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

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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MD

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Unread post03 May 2016, 05:19

XanderCrews wrote:MD, as someone has flown both ends of the spectrum with the A-10 and F-117 whats your take on this generally speaking?

I mean a lot of people have decided that armor=survivability but as an F-117 guy its almost the complete opposite concept, and historically we have had tactically better survivability with the stealth airplane. What are your thoughts?

Greeting from Freezing New Mexico BTW


Speaking of New Mexico, the first Blake's Lotaburger in Arizona just opened in Tucson. lol.

The big thing is it depends on what you're trying to do and what the tactical situation requires, but that being said, low and slow is something that gets you shot up or shot down. So unless the tactical situation requires it, you just don't do it. Armor-wise, we had A-10s shot up and shot down in Desert Storm by SAMs and AAA. Sturdiness is nice, but its no guarantee of anything. And at medium altitude, it won't matter anyway, as a double digit SAM doesn't care what kind of armor there is.

Funny thing about the titanium bathtub......it's nice, but it's not the cats meow. Because while the front windscreen of the Hog is thick and reinforced, the canopy is simple plexiglass, mainly for weight purposes when it comes to jettisoning the canopy for ejection. You can't have a heavy canopy that won't clear far enough away for ejection purposes, namely in zero-zero conditions on the ground. So with that, if down low maneuvering hard, and I take a round through the plexiglass canopy while in a hard bank turn, that cool titanium bathtub, now becomes a titanium catchers-mitt, with my pink body in the middle. That's the part that's not really considered.

There's a reason we moved up to medium altitude for CAS, and a reason the A-10 was modified in the C model to join the "CAS stack" with far more effectiveness than the A-model had. Because down low got us killed in Desert Storm. With regards to stealth, I can't really see a CAS scenario where stealth would be required; in that, if friendly troops are on the ground, 1. the cat's out of the bag that we're there, and 2. we're not going to operate in CAS without SEADing the threats that would require a stealth aircraft.....much less have friendly troops that close to the enemy who is protected by a heavy IADS like that. But I could be wrong. To me, I'd picture the F-35 going into a scenario like that with it's external racks installed and going to work much like an F-16, just with it's advanced sensors and it's own way of prosecuting the CAS puzzle.

So in my opinion, while there's time and place for low altitude and medium altitude, the times for low altitude are getting lesser than they used to be, while the times for medium altitude are getting more due to the constantly evolving ability to reach out and touch the enemy, without them being able to touch you necessarily, or their ability having been sufficiently degraded. This is what the A-10 fanboy types don't seem to realize.

Hope that answers your question.
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XanderCrews

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Unread post03 May 2016, 22:32

That is excellent thank you for taking the time! I had both tought about the canopy. Great point about the stack

One of the reasons for stealth for CAS (beyond just Survivability) for specific missions was very fluid situations where there was no time to wait for support, (pilot rescue, embassy evacuation) or for special operations support especially in countries we may not want to advertise our presence, and or cause damage too (example Pakistan, other "contested regions")
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Unread post04 May 2016, 00:01

XanderCrews wrote:One of the reasons for stealth for CAS (beyond just Survivability) for specific missions was very fluid situations where there was no time to wait for support, (pilot rescue, embassy evacuation) or for special operations support especially in countries we may not want to advertise our presence, and or cause damage too (example Pakistan, other "contested regions")


Agreed. And there could very be specific scenarios where the two, stealth and CAS, would go hand in hand. In that event, I think the F-35 would do fine. Far better than my F-117....with its limitations in sensors, communications, and stores carrying ability......could do. At the end of the 117s life, when they were looking for jobs for it to do to keep it viable, the 49th FW leadership was coming up with some wild scenarios. Like base defense of FOBs in Iraq (you know, an AH-64 Apache mission), and other such weird ideas that had absolutely zero relation to what the 117 was either designed for or capable of. We had just gotten JDAM capability installed when PBD720 came out announcing the fleet being retired.
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Unread post04 May 2016, 05:18

MD wrote:
So in my opinion, while there's time and place for low altitude and medium altitude, the times for low altitude are getting lesser than they used to be, while the times for medium altitude are getting more due to the constantly evolving ability to reach out and touch the enemy, without them being able to touch you necessarily, or their ability having been sufficiently degraded. This is what the A-10 fanboy types don't seem to realize.



