High cost of survival in an air war with China

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madrat

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Unread post21 Oct 2019, 12:54

With a Chinese lease of a Solomon's island in the works, how far could Flankers push out to sea?

https://images.app.goo.gl/8E4pzEoNbUSgUXvg7
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element1loop

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Unread post22 Oct 2019, 02:13

Tulagi Island is 4 km long and has no runway, the topography is not suitable to create a fighter length runway without a major engineering effort.

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For range illustration purposes, Su35 unrefueled operating radius (970 nm). Su35 does of course have a drogue-and-hose air refueling available.

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weasel1962

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Unread post22 Oct 2019, 02:24

Tulagi used to be a seaplane base. AG600/BE200 anyone?
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element1loop

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Unread post22 Oct 2019, 02:40

weasel1962 wrote:Tulagi used to be a seaplane base. AG600/BE200 anyone?


Given OTHR and RAAF AAR reach from Australia or else USAF or USN responses to any sea-plane operations, that's not going to last long in a conflict. Though the PLA could insert SF before hostilities to create a presence plus a GLCM in containers via ship. Ships and fighter basing won't last with JORN-Longreach operating. PLA could reach that with a long-range GLCM or SLCM. If the JORN network is on the blink PLAAF counter FARPing becomes possible. That's probably the bigger threat of such Chinese SW Pacific or SEA island leasing arrangements.
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madrat

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Unread post22 Oct 2019, 03:23

Thanks element1loop for illustrating the Flanker range. I guess it isn't such a great location for air assets. GLCM and radar sensors would be problematic if stationed there. But it would also be a stepping stone to move unorthodox forces through to Australia via naval assets.
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element1loop

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Unread post22 Oct 2019, 06:11

Plot of non-refueled H-6J + YJ-12 ALCM strike (2,105 nm) plus Su35 fighter operating range (970 nm) to contrast:

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China’s Navy Deploys New H-6J Anti-Ship Cruise Missile-Carrying Bombers
By Franz-Stefan Gady
October 12, 2018
https://thediplomat.com/2018/10/chinas- ... g-bombers/


It would be a high priority to remove targeting data plus tanker support early and quickly fill the western Pacific with F-35A/B/C DCA and strikers to limit the range and damage these 160 to 180 bombers could do to ships and bases.
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element1loop

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Unread post24 Oct 2019, 08:27

Marine Corps Defining New Operating Concept

10/22/2019

By Connie Lee

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Marine Corps is experimenting with teams through December to determine how it will structure its new expeditionary advanced base operations, or EABO, concept, a service official said Oct. 22. ... The idea was outlined in Berger’s Planning Guidance document that was released over the summer, which put forth a vision of expeditionary bases that are able to be moved quickly and perform a variety of tasks.

"EABO is not a 'thing' — it is a category of operations," Berger said in the document. "Saying we will do EABO is akin to saying we will do amphibious operations, and as with amphibious operations, EABO can take many forms. ... EABO are designed to restore force resiliency and enable the persistent naval forward presence that has long been the hallmark of naval forces. Most significantly, EABO reverse the cost imposition that determined adversaries seek to impose on the joint force." EABO bases could be made up of 40 Marines, or perhaps many more, Smith added.

"It's all going to be threat dependent,” he said. However, it must be “very temporary." These bases will be versatile enough to be used for multiple tasks, he noted. For instance, they could be employed for reconnaissance or forward-arming and refueling. ...

https://www.techapeek.com/2019/10/22/ma ... g-concept/
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element1loop

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Unread post29 Oct 2019, 01:47

Regarding the Solomon Islands lease, the whole thing has been disallowed and overturned. The deal was made without central government approval.

Solomons vetoes China ‘lease’ on Pacific isle
By AT CONTRIBUTOR
OCTOBER 25, 2019

The prime minister of the Solomon Islands said on Friday that a Chinese company’s attempt to lease an entire island in the Pacific archipelago was unlawful and would not be allowed to go ahead. The deal between the Solomons’ Central Province and the state-owned China Sam Group was “unlawful, unenforceable and must be terminated with immediate effect”, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s office said in a statement. It said the provincial government did not have the power to negotiate the agreement regarding Tulagi island, which has the type of deep-water harbour coveted by military chiefs.

