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

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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weasel1962

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Unread post21 Nov 2018, 01:15

IADS comprises many components. AA and hand-held SAMs generally has an altitude limit. Radar-guided SAMs can go further. For the former, the A-10 can operate at higher altitudes (thanks to Sniper). For the latter, SEADs. It doesn't mean that if there are no stealth aircraft, the A-10 is a dead duck. It just means more time to suppress defences and more risk. It takes longer for OODA and consequently more risk. The concept of ops in Vietnam was clearly less effective than Desert Storm but salute to the bravery and the fallen.

What makes it more difficult than desert storm is contested air domain. USAF is not assuming similar air superiority can be achieved (even though even 1 F-22 or 1 F-35 can take out the entire PLAAF...eventually. It just means hog pilots have to wait it out in the most extreme scenario). No aircraft can fly forever. Eventually the A-10 will be replaced, just like the A-37.

My 1 cent's worth.
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spazsinbad

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Unread post21 Nov 2018, 01:16

Some USN fellas (and USMC and may be USAF) may be adroppin' one of these - mebbe….

NavAir Warfare Center Weapons Div'n China Lake Range 2017-18 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nzpVrfZ3YM

A4G Skyhawk: www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ & www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/videos?view_as=subscriber
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charlielima223

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Unread post21 Nov 2018, 03:15

eloise wrote:As much as i love the F-35, i can't deny that from i can see here:
https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads ... 020/page-7
Infantry prefer A-10 to all other aircraft in CAS.


As a former ground pounder I'll let you guys in on a little secret, infantry lover anything that makes the enemy go boom boom bye bye...








In none of those videos, no one was saying they wanted an A-10...

There is no denying the visceral feeling when you see an A-10, Apache, Cobra or even a Kiowa (when they were still in service) coming in guns blazing (literally) shooting rockets and bringing forth the hate and fury of the US military (I'm getting a bit of a stiffy thinking about it right now). However, in a TIC no self respecting JTAC or ground personnel will wave off a readily available air asset for an A-10. If an F-16 or an Apache is what is available for you, then that is what you use.

So whenever someone says something along the lines of
"The infantry love the A-10 there for it is better for CAS and so we shouldn't retire it or use something else"
That is a load of hooey and male bovine excrement.
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operaaperta

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Unread post21 Nov 2018, 08:50

There is no doubt that the F-35, with CAS trained pilots, can do the job of the A-10. The question is do you really want to burn 5th Gen pilot and airframe hours performing that task when we are once again in a high-end near peer contest and 5th gen assets have a much more vital role in that threat environment. See Vid below for great discussion on OA/X experiment.


[YouTube]https://youtu.be/yXD74o6Wic0[/YouTube]
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spazsinbad

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Unread post21 Nov 2018, 10:11

Try this: [YouTube]yXD74o6Wic0[/YouTube then adding the last closing bracket you will have...

A4G Skyhawk: www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ & www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/videos?view_as=subscriber
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hornetfinn

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Unread post21 Nov 2018, 11:47

weasel1962 wrote:IADS comprises many components. AA and hand-held SAMs generally has an altitude limit. Radar-guided SAMs can go further. For the former, the A-10 can operate at higher altitudes (thanks to Sniper). For the latter, SEADs. It doesn't mean that if there are no stealth aircraft, the A-10 is a dead duck. It just means more time to suppress defences and more risk. It takes longer for OODA and consequently more risk. The concept of ops in Vietnam was clearly less effective than Desert Storm but salute to the bravery and the fallen.


I think Vietnam was also far more difficult environment to operate. The terrain and overall geography in Vietnam was more complex and restrictive. Ground combat took place generally in very close contact and predominantly infantry vs. infantry whereas in Desert Storm it was generally much longer distances away and more mechanized force vs. mechanized force. Basically I'm just saying that the operating environment was easier in DS than in Vietnam (for CAS). Of course technology had also improved a lot and things like targeting FLIR pods, precision guided munitions and effective ARMs helped a lot. Not to take anything away from the great results achieved by the crews in Desert Storm.

I'd say future AD environment will be far deadlier and more difficult to SEAD than before. Most modern systems have excellent networking, LPI radars, passive EO/IR surveillance and targeting systems, very quick reaction times, huge firepower, high mobility, much better range/altitude coverage, very good ECCM/DIRCM protection seekers and more powerful warheads. These make SEAD/DEAD efforts more difficult and less reliable. Best systems are mostly Western, but the technologies will definitely be employed by other countries as well. Basically just staying above MANPAD range and relying on SEAD is not necessarily going to work very well for A-10 in contested environment. Of course it will still work just fine where such advanced systems are not around.
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Unread post21 Nov 2018, 12:36

Cost always has to be considered. Defense spending is projected to level off in the coming years and having to operate and sustain what is basically a one-trick pony becomes increasingly hard to justify when there are other alternatives available.
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Unread post21 Nov 2018, 13:29

ricnunes wrote:I fully agree with Corsair's analogy here.

