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

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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wrightwing

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Unread post24 Nov 2018, 05:35

michaelemouse wrote:
eloise wrote:I recalled the pilot have explained that A-10 will only be used after SEAD is done, so what is left probably MANPARD and AA Flak which it can stay out of range with GBU-12/Maverick/APKWS, of course, there could be pop up threat but i think the added agility benefit of lightly loaded A-10 will be quite negligible against SAM.

Let me get this right, the aircraft whose two main assets are supposed to be its 30mm gun for offense and resilience to damage for defense will rely PGMs for offense and on SEAD having been done + staying out of range for defense?


The 30mm gun has never been the A-10s primary weapon system.
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weasel1962

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Unread post24 Nov 2018, 06:59

kimjongnumbaun wrote:The F-111 had more armor kills than the A-10 is Desert Storm and with less combat losses. Pretty good considering that it beat out the A-10 in the very role it was designed to perform and fewer F-111s were flying in theater.


Some notable differences. F-111s were mainly operating at night with pave tacks + LGBs targeting tanks. A-10 shot at everything including arty etc in day and night. A-10 supporters would highlight that if the F-111s were operating 24/7, their loss rates would have been much higher than the A-10s and that the F-111s played a complementary role rather than an alternative role. The bigger take-away for me is that F-111s validated the PGM targeting role. Today, every fighter in the USAF/USN arsenal is capable of "tank plinking" at much further/safer ranges.

The improvement today vs 27 years ago is that a single shooter can perform multiple targeting which facilitates very quick termination of a target list at start. In that the F-35 can do better than the A-10 because it can handle both strategic and tactical targets. Targets of opportunity thereafter which UAVs etc helps to identify, would be the next list of targets. Again something the F-35 with sensor fusion can prosecute much better than the legacy A-10.

The A-10 is a fantastic weapon that was intended to fulfil a role that is increasingly obsolete. It can still do the job but it will be replaced.
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Unread post24 Nov 2018, 09:38

weasel1962 wrote:
kimjongnumbaun wrote:The F-111 had more armor kills than the A-10 is Desert Storm and with less combat losses. Pretty good considering that it beat out the A-10 in the very role it was designed to perform and fewer F-111s were flying in theater.


Some notable differences. F-111s were mainly operating at night with pave tacks + LGBs targeting tanks. A-10 shot at everything including arty etc in day and night. A-10 supporters would highlight that if the F-111s were operating 24/7, their loss rates would have been much higher than the A-10s and that the F-111s played a complementary role rather than an alternative role. The bigger take-away for me is that F-111s validated the PGM targeting role. Today, every fighter in the USAF/USN arsenal is capable of "tank plinking" at much further/safer ranges.

The improvement today vs 27 years ago is that a single shooter can perform multiple targeting which facilitates very quick termination of a target list at start. In that the F-35 can do better than the A-10 because it can handle both strategic and tactical targets. Targets of opportunity thereafter which UAVs etc helps to identify, would be the next list of targets. Again something the F-35 with sensor fusion can prosecute much better than the legacy A-10.

The A-10 is a fantastic weapon that was intended to fulfil a role that is increasingly obsolete. It can still do the job but it will be replaced.

The F-111's were tank plinking from medium altitude; they weren't being forced to fly down low within range of AAA and MANPADS. Should be noted the bulk of the A-10's losses and write offs were from AAA and MANPADS hits; as such, if the F-111's were operating in broad daylight at the operational altitudes to do tank plinking, they should be relatively safe from such threats.
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Unread post24 Nov 2018, 15:00

Salute!

Great points, KIM.

However, I'll suggest you get the standard Gums' admonshment about quoting an entire post from a previous contributor. No bad feelings, but some of us pay by the byte or have slow connects , and we have already red the post. So just a few lines will do.

- The armor and redundant systems are prevelant on most systems since the 50's, as Kim says. Except for the rotor, some helos are prolly better armored than the hawg. One thing I got in trouble for with my famous letter to the editor back in the day was asking, " If you were flying a plane that could take damage due to its delivery profile, or not take damage due to its delivery profile, which would you rather fly?"

- The ZSU-23 can take out a AC-130 orbiting at their standard altitude and did so in Desert Storm. So I lost 16 neighbors fr.om arouind here at one swoop - Spirit 03. The 1.5 km "effective" range is pessimistic. I saw great accuracy from the 12.7 stuff years ago, and we used about 2 km for them if we could maneuver. The ZSU that has the radar is prolly mean out to 3 or clicks if you are flying a fairly stable profile, and if self-designating you cannot be jinking a lot.
.
The difference between the guns is impressive, and is due to ballistic coefficient and not all that much due to muzzle velocity. The 12.7 is really flat out to 1 click, and first one I saw was a surprise, as the AK rounds had noticeable curved trajectories. The 23 was between the ZSU-2 14.5 mm guns and the 37mm. Tracer path was like a light beam, or dashes, out to 3 or 4 clicks, very flat trajectory. And so forth.

