JFCOM Likes Navy IW Plane

JFCOM Likes Navy IW Plane

Dear readers, Our corporate parent Military​.com and the DoD Buzz team are celebrating Military’s 10th anniversary for the next two days. Grant us some understanding if we miss something through Wednesday. And celebrate our success! In the meantime, here’s an interesting story Greg put together on IW aircraft. Colin

The quest for a low-cost, low-tech, irregular warfare aircraft to provide ground pounders with long loitering, on-call recon and strike got a big boost recently when Joint Forces Command’s Gen. James Mattis threw his support behind the Navy and Air Force “Imminent Fury” effort.

Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that he was taking a personal interest in the classified project, being run chiefly out of the Navy’s Irregular Warfare Office, that is looking at small turboprop aircraft for ground support. The sought after design falls somewhere between the Vietnam era OV-10 Bronco and A-1 Skyraider. It must stay aloft for a long time for surveillance needs but also have the punch to provide precise fire support when needed; a true “over the shoulder” aircraft for small ground units doing distributed operations in remote locations.

Mattis thinks using top-line fighter jets for close air support to troops patrolling rural villages in Afghanistan is overkill. As he diplomatically puts it: “Today’s approach of loitering multi-million dollar aircraft and using a system of systems procedure for the approval and employment of airpower is not the most effective use of aviation fires in this irregular fight,” he told the SASC. A light irregular warfare aircraft could also help build partnerships with foreign air fleets that operate large numbers of such aircraft.

Last summer, the Air Force requested aircraft manufacturers provide designs for a Light Attack Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) aircraft, a low-tech and low-cost design that must be currently flying as they want it fielded within the next couple of years. Two early entrants are Brazilian manufacturer Embraer’s Super Tucano (pictured) and Hawker Beechcraft’s AT-6. Air Force chief Gen. Norton Schwartz has talked about possibly creating an irregular warfare wing that would operate the aircraft.

“A LAAR aircraft capability has the potential to shift air support from a reactive threat response, to a more proactive approach that reduces sensor to shooter timelines, with immediate and accurate fires, providing surveillance and reconnaissance throughout a mission, while providing communication and navigation support to troops on the ground,” said Mattis.

Here again is another example of Mattis pushing the services to work together on low cost, vitally needed programs that support troops in the field fighting today’s wars.

Greg Grant

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Dumbest idea ever? Did these people miss the drone boat? Long loiter = drone (15hr+) NOT human pilot (3hr max)

Sounds like another “The-General-Wants-It” FLAIL-EX. Some things never change.

Wait, I know, I know — how about a turboprop version of the P-51 Mustang!!! Like then’s NEVER been done before! Check out the AF museum at Wright-Patt.

“Low Cost Design” — relative to what? F-22, JSF? Nothing “new’ will be cheap — bet on it.

How many expensive JSF’s will N. Schwartz be willng to give up to buy this Attack, ISR, Comm Relay, Gound Troop Navigation Support Thingy Wonder Plane????

Guys, we already have the Warthog bomb-truck-with-a-BIG-gun and it’s cost was amortized years ago. We have attack helos too

Wouldn’t be too difficult to develop. 10M per copy to procure vs. 100M+ for a F-35 or F-22. A-10’s are for heavy attack, and most are single seats. The proposed Super Tucano or AT-6 are two seaters, a very important consideration for this type of work. Attack helos are slow and don’t have the persistence nor the high altitude performance for AStan, where presumably these will be used.

The crew of a COIN ‘fighter’ would still be staring at displays, as todays EO kit is a million times better than the Mark One Eyeball. And staring at displays can be done in the rear, where extra specialists can be called upon.

The advantages COIN aircraft have is moderate price, rough field capability, fast turn around time and high dash speed. The latter is important during CAS missions for rapid responses. But once on station CAS assets usually have to loiter to communicate with ground forces and identify the baddies before striking.

COIN aircraft are nice, but current and near future UCAVs combined with ‘Gorgon Stare’ and modern PGMs are better.


Ahh the Drone arguement. Lets see, I can have two people in radio contact with the forces on the ground using the basic UHF/VHF equipement the ground guys already have to talk to aircrew with a 360 perspective of the area. Also they are carrying “small” weapons like IR-MAV and 250lb GPBombs. Hell you can probably brief with the aircrew that will be supporting your mission before move on the objective.

Problem with Drones… Bandwidth, High-crash rates, a looking through a soda stray to provide big picture SA

Should have been done years ago. Now , let’s see if they can keep keep the sensor fusioned/net-centric-crazed geewhiz kids away from it long enough to get it in the air for under $30 M…

I like it because its old school and has a proven history of working. Not only can you buy a lot more of them than one jet fighter, they are cheaper to maintain and easier to train pilots on. I do not like drones at all too much room for error working with them, And it cost too much to keep a jet in the air and you need a good paved landing strip and control tower for them or a carrier. These things can land in a field.

I wonder how much longer limited bandwidth can sustain an unlimited number of UAVs? Scope of field is still a limiting factor on UAVs. Makes more sense to train Afghans in props than UAVs.

Drone=limited situational awareness, no maneuverability, limited payload, and the pilot is in a van in Nevada where the grunt on the ground can’t talk to him.

“The General wants it” — GEN Mattis commanded the 1st MARDIV during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He went around the standard ATO and Air Wing C2 infrastructure as much as possible to get his Marines their air support.

“Nothing new will be cheap” — its not new. Mattis wants a plane that’s already been developed that we can just add weapons to.

“Attack, ISR, Comm, etc” Actually that is the JSF’s mission set. Mattis only wants this to be a ground support plane. “Armed Reconnaissance” means flying ahead of the troops and looking for the enemy. Not staying way over the battlefield with expensive sensors.

