Meta-Blog

SEARCH QandO

Email:
Jon Henke
Bruce "McQ" McQuain
Dale Franks
Bryan Pick
Billy Hollis
Lance Paddock
MichaelW

BLOGROLL QandO

 
 
Recent Posts
The Ayers Resurrection Tour
Special Friends Get Special Breaks
One Hour
The Hope and Change Express - stalled in the slow lane
Michael Steele New RNC Chairman
Things that make you go "hmmmm"...
Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Putting Dollar Signs in Front Of The AGW Hoax
Moving toward a 60 vote majority?
Do As I Say ....
 
 
QandO Newsroom

Newsroom Home Page

US News

US National News
Politics
Business
Science
Technology
Health
Entertainment
Sports
Opinion/Editorial

International News

Top World New
Iraq News
Mideast Conflict

Blogging

Blogpulse Daily Highlights
Daypop Top 40 Links

Regional

Regional News

Publications

News Publications

 
Abolish the Air Force? II
Posted by: Bruce McQuain and Dale Franks on Thursday, November 01, 2007

The American Prospect post about abolishing the Air Force brought more heat than light to the point of the discussion. And while it is sometimes entertaining to get involved in a comment section discussion, why do that when you have a blog? So to the subject at hand – Should the Air Force be abolished?

The short answer is no. And we’ll endeavor to explain why that is so. But first, it’s important to understand all the roles the Air Force has. We’ve borrowed part of a list from Jeff Medcalf that he put in the comment section of the aforementioned TAP post and added a couple. These, essentially, are the missions of today’s Air Force:

Air Superiority
Close Air Support
Battlefield Air Interdiction
Strategic Bombardment
Priority Cargo Delivery (including troops, whether airborne or not)
Reconnaissance (tactical, strategic and operational)
Communications Support
Aerospace Control
Space
Missiles (defense and ICBM)

The point, of course, is it is both a tactical and strategic service. Obviously when you begin an argument which posits the abolition of the Air Force, you’re talking about doing away with much more than a tactical player. The USAF has a vital strategic role to play in a number of areas, and none of the services are a good fit for those strategic missions. To understand why, it's necessary to understand what the different branches actually do.

The Army is mainly concerned with training and equipping the ground-based fighting forces. As such, the Army's primary concerns are tactical, rather than strategic. The army is really the least strategically-based service we have. The Army serves a strategic purpose, but it accomplishes that purpose primarily through tactical means, e.g. defeating an enemy in the field.

The Marines are slightly more strategic in nature, but purely through their association with the nation's maritime strategy, and it's principal actor, the Navy. The Marine Corps is, from top to bottom, structured as the expeditionary ground element of the nation's maritime strategy, but within that context, operates on an almost a purely tactical level.

The Navy is both a tactical and strategic service. The entire purpose of the Navy is to implement the nation's maritime strategy through a number of missions, including:

-The tactical mission of finding and defeating an enemy's naval forces
-Projecting US military power in the air and on the ground in the expeditionary role
-Naval, air, and ground superiority in the littoral regions
-Protection of shipping lanes and maritime commerce
-Nuclear deterrence via the submarine ballistic missile force
-Nuclear defense via the hunter/killer submarine force
-Logisitcs and transportation support of the Marines and Army via cargo shipping

None of the services other than the Air Force, therefore, has either the institutional or material assets required to perform the USAF's strategic missions.

Could the tactical missions of the Air Force be done by other branches of the military? Well, yes, but not as well, with the possible exception of Close Air Support (CAS).

Why CAS?

Well, first because the Air Force doesn’t like to do it. It is not a mission it wants, particularly. But it is a mission it does because, more than its desire not to do it, is its desire not to let the Army do it with fixed wing aircraft.

When the USAF was split off from the Army after WWII, the new USAF and the Army forged an agreement known commonly as the Key West Agreement. Among other things, this agreement specified that the Army would not be allowed to operate any fixed wing combat aircraft, and specified that the USAF would perform the CAS mission. It also released the Army from responsibility to secure USAF air bases, requiring the USAF to maintain its own ground combat force to defend its bases against enemy forces.

