Ominous Warning: Russian Air Power in Ukraine

Run Aground

August 2019: Back in 2014 we wrote that the A-10 should be retained in service indefinitely over aircraft like the F-35 in the CAS/anti-armor role. Now apparently the Pentagon has agreed and is re-winging the A-10 to keep the aircraft in service well past the 2030s. Time will tell if the zeal to veer tax-payer defense dollars to own congressional districts on dubious programs like the F-35 will outweigh authentic capability like the A-10.

July 2018: With the controversy surrounding the A-10 vs F-35 "fly-off" conducted by the USAF - it is time to transfer the A-10 fleet to US-Army and US-Marine Corps aviation - and end this Air Force circus.

[Below] A-10C Thunderbolt II firing its 30mm GAU-8 gun. The A-10 is (and will be) the only purpose-built CAS aircraft in the US inventory.
[23-Feb 2014] The Pentagon outlined its Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal called for saving $3.5 billion by retiring the A-10 fleet and replacing it with the F-35 by the early 2020s. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: “The A-10 is a 40-year old, single-purpose airplane originally designed to kill enemy tanks on a Cold War battlefield,” Hagel said. “It cannot survive or operate effectively where there are more advanced aircraft or air defenses.”
Hagel did not say the CAS mission was no longer needed.
Hagel also did not say the A-10 has been ineffective in wartime.
The only thing the Pentagon did on the 23rd of February 2014 was to run aground on the exact same argument made some 30 years ago to replace the A-10 with a 'fast-jet.'
Back in the 1980s, it was not the F-35 - but a modified F-16 designated the ‘A-16.’ At the time someone in the Air Force thought that they were smarter than the designers of the A-10 (who ironically were also responsible for the F-16 – an aircraft for a totally different mission and has a totally different layout) and wanted the F-16 (A-16) to replace A-10 Thunderbolt II, arguing that the A-10 was too slow to survive a high-tech battlefield.

Sound familiar?

[Below] Modified F-16s turned into A-16s by the USAF for the CAS role in the late 1980s. The program was a complete failure.
The A-16 flew much faster than an A-10, giving the pilots too little time to approach or even see the target. If they slowed down the A-16 was too vulnerable to enemy ground fire. This speed/vulnerability issue is universal to any 'Fast Jet' attempting to be used in the CAS mission.

The USAF attempted to miniaturize the 30mm GAU-8 gun used in the A-10 by stuffing it into a pod (called the GPU-5/A) and putting it on a pylon of the A-16. Precision aiming of this new 30mm gun would prove impossible. Not only did the gun pod move about so much during firing, but it also made the aircraft impossible to control, plus the 30mm GPU-5/A rounds flew everywhere.
In the end, after only a couple of days, they gave up, unbolted the GPU-5/A gun pod, and returned to using cluster bombs. Cluster munitions are not (never) close-air-support weapons. Forcing an F-16 into an A-16 close air support mission proved disastrous, and the A-16 program faded away.
The F-35 in the CAS role will fare no better. Neither will the precision munitions F-35 CAS supporters say it will use. This is because JDAMs and other precision weapons do not have an accuracy rate and/or have too much explosive power to use 20 meters from friendlies.

“40-year old, single-purpose machine originally designed to kill enemy tanks on a Cold War battlefield,”... “It cannot survive or operate effectively where there are more advanced aircraft or air defenses.” Hagel could have just as easily been describing the 39-year-old AH-64 Apache helicopter which at the time specially designed for the anti-armor /gunship role against the Warsaw Pact. YAH-64 first flew in 1975.
[Above] The Hughes Aircraft YAH-64A.  The United States lost close to twenty (20) AH-64 Apache helicopters during the 2003-2011 Iraq War after the Apache had contact with the enemy. A-10 losses during the same period after contact with the enemy? One (1) aircraft.

[Below] Pierre Sprey discusses the A-10 Thunderbolt II:

[Below] The Northrop's YA-9 entry lost out in the USAF Attack Experimental (A-X) program competition to the Fairchild Republic YA-10 in 1972.
Both the YA-9 and the YA-10 were fitted with a 20mm M61 cannon during the evaluation.
The Northrop YA-9 [above] and the Russian Sukhoi Su-25 (NATO code name Frogfoot) [below] bear striking similarities to one another. The Sukhoi first flew in 1975 and is still in production. The Su-25 had been continually updated over the years and can operate at night and in all weather. The Sukhoi also has armor protection for the pilot and performs the same mission as the A-10.