The Ju-87 Stuka was one of the most iconic aircraft of WWII and definitely the most iconic Dive Bomber of that war however the fact was that ground attack variants of the FW-190, namely the FW-190F series were far, far superior to the Stuka even if they are generally unknown to the general public.

Also regarding WWII the same can be said about the US Navy naval aviation in where the most famous Dive Bomber (or even regarding US Navy Bombers in general) was the Douglas Dauntless. However this one was later replaced by the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver which initially received harsh criticism from US Dive Bomber pilots (mostly because they "were used" to their old trusty Dauntless's) and also from other sectors but despite of this, the fact was that the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver was superior in basically every possible way (except for slow landing speed) compared to the Dauntless.
Later it was found that more advanced and dedicated fighter aircraft such as the F6F Hellcat and the F4U Corsair were better than dedicated dive bombers (even compared to the Helldiver) since they could carry pretty much the same air-to-ground weaponry (if not more in some cases), deliver it with similar levels of accuracy but being much more survivable since they were faster and more nimble which allowed them to better survive against enemy AAA and fighter aircraft.
And as such, the era of the Dive Bombers ended. Doesn't this give you a sort of a "deja vu" regarding the A-10 and the F-35? :wink:



To add onto this..Dive bombers were designed to withstand a lot of G forces during the pullout. It was a necessity because dive bombing was the most accurate means of weapons delivery at the time. Conversely, torpedo bombers required that the aircraft had a low stall speed since torpedos would break up upon hitting the water at high airspeeds. Eventually both were replaced by the multirole F-18 which uses the Harpoon missile. The missile has a far wider employment envelope than unguided bombs or air dropped torpedoes. The technology of the missile made the dive bomber and the torpedo bomber obsolete. In the same way, advances in weapons make the A-10 obsolete when we can deliver the same or better effects with modern weapons on a multirole platform.
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Unread post21 Nov 2018, 16:58

Salute!

Thanks, Finn. The SEA environment was drastically more difficult than 'Raqi I for CAS.

- terrain was varied, and IV Corps was basically a delta and almost level until the very southwest tip on the Cambodian border - the Seven Sisters area. II Corps and I Corps resembled the U.S. Arkansas and western Carolinas terrain. Just different kinda trees.

Take Google Earth and fly from Pleiku along the Laotian border via the Trail - my old haunts during the armed recce and night interdiction test phase of the Dragonfly. There were 4,000 and 5,000 foot mountains and we would drop down to the 1,000 foot valleys and use nape and CBU on the trucks. At night!!!

- close proximity is an accurate term, Finn. Our motto on our calling cards was , "Closest AIr Support. When you care enough to expend the very best, call for Raps or Dragons". Besides US Army and USMC, we supported ARVN. Also supported the SOG folks who were not supposed to be across the border, and if they needed emergency extraction under fire we would drop within spittin' distance. One of our flights even dropped right on one team and all they asked was to let them know a few seconds before release so they could hunker down.

As far as seeing the enemy, I only saw little dots on a few missions, and they were running to a grove or other vegetation, maybe a bunker. So the grunts would use flares or even fire tracer to mark the bad guys and themselves. 'course, we could see enemy tracers depending on their guns, but most times it was "hit the smoke" or hit 50 meters north and so forth. For the spring invasion in 1972, there were finally tanks and vehicles and artty attacking the friendlies at An Loc. The guys there had no problems finding the enemy They even hit tanks using dumb bombs of the 250 and 500 pound variety.

- Training all the time for the sand box is risky, IMHO. Weather in SEA was challenging for half the year when monsoon rain and clouds built up in and against the mountains. Down south it was mainly low ceilings, so we learned to drop fairly accurately using low angle deliveries. I would imagine that the European and Korean environment would be similar.

Many times we had to fly down in valleys with hills on each side. That was when the A-1's and A-37's earned their keep. The A-7 could drop very accurately, but had to climb back up, find the way back in and so forth versus turning to keep the fight in sight. The Hawg would have been a great asset there.

Not taking anything away from the Storm folks, but it was different WRT terrain, weather and the ground fire. Horner pulled the Hawgs outta the low and slow fray quickly and they flew mostly at night or for CSAR. During 'raqi II and in the 'stan, they seemed to fly more of the conventional CAS profiles we always think of.

Gums comments....

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Unread post21 Nov 2018, 20:06

hornetfinn wrote:
eloise wrote:As much as i love the F-35, i can't deny that from i can see here:
https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads ... 020/page-7
Infantry prefer A-10 to all other aircraft in CAS.


First there is not many infantry soldiers in USA or elsewhere who have even seen F-35 and definitely not many who have seen them in combat or even training. So it's not really a good comparison.

