 mi; (900 nmi)
Service ceiling: 31,000 ft
g limits: +7.0g −3.5g
Fuel capacity: 149.0 gal (1200lbs)

Number built over 850
Unit cost US $4.272 million

It has to have speed to arrive on station; it has to have duration to loiter; it has to be cheap.

- Existing rotor craft are slower; they have poor duration to loiter; they are expensive. UH-60: US $21.3 million (avg. U.S. procurement, 2012)
- MQ-9 Reaper armed drones, for roughly $20 million apiece in 2010



Well, these kind of aircraft (X-2 and Valor) are not your "typical rotorcraft". Actually they use fixed-wings to provide lift at higher speeds and have "horizontal thrust" which greatly increase their speed and loiter time compared to "conventional rotor aircraft" (i.e. Helicopters) like the UH-60 that you mentioned.

For example the Valor is expected to have a cruise speed of 280 knots which is slightly higher (by 2 knots) compared to the T-6.

Drones/UAV are an interesting solution but like others (namely blindpilot) have said, drone operating infrastructures is not cheap and this not to mention the cost associated with the satellites needed to actually and effectively operate ("communicate" with) the UAVs.
Moreover UAVs while an excellent choice for environments where the enemy has limited air defence capabilities they (UAVs like the MQ-9) are extremely vulnerably to any enemy that possesses proper or advanced air defence systems and/or integrated air defence systems, a limitation which is similar/shared by aircraft like the AT-6/Super Tucano.

So what I find interesting about this sort of aircraft (X-2, Valor) is that they share similar performance as an AT-6 but can alternatively operate like a helicopter whenever needed, making these sort of aircraft much more multi-functional and at the same time more survivable.
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Unread post19 Mar 2017, 18:25

ricnunes wrote:[.... making these sort of aircraft much more multi-functional and at the same time more survivable.


Counter Insurgency COIN

F-35 replacing A-10.... expensive vs. "paid far/ cheap"

COIN may/ may not have stingers..

..- on 16 Jan 2017.. over the next five years .."procure 300 low-cost, light-attack fighters that would require minimal work to develop".
.. to formally invite companies to participate in a light-attack aircraft demonstration this summer (2017), the service’s top uniformed acquisition official said
.... “We’re trying to keep this as broad as we can so that industry may have something that’s very innovative that we haven’t thought about,” he said.
... is a needed platform for current manpower levels.
...so we could have a lower operating cost, a lower unit cost, for something to be able to operate in a permissive … environment ..
...Bunch cited 15-plus years of prolonged conflict in the Middle East, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and with the Islamic State and other extremist groups extending their influence in the region, “we don’t see an end to that,” ..
...  “This is commercial, off-the-shelf, that we could rapidly employ in combat.” Goldfein and other leaders have said the light attack plane would not replace the service’s beloved A-10 Warthog

.. whether it would be a flight demonstration such as a fly-off, simulation trials or just a viewing of various industry light attack aircraft.. as a “phase I” approach to the concept,..
A “phase II” of the experiment would send the aircraft downrange to the Middle East for a Combat Dragon II-like exercise which demonstrates if a turboprop-powered or light attack aircraft can be viable in a permissive environment, ..

...now that the soviet armor did not horde thru the Fulda Gap, the A-10C is still flying COIN/ CAS and the JSF "can" replace it's function (now a sub-function with cheaper weapons rather than an a/c)...COIN can be done cheaper with 300 new AT- 6 types
:)
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geforcerfx

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Unread post19 Mar 2017, 20:15

It will prob be indentical to the Afghanistan light attack competition and come down to the AT-6 and the A-29. Which if it does I am sure someone will complaining about the how we just ran the same competition. If it's the USAF buying them for there own use I think the AT-6 stands a better chance, especially if beechcraft improved on some of shortcomings in the last competition.
Last edited by geforcerfx on 20 Mar 2017, 17:09, edited 1 time in total.
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ricnunes

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Unread post19 Mar 2017, 21:25

Hi Neptune,

I'm not disputing that there's currently some sort of plan to eventually acquire a low cost CAS/FAC aircraft like the AT-6 or Super Tucano. By the way, in such competition I also believe that an AT-6 would make more sense due to commonality with the current T-6 Texan II trainer fleet.