- In the Storm, or 'raqi I as I like to say, the 'vaarks could afford to plink with LGB's due to air supremacy and SEAD. So I would have leaned toward the Hawg and Mavs for most scenarios.

- As some here have posited, the Hawg gun was gonna be the tank killer, as back then the basic EO Mav was hard to use, especially in a single seater with no "help" as we had in the A-7D. You couldn't see the damn tank against the roadside trees until you were so close you could strafe it!! The IR Mav changed all that, and in the Desert, you could find the critters miles away. The Hawgs used the seeker as a poor man's LANTIRN in 'raqi I. My buddies from the 354th wing said the tubes looked like toothpicks due to the delta heat.

While I do not relish using zillion dollar and scarce resources for CAS, I feel the new weapons will greatly help. If the grunts have reliable designators, then those pesky new SbD's will do the job. If there's not a lotta ack, the buddy with a pod can designate or you can do it yourself. The biggie is sorting out friend from foe.

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steve2267

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Unread post24 Nov 2018, 15:47

Gums wrote:
One thing I got in trouble for with my famous letter to the editor back in the day was asking, " If you were flying a plane that could take damage due to its delivery profile, or not take damage due to its delivery profile, which would you rather fly?"



... or not take damage cuz the enema doesn’t know where your at no matter your delivery profile (as long as your not a dufus), rates like a Viper, radius’s like a Bug, can carry as much as a Hawg, and has legs like a Mudhen...

...imitates a Raptor... delivers ordie like a SLUF... and some can even float like a hummingbird — better than a Harrier...

(Oh, yeah... you can watch Netflix on your RTB flight... prolly, maybe...)
Take an F-16, stir in A-7, dollop of F-117, gob of F-22, dash of F/A-18, sprinkle with AV-8B, stir well + bake. Whaddya get? F-35.
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ricnunes

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Unread post24 Nov 2018, 16:56

eloise wrote:I recalled the pilot have explained that A-10 will only be used after SEAD is done, so what is left probably MANPARD and AA Flak which it can stay out of range with GBU-12/Maverick/APKWS, of course, there could be pop up threat but i think the added agility benefit of lightly loaded A-10 will be quite negligible against SAM. Nevertheless, a heavy loaded A-10 still faster and more agile than AC-130, AH-64, MQ-9


Basically, what it's described above is IMO goes in line what I posted earlier in one of these A-10 threads about why the A-10 should actually be retired.
The fact is that there are a quantity/variety of platforms that together can perform all the roles the A-10 can perform and in most of the cases better so while at the same time these platforms can perform other roles that the A-10 cannot.

About the part where you say:
"Nevertheless, a heavy loaded A-10 still faster and more agile than AC-130, AH-64, MQ-9"

Well, for starters I agree with michaelemouse. For cases where agility and speed are needed than use a fighter instead. A heavily armed fighter aircraft (like the F-35) is much, much faster and agile than an equally armed A-10.

Moreover, the other platforms that you mentioned above (AC-130, AH-64 and MQ-9) have advantages that IMO far offset any speed and agility that the A-10 may have over these same platforms. For example the AC-130 and MQ-9 have much, much bigger loiter times compared to the A-10 while the Apache can actually hover over the enemy or around the enemy's position and be deployed much, much closer to the frontlines (which offsets the A-10 speed advantage).

At the same time, none of the platforms above loses significantly or by much in terms of firepower compared to the A-10. Actually in terms of "pew-pew" (err, I mean guns) the AC-130 surpasses the A-10 by very, very far. The A-10 has a huge an impressive 30mm gun? Absolutely! But what to say about the AC-130's 40mm gun or better yet its 105mm howitzer? :wink:



eloise wrote:My point is, if A-10 commonly carry only 2 Maverick + 2 GBU-12 then it will have less shot than MQ-9


Well but my point was about "usual loadouts". The MQ-9 loadout of 4 Hellfires + 2 GBU-12s seem to be a "maximum effort" loadout. I could be wrong but the usual MQ-9 loadout seems to be either:
- 4 x Hellfires (without the GBUs)
or
- 2 x GBU-12 (without Hellfires)

In which case would be "less shots" (or less powerful shots) than an A-10 armed with 2 Maverick + 2 GBU-12 plus obviously the internal 30mm gun.



eloise wrote:The small rocket pod is LAU-68 with max capacity of 7 rocket, when loaded with APKWS you got 7 PGM
So in total you have 14 shot for PGM + 5-6 gun run.