In addition, the statement said China Sam did not have foreign investor status in the Solomons and no deal could be finalised without the approval of Attorney General John Muria. “It is settled practice that all agreements involving the Solomon Islands government, which includes the provincial governments, must be vetted by the Attorney-General before it is executed,” it said. “The agreement was not vetted by the Attorney General’s chambers before signing.” Central Province signed the “strategic cooperation agreement” on September 22 – a day after China and the Solomons officially established diplomatic relations following the impoverished Pacific nation’s decision to sever ties with Beijing’s arch-rival Taiwan. But it only became public earlier this month when the media obtained copies of the agreement.

https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/10/artic ... ific-isle/
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weasel1962

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Unread post06 Nov 2019, 14:02

Rand did a study which I thought is a good read and draws more realistic parameters over how USAF can carry out distributed ops.

https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/p ... RR2959.pdf

The FARP concept (4 fighters + 1 C-17) reflects similarly what was previously mentioned regarding potential B ops relying on mobility for survivability. I draw some positives from the report on the feasibility for such ops in the USAF conops.

The Air Force has been exercising the current Fighter FARP concept since 2009. One analysis found that there are at least 163 airfields in the Western Pacific that have sufficient runway length and weight-bearing capacity to accommodate the F-22s and C-17s.50 That said,FARPs create a significant demand on mobility aircraft and political access; therefore, they
would likely be a supplementary rather than primary type of operating location.
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marauder2048

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Unread post06 Nov 2019, 22:11

weasel1962 wrote:
The Air Force has been exercising the current Fighter FARP concept since 2009. One analysis found that there are at least 163 airfields in the Western Pacific that have sufficient runway length and weight-bearing capacity to accommodate the F-22s and C-17s.50 That said,FARPs create a significant demand on mobility aircraft and political access; therefore, they
would likely be a supplementary rather than primary type of operating location.


Which is just taken from the Davis paper cited above: "Forward Arming and Refueling Points for Fighter Aircraft."
There's no notion either in the Davis paper or the RAND paper of FARP turnaround times measured in minutes.

And the RAND report strikes me as fairly lukewarm on the concept; not a great deal of analysis devoted
to FARPs underscored by the recurring theme of "they are supplementary."

Being totally dependent on political access, heavy lift, local security conditions and degraded enemy ISR
it's not surprising RAND doesn't really do a deep dive there. Not that FARPs don't have utility particularly as a means
of surging counter cruise missile or other OCA/DCA capacity into an area.
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weasel1962

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Unread post07 Nov 2019, 01:09

The length of time on the ground depends upon the amount of fuel and munitions needed by the fighters. If it needs few munitions, a four-ship of F-22s can be back in the air 60 minutes after landing. In most situations, arming/refueling the fighters takes 60 to 120 minutes (fig. 5).


Above is the quote from Davis.

The objective of a FARP is to minimize response time and decrease turnaround time in support of sustained operations. Minimizing flight time to and from the FARP and reducing the refueling and rearming time within the FARP achieves this objective. Fueling and arming of assault support aircraft can be accomplished in about 20 to 30 minutes,while processing an attack aircraft may take up to 45 to 50 minutes. In both instances, fueling takes 10 to 15 minutes and ordnance uploading takes up the rest of the time. The overriding factor in estimating FARP processing time revolves around the ordnance requirements. The processing times depend on environmental factors, aircraft armament, and support personnel proficiency.


Above is the extract from MCWP 3-21.1 Chapter 7 (which is not reproduced in the update MCTP 3-20B).

The write ups in RAND and Davis are both consistent and the write up on FARPs are sufficient in length. USAF fixed wing has significant constraints on FARP operations including legacy operational preferences that favors large base operations. Same considerations in earlier posts have been highlighted and that's not new.

On turnaround times, operationally I understand there are several strategies that have been tested that reduce turnaround times. Some instances have been reported though not posted on this site. They include methods like arming and refueling at the same time during a hot refuel.

Posts like the below are not new
https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your ... uel-f-35s/

“Our old equipment is persisting and performing up to the hot-pits gold standard of 13 minute turnarounds,” said Tech Sgt. Zachary J. Kiniry, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the 366th LRS fuels service center, according to an Air Force news release.....Hot-pit refueling means that the aircraft is refueled and takes off again while the engine remains on, and can occur under 15 minutes in the best circumstances. In contrast, standard refueling could take more than 2 hours.
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weasel1962

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Unread post07 Nov 2019, 01:17

On political access, is that really a barrier?