Since then, the CAS role has been primarily an Air Force responsibility. The USAF's general reluctance to perform this mission, and the almost complete lack of joint training in doing it, was one of the reasons the Army began building its own CAS force of helicopters, such as the Apache and Cobra.

This is not really an America-centric problem either. Most other countries that maintain an independent air force, also make CAS an air force responsibility. And, in general, they also suffer from the same lack of joint training, and army dissatisfaction with the CAS arrangment.

The Soviets, when faced with the same institutional paradigm, actually came up with an interesting solution. They split their air force into two air forces. The Soviet Air Force was responsible for tactical air and CAS operations. The Soviet Air Defense Force was responsible for strategic air superiority. The Soviets actually pushed it even further, creating the Soviet Strategic Rocket Force to perform the land-based ICBM mission (in close association with the KGB).

One answer to who performs the CAS mission would be to repeal Key West, and allow the Army to create its own fixed-wing air combat branch to perform the CAS mission.

But could the Army do it if given such aircraft? Well, consider the Navy and Marines. That is a model where the roles are split between the two services. The Navy’s aviation assets provide both air superiority and battlefield air interdiction (BAI) for the Marine ground forces. The Marines provide their own CAS with Marine air assets, namely the AV8B Harrier. So the Navy takes care of the deep mission, while the marine air arm provides the CAS.

And it works very well. Marines flying for Marines seems to put both the urgency and desire necessary for good CAS to work for the grunts. Moreover, the Marines train constantly in combined arms operations with their air arm, Marine air and ground units, therefore, talk the same language, train together, and fight together. Marine aviators regularly trade their Harriers for M16s and do tours with ground units to serve as forward air controllers. So Marine aviators are also grunts, too.

But the culture of the Air Force isn’t the same culture as that of the grunts, be they Marine or Army. The role that the Air Force has always savored is that of the air superiority fighter. And while it gives lip service to the CAS mission, it is less than enthusiastic about flying such missions. It would rather be sweeping the skies at 30,000 feet with a shoot and forget missile than at a 100 feet firing a chain-gun on a strafing run while the enemy shoots all sorts of nasty stuff at them. And for anyone who has ever been around the Air Force culture for any time whatsoever, it is something which seems unlikely to change.

For instance, despite the fact that one of the most effective CAS assets the USAF has is A-10 Warthog, the USAF has tried repeatedly to eliminate the aircraft from the inventory for twenty years. It's ugly, and slow, and it's useless for anything but CAS. It can spin and pirouette above the battlefield at very low speeds and low altitudes

Institutionally, the USAF hates it. To get rid of it, the USAF has tried to shoehorn the F-16 and the F-15 Strike Eagle into the CAS role. This is something the F-16, as a multi-role fighter is minimally capable of doing, but the F-15 was designed as a pure Air Superiority fighter, and is not generally well-suited to the CAS mission.

So, other than abolishing the Air Force, if, in fact, CAS is the major problem, it would seem, at least on paper, there’s a simple solution. The Marine/Navy model. Take CAS away from the Air Forces list of missions above and give it to the Army.

We say that’s a simple paper solution because in reality, it’s just not that easy. As indicated above, the only thing the Air Force hates worse than thinking about flying CAS missions is thinking about the Army getting fixed wing jet aircraft to fly CAS.

But, given the Marine/Navy model, it seems such as situation would indeed be the perfect solution.

The Air Force keeps its preferred mission - air superiority. The Army takes the takes the tactical mission—CAS. The Air Force then keeps all of its other missions to include BAI, making it more of a strategic service rather than a tactical one.

The Army then has rotary wing attack aviation (which it prefers to use as a maneuver unit) as well as fixed wing CAS assets that it controls (and that includes the munitions configuration) which would be much more effective if owned by the Army. Meanwhile, the Air Force has established air superiority in the theater and is working at joint ops level carrying out strategic missions like BAI and bombing.