All of that would be true:
- IF, the rockets are actually APKWS (instead of unguided ones)
- IF, the target isn't well protected - even by short range air defense systems - since the APKWS maximum range when fired from a fixed-wing aircraft isn't that much to start with, which is around 6.8 nautical miles. But note that even if the aircraft fires an APKWS at its maximum range it will still have to fly into the general direction of the target (and thus getting closer to the target), this in order to ensure the laser guidance of the launched APKWS.
- IF, a single target can be destroyed by a single APKWS due to its smaller warhead (this of course depends of the target).

As you can see, there are too many IFs here that prevent me of considering "1 APKWS shot" equals a "1 shot" by any of the other weapons that we mentioned such as Maverick, LGBs, JDAMs, SDBs or even Hellfires.


eloise wrote:Yes but miniature weapon like Brimstone , JAGM or SDB haven't been integrated to A-10. If A-10 continues to be in services, these weapons will be integrated eventually, and A-10 will have many available weapon stations, sorta like a Tornado


Sure but I guess you misses my points earlier:
If you start adding lots of SDBs, Brimstone, JAGM, etc... on the A-10 like you have on that Tornado above or like on other fighter aircraft you'll drastically lose performance in the A-10, namely in terms of agility and speed.
In the end what I mean is that the adding for example 14 SDBs (or more) on the F-35 (or on other higher performance fighter aircraft) will have a much, much lesser impact on performance compared to adding the same loadout on the A-10.

Also note, that I don't have anything against the A-10. Not at all! It was one of my favorite aircraft of my youth - that 30mm Avenger gun and all :mrgreen:
But its time just passed without many IMO apparently still not realizing this. Again, similar to what happened to Dive Bombers and Torpedo Bombers of WWII in the past.
“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
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ricnunes

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Unread post24 Nov 2018, 17:02

Gums wrote:- The ZSU-23 can take out a AC-130 orbiting at their standard altitude and did so in Desert Storm.


Well, the AC-130 that was shot down in Desert Storm was due to an Igla MANPADS SAM and not due to a ZSU-23 gun.

According to this wikipedia site:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_AC-130

The AC-130's that were shot down over Vietnam were either due to SAMs (one due to a SA-2 and another due again to an Igla/SA-7) or due to higher caliber guns (higher than 23mm), namely 37mm and 57mm guns.
“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
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Unread post24 Nov 2018, 19:29

Salute!

Sorry 'bout my memory, Ric, Spirit only lost 14 and seems it was a MANPAD.

OTOH, 4 outta the 6 lost AC-130 Spectres were 37 or 57 AAA, and one SA-2 and another due to MANPAD.

Closest I came to disaster was a 37mm they had moved well south and the shells came so close that they "banged" my little jet, then airbursted well above me. The thing had a magazine/clip or such that only held "x" rounds, and cyclic rate was slower than the 23 mm or ZPU-2 we often saw. So we would see maybe 7 or so rounds, and then nada, whereas the others hosed away.

I truly believed that the Vee moved their 7-level gunners down to the trail in 72. They were really good, and had not practiced a lot since mid 68 and the halt up in Rte Pack 6.

Gums...

P.S. The Dec 72 loss was our first night CSAR in the A-7 after we took over from the A-1's. I think some of the crew survived, but need to check. The wreckage was well off the Trail to the west, and fairly low-threat AFA groundfire.
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Unread post24 Nov 2018, 23:22

Gums wrote:Salute!

Sorry 'bout my memory, Ric, Spirit only lost 14 and seems it was a MANPAD.

OTOH, 4 outta the 6 lost AC-130 Spectres were 37 or 57 AAA, and one SA-2 and another due to MANPAD.


No problem Gums. It happens to us all :wink:

Gums wrote:Closest I came to disaster was a 37mm they had moved well south and the shells came so close that they "banged" my little jet, then airbursted well above me. The thing had a magazine/clip or such that only held "x" rounds, and cyclic rate was slower than the 23 mm or ZPU-2 we often saw. So we would see maybe 7 or so rounds, and then nada, whereas the others hosed away.


I can never thank you enough for sharing your experiences, Gums :thumb:

Regarding your experience above, would you think that a single hit from a 37mm round would have shot down the targeted aircraft? Obviously I'm aware that this is a very subjective question because it certainly depends on where the hit would occur but this is question in "general terms".
And would it make a diference if the aircraft was an A-7 compared to an A-37 for example (basically what I'm asking is if the A-7 is considerably more resistant than the A-37, namely to shells such as 37mm?).
“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
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Unread post25 Nov 2018, 00:02

Salute!