Russian airpower simply annihilated Georgian ground forces during the Russia–Georgian War of 2008 and operated under impossible IFF (identification friend or foe) conditions - as the Georgians operated the same aircraft types, helicopters types, and vehicle/armor types as Russia. This fact was totally (totally) missed by both Western and Russian defense analysts.

With respect to the age of the A-10. The Indian Air Force MiG-21 I-Bis ‘Bison’ was a nasty shock to “superior” “world's best” newer equipped American F-15C fighter crews during Cope India Exercises in 2004 (and again in 2005, 2006). The MiG-21 first entered service in 1959. The Indian MiG is the same 40+-year-old airplane updated over the years including modern avionics, radar, and weapons. Never underestimate older modernized aircraft with the right weapons and properly trained crews.
[Above] The Indian Air Force MiG-21 I-Bis ‘Bison’ proved a complete shock to the Americans during the Cope India Exercises beginning in 2004 by downing USAF F-15Cs over, and over, and over. The MiG-21 first entered service in 1959.

In our strong view, Hagel and the generals should leave the A-10 alone and simply modernize as needed. Instead, the Pentagon should mothball the B-1B fleet. Resurrected during the Reagan administration - it is truly a plane without a mission. Currently, it is being used as an orbiting JDAM bomb truck - something the B-52 does much cheaper (the B-52 has a much higher mission-capable rate as aircraft with low mission capable rates are not "cheaper"). The B-2 is our primary air-breathing manned penetrator. The B-1B sat out the entire air campaign of the 1991 Gulf War due to technical problems and has now been "withdrawn" from bombing ISIS.
Also, kill what remains of the Boeing YAL-1 airborne laser program. Relegated to ‘experimental’ under Gates - it will never work. You can not use an energy beam ‘aimed’ by mirrored surfaces as a weapon if your target can use a similar mirrored surface to deflect or scatter the beam. An ICBM missile booster can easily be fitted with a reflective sleeve or some other surface to scatter/degrade the YAL-1 primary ‘kill’ laser. All laser weapons need ‘time-on-target’ to work. The target need only dissipate the laser energy long enough to fly out of range. The YAL-1 is way too easy to counter.

Your thoughts?

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  1. Hello Boresight,

    Thank you very much for posting this article. Unfourtunately, I do not have much to say about it other than continuing critiques of the F-35. I had recently found some numbers on the American Innovation blog concerning an encounter of 2 Su-35S and 2 F-35s that sounded dubious at best.

    "The CF-35's AN/APG-81's radar detects the reduced radar cross section of two Su-35BM's at a range of around 75 nautical miles... One Russian pilot registers a pair of faint radar contacts 25 nautical miles (46.3km) away and sends the data to his wingman."

    Then this:

    "The Su-35's OLS-35 detects the IR signatures of the AIM-120D missiles at a range of around 27 nautical miles."

    Is it true that an Irbis-E radar would only detect an F-35 at that distance?
    Also wouldn't OLS-35 detect F-35s well before the Iribs-E (or the AN/A{G 81 for that matter)?
    (in this case altitude matters, but is not clearly stated in scenario)

    The Author then pulls a stunt something like this:

    " The highly maneuverable Flanker grants the Russian pilot many options. However, with their extensive training at Red Flag, the Canadian's know how to use their aircraft's advantages to their full effect while avoiding particular engagement openings that favor the Flanker (e.g. high speed turning fights)."

    Will Russian pilots participating on such missions be chosen from a relatively unskilled group of military pilots?

    Also this stunt is pulled:

    "...Canadian's HMD as he acquires tone for his AIM-9X Sidewinder missile; he fires... He (Flanker pilot) deploys flares and uses his superb maneuverability to try and escape the missile. The Sidewinder's seeker head rejects the IR emissions from the flares (how? Russians had better IR seeker heads last I checked) and proceeds to gain on the Flanker using its own thrust vectoring engine nozzle."


    "(Flanker pilots fire) R-73 IR guided missiles. Once again, the F-35's stealth, EOTS, DAS, and HMD help the F-35's defeat the oncoming missiles." (How again?)

    The author fails to recollect that:
    "Both Su-35's are fully laden with a deadly assortment of medium range radar guided and short range IR guided missiles. Both Russian pilots fire..."

    Guess what?

    "...R-77 "Adder" missiles at the incoming unknown radar contacts."