Another thing is that there are not many infantry soldiers around who have been in combat with enemy who has any kind of AD systems, not to mention anywhere near modern. It must be nice feeling having A-10 fly around circles above you and kill anything they see. Problem is that against enemy with decent AD systems that A-10 would very likely go down in flames quickly. SEAD/DEAD is also not very reliable option as modern mobile systems are pretty hard to kill. Especially since many modern systems can work well without emitting or have advanced radars that are hard to kill. Of course many likely scenarios do not involve AD systems, but some definitely do.

A-10 has some good qualities, but I'm not sure any of them is really that relevant any more. Slow speed, armour and resiliency is nice if you fly low and engage targets with guns or dumb rockets. Nowadays even A-10 flies much higher and uses guided munitions to engage enemy. It can stay over the battlefield for long time, but it also takes a long time to reach the place where it's needed. F-35 can stay in the air for pretty long time too and can cover much wider area quickly. I'd also say that it can also acting much quicker due to having far superior sensors, sensor fusion and networking.

I think it's mostly psychological. A-10 is there with you close and for extended periods, because it needs to be in order to accomplish their missions. F-35 is mostly invisible to even friendlies as it doesn't need to be near and would be less useful if it did.



I agree. The goal of procurement is to get something that's best overall, not best for a narrow case scenario unless that scenario is critical and there is a great loss of effectiveness in not having a specialist.

The general trend in weapon system has been to consolidate specialists into general/broad purpose systems: Full power rifle + SMG = assault rifle. LMG + HMG = GPMG. Assault rifle + sniper rifle = designated marksman rifle. Breakthrough tank + exploitation tank + tank destroyer = main battle tank. Infantry tank + battlefield taxi = IFV/MICV. Having a large number of flexible broad purpose systems is often better than 2-4 small groups of narrow specialists.

If you want to do CAS in a contested environment, don't use the A-10, use stealth aircraft, drones or stand-off missiles. If you're in a little/non-contested environment, use gunships like the C-130, helis or drones.

I get the love for the A-10, it's got lots of big guns that go boom boom*. You know what else had that? The battleship. We've been in an era of range, speed, precision and most of all smarts over brute force ever since the Six Day War.


* There's nothing wrong with that as an aesthetic, my favorite movie scene is this: https://youtu.be/wgzxSr6l9Y4?t=47 It's a pretty good workout accompaniment.
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Unread post21 Nov 2018, 21:24

michaelemouse wrote:
I get the love for the A-10, it's got lots of big guns that go boom boom*. You know what else had that? The battleship.

Appropriate that you bring that up. The last combat action of a battleship was the BB-63 USS Missouri in 1991. Yes it fired it's big guns, but it also had to be retrofitted to launch cruise missiles to reach deeper targets. It had to be escorted through a minefield by a newer OHP-class Frigate. When an anti-ship missile was fired at it, it needed to be defended by a British Destroyer.

Similarly, the modernized A-10C still fires it's big gun but primarily drops PGMs from 15,000ft like everyone else. It needs to be escorted through air defenses. It is incapable of efficiently defending itself from a modern missile attack.
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Unread post22 Nov 2018, 13:38

There must be someone who knows the story/good source of the story behind GAU-8 and its main purpose. It wasn't for CAS, it was meant to pulverize armor, wasn't it?

People go crazy over 30mm gatling as a support weapon for infantry, so here's another good analogy - napalm. Napalm was the bees knees in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and during 1967-1973, and it was used to support infantry in close engagement with the enemy. Now it's gone, and infantry is still getting air support. Where's the "muh Napalm" crowd?
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Unread post22 Nov 2018, 14:04

hythelday wrote: Where's the "muh Napalm" crowd?


“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
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Unread post22 Nov 2018, 14:47

sprstdlyscottsmn wrote:
michaelemouse wrote:
I get the love for the A-10, it's got lots of big guns that go boom boom*. You know what else had that? The battleship.

Appropriate that you bring that up. The last combat action of a battleship was the BB-63 USS Missouri in 1991. Yes it fired it's big guns, but it also had to be retrofitted to launch cruise missiles to reach deeper targets. It had to be escorted through a minefield by a newer OHP-class Frigate. When an anti-ship missile was fired at it, it needed to be defended by a British Destroyer.


It's like a flamethrower or shotgun. Is it most excellent in some situations? Yes. But it's utility is so narrow that it isn't worth bothering with, even if it's cool (which it is).

Isn't the AC-130 a lot handier for CAS in non-contested environments? Is there any R&D for a mini-AC-130?
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Unread post22 Nov 2018, 15:54

michaelemouse wrote: Is there any R&D for a mini-AC-130?


Now that you mentioned that, I remember to have read about plans for modifying/adapting some C-27J Spartan's for such role.
But I don't know what's the current status of such plan.
“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
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