The other missions listed are mostly strategic in scope and for many of them not at all a good fit for other services. So recon, missiles, space, strategic communication, aerospace control, and priority cargo delivery all remain with the Air Force, on top of the air superiority, BAI and strategic bombing missions. The Army simply takes the CAS role away, a role that is mostly tactical.

Perfect.

Well, except that the Air Force would never go along with it for the reasons that we’ve outlined. Given the sort of war we’re engaged in, and the fact that the same sort of war is likely to be what we fight in the near and even distant future, we can understand why. Removing the CAS mission from the USAF would mean that the opportunities for combat experience for USAF pilots would be much more limited.

Since a counterinsurgency primarily emphasizes CAS, some feel the Air Force is a redundant service. But it’s not. That should be obvious by the list of strategic missions it carries out. CAS, however, is a critical function in today’s fight and one that requires full dedication and support. Frankly we don’t think the Air Force is capable of that because of its culture.

Consequently our recommendation as it pertains to the Air Force is not to abolish it, but to make it a strategic asset, not a tactical one, and to take the tactical mission of CAS away from it and give it to the Army (and all that entails). To us that would free the Air Force to become a much better arm of the military than it is now and even expand its capabilities, and do the same for the Army.
 
TrackBacks
Return to Main Blog Page
 
 

Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
wow... Nice analysis.

Questions: Should the Marines then be refocused to a more expeditionary force? Should the navy be split into tactical forces and strategic assests?
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Said another way, do you think it would be better if our military were re-organized into land forces, projection forces, and strategic forces?
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
I agree with you but the loss of the CAS mission would entail personnel cuts, loss of command positions, loss of general officer billets, etc. So all I can say is....when pigs fly!
 
Written By: Bob
URL: http://
I’ve been of the opinion the AF needs to get out of the Tac air game completely. Let the Navy / Marines handle it. (The Marines do fly the F/A-18, so they have some air superiority experience.) Hadn’t thought of giving the CAS role to the Army. Interesting.

But I think you skipped one area of concern: tanker support. How well do the Navy and AF do at sharing these assets today? How well will the AF and Army cooperate?
 
Written By: Ryan
URL: http://
I’ve been of the opinion the AF needs to get out of the Tac air game completely. Let the Navy / Marines handle it. (The Marines do fly the F/A-18, so they have some air superiority experience.)
Good point, but, if I’m not mistaken, they mostly do it flying for the Navy so it remains a Navy mission.
But I think you skipped one area of concern: tanker support. How well do the Navy and AF do at sharing these assets today? How well will the AF and Army cooperate?
Another good point, but I’d suggest the Army would want its aircraft to be similar to the AV8B, which, if you think about it, is much like a rotary wing asset. And those they take care of through FARPs.

That said, there certainly would be some necessity for aerial refueling and again, with AF cooperation, they could keep the mission and, probably expand it. If they got uncooperative about it, the army would have to develop its own (much like that of the Navy).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Maybe if Tom Cruise starred in a movie about an elite A-10 pilot school (featuring Kenny Loggins music, natch) the AF would be more excited about CAS.
 
Written By: James O
URL: http://
Said another way, do you think it would be better if our military were re-organized into land forces, projection forces, and strategic forces?
I have to think about this a bit, but my first reaction is to say that seems to be an aspect of what we’re suggesting with the overall AF reorganization. Whether I’d break them out as you have is what I’m not sure about, but on first blush, its not a bad break out.

Army/Marines/SOC - land forces.

Navy/Marines - Projection forces.

Navy/AF/SOC - Strategic forces.

Hmmm ... still not sure.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Maybe if Tom Cruise starred in a movie about an elite A-10 pilot school (featuring Kenny Loggins music, natch) the AF would be more excited about CAS.
Heh ... yup. Elite A-10 school - I love it.

"Hey, your squadron has to fill some A-10 slots. Round up your bottom third and ship ’em off to the A-10 folks".

That’s my guess as to how they get their billet. Of course having read about some of the A-10 pilots, like "Killer Chick", if that’s the bottom third, I’d hate to cross the top third.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
HAHA the chair force is a joke. they spend lavish amount of money on barracks and air superiority fighters for the cold war. when whats needed now is more air lift capability . btw the air is responsible for the most friendly fire incidents than any other service. their constant arrogance and lack for professionalism shines thru over and over.
 
