Sunday, February 25, 2018

World War II Called: They Want Their Planes Back.

An AT-6 experimental aircraft is prepared for takeoff from Holloman Air Force Base. The AT-6 is participating in the Air Force's Light Attack Experiment, a series of trials to determine the feasibility of using light aircraft in attack roles. (Ethan D. Wagner/Air Force)
Would you really prefer this...

      The United States Air Force is currently in the process of evaluating and selecting a new Light Attack Craft to provide Close Air Support on the cheap. Light Attack Craft are very small planes driven by a single propeller, just like many aircraft in World War II. Their basic armament consists of .50 caliber machine guns and is complemented with weapon racks for bombs, rockets and gun pods. By virtue of the these factors, Light Attack Craft are indeed cheap. Buying them would be an excellent idea if the U.S. was a developing nation; however, as the state with the largest GDP and the military (by far), it is a fantastically bad plan. The United States already has a cheap and effective CAS plane: the Fairchild Republic A-10A/C Thunderbolt II, better know as the Warthog.

  • The U.S. Air Force argues that Light Attack Craft will be a cheaper alternative to using F-15’s, F-16’s and F-22’s in low intensity conflict like the current conflict in Syria.
    • While it’s true Light Attack Craft would be a cheaper option, the A-10 is much more capable at CAS. It is equipped with a larger cannon and it carries much more ordinance.
  • ...or this? Look at all that ordinance.
    Using Light Attack Craft in low intensity conflicts would allow the Air Force to reserve high-spec planes for high intensity threats such as North Korea.
    • Using A-10’s would also allow higher-spec planes to be reserved for greater threats.
    • Modern “low intensity conflicts” are anything but low intensity. The recent shoot down of a Russian Su-25 Frogfoot, a plane comparable to the A-10, proves that even high-spec attack planes are at risk. Light Attack Craft have less armor (the A-10 is fabled for it’s “titanium bathtub” around the cockpit), less speed and a lower ceiling, making them even more susceptible to enemy fire from MANPADS and even machine guns.
  • Light Attack Craft would allow more pilots to stay current and quickly adjust to high-spec aircraft.
    • This completely ignores the current pilot shortage. With pilot numbers low already, why put them in a plane which cannot attack as many targets as an A-10?
     The choice should be clear. The US can either select a propeller pane with less firepower than the average West Virginian SUV, or it can select the A-10, a plane designed around cannon designed to eat Soviet tanks for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Jeff Van Gundy said...

I think you underestimate the average firepower packed into an SUV from WV

Titus Larticus said...

I assure you that I do not in any way underestimate the amount of ordinance carried by most Best Virginian SUV's. If the Air Force was more interested in ground attack aircraft, they would figure out how to put wings on them.