The A-37 might have made it if the 23 or 37 round hit the wing tip. With all cables and pushrods, the thing could prolly fly.

The Navy A-7's took hits and came home or ejected close to the boat. Our Sandy lead that took a hit exploded a drop tank, and he made it back with minimal problems. But a later guy bit the bullet over Cambodia and we're not sure what calibre, but it was not 23, and musta hit the belly 'cause no ejection as i recall.

The Thuds took lottsa hits, but also lost lottsa planes and friends of mine.

My flight leader on the flameout mission had a 6 inch hole in his wing from a 12.7, but our wing tanks were filled with foam and didn't explode easily. Let's face it. They were shooting the hell outta us that mission.

My preference is to not test the armor! Heh heh heh.

Gums sends...
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Unread post25 Nov 2018, 01:35

MANPADS accounted for half of the A-10 losses in GW1; the other half was attributable
to the heavier truck-mounted IR missiles (Gaskin and Gopher). The biggest SEAD campaign
in world history failed to suppress them.

Their modern derivatives would be imaging infrared + datalink or active RF + datalink.
Both are pretty resilient to SEAD and to platform self-defense techniques and the A-10's
armor is not designed to withstand their warheads.

With all of the emphasis on kinetic counter-UAS and counter cruise missile, low and slow is a bad
place to be for a manned platform on the modern battlefield.
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Unread post25 Nov 2018, 03:01

With modern IADS, high altitude isn't exactly safe either. Now you're dealing with multiple radar systems which need to be defeated, and the shooter doesn't necessarily need to emit to fire on you. We recently had a class led by our TACOPs officer and it did not present very good survival rates against lone radar guided threats, and survivability decreased even more dramatically in multiple emitters scenarios. It's one of the reasons why I'm such a big supporter of transitioning our aircraft to 5th gen. I see the predicted survival rates all the time, and we don't another counter against a modern and competent enemy without suffering significant losses.
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Unread post25 Nov 2018, 03:57

marauder2048 wrote:MANPADS accounted for half of the A-10 losses in GW1; the other half was attributable
to the heavier truck-mounted IR missiles (Gaskin and Gopher). The biggest SEAD campaign
in world history failed to suppress them.

Their modern derivatives would be imaging infrared + datalink or active RF + datalink.
Both are pretty resilient to SEAD and to platform self-defense techniques and the A-10's
armor is not designed to withstand their warheads.

With all of the emphasis on kinetic counter-UAS and counter cruise missile, low and slow is a bad
place to be for a manned platform on the modern battlefield.

The bigger IR SAM's (the SA-9's and SA-13's) are still both low altitude systems; therefore, any aircraft that remained in the low altitude regime got shot up pretty bad.

The SEAD campaign in Gulf War I did a very good job at suppressing the Iraqi medium to high altitude air defence systems, allowing aircraft to operate in those regimes, and thus take lower losses.
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Unread post25 Nov 2018, 04:27

How low do aircraft typically fly to provide close air support? Like the A-10 or AC-130 when using their guns? Would they lose a lot of effectiveness if they went to 5km altitude?

Wouldn't the accuracy of guided munitions be largely altitude-independent?
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Unread post25 Nov 2018, 07:39

michaelemouse wrote:How low do aircraft typically fly to provide close air support? Like the A-10 or AC-130 when using their guns? Would they lose a lot of effectiveness if they went to 5km altitude?

Wouldn't the accuracy of guided munitions be largely altitude-independent?


Depends on the platform and weapons they choose to employ. From my understanding when employing guns, fixed-wing assets will engage anywhere from 5000 to 3000ft AGL (dive angle and speed to take in consideration). With PGMs like JDAM or laser guided munitions, fixed-wing aircraft can effectively and accurate engage targets from as high as 25000ft with no problem. From my understanding adverse weather like overcast can lower the accuracy of laser guided munitions. I am not too sure about the Spooky but that 105 can definitely reach out and thump someone. The AC-130W has more standoff capability now.

Rotary-wing aircraft like Apache and Cobra are a different story. They obviously do not have the altitude and the variety of munitions that fixed-wing aircraft have so they are limited in their ranges of engagement. However this doesn't mean they do not have long range stand off capability in their own right. An Apache can accurately engage hostiles at standoff ranges with its 30mm cannon at well over a mile and the Hellfire and reach out and smack someone at 5mi.
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