Written By: SLNTAX
URL: http://
By separating out the CAS mission, wouldn’t you incur a lot more cost as the Army would insist on separate basing, etc.?

Would it be interesting to look at the privatization model for electricity/trains/phone lines, where one group keeps the infrastructure but has to rent it out to many companies that provide service?

So one group is in charge of the Air Infrastructure (including refueling) and services the Army CAS, the Air Force intereceptors, etc.?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
By separating out the CAS mission, wouldn’t you incur a lot more cost as the Army would insist on separate basing, etc.?
You might, if the USAF didn’t already insist on it.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
yes yes yes. I have a column in the works that says basically the same thing. Kill Key West. Let the Army develop fixed-wing CAS birds like the Texano or Super-Tucano, dedicate the Air Force to mobility and air superiority.

Either that, or the AF can start acting like they actually want the CAS role.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://op-for.com
"tanker support. How well do the Navy and AF do at sharing these assets today?"

Not too well. The Navy uses probe and drogue, the Air Force used large tankers with a boom and boom operator.



Even CAS pilots will need training in air-to-air in addition to CAS. Will the Army have separate (but equal) flying schools? Tactics and doctrine?

Where will these fixed wing Army aircraft be based? Separate airfields?

How will the airspace be controlled? With two air forces how will air operations be coordinated? Interservice communications are already problematic. Adding another layer of liaison & communication, especially in a fast moving arena such as aviation is asking for trouble, especially for air defence.

Career paths.

The present system is not perfect, but it works. In the absence of clear and measurably significant and quantifiable benefits to be obtained by change, why bother?


 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"You might, if the USAF didn’t already insist on it."

The AF has separate airfields and accompanying infrastructure for A-10s and other dedicated CAS aircraft/units??
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
It is a good idea, but how much is the Airforces fault and how much is the politicians fault for utilising the "wrong" aircraft? Are there massive complaints about the A-10, which is your CAS plane as flown by the Airforce?

If not and the complaints are mainly about the use of multi-role fighters for CAS it is mostly not the airforces fault, it is just doing the best with what it has.

You do need a multi-role aircraft that can do a bit of both air-combat and CAS. If operating against symetrical opponents the A-10 or Apache would be too slow and vulnerable to enemy aircraft. A multirole fighter is designed to be unstable therefore is less accurate and more vulnerable at the point of contact, but can better survive getting there & back. So since you’ve got them your politicians are using them in places like Iraq, to do stuff they are not ideally suited for.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
Couple of thoughts...

The USAF and USN actually do a pretty good job of sharing tanker assets, as the Navy has understood that since they have no real organic tanking capability other than Superbugs with buddy stores they have to depend on the USAF for tanker support. You can either use the KC-10 which has the ability to do both flying boom and probe and drogue, or use a KC-135 with a drogue hooked up to the boom.

"If operating against symetrical opponents the A-10 or Apache would be too slow and vulnerable to enemy aircraft."

If the Soviets felt that way I think they would have been unpleasantly surprised when their godless hordes came crashing through the Fulda Gap. Of course, considering the amount of resources they dedicated to tactical air defense systems like the ZSU-23 and the SA-13, I’m pretty sure they had a healthy respect for the abilities of the Apache and the Hawg in a conventional war environment.

All that said, I agree completely with what’s already been said regarding CAS. The USAF does a lot of stuff well, and CAS could be added to that list if the USAF would actually act like it gave a rat’s @ss about it instead of just paying it lip service. If the USAF isn’t willing to give it the attention it deserves, maybe we need to give the mission to someone who will.

While we’re discussing revising Key West, it might be worth looking at also reevaluating the tactical airlift mission. The Army seems somewhat interested in expanding their capability in this area beyond rotary wing (as evidenced by the JCA, even as fubar as that program has become) and I’m inclined to let them get that as well, especially given the amount of resources (read: Herks) the USAF is burning through in order to support the mission and lower the amount of ground convoys.
 