    The Flankers are not far from the merge, and have a fix on the F-35s with HMSes and OLS-35, the Russians fire IR missiles and FORCE the Canadian pilots to NOT: "...seamlessly share information and coordinate their efforts through MADL. the Canadian's quickly decide upon a course of action.Meanwhile, the second Canadian pilot accelerates and gains altitude to position himself for a gun kill."
    But, how again does this prevent a Russian pilot from lining up an HMS IR missile shot? And how does the one F-35 gain altitude quickly enough without using AB?

    Author also says this about F-35 emcon:

    "importance of not only radar reduction methods but also: IR reduction and stealthy coms"
    Last anyone checked, no such measures are present on the F-35, otherwise it loses precious space for fuel.
    Last anyone checked, the F-35's engine is HOTTER than an F-16 engine.

    The Author was thoughtful enough to mention this as part of the endgame conculsion (F-35s won, go figure):
    "the often unaddressed importance of pilot training and preparation. Russian fighter pilots have a mandatory requirement of 100 flight hours per year (SOURCE 40). Canadian pilots fly more than two hundred flight hours per year* and partake in extensive live fire training exercises with USAF pilots."

    Just exactly how proficient in air combat is Canada? The author repeatedly tells us that they trained with US aircrews at Red Flag? How good can we expect Russian air combat proficiency to be in 2020 (can we expect more or less)?


    1. Hello Boresight?

    2. Hi Cameron,

      I have been busy with school and the mess in the Ukraine.

      The F-35 thing sounds like a story board for an upcoming Lockheed ad. Without a reliable helmet sighting system – the F-35 program is turning into a too expensive airframe replacement program for the F-18, F-16 and F-15…nothing more.

      Better to keep the F-16 and F-15, F-18 in production and field a meteor class weapon.

      The best for he Navy would be a modernized Su-33 under license (adapted for American carrier ops, with US avionics and perhaps US engines) for the US-Navy. We’ve things like this before with the AV-8B, but with this stuff over Ukraine - that’s out the window. Too bad – be a way less expensive than USN F-35s and with 3x or 4x times combat radius
      - Boresight

  2. This is a fine article I can wholeheartedly agree to.
    The fucking MICC is in total control -THATS the problem.
    The second is, that all previous experience of every war before the current is only seen as an afterthought instead of a guideline what NOT to do the next time arround.

    How can anybody even with just basic knowledge in Aviation NOT see the mistake in retireing the A-10?

    Probably a factor is, that Hagel was an Infantry Sergeant who never had the possibillity to call upon the thunder of death while beeing surrounded by the VC!
    If he had, he would never fail his troops with such a disservice and the whole BS would have stopped long time ago.

    Col.John Boyd´s motto says it all: People, ideas , this order.
    The way a war will be fought in the next years, will not be really fought with a technology that is a gamechanger.
    There is no such technology.
    More electronical warfare will only lead to the insight that the technology which works without it, will be of more value.
    A great example was this: Obviously a lesson quickly forgotten by the bluesuiter carrerist who are in control now.

    But honestly: I´m sick and tired of the way things are going in the US Military at the moment and can not believe how dumb the American People seem to be.But Col.John Boyd understood as well that the second thermodynamical law is universal...a closed system suffers entropy.Same thing with society.
    The longer the Pentagon is in control without radical changes, the more difficult it becomes to get things straight.
    I almost wished the guys on 9/11 had more luck with hitting that damn building.

  3. It boils down to this. The AirForce doesn't want--and has NEVER wanted--the CAS mission. The Army wants it, and has tried to take it over before, but been rejected by the air force. I bet if the Air Force gave the A-10s and the mission to the Army, they would be more than happy to take it over and keep the A-10 flying for as long as they can.

    1. USAF hates the A-10. Period. They don't like a slow, ugly, low-tech plane. They want FAST, EXPENSIVE, OVER-ENGINEERED.

    2. Could not agree more....and to what a disservice that has led in the past and in form of the F-35 will lead to in the future.

    3. Yes. Our A-10 fleet should (must) be part of Army Aviation.

  4. Don't worry. They will bring them back again. I mean didn't you (Boresight) say that something similar like this happened a long time ago with the F-16 & the A-10?