I'm also not disputing that the program could get a "green light" and some of those aircraft may end up being purchased in the future.

However I'm disputing the usefulness of such fleet (AT-6, Super Tucano or any other "similar" aircraft) in western and developed countries such as the USA or any other NATO country for example.
Yes, such aircraft could be useful for undeveloped air forces or air forces with limited resources which are involved in counter insurgency (COIN) operations such as the already mentioned Afghanistan. Or the same also applies for example to Brazil which fights along its Amazon rain forest borders against drug traffickers/cartels in what actually are COIN operations.

This is different with US or NATO forces which today are fighting against the Taliban where the local Afghan Air Force operates the Super Tucano and NATO forces (namely US) are using their drones/UAVs effectively. But what if the next conflict evolves action against an enemy equipped with a capable (and deadly) air defence system, which includes a wide array of SAMs and/or even an air force?? In such case either the AT-6 or the Super Tucano or any other "similar" aircraft would simply be useless!
Resuming I believe the way to go for any western armed forces (US, NATO, etc...) is to acquire equipment that will be capable for both high intensity/conventional conflicts and low intensity/counter-insurgency conflicts alike.

For example you mentioned the F-35 - This is a perfect example of an aircraft which is both capable for high intensity/conventional conflicts and low intensity/counter-insurgency conflicts.
The A-10 by its turn is capable for low intensity/counter-insurgency conflicts but definitely not so much for high intensity/conventional conflicts hence why it will be replaced by the F-35.

This being said, I'm not saying that a cheaper CAS/FAC (cheaper than the F-35) won't or wouldn't be needed in the future however if this approach is to be followed than a more capable and more multi-role aircraft should be purchased instead. Again, I believe that such aircraft could be something along the lines of the X-2 or Valor which would not only be as good as the AT-6/Super Tucano for CAS and FAC but would also perform many other missions like insertions/extraction of small infantry teams (for example Special Forces teams), MEDVAC, etc... and could even perform like a gunship helicopter which would make it more survivable and thus being capable for both high intensity/conventional conflicts and low intensity/counter-insurgency conflicts.
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Unread post20 Mar 2017, 00:09

The point in bringing the eventual FVL winner into the conversation is that the Army is going to be fielding a whole fleet of them, some of which will be in attack configuration -- and in that configuration, they will pretty much have the same capabilities as the A-10 (plus VTOL). The army is going to be fielding these aircraft (assuming the program doesn't get scrapped) regardless of what the Air Force does or does not do with the A-10. With that in mind, wouldn't a manned light attack craft for the Air Force be redundant?
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Unread post20 Mar 2017, 00:23

ricnunes wrote:So what I find interesting about this sort of aircraft (X-2, Valor) is that they share similar performance as an AT-6 but can alternatively operate like a helicopter whenever needed, making these sort of aircraft much more multi-functional and at the same time more survivable.


Why do you believe they will be more survivable?

They are not COTS, which the Air Force has specifically stated is the goal. Even if you ignore R&D costs it would be a more expensive platform with higher operational costs. It doesn't bring any enhanced capability that is relevant to the mission (...and no passenger seats aren't relevant). There is no upside that I see.

For example you mentioned the F-35 - This is a perfect example of an aircraft which is both capable for high intensity/conventional conflicts and low intensity/counter-insurgency conflicts.


The Air Force specifically does not want to repeat the issues that the Navy is currently having. The F/A-18 feet has been worn out because it was heavily utilized over the past decade in the COIN role. The point of O-AX is to save the F-35 for the higher end confrontations.

Having a (relatively) small number of cheap platforms that are useless in a high intensity conflict is preferable to having a fleet of expensive platforms that are stuck in the depot when you need them for said fight.

To be honest this program would be better served being handed off to SOCOM, but that would take away some pennies & the USAF is miserly.
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Unread post20 Mar 2017, 15:07

pmi wrote:
Why do you believe they will be more survivable?


Well for once, these aircraft (FVL program) will have the option to fly like helicopters and this means that these aircraft will for example be able to hover behind obstacles like hills, trees, buildings, etc... making them much harder to be detected by any conventional and well equipped (with Air Defence systems) enemies and thus being more survivable.