Written By: Mike
URL: http://www.noangst.blogspot.com
Again, this sounds good in theory, but I’m not holding my breath. The Marines have been offered the A-10s, and refused them due to the fact they require extra work to keep flying, so I am not sure the Army would be able to absorb the costs, even with the Air Force assets associated with the A-10s being handed over to the Army. And they can’t make any new A-10s (cost-wise, even if the defunct tools were located, which I have my doubts), and I don’t see Congress payng for a new CAS/COIN aircraft to be developed. ’tho it’d be cool to see a new Skyraider or Enforcer, heh. 8^P
 
Written By: Crusader
URL: http://www.coalitionoftheswilling.net
I still get the winds when I think about the Navy A-6’s getting tossed. That was a Cheney gag, if I remember right. And maybe we’d have been through all those airframes by now anyway, but there’s a fairly long trend of un-plugging good working airplanes and then coming to straitened circumstances: the Thunderbolt II has been fighting this fight nearly from birth. How many damned times does it have to prove itself?

Here’s a thing, though: technology itself has been driving CAS deeper into the arms of the Air Force. Florid targeting developments, of which JDAM is superb example, have all run in the direction of improvisational CAS from all kinds of platforms. It seems to me that the whole logic of CAS more and more necessarily means flying airplanes on a service scale. The refueling question above only illustrates the wide integrations necessary to running the mission out to its fullest potential. Discussion of the Soviet model is only reasonable, but noteworthy for being that drastic.

Look; is it really that bad out there right now?

Is that a naive question?

Are the troops out there really that dissatisfied with what the Air Force is throwing down? It looks better than ever, and some might argue that that’s not saying much, but things have come a long way since "not a pound for air-to-ground". There are a lot of killer jets throwing tactical murder at the bad guys, and that’s a lot of work. Nobody could ever be blamed for haranguing, even, to make it as good as possible, but it’s a pretty big deal to think about just assigning a mission quite so abstractly.

If there are really serious problems, then start banging on Bush’s door to get him to sit the Chiefs down and make clear that they should work nice together or he’ll have their asses.

An angle like that — principally; sensibly commanding better integration of things in hand — might be at least as good as setting off a fight like this.

Yikes.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Here’s a thing, though: technology itself has been driving CAS deeper into the arms of the Air Force. Florid targeting developments, of which JDAM is superb example, have all run in the direction of improvisational CAS from all kinds of platforms.
JDAM is indeed a superb example, because that is about the level and type of CAS to which the AF wants to commit. Show up, drop a bomb and let someone else guide it in.

That’s not CAS Billy, that’s ordnance delivery.

CAS is what A-10s do. What A-1 Skyraiders did in VN. Low, slow and devastating. Long loiter time. Strafing. Rockets. Etc. Multiple targets. Working a situation with the ground guys.

And, you’ll note, both of those platforms were single role platforms. You fly one of those and there’s no question what your mission is.

That’s the difference between what the AF likes to call CAS and what the Army considers to be bombing.

What the Army wants and needs for CAS can be found in the fact that it developed its own with rotary wing assets.

Multi-role platforms do everything somewhat well. But they also provide the excuse to be used for something other than CAS and normally are.
The refueling question above only illustrates the wide integrations necessary to running the mission out to its fullest potential.
Agreed, but then, the Army fuels its aviation assets so I’m sure, depending on the type aircraft settled upon (and I’m not even beginning to intimate that one that is now in existence is what the Army would want), that sort of support could be negotiated or built in.
Discussion of the Soviet model is only reasonable, but noteworthy for being that drastic.
Dale and I actually talked about that, but didn’t see it as a good fit as they did it. But essentially they had two air forces, a tactical one and a strategic one. They could also be characterized as an offensive one and a defensive one.
Are the troops out there really that dissatisfied with what the Air Force is throwing down? It looks better than ever, and some might argue that that’s not saying much, but things have come a long way since "not a pound for air-to-ground". There are a lot of killer jets throwing tactical murder at the bad guys, and that’s a lot of work. Nobody could ever be blamed for haranguing, even, to make it as good as possible, but it’s a pretty big deal to think about just assigning a mission quite so abstractly.
I think there is a level of dissatisfaction, yes.