:salute:

:applause:

:notworthy:

I don't know how many times I have tried to convey/convince/argue/debate that flying low and slow, using the Mk1 day time forward looking optical device (i know i know just call it the "Mk1 eyeball" but it just sounds so much better when you try to make it sound like a highspeed technical piece of kit), and using the "gun" isn't the primary means of CAS anymore... unless your are a rotary-winged aircraft and even then the Mk1 DTFLOD is enhanced with other systems. Still they cling to either a romanticized idea/fantasy. If I give an in depth and very sound reason that cannot be argued or dismissed I am quickly labeled... LM Shill... sure sign that they have nothing else to come back with.

just wanted to say that I salute you and bow down to your greatness... you, Gums, and everyone else who had it real tough before we had things like secure comms, GPS, stealth, Link 16, blue force tracker, PEQs, LAMs, and all this highspeed gear that has "spoiled" Marines and Soldiers.
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Unread post04 May 2016, 06:01

charlielima223 wrote:[I don't know how many times I have tried to convey/convince/argue/debate that flying low and slow, using the Mk1 day time forward looking optical device


Agreed. Like I said, I don't immediately toss out any tactic, but simply place it in the tactics bag of tricks, for possible use in an appropriate time/place/need. There are times for low level, there are times for Mk1 eyepiece, there are times for slower than normal; but those times are.....for all intents and purposes.....the exception, not the rule, these days. Back in the day, they were far more common as a tactic because they had to be. Nowdays, not as much, in fact, far less than the old days.

just wanted to say that I salute you and bow down to your greatness... you, Gums, and everyone else who had it real tough before we had things like secure comms, GPS, stealth, Link 16, blue force tracker, PEQs, LAMs, and all this highspeed gear that has "spoiled" Marines and Soldiers.


Gums definitely has me beat in that way. I at least had a somewhat ok INS (no GPS at the time) in the jet, but it was quirky. For example, if you tried to do a manual update on it over, say, a known geographical point, the INS would ask to confirm that you wanted to do that update, and if you said yes, then the INS would cease updating itself anymore. It's as if you pissed it off because you essentially told it that you were smarter than it, and now its taken its ball and gone home. lol.

Old school low tactics we used to do were quite interesting. We'd have a real world 1500-2000 AGL cloud deck when heading out to the range. Inbound, we'd have a pre-planned first-run attack, all comms-out, at 300 AGL with self-target marking (this being a known pre-planned target). On the ingress in a 2-ship, Lead would pop at a pre-determined and pre-measured point very quickly to a 20 degree climb and loose off two WP rockets, then roll inverted, descend back down to low level and continue the ingress. The loft rockets were timed to impact the target area just prior to number 2's action point where he'd take spacing and maneuver for his off-axis attack about 30 or so degrees different from #1. At the action point, #2 would make his maneuver, while #1 would pop-to-acquire the target/smoke (about 3-5 seconds to do so, maybe even get a correction if there's a ground FAC watching the target), then roll in for 10 degree low angle/high drag attack or CBU attack. For qual purposes, we did it with manual pipper instead of CCIP, nearly 290 or so mils cranked in (near the bottom of the HUD combining glass, as HUD was 310 mils total), so that meant that if you were at all shallow or at all slow, you'll descend below release altitude before the target crosses the pipper, and have to abort the pass. So "tiger errors" of steep/fast were far better. #1 would make his attack, come off target with a turn-level-turn safe escape, and switch from bombs to guns in order to cover #2s a$$ end, as #2 was ideally about 20 seconds behind #1, and since #1 had already blown the element of surprise. #2 would be into attack on his run (target acquisition being easier for him from the smoke, just DMPI placement being key), and #1 would strafe as #2 came off target. #1 would come off target as #2 is heading for terrain masking, and both would head reverse direction back out to the IP, joining back up along the way, and either reset for attacks from an ETAC, or proceed to another target, or tanker/RTB, whatever. Was very challenging stuff, just in the planning of it. I'll have to post some pics of my old hand-drawn planning maps of this in 1:50, with the lines of where everyone should be at what time, timing ticks, and ground tracks. Pretty cool stuff.