On top of this the FVL is much more multi-functional and thus more capable of taking multiple and different roles and therefore even if some reason the FVL wasn't more survivable (which I don't believe, see paragraph above) this alone would make it much more worthwhile than a light CAS aircraft like the AT-6/Super Tucano.

Even more and I could be wrong on this one, but from a first glance it seems that it would be easier to add armour which would help defeat low caliber or low velocity projectiles and shrapnel to the FVL than it would be to add it to the Light CAS aircraft which again would make the FVL more survivable.



pmi wrote:They are not COTS, which the Air Force has specifically stated is the goal. Even if you ignore R&D costs it would be a more expensive platform with higher operational costs. It doesn't bring any enhanced capability that is relevant to the mission (...and no passenger seats aren't relevant). There is no upside that I see.


I would say that anything that improves and adds roles to a platform is always an upside. But I guess each with its own.
Actually if you look at the military and not only today and or into the future but also at the past, namely after WWII you'll see that the trend is to have platforms that are multirole and take over the roles of multiple single-role platforms.
For example the modern Strike-Fighter (or Multi-Role fighter, whatever parlance you prefer) is taking over the roles of multiple aircraft such as Interceptors, fighter/dogfighters, Attack aircraft, CAS aircraft and even in some/many cases the role of Heavy Bomber.
Or for example the Main Battle Tank (MBT) took over the roles of Light, Medium and Heavy tanks and I could go on, and on...

Regarding and like count_to_10 said, having both (armed) FVL and the Light CAS aircraft would be redundant so having a single fleet of FVL will always be cheaper than having a fleet of FVL plus a fleet of Light CAS aircraft.

And who can really guarantee that the next war or the "next 10 wars" will be counter-insurgency in nature (instead of conventional wars)?


pmi wrote:The Air Force specifically does not want to repeat the issues that the Navy is currently having. The F/A-18 feet has been worn out because it was heavily utilized over the past decade in the COIN role. The point of O-AX is to save the F-35 for the higher end confrontations.


Well the issues with the Navy are far more complex that a simple "over utilized F/A-18s in COIN role". On top of these complex reasons is the fact that the F/A-18s operate from carriers which stresses the airframe much more compared to the land-based fighter aircraft counterparts.
Besides the Light CAS aircraft would never or would likely never be used from carriers so such aircraft wouldn't solve the problem that you mentioned.



pmi wrote:Having a (relatively) small number of cheap platforms that are useless in a high intensity conflict is preferable to having a fleet of expensive platforms that are stuck in the depot when you need them for said fight.

To be honest this program would be better served being handed off to SOCOM, but that would take away some pennies & the USAF is miserly.


Well I disagree and I mentioned above why so I won't repeat myself. However note that I disagree with you on a western/developed country point of view.
Yes, those light CAS aircraft make sense for under-developed countries which face COIN operations on an almost daily basis on their own territory, countries like again Afghanistan and/or Brazil. In my opinion, they don't make sense to countries which don't have to face daily COIN operations and/or are developed like for example the USA.

Finally for a country that would have armed FVL and armed UAVs in the future, those Light CAS aircraft would be redundant and as such would "overlap" the capabilities and roles of the armed UAVs and FVL.
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Unread post20 Mar 2017, 15:08

count_to_10 wrote:The point in bringing the eventual FVL winner into the conversation is that the Army is going to be fielding a whole fleet of them, some of which will be in attack configuration -- and in that configuration, they will pretty much have the same capabilities as the A-10 (plus VTOL). The army is going to be fielding these aircraft (assuming the program doesn't get scrapped) regardless of what the Air Force does or does not do with the A-10. With that in mind, wouldn't a manned light attack craft for the Air Force be redundant?


Absolutely, I fully agree that armed FVL together with Light CAS aircraft would be redundant.

Actually, I also believe that Light CAS aircraft and armed UAVs are also redundant.
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Unread post20 Mar 2017, 17:20

FVL is supposed to have a 250-500nmi combat radius, A-29 and AT-6 have around 1300nmi ranges (so 650nmi radius) with two external fuel tanks. I don't see the air force wanting to touch any of the fvl aircraft. I see the point of saying that we don't need COIN aircraft for our local disputes, but we aren't dealing with stuff in our backyard. We still have a COIN need for the foreseeable future, with no easy way out of it at this point. If we have to have aircraft doing the COIN role I would prefer it be a $10 million asset that costs $2,000-5,000 per flight hour vs a $80 million dollar asset that cost $25,000 per flight hour. At least with some like the AT-6 we can just throw them back into the trainer role of they end up becoming irrelevant quickly, or I am sure we can sell them to countries that would qualify for the constant COIN need.