Let me put it this way, in most engagements, if given a choice, I’ll take an Apache over an F16 anytime, because that Apache will stay with me until his ordnance is gone (and by that time another pair will be sitting there to take over) where as that F16 is in, dropped its ordnance and gone and I’m on my own again.

Its not so much what they do as how they do it. Grunts want and need sustained CAS with munitions mixes that involve something other than a JADAM.

Like I said above - cannon fire and rockets are many times preferred over laser guided munitions because the situations warrant that and it’s more effective (and, in many cases, depending on the proficiency of the pilots, more surgical). But when one of the mulit-role AF fighters show up, you get whatever they have and what they have is normally JADAM. Appropriate or not, effective or not, here it comes and then he’s gone. They have no desire to get in the weeds with you and besides, they don’t go that slow to begin with.

I’d rather work up from cannon fire, to rockets to Hellfire - if necessary. Most of the time, cannon does just fine. And the guys in the Apache stay with me if it doesn’t.
If there are really serious problems, then start banging on Bush’s door to get him to sit the Chiefs down and make clear that they should work nice together or he’ll have their asses.
Be nice if it were that simple. This precedes the Bush administration and, as pointed out, is a cultural thing which included a certain level of fear from the AF brass that making such a move would badly damage their service.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
One note, about refueling the USN adopted the probe and drogue system not simply to be "different" but because the "flying boom" system that the USAF uses is too bulky to be deployed on a carrier based aircraft, and probe and drogue does work as a "buddy stores" system.

Just saying systems are diverse because of diverse operating enviroments as well as differing corporate cultures.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
One note, about refueling the USN adopted the probe and drogue system not simply to be "different" but because the "flying boom" system that the USAF uses is too bulky to be deployed on a carrier based aircraft, and probe and drogue does work as a "buddy stores" system.
Also, the boom system the AF uses has a higher GPM rate, so it can refuel larger aircraft faster, which is important with thirsty B-52s.

 
Written By: Crusader
URL: http://www.coalitionoftheswilling.net
I’d take it a step further. Having the A-10 organic to the Army in the CAS role is a no-brainer (speaking as an ex-grunt). But why shouldn’t the Army have it’s own fast-movers in a ground-attack role? The F-4E or J come to mind, maybe with the A-6.

In my view, these types of aircraft extend the "deep-strike" capabilities currently fulfilled by the Apache. At least, they did at the time of the 1st Gulf War. Remember, the Apache was the first airframe across the LD/LC in that one. It’s been said that the MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) is the division commander’s shotgun. In my scenario, the organic ground-attack fighter would be the corps commander’s "sniper rifle."

Recalling Gen. Fred Franks’ book about Gulf War I got me thinking that he could have used his own ground-attack assets to fix and reduce the Republican Guards divisions fleeing towards Basra until VII Corps could consolidate, reorganize and get their divisions into the fight. Preferably before our weak-kneed Arab "allies" got on the hand mike and demanded a cease fire.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
TEST
 
Written By: Tater
URL: http://www.blogger.com/profile/14785760
JDAM probably is the best choice for COIN use in an urban environment when you want to hit a single building with a small 250/500 or even concrete bomb...

Is the problem that the fast moving jets can’t loiter enough?

And isn’t the rise of the Predator armed with hellfires actually another improvement in CAS? Who runs those?

Also, you read a lot about how now the drones follow groups of fleeing enemy and then we can direct a JDAM at the house they are hiding in. Thats’ pretty impressive and something that couldn’t be done as easily as before in COIN.

BTW, I always thought the A-10 was more of a tank-killer.

Final p.s. Didn’t Blackwater just buy some Brazilian made COIN planes? They probably see a niche in the market, eh?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
It’s like the old saying "Why does the Navy’s Army need it’s own Air Force?" As for the Marines, they have an air arm because they learned the hard way they couldn’t rely on the Navy for air support during the Battle of Guadacanal. There the Navy commander withdrew his carrier groups after the landings, and thus forcing the withdrawal of the transport ships with the majority of the landing force’s supplies.