These days, I can't find an A-10 pilot who does this, as things are mostly medium altitude with TGPs/JDAM/LGBs. In fact, manual (non-computed) bombing is a fam (familiarization) event these days, it's no longer a qualification event like it used to be in my day. If a guy can't do it, no big deal. In my day, if a guy couldn't qual in manual, he was non-CMR (Combat Mission Ready) until he did qual quarterly.

I love old school, don't get me wrong. Love the challenge of it. But at the same time, I understand the realities of technology, both in our ability to employ against the enemy, as well as their ability to employ against us. And we have to honor both that ability on our side, as well as that threat on their side, accordingly. Failure to do so, as fanboys (and even some of my cohorts) can't or don't want to seem to understand, will have dire consequences.

Was funny too, in the -117 community, the majority of our guys there (you had to come from another airframe with 1000+ hours and IP status) came from F-4/F-111 backgrounds, of the older guys. Of the younger guys it was from F-16s. Second was from F-15Cs, third was from F-15Es, and the least number of guys were from A-10s. Of the two squadrons at Holloman, I think there were only 5 or 6 A-10 background guys, including myself, during my time there. The 117 is a handful of an aircraft, which is why it had to be flown on autopilot during attack, as the pilot is completely engrossed heads down in the cockpit working the IRADS and gaining target acquisition, going into-attack and releasing the ordnance, and ensuring it guides to the target by keeping the crosshairs on the DMPI. If ever there was a jet that needed a WSO, it was that jet. So with its severe automation, if the autopilot didn't work for some reason during the flight, or the auto-door cycling of the bomb bay doors was inop, it was an air-abort. Only we A-10 guys were trying to figure out ways to manually fly the jet and employ the ordnance (doable, but was heavily a-holes and elbows in the cockpit), as well as do manual drops of bombs from the bay if the auto feature didn't work, as the bay doors could be manually opened and the bomb released, then manually closed. Not as fast as auto, of course, but doable. We even looked at HUD-out ordnance drops, but being at medium altitude, there was no way to utilize the manual pipper in the 117s HUD (believe it or not, there actually was one), and even so, the pipper only cranked down to 150 mils...far too little for a level drop (no diving deliveries in the 117) at anything higher than a 1000 ft AGL or so, which wouldn't ever be done, so that was a no-go, but we tried. I never did figure out why there was a manual pipper in the 117 HUD, as it had absolutely no use to us whatsoever.

Sorry for the rambling, you just got me remembering back to the days.
Last edited by MD on 04 May 2016, 07:43, edited 5 times in total.
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Unread post04 May 2016, 06:48

OLD post about OLD ways of manual bombing back in the early 1970s in an A4G Skyhawk with a manual gunsight/bombs:

viewtopic.php?f=57&t=22125&p=243467&hilit=Battle+Formation#p243467
A4G Skyhawk: www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ & www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/videos?view_as=subscriber
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Unread post04 May 2016, 06:53

MD wrote:…..


is that you Mike?
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Unread post04 May 2016, 07:19

35_aoa wrote:
MD wrote:…..


is that you Mike?


It is.
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Unread post04 May 2016, 07:24

spazsinbad wrote:OLD post about OLD ways of manual bombing back in the early 1970s in an A4G Skyhawk with a manual gunsight/bombs:


All great stuff there Spaz, real cool to look back at. These days, I'm just rotary wing trash, both AF Reserve as well as LE, so remembering the old days is cool for me. :D
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Unread post04 May 2016, 09:31

MD wrote:The big thing is it depends on what you're trying to do and what the tactical situation requires, but that being said, low and slow is something that gets you shot up or shot down. So unless the tactical situation requires it, you just don't do it. Armor-wise, we had A-10s shot up and shot down in Desert Storm by SAMs and AAA. Sturdiness is nice, but its no guarantee of anything. And at medium altitude, it won't matter anyway, as a double digit SAM doesn't care what kind of armor there is.