  5. If you read period AvLeak, the A-16 program (or at least the 174th TFW portion of it) was amazingly effective, simply because it was the first to offer the ATHS datalink which meant that the target could be resolved to a GPS offset locality in an automatic transfer of a 9-line to the pilot's MFD. i.e. You zot the big rock sticking out of the hill and that becomes your bullseye. And then you zot the tank column moving up and that becomes your range point from the GPS offset. No more IP funnels as predictable entry points. Much more flexibility in tossing simple Iron Bombs with ridiculous accuracy, on the order of 10-15m (from TERs) with 360` surround sound and full gate coordination as servicing overlap. Lofting weapons from 3-4 miles out limited your target defensive exposure, reduced the interval before effects delivery (bombs don't care about frag), and perhaps most importantly: _gave you time_ to look at the airspace overhead for threats with your own radar.

    If you are doing CAS in a contested environment you can basically forget a 2,500min to 4,000ft max range for a GAU strafe. As early as the A-10/A-7D testing out of McConnell and certainly by the later JAAT/JAWS efforts at Benning and Liggett, the Gun was seen as a liability because it was simply not survivable (and these tests included runs that were so low that they put the Zoos gunline below the level of the turret whip antennas on the T-72s out front). You led with the Maverick and then you used CBUs.

    1. Today, things are different. I've seen video of an AH-64 expending it's entire 350rds of gun ammo on goats, tents and chickens in a night engagement, only to have to resort to an AGM-114 Hellfire (60-90,000 dollars per shot) to catch a fleeing fighter running up a gorge.

      Yet the fact is, at night, with the new Self Guided rounds, even at the much reduced 30X113mm (ADEN derivative) caliber, are able to hit moving point targets with a single shot. That M789 having roughly the effects of a grenade over a 2-3m radius.

      The A-10 cannot do this. The Ellipse on a GAU run is a good 30ft wide and 70ft long, even with the tightest possible dispersion setting on the muzzle clamp and a good, steep, graze angle. You take it up to 10-12,000ft and two things happen: first the PGU-13 HEI falls out of the ballistic dispersion pattern because it's mass is so much lighter. Second, the PGU-14 (and I may have these switched, it's been awhile) starts to create a 200ft wide radiological and chemical hazard. And most importantly, it is _not_ sufficiently standoff to protect the Hog.

      It will not be so until kinematic flares are combined with the AAR-47 MAWS and a DIRCM pod to suppress with. The old engines on a slow airframe means it just doesn't have the HOE smash to evade with.

      Conversely, a LAU-32 or LAU-131 (11 or 7 rounds per pod) with APKWS will give you a 1m accuracy from a distance of 3km on a helo and 5km on a fixed wing aircraft. The effects of a ten pound M151 warhead are closer to a pair of handgrenades but whereas a 30mm round is simply not going to kill a tank anymore, you can pick intra-feature aimpoints and easily kill it with a 70mm rocket using the M247 or M282 HEAT. Even the M229 17lb HE has a good chance of a least tracking it, single shot.

      The Maverick is a geriatric disaster, straight out of the SEA campaign. At 460lbs for the A/B and 485lbs for the D, it is huge for the kind of targets it's intended for, to the extent that it's not really practical (too much drag too much sponson burn, electrical problems never solved in the LAU-88) to be used in more than pairs from the A-10.

      Two. Guided. Standoff. Shots. Whoopy.

      Compare this to the Brimstone or the coming JAGM (Brimstone clone) whose Hellfire heritage allows them to be employed, three per rack off the Typhoon and Lightning, for a total of as many as 12 shots fired as much as 12km out. Most importantly, it can turn up to 270` off ground track to engage targets so you are never 'nose on committed' to an overflight due to SALH guidance constraints.

      14 kills in symmetrically loaded APKWS pods from 5km and 12 kills from the Brimstone fired at least 10km out is quite an improvement over the A-10.

      It basically sterilizes the F-35s stealth but then again, if you have to come within 10nm to release a ballistic PGM and the threat knows what you want to hit, you've basically lost the VLO advantage anyway because at those kinds of ranges _you will be seen_ (as with delivering PWIV or GBU-12/49 as nominal CAS munitions).

      The A-10 was never all that and the chips gentlemen. I could tell you a hundred ways in which the design was cheaped beyond survivability for warfare in NATO, let alone it's A/X intended, SEA, application.
      But the key factor here is not the high threat environment but the low.