A interesting point brought up was the Navy, as pointed out they wore out the hornet fleet rapidly doing COIN missions for the last 15 years. Should they be looking at a more affordable assest to deploy in those situations? Wonder if the Goshawk could be upgraded for a light attack role, other aircraft in the hawk family have the ability.
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Unread post20 Mar 2017, 19:22

geforcerfx wrote:FVL is supposed to have a 250-500nmi combat radius, A-29 and AT-6 have around 1300nmi ranges (so 650nmi radius) with two external fuel tanks.


Well 500 nautical miles isn't much less than 650 nautical miles specially considering that the FVL can be based on any place that a normal helicopter could be based on such as a FARP or a Forward Base while the AT-6/A-29 would still need an airstrip at best.
Resuming the ability for the FVL to takeoff and land or operate from pretty much everywhere (again like a helicopter) and as such much closer the "action zone" certainly offsets any range advantage that the AT-6/A-29 might have.


geforcerfx wrote:I don't see the air force wanting to touch any of the fvl aircraft.


If the concept works out and conventional helicopters starts being replaced/supplanted by the FVL I simply can't see why the Air Force wouldn't touch it??
Actually the use of such/similar aircraft by the Air Force (USAF) isn't certainly "alien" to the USAF as it currently operates the CV-22 Osprey.
So if the USAF can "touch" the CV-22 Osprey I can't see they wouldn't touch a much more multi-role and versatile FVL.


geforcerfx wrote:I see the point of saying that we don't need COIN aircraft for our local disputes, but we aren't dealing with stuff in our backyard. We still have a COIN need for the foreseeable future, with no easy way out of it at this point. If we have to have aircraft doing the COIN role I would prefer it be a $10 million asset that costs $2,000-5,000 per flight hour vs a $80 million dollar asset that cost $25,000 per flight hour. At least with some like the AT-6 we can just throw them back into the trainer role of they end up becoming irrelevant quickly, or I am sure we can sell them to countries that would qualify for the constant COIN need.


In the foreseeable future armed UAVs are and will be better than a Light CAS/COIN aircraft like the A-29/AT-6 since there have much longer loiter times and are just as equally well equipped (with sensors) and well armed. So for this reason alone Light CAS/COIN aircraft would be redundant and as such a waste of money.

So if there's a need for manned CAS/FAC/COIN platform in the future than the FVL would not only fill that role extremely well but it could at any time be rolled out to perform to MEDVAC, insertion/extraction of small infantry teams, delivery of small cargo payloads to troops on the ground and/or other duties or resuming capable of much more roles than the Light CAS/COIN aircraft like the A-29/AT-6 will ever be able to do and that clearly offsets any price advantage that the later Light CAS/COIN aircraft like the A-29/AT-6 may have over the FVL.



geforcerfx wrote:A interesting point brought up was the Navy, as pointed out they wore out the hornet fleet rapidly doing COIN missions for the last 15 years. Should they be looking at a more affordable assest to deploy in those situations? Wonder if the Goshawk could be upgraded for a light attack role, other aircraft in the hawk family have the ability.


Incurring the risk of repeating myself but Light CAS/COIN aircraft like the A-29/AT-6 won't be operating from Aircraft Carriers, namely from US Navy carriers.
And the use of aircraft like the Goshawk on US Navy Carriers wouldn't not only take up precious space aboard carriers (even when talking about the huge US Navy Aircraft Carriers) but the use of such aircraft for armed roles such as CAS ended on the later stages of the Cold War for some reason. Basically they share the same or similar limitations of the AT-6/A-29 (vulnerable to any reasonably equipped enemy force) but being potentially more expensive (specially to operate) and likely with shorter loiter times. By the way, examples of aircraft used in such roles in the past would be the German-French Alpha Jet or even the Italian MB-339.
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Unread post21 Mar 2017, 14:42

ricnunes wrote:Well for once, these aircraft (FVL program) will have the option to fly like helicopters and this means that these aircraft will for example be able to hover behind obstacles like hills, trees, buildings, etc... making them much harder to be detected by any conventional and well equipped (with Air Defence systems) enemies and thus being more survivable.