This is so true. A-10 is definitely a very tough bird, but nothing flyable is going to survive hits from even remotely modern AAA or SAM systems (even lighter ones) except with a lot of luck. I have personal experience what modern 25, 30 and 35 mm gun systems can do compared to Russian 23 mm and 12.7 mm guns and the difference in precision and hitting power is huge. Some tough aircraft like A-10 can probably take 12.7 mm and maybe occasional 23 mm hit but modern guns would tear any aircraft to shreds if given chance. Modern IFVs carry 25 to 40 mm guns and have targeting systems to successfully engage low flying aircraft with ease unlike older IFVs could. There are thermal imaging sights with automated target tracking systems and LRF to measure accurate range giving highly lethal combo. So it's not just dedicated ADA systems you have to worry about any more. So not giving a chance is better option which leads to just flying outside the relatively short range of enemy guns. Relying on armour for survivability these days is like flyweight boxer going up against prime George Foreman or Earnie Shavers relying on having a good chin... Not being hit is much better and that's why everybody who can are using higher altitude, long range precision weapons and advanced targeting systems even for CAS.

MD wrote:Funny thing about the titanium bathtub......it's nice, but it's not the cats meow. Because while the front windscreen of the Hog is thick and reinforced, the canopy is simple plexiglass, mainly for weight purposes when it comes to jettisoning the canopy for ejection. You can't have a heavy canopy that won't clear far enough away for ejection purposes, namely in zero-zero conditions on the ground. So with that, if down low maneuvering hard, and I take a round through the plexiglass canopy while in a hard bank turn, that cool titanium bathtub, now becomes a titanium catchers-mitt, with my pink body in the middle. That's the part that's not really considered.


Well, just install enough explosives to jettison the canopy properly... :wink:
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Unread post04 May 2016, 11:23

MD wrote:I never did figure out why there was a manual pipper in the 117 HUD, as it had absolutely no use to us whatsoever.


Was it an off-the-shelf unit from another aircraft? That would be my guess anyway.
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Unread post04 May 2016, 14:56

gtg947h wrote:Was it an off-the-shelf unit from another aircraft? That would be my guess anyway.


Probably was, as nearly everything else was on that jet. Hornet non-AB engines, F-16 flight control system, F-15 landing gear, some Hog cockpit controls. Wouldn't surprise me.
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Unread post04 May 2016, 14:59

hornetfinn wrote: Relying on armour for survivability these days is like flyweight boxer going up against prime George Foreman or Earnie Shavers relying on having a good chin... Not being hit is much better and that's why everybody who can are using higher altitude, long range precision weapons and advanced targeting systems even for CAS.


Agreed. And that's what the fan people aren't getting. The idea/plan isn't to go out there and be taking hits, it's to avoid taking hits. A damaged or shot down CAS aircraft, isn't going to do any good for ground troops anyway. That said, it's indeed amazing how technology of even non-ADA ground vehicles has advanced, as you note, to where you have to worry about even IFVs and APCs, not just the ZSUs only anymore.
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Unread post05 May 2016, 02:11

Some nostalgia for 'MD': Creature of the night Lockheed’s nearly invisible top-secret F-117 stealth fighter strikes Serbia Aviation History July 2016 10 page PDF attached.
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F-117 Aviation_History_2016_07 pp10.pdf
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F-117frontPanelCockpit+Guide.jpg
A4G Skyhawk: www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ & www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/videos?view_as=subscriber
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Unread post05 May 2016, 05:03

That's a damn cool find there Spaz, I'll have to read that at work tonight while I'm on standby. Some items not detailed on that instrument panel, and probably of interest to you as a Naval aviator, is above the altimeter is the AOA gauge (with corresponding AOA Indexer lights located to the side of the HUD combining glass), and above that is a small yellow-guarded pushbutton which is the tailhook deploy switch. Pushing this switch activates the detonation cord on the bottom of the jet around the tailhook compartment, and simultaneously discharges the nitrogen bottle that quickly deploys the tailhook to the down/locked position. There is no way to raise the tailhook once deployed. Also not shown in the pic (likely removed for the pic) is on the left console outboard-aft, there was a separate armament panel for nuclear stores, with various lights for armed, lock/unlock, and ready, left over from when that was a probable mission set. Pretty interesting stuff. Very roomy cockpit for a fighter-type aircraft, same size as the Hog.
Last edited by MD on 05 May 2016, 05:12, edited 1 time in total.
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