    2. Nothing beats a 3,000 dollar per flight hour, 15-20hr loiter, MQ-9 Reaper for persistence. Whether it be a road recce for an advancing supply column or a walking patrol. It simply gives you the ability to spot check for FAMs moving up into ambush, tire burners prepping an IED or even in some conditions, COMINT monitoring of local mobiles. HOURS before the good guys tumble onto them.

      With a typical 6 PGM loadout, four of which are powered, it flatly out guns the A-10 and provided it sees the enemy in time, it can call for CAS long before we are lit up.

      CAS in the low end: LIC/SSC/OCO/OOTW type operation is covered by drones better, in greater density, than the A-10 can provide. CAS in the high end: MRC/MTW environment was _never_ the forte` of the A-10 and so it cannot be held to that standard today, almost 35 years after it first came to Bentwaters and Sembach.

      Your loyalty to the men on the ground is admirable, if that is what it is. But you should never indulge in fetishism for a machine. The A-10 is not the premier CAS exponent we need for contested environments and while I would be the last to tell you the F-35 is that aircraft, the simple fact is that it is better than the Warthog.

    3. The CAS is a discussion that thoughtful people like you, and others who have posted here - need to have in this country. Thank you for your input (and from everyone). It is extremely appreciated.

      The A-16 would not have resolved the depleted uranium contamination issue? The A-10 is over the skies of Iraq and Syria as we speak. The A-16 is not. You left out all the exciting ways the A-10 can use austere airstrips and its basing dispersal capability over an A-16 or even a Predator drone? In a more contested environment all manner of electromagnetic spectrum sensor, targeting, communication, satalite-comm., and networking could be denied, spoofed, or simply intermittent. You can’t use your drones Reaper/Predator or GPS or laser designation (smoke screen opaque to infrared light). It could become a total mess. You need an A-10 with a simple gun-sight, a huge gun, some optically aimed rockets, a good DFRM jammer, and lots of expendables. You’re going to have to fly through a hail of gunfire and kill the enemy...(?)

      Excellent inputs again. Thank you!

      - Boresight

    4. I hear a lot of numbers being thrown around. It's easy to be an arm-chair analyst. I look at it in very simple terms. When the F-35 takes over most of the CAS role in a conflict that requires it AND it costs as much AND is as effective in doing so as the A-10 then, and only then, will the A-10 be ready for retirement. Until then it's all just talk.

    5. >>
      When the F-35 takes over most of the CAS role in a conflict that requires it AND it costs as much AND is as effective in doing so as the A-10 then, and only then, will the A-10 be ready for retirement.

      Actually, you are over thinking this. At it's most basic, the APKWS/DAGR (Look them up on YT) are the answer to precision firepower in affordable packages that 1970s technology required a 30ft long, 4,000lb, rotary cannon + ammo drum (plus armor, plus suppression missiles, plus redundant controls, plus self sealing tanks etc.) to get to a 2,500-4,000ft gun envelope. They are 'guided guns'.

      From a hovering helicopter, you can put a _70mm_ (more payload, more payload versatility) rocket into a <1 meter bullseye from 3km out. One and a half miles. From a 400 knot jet, 10,000ft up, that extends to 5km or three miles.

      Can you detect an Apache or Kiowa, hovering against a treeline, at these kinds of ranges? Sure. If you know where to look. Can you acquire an F-16 at 3nm? Ainhhh, iffy to be honest. The UV saturated 'blue glare' of 10,000ft makes the F-16 Hill Grey II camouflage very effective in isoluminance absorbing/reflecting just enough speculars to all but disappear. You will certainly see the firing _if you are looking in the right direction_ and probably audible cue to the roundout as the jet pulls to avoid threat floor entry (in which process, it's visual signature will go from may 3m/10sqft to 15m/45sqft and it will be shedding g-vapor).

      Will you be able to do much about it? Nope. Because it is going to be firing at the _very edge_ of the shoulderfire missile envelope and beyond effective on anything below 40mm/57mm.

      Even the helicopter is in a pretty good situation against most AAA, the missiles are still an issue as are, ironically, small arms. But then again the helicopter is trapped in the trashfire envelope _all the time_ so that's just a reality you accept. If the enemy has troop discipline and cover sufficient to put out OPs and you run over one, he's probably going to get the first shot. Guided FFAR are still better than the M230 where you have a 30X113mm ballistic limit of about 800m/2,700ft. Or the AGM-114 (38 FFAR @ 21,000 dollars each vs. 8 Hellfire @ 90,000 dollar...costs become prohibitive).