There's a reason the Army has completely changed it's doctrine for how gunships are employed. These days they aren't employing terrain masking, they're up as high as is feasible. Don't forget we are talking about a specific mision. If you are providing CAS you want to have a good picture of the battlespace. It's very different than ambushing tanks beyond the FLOT.

Rotorcraft are vulnerable to not only modern air defenses but also to relatively low tech adversaries as Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan et al have repeatedly shown.

The developments over the past 20-30 years have been to try and to increase standoff distances for rotor wings in order to mitigate the vulnerabilities.

That is one of the reasons that the Army is pushing for a hybrid platform. They want to give it more space from the threats. They want a platform with performance closer to that of fixed wing platforms (while not coincidentally being prohibited from employing actual fixed wing combat aircraft)

Whatever option the Army decides on will be more survivable because it flies a profile closer to fixed wing CAS, The whole point is to get it up and away from trashfire & MANPADS.

However note that I disagree with you on a western/developed country point of view.


You're not disagreeing with me you're at complete odds with what the AF says it wants and the reasons behind their decision.

The AF put out a requirement for an austere platform to save money as well as wear & tear on high end air frames.

Your plan is the very definition of mission creep & misses the point entirely.

Yes, those light CAS aircraft make sense for under-developed countries which face COIN operations on an almost daily basis on their own territory, countries like again Afghanistan and/or Brazil. In my opinion, they don't make sense to countries which don't have to face daily COIN operations and/or are developed like for example the USA.


Of course, the US has been carrying COIN operations continuously for the better part of 20 years and there is little indication that is going to change.

When it's all said and done I wouldn't be surprised if this is really just another political shell game by the AF and that after the evaluation is completed they'll say none of the contestants were suitable and end the program.
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Unread post21 Mar 2017, 22:05

pmi wrote:There's a reason the Army has completely changed it's doctrine for how gunships are employed. These days they aren't employing terrain masking, they're up as high as is feasible. Don't forget we are talking about a specific mision. If you are providing CAS you want to have a good picture of the battlespace. It's very different than ambushing tanks beyond the FLOT.


And the reason for the change of doctrine is because current conflicts have been COIN/non-conventional in nature where there isn't a defined front line or a well defined "this is friendly territory" and "that is enemy territory" (like it happened for example in 1991 Desert Storm).

You can bet that once and if those gunship helicopters will have to face a conventional and well equipped enemy (specially in terms of Air Defences) again that they will revert to the popup and terrain masking doctrines.

And that's exactly what's great about the FVL -> It can be used with both doctrines of popup/terrain masking (ideal/better for conventional warfare) and fly high (ideal/better for COIN/non-conventional warfare) while the Light Attack Aircraft cannot (can only use the later doctrine).


pmi wrote:Rotorcraft are vulnerable to not only modern air defenses but also to relatively low tech adversaries as Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan et al have repeatedly shown.


Rotorcraft (Helicopters) are far less vulnerable to modern air defence than the Light Attack Aircraft and you can bet on that. Again terrain making techniques/doctrines makes helicopters very, very hard to be detected - either by Radar, by IR or even by the "good old Mk1 Eyeball" and an air defence system - no matter how advanced it is - can only shoot what it can detect.


pmi wrote:The developments over the past 20-30 years have been to try and to increase standoff distances for rotor wings in order to mitigate the vulnerabilities.

That is one of the reasons that the Army is pushing for a hybrid platform. They want to give it more space from the threats. They want a platform with performance closer to that of fixed wing platforms (while not coincidentally being prohibited from employing actual fixed wing combat aircraft)


Like I've been saying, one of the reasons that the Army is pushing for a hybrid platform as you say is because this "hybrid platform" or FVL can be used as and share the advantages of both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter.
And once again and incurring the risk of repeating myself, the FVL can do everything that the Light Attack Aircraft does and much, much more.


pmi wrote:Whatever option the Army decides on will be more survivable because it flies a profile closer to fixed wing CAS, The whole point is to get it up and away from trashfire & MANPADS.