In a war with China, will Japan and Korea stay out? If yes, then its not just FARPs that's affected. That will be the equivalent of Saudi Arabia staying out of Desert storm. The reality at least at this time is likely to be different.

The 163 bases cited by Davis is an overestimation. Once one takes out bases in SE Asia and those outside of the likely war zone outside of 800nm, the number of 6000 ft runways will be significantly reduced. Notionally, the F-35B is still the ideal weapon to take advantage of distributed ops, not the USAF. My opinion on this still stands.
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Unread post07 Nov 2019, 02:31

I formulated some devil's-advocate counter views to the FARP operations presumption.

We can probably agree less-efficient, lower-tempo but more-or-less strategically effective distributed standoff strikefighter operations are doable from supplemental FARPing. It's tempting to take that aspect of distribution of strike effort somewhat for granted. But what can not be taken for granted is hinted at in these few paragraphs:

" ... During discussions with USAF personnel, we heard frustrations from both the operations and support communities. Operators are driving many of the concepts for distributed operations and, in some cases, are frustrated with what some perceive as resistance from the combat support communities. At the same time, some in the combat support community are concerned that the distributed operations concepts are being developed without a realistic understanding of support constraints, burdens, and resource demands they create. If the Air Force continues to develop distributed operations concepts, operators will spend more time thinking about logistical constraints while sustainment professionals will spend more time thinking about warfighting. ..." (page 11)

"... To develop a refined distributed operations concept and fully evaluate the viability of distributed operations concepts more generally, the Air Force will need to conduct additional analysis for nonfighter forces. ..." (page 24)

" ... This report focused on distributed fighter operations. Operating fighter forces in this way would create many implications for Air Force forces such as intelligence, reconnaissance, EW, mobility, and tanker aircraft that were not analyzed in detail here. If these forces operate in a distributed way as well, there would be additional consequences for C2, support, and protection. The Air Force will need to consider these additional implications as it develops concepts for and assesses the viability of distributed operations. ..." (page 114)


What bothers me most about this is where to survivably park these strikefighter's 'enablers' such as KC-XX, C-17A, MQ-4, C-130, on the ground within the vulnerable forward operating areas in such a way that they're not converted to smoke and oxidized metal before their next mission? It's easy to imagine defended 'dispersal' as the proposed solution to this but how can you practically disperse and park 200 such aircraft on the ground and have them survive around the clock, for a month or so? Not to mention the decline in efficiency and rise of support and defense costs of a comprehensive dispersal of heavy jets.

There are only so many viable parking areas for such aircraft, and those are already known and surveyed by the enemy in advance of the fight. There will be daily anti-materiel cruise-weapon attacks. Those parking areas will be among the highest priority areas and will be hit repeatedly. In that case destroying/disrupting enemy targeting sensors and data won't work as large aircraft can't be parked anywhere else in a hurry. If you merely send cruise missiles to those parking locations and dispense cluster munitions a few times a day they're going to destroy numerous support aircraft and their crews.

SAM defenses commonly fail. We know they can be systematically overcome via smart attack tactics, electronics and weapons. It has to be presumed such missile attacks on parked support aircraft will be effective, to an unknown extent, but potentially shockingly effective at degrading strike capabilities.

The same of course applies to forward based bomber parks.

You can park strikefighters under rock to protect them better from attacks. Which is fine if a KC-46 and C-17A are not essential ingredients to striking an enemy, but in the western Pacific they are essential for Lightnings or Raptors to attack, patrol or intercept. Once VLO strikefighter enablers are destroyed and communications relays are reduced in numbers so is the capacity to launch strikes via strikefighter, or to coordinate and escort arriving bombers coming in from further out of range to deliver standoff weapons. So the tempo of delivery of weapons to targets will drop away sharply if support aircraft are being destroyed fairly easily on the ground.

In which case long-range bombers with long-range standoff weapons operating from outside the region offer the most compelling and credible strike potential, but there are nowhere near enough of these.