      What it then comes down to is 250 airframe, 320 knot, slow-CAS jets vs. 700+ airframe, 600 knot, fast-CAS jets as a function of generating sorties and sustaining a given LER (Loss Exchange Rate) attrition fraction.

      As cold as it seems: you win wars by the number of target engagements per day you can generate. Win or lose, if you cannot put threat X in proximity to friendly platform Y, you lose by default (the enemy occupies terrain uncontested). So numbers count. This is as true for LIC or COIN as it is for MTW/MRC high intensity stuff because _occupation = strangulation_ of material access to parts of a country whose loyalty to a given regime is as much about 'what have you done for me lately?' materialism as it is national or even tribal loyalty. Choke the roads and you allow for insurgents to dominate the 'I haven't killed you, that's what I haven't done, lately...' alternative psychology.

    6. With single squadron deployments in a constant peacekeeping-as-war condition, 250 aircraft amounts to maybe a wing strength of 48-60 jets in theater and, at 2 jets per CAS orbit and 2 flights per airframe, per day, with 10-20% of your inventory off the flight list (down for some kind of maintenance related issue), you are talking about 60 minus .2 X2 /2 = 24 section launches up at any given moment for an average of 4-6 hours or a total of 48 sections/12 hours absolute coverage. If you consider a lot of these countries are actually pretty big (Texas + Alaska combined BIG for Iraq and AfG) 24 jets available for immediate response is just not that much.

      High intensity it gets worse because, while you can vastly increase the total there-drop-back-turn sortie rates, you are also much more likely to be messed with enroute and even RTB and you are launching from the edge of the effective envelope only as long as your own SEAD/DCA people can hold open a secure window over the mobile armor which may be measured in minutes. Mechanized forces are also of course, much harder targets to kill with proximal effects (ignoring cluster bombs) and much harder to hit due to dispersal and mobility as well as active/passive defenses like smoke grenade mortars and some kinds of IR jammer not normally seen in defense of static, structural, targets.

      With this as a given, what anyone on the pointy end of CAS _wants_ for either kind of CAS, is the ability hit multiple point targets per pass, across as wide a frontage as possible from the maximum standoff achievable with limited or no post-launch guidance requirement.

      _You can get there_ with modern targeting pods that have an onboard gyro system, much more accurate and less jittery than the aircraft INS, to store precision point angle and slew rate data on multiple targets as preregistered aimpoints. It can even go a step further with the trailing section element providing the Sparkle (laser designation), not from 5km but 10 or even 20km standoff. And of course, the rocket itself is going to be doing between 3,600fps (Mk.66 'Hydra 70') and 4,400fps (CRV-7) which is to say more like a rifle bullet, less like a missile (AGM-114 = Mach 1.21 or about 1,348fps, with TOFs measure in 25-30 second timeframes from max-range of 10-12km).

      You go in fast and low, you pop up and put the target in a 20` ASE and you pull the trigger as the guy behind you lights up the target. Two seconds later, you fire again. Two seconds later, again. And they you are rolling off and back into the clutter with a two second designator step between targets.

    7. In terms of 'complexity and cost' this is _vastly simpler_ than the amount of suppression and counter air support you need to bring an A-10 into GAU range.

      APKWS is about 7 years old now. It's not an unproven technology. We are never going to get 2,400 F-35s. And the A-10 is not survivable or able to generate sorties in the kinds necessary for hi or low intensity CAS. Perhaps most importantly, when the troops are in contact and you are the lifeline that is keeping them away from the abyss 'elephant tail-tied to a daisy' the APKWS actually provides _more_ guided shot passes than the GAU does. More passes = more persistent overhead in the COIN environment and more dead bad guys in the high intensity mission.

      So. You can cling to nostalgia and wait for defeat or fatigue life issues to pull the wings from the limited asset force that the A-10 represents.


      You can acknowledge budgetary reality on the F-35 and the fact that the F-16s, while younger, are still pretty old.

      And start to _plan_ for a future where the environment (MOUT = no DU) and the technology base allows you to look at less hefty a set of options, able to do both kinds of missions, with sufficient aircraft and performance as standoff, to be effect CAS providers.

      Shrug. Up to you. But from my perspective, the one thing which has kept Americans from really taking it in the teeth, since the Civil War, was our willingness to say: "Okay, we're going to lead the technology investment curve, rather than chasing it." Anything less is body bag intensive and easy defeat risky.


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