I'm not so sure of that regarding MANPADS. What's the REAL celling when one of those Light Attack Aircraft like the Super Tucano or the AT-6 is when they are fully equipped and armed?
I know that sites like Wikipedia and not only says 35,000ft for the Super Tucano (which is likely taken from the company brochures) however I very much doubt that it would even be half of it when that aircraft is equipped with Electro-Optical sensors and heavily armed with Laser or GPS guided munitions. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong in this case.


pmi wrote:You're not disagreeing with me you're at complete odds with what the AF says it wants and the reasons behind their decision.

The AF put out a requirement for an austere platform to save money as well as wear & tear on high end air frames.

Your plan is the very definition of mission creep & misses the point entirely.


Again, I could be wrong but this decision/requirement looks more to me like a study than an actual procurement. Or resuming this "Light Attack Aircraft" could not even go ahead.

"My plan" as you put it is based on the FACT that having one more platform (the Light Attack Aircraft) will had extra costs such a completely new pilot training program, the actual training of new pilots (or conversion from other pilots), a completely new mechanic/support team and respective training programs - although these could somehow be reduced if the AT-6 is chosen over the Super Tucano due to commonality with T-6II trainers - plus other cost associated but in the end new aircraft will always mean extra costs and this for a combat aircraft that can't be used in every war scenario.

So as you can see "my plan" is to actually save money since buying a redundant fleet is always a waste of money! Once again you seem to be forgetting about the UAVs.

Again UAVs which aren't going nowhere are like it or not are here to stay can perform the roles of the Light Attack Aircraft and armed UAVs can perform those roles likely even better than the Light Attack Aircraft.


You even to somehow agree with me when you said:
When it's all said and done I wouldn't be surprised if this is really just another political shell game by the AF and that after the evaluation is completed they'll say none of the contestants were suitable and end the program.



pmi wrote:Of course, the US has been carrying COIN operations continuously for the better part of 20 years and there is little indication that is going to change.


Well, the problem with wars is that we never know where and how the next one will be fought. :wink:
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Unread post22 Mar 2017, 06:46

The only thing the AT-6 / Super Tucano's offer is
Cheap to buy
Cheap to operate
Cheap to fuel
Cheap to repair.

It's all about money.

Any lack of capabilities can be tacked on with pods or other modules.

It was never meant to be a mid end platform or even a low end platform.

It was meant to be as cheap as humanly possible.
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Unread post22 Mar 2017, 07:09

KamenRiderBlade wrote:The only thing the AT-6 / Super Tucano's offer is
Cheap to buy
Cheap to operate
Cheap to fuel
Cheap to repair.

It's all about money.

Any lack of capabilities can be tacked on with pods or other modules.

It was never meant to be a mid end platform or even a low end platform.

It was meant to be as cheap as humanly possible.

yup, and the biggest advantage is they can be had today. The order can go in today because the aircraft are already designed and in service (well the At-6 being a T-6II). It seems the air force wants a quick competition and a squadron ready to go in 2-3 years. Both aircraft types are familiar to the USAF so they can be integrated relatively quickly.

There are other aircraft out there that can do the mission better, but we want something that can do the mission and not cost $60,000 per hour.
Last edited by geforcerfx on 22 Mar 2017, 17:14, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post22 Mar 2017, 14:52

KamenRiderBlade and geforcerfx,

You are absolutely right about AT-6/Super Tucano's cheap acquisition and operational costs.

However it doesn't matter if this new fleet is cheap or not if there's already another fleet of aircraft that does the same job/role and is also relatively cheap as well - and again I'm talking about the armed UAV's such as the MQ-9.

So if you already have the capability to perform the role with a fleet of armed UAVs which costs "X" and then you add a fleet of Light Attack Aircraft that costs "Y" then the cost will always be "X+Y" and this independently of how cheap "Y" is, even if compared to "X". What I mean with this is that "X" will always be cheaper then "X+Y".

And while personally I'm a bit of a skeptical person about UAVs, independently of that one thing is for sure and granted:
- UAVs namely the armed ones are here to stay and as such it doesn't make much sense to acquire a fleet of aircraft (AT-6/Super Tucano or any other Light Attack Aircraft) when you already have and will have a fleet of armed UAVs (like the MQ-9) that will probably and for the most part do a better job while at the same time without risking the pilot's and/or weapons operator's lives.
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