In all fairness to the Air Force, the F-16 and other fastmover pilots are eager and willing to help in anyway they can. And they’ve actually gotten pretty good at strafing from what I’ve heard. Not exactly a Skyraider, but nonetheless... Still, rather have rotary wing attack aviation.
 
Written By: J
URL: http://
Where to begin... lets start out with the CAS mission. To really support troops on the ground the A-10 while good at come CAS missions, was designed as an anti armor and anti-mechanized infantry aircraft. The TRUE CAS air craft in use by the Air Force is the AC-130 and if the AF could get congress to LET the AF buy more of these aircraft or conduct a project to get a new one designed and built the AF would. HOWEVER there are problems with limited numbers of the current aircraft and the fact that its based on an airframe that has just been in service way too long. (again blame congress for this one.) And for those nay sayers who think one can just produce a new aircraft in a short period of time I would like to ask exactly how long does it take for the Army, Navy or Marines to design, build, test, and field a new tank, helicopter, personnel carrier, ship, sub, etc? (not to mention change in doctrine of the entire force including upper leadership.)

Next reason for the AF, is that it performs critical air lift and air refuel missions. I doubt that any other branch of the military would care as much about strategic air lift as the AF currently does. The army would only see it as a means of delivering the troops to the field rather then an air bridge for resupply (Berlin Airlift any one?) The Navy on the other hand would just use ships which while able to carry more equipment are slow and potentially easy targets. Its long since time was it was allowed modernize its aircraft to perform these roles. This airlift doesn’t just extend to the combat support but also disaster relief efforts. The AF would love to improve our airlift capacity by buying more C-17s and retiring the C-5A fleet but congress won’t let them.
The air refuel function is also critical and with out a replacement aircraft we (the US) will lose this vital force multiplying capability. While the AF, more specifically some in the AF haven’t helped this cause but I bet the others in the other services have been just as guilty in other efforts. The Bradley fighting vehicle any one?

Next vital role the AF does is Space and communications support. It would be awfully hard for the Army, navy and Marines on the ground and at sea to rely on GPS, satcoms, over head imagery with out the AF’s satellites providing that capability. Because the AF is tasked with and embraces Space as a critical mission set it devotes a lot of energy to this rather than just enough to get the tactical job done.

Now I would like to raise another issue that no one has mentioned yet: Communications, Computer, and Network security. This is yet another area where the AF is leading the way and the only service to embrace this area and work towards standing up a major command devoted to this subject.

Also for those that complain that the AF spends too much money on the care and feeding of its troops, I say to you why the heck doesn’t the other services spend more on theirs?? With out the people to do the mission where would any service be? The Air Force has always valued its personnel and long expected its people to excel technically, and rather then looking at them as cannon fodder and a dime a dozen, it views them as an investment of time, money, and resources. In return today’s Airmen are not only devoted and dedicated to the mission and some of the most professional, well educated, technically competent, and hard working people you will find anywhere. It is the high quality of Airmen that is part of the reason for the increase in Army requests of AF in lieu of taskings.

Those that say we no longer need the AF are just too near sighted and need to not only look to the future but also study the past and remember WHY we created a separate AF to begin with. Those same reasons are just as valid today as they were then.


Ish
 
Written By: Isnala
URL: http://cyber-wolf-den.blogspot.com/
JDAM probably is the best choice for COIN use in an urban environment when you want to hit a single building with a small 250/500 or even concrete bomb...
Maybe ... but you’d like to have options. CAS is a process, not a munition.
Is the problem that the fast moving jets can’t loiter enough?
Part of it, as explained, yes.
And isn’t the rise of the Predator armed with hellfires actually another improvement in CAS? Who runs those?
No. The Predator is a recon bird that is armed because it occasionally stumbles upon something worth shooting. Hardly a CAS platform.