Consequently an escorted supplemental 'bomber' in the form of an ad-hoc cheap long-range refuelable "arsenal-plane", becomes highly desirable. Because it will need AAR capability for loaded reach and speed, and to keep it out of range such an 'arsenal' aircraft will need to be a military logistic type with a rear ramp (possibly a couple of escorted logistics types to launch weapons in the first week).

Per the "Arsenal Aircraft Concept" thread:
viewtopic.php?f=36&t=56319.

Until support aircraft can be demonstrably provided survivable parking options the 'distributed operations' and tactical FARPing concepts may not be supportable, and need to fallback on long-range heavy bombers, using stand-off weapons, long before distributed VLO strikefighters can be bought to bare in large numbers.

Which implies Marine's F-35Bs may be operating out in front for a lot longer than currently presumed. It may be weeks before FARPs can relieve pressure on Marines, and begin to provide a forward air dominance presence and suppression effects.

In which case PLAAF and PLAN fighters and bombers would have much more time to operate and accumulate strike effects.

So, somewhat counter-intuitively, during the first week of the battle it may be wiser to divert time, resources and a good sized chunk of the C-17A and C-130 logistics force to do two things:

(1) Resupply and support forward Marine F-35B, GLCM and anti-ship operations (of course).

(2) Pound PLAAF fighter and bomber bases and their support enablers, using ramp-dispensed long-range cruise munitions.

After that is achieved begin to move forwards more support aircraft to enable FARPing and air dominance operations right up to the Chinese mainland. This also provides time for construction of alternative parking areas for support aircraft to move in and survive on the ground while naval forces arrive and aggregate naval airpower against a then much-diminished PLAAF and PLAN force (otherwise PLAAF bombers and tankers may still be operating when carrier groups arrive).

I'd want to hear what the logistics/support aircraft operators think of their capacity to operate under fire from forward bases in a high-end fight plus survive on the ground before presuming distributed strikefighter operations and FARPing are realistic within the opening week. Such may not be possible for a week to weeks without very high losses that greatly weakens the post conflict force.

Those same issues affect fixed-installations at bases essential to heavy support aircraft being able to operate. Fixed installation operations need to be unfixed. As long-range targeting sensors are taken down alternate parking areas for heavy aircraft need to be laid down fast.
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weasel1962

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Unread post07 Nov 2019, 05:17

With due respect, that's not how a FARP works. What is critical is that FARPs are the key feature of distributed operations. Its to avoid permanent bases that can be targeted. Downplaying FARPs for the USAF is basically saying distributed ops don't work in their context.

FARPs, including fighter FARPs are thus not meant to be permanent bases. They are meant to be temporary runways for use from hours to days max. As forward points, they are closer to the target i.e. no air tankers required. The set-up of a FARP may require transports but these are transient. They land, offload and take off. Not parked at the base. Otherwise, no permanent basing of support aircraft either...

I can understand the resistance expressed from the USAF support communities. Do so much work to set up something that's gone in a few hours or days. Is that really efficient or effective use of resources? I think the appeal to the USMC who have expeditionary ingrained cultural thinking and resources are a bit different.
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Unread post07 Nov 2019, 06:47

weasel1962 wrote:
The length of time on the ground depends upon the amount of fuel and munitions needed by the fighters. If it needs few munitions, a four-ship of F-22s can be back in the air 60 minutes after landing. In most situations, arming/refueling the fighters takes 60 to 120 minutes (fig. 5).



So an average of an hour and a half. There are crew changes and mission planning involved that are not a
typical component of other FARP types. For reference, typical Air Force turnaround times for combat missions
at well provisioned, permanent bases average 45 - 60 minutes.

weasel1962 wrote:The write ups in RAND and Davis are both consistent and the write up on FARPs are sufficient in length.

The Davis paper actually takes a stab at estimating sortie generation rates, persistence, maintenance intervals etc.
The RAND write up is cursory by comparison.

weasel1962 wrote: USAF fixed wing has significant constraints on FARP operations including legacy operational preferences that favors large base operations.

Because sortie generation rate is a first order approximation of combat power.

weasel1962 wrote:On turnaround times, operationally I understand there are several strategies that have been tested that reduce turnaround times. Some instances have been reported though not posted on this site. They include methods like arming and refueling at the same time during a hot refuel.

Posts like the below are not new
https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your ... uel-f-35s/


They are contrasting fueling from a hydrant system to refueling from trucks. They aren't taking either of those on the C-17.
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