Who runs them? Sometimes the CIA.
Also, you read a lot about how now the drones follow groups of fleeing enemy and then we can direct a JDAM at the house they are hiding in. Thats’ pretty impressive and something that couldn’t be done as easily as before in COIN.
That may be, but that’s not CAS.
BTW, I always thought the A-10 was more of a tank-killer.
The A-10 is a CAS bird that can also kill tanks.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Still, rather have rotary wing attack aviation.
Indeed ... and for a reason (as described). And that’s the reason most of the Army would prefer to own its own CAS assets.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ: "The A-10 is a CAS bird that can also kill tanks."
True. The A-10 is the direct successor of the A-1 Skyraider. That makes CAS its original role.

What about re-forming the Air Commando group with a specific focus on supporting counter-insurgency operations. Equip them with A-10s, AC-130s — you’d have to fight (the rest of?) SOCOM for them — and possibly an interim turboprop COIN platform in the vein of the old OV-10 Bronco or Embraer Super Tucano (though I think it’s a little light for the role).
 
Written By: J
URL: http://
"the direction of improvisational CAS from all kinds of platforms."

Now that you mention it, I seem to remember reading about B-52s being used for CAS.


"That’s not CAS Billy, that’s ordnance delivery."

If the ordnance is delivered close to friendly forces engaged with the enemy, what real difference is there? The point, it seems to me, is to get the appropriate ordnance on the appropriate target as soon as possible. Adding another layer of communications and liaison would seem to be counterproductive. As I understand it, the present system involves ground controllers supplied and trained by the AF to control all fixed wing aircraft, CAS and other. Would the new system require two controllers, one Army Air Force for CAS and one Air Force for ’ordnance delivery’? If not, who decides who controls who and whose procedures are used? And what of other logistical and training requirements? Duplicate systems?


"I think there is a level of dissatisfaction, yes."

There will always be a level of dissatisfaction, no matter what system is used.




 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
As I understand it, the present system involves ground controllers supplied and trained by the AF to control all fixed wing aircraft, CAS and other. Would the new system require two controllers, one Army Air Force for CAS and one Air Force for ’ordnance delivery’?
That’s incorrect. CAS is standardized across the services. The Army has its own air controllers (JTACs and JFOs), usually the artillery forward observers. But pretty much anybody can call in CAS. It isn’t as rigid a procedure as calling for artillery fire. You can talk to the pilots in plain English and tell them what you want, provided you give them a few key pieces of information.
 
Written By: J
URL: http://
"That’s incorrect."

Thanks for the correction. I was thinking of the AF combat controllers, which are evidently special operations folks.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
BTW, the A-10 is also used as top cover in SAR operations. If you ever get to witness the CAPSTONE demo at Nellis, you will be amazed.

While the USAF may not be enamored with CAS, their "lack of support" for the use of the A-10 is not indicative of that. CAS pilots, except for Warthog drivers (who love the Gun), believe that speed is key and prefer a fast mover to mitigate the effects of enemy ground fire.

If the army manages to get the CAS mission, it will be former USAF A-10 and F-15E pilots who form the cadre of the army’s CAS mission. The pilots I know who fly CAS love it, even if the USAF leadership doesn’t give CAS the support it deserves.
 
Written By: luftmann
URL: http://
I still think that USAF must not be abolish. For it made a big mark in our history
 
Written By: Air Force Model Airplanes
URL: http://www.airforcemodelworks.com/

 
Add Your Comment
  NOTICE: While we don't wish to censor your thoughts, we do blacklist certain terms of profanity or obscenity. This is not to muzzle you, but to ensure that the blog remains work-safe for our readers. If you wish to use profanity, simply insert asterisks (*) where the vowels usually go. Your meaning will still be clear, but our readers will be able to view the blog without worrying that content monitoring will get them in trouble when reading it.
Comments for this entry are closed.
Name:
Email:
URL:
HTML Tools:
Bold Italic Blockquote Hyperlink
Comment:
   
 
Vicious Capitalism

Divider

Buy Dale's Book!
Slackernomics by Dale Franks

Divider

Divider