“A-10 and helicopters” The A-10 won’t last forever, doesn’t exist in enough numbers anymore, and is overkill for what Mattis is proposing. Helicopters don’t have the range or loiter time for this kind of mission unless they have a FARP right behind the troops.

It makes great sense for security assistance in virtually any situation. In Iraq the Iraqis are using Cessna Caravans for COIN. How many places in Africa can effectively use high performance jets? Or UAVs for that matter. But most any country can find people to fly and fix trainers. They have numerous uses from training to border patrol to COIN to CAS. Upgrade them with a targeting pod, some missiles and bombs, and they are much more effective than a high performace jet for most third world militaries.

In reality, If Brazil puts as much quality in the Tucano as Tarus does in their handguns then I would not have an issue with them. While I would preffer to see it go to an AMERICAN company, if we can get the troops good quality at a 1/3 cost savings that they can use for other needed equipment then I’m all for it. I love my country and wish to support it’s civilian workforce providing made in the USA gear, but greed has gotten the best of a lot of our contractors and manufacturing industries (and in reality are not even 100% owned by Americans any longer as well), and after what happened in washington sunday Made in the USA just got more expensive to procure.

Mr. Gates is getting his way, taking the best and most sophisticated Airforce in history and turning it into a second rate force that will struggle and cost American lives. This vendetta he has with the Airforce is shameful and dangerous. I think it’s time for him to step down , he has done enough dammage. It is time for a new Sec. of Defense who has America’s best interests at heart. He (Mr. Gates) would make a great south american dictator, then he can take all his little turboprop turds and bully his neighbors.

Uh Will, Mr. Gates is not doing anything to the Air Force to degrade them. The MARINES and SOCOM got this ball rolling because when you operate in small units you need supprt that can get there fast and hang around awhile, Fighter jets cannot hang as long or manuever as low as these will be required, especialy in mountain valleys. It is just the right type of aircraft for the fight, it will not reduce the number of fighter jets needed or acquired since they dont feasibly support these type missions to start with. Also — all weather fighter jets still cant get in the air if the ship they are on cannot manuever to launch or land them due to bad weather. These will be deployed from fields near the combat zones and not from the safety zones or carriers.

CONTINUED: Just trust me, MURPHY’s law prevails over and over, It is not a good feeling to call in for support or an air strike and hear the other end reply “Hold your position until further notice” or “Evade as neccessary” because the weather was to bad to get birds in the air, or they had a catapult failure. Also they could utilize older carriers to transport these birds into theater initialy and be a mobile repair facility while they are there, and rather than decoming a carrier that is still operational except that it is not big enough for the current jets in large enough numbers. I’m all for it.

Boomer, Brazil is in the Americas…

Gee! Ever hear of the Raven program during the Vietnam fracas? A pilot and an observer were in contact with the troops on the ground and were able to call in reinforcements or airstrikes when needed. They were flying vintage high-wing aircraft (better view of the terrain). The observer was a Laotian who could converse with Vang Pao’s folk or the RLA officers, the pilot was a shdeep-dipped USAF recce pilot who could talk to the US combatants on the ground.

Replicate the Steve Canyon program (to some degree) and give the pilots and Afghan spotters a decent aircraft.

Maybe we could learn from past lessons.

I agree that this kind of thing is the right idea. There are other reasons which haven’t really been pointed out which include the idea of being able to come close to basing your CAS with your ground force.

There’s nothing like being able to have the ground forces sitting down in the mess with the CAS people and talking directly about what happened out there and what they need from each other in the future. So you could put these aircraft at some of the FOB’s with benefit.

While it was alluded to before, one of the things to remember is that these aircraft could be devoted to the individual mission. No waiting around for the Marines or Army to figure out whether the Air Force will be able to support the mission at the requisite time. This is not a dig at the Air Force — it’s a matter of where they can base their aircraft and how many really expensive and difficult to maintain aircraft they can put into the area. Plus, when you’ve got some really major stuff coming down you’re still going to want to be able to call in an F-16 or an A-10 or something with more oomph than a COIN.

In many ways it is the laminate concept. If you have one type of material and it’s all oriented in one direction you frequently have much less strength and versatility than if you have a number of layers of sometimes quite different materials and with varying orientations. I know that the analogy is imperfect, but we have to get away from the idea of having a few systems which are supposed to perform all duties — you’ll almost always have systems which are typically mediocre for their use.

Much better to have systems at the low through the high end (varying definitions of what they are) with relatively narrow purposes and then put together the package of capabilities to fit the mission. Sort of the “arms room” concept I’ve seen elsewhere.

If this can actually be done cheaply(and I have serious doubts about that) then it is a good idea…as long as it isn’t sold as an alternative to F-35s(something I am sure will eventually happen). Right now USAF, USN, and USMC aircraft are using up too many of their limited flight hours in missions that do not require their advanced capabilities. This is causing the aircraft that we have to reach the end of their service life too early and is putting even greater pressure on an already shrinking fleet of aircraft. Huge problem. This could potentially be at least a partial solution to that problem. I have a question though: The USAF is currently spending several billion dollars to rewing and upgrade its substantial A-10 fleet. When completed the A-10C is an aircraft that is capable of loiter and dropping precision weapons. Those A-10Cs are projected to be in service for another 15–17 years. What does this proposed aircraft bring to the table that these A-10s don’t? Is the difference in capability worth the additional investment?

I think that the proposed aircraft will be superior for some purposes. Having a second seat gives you better observational and control capabilities in what should be a lighter and cheaper aircraft. What’s more, you should be able to use a shorter airstrip and require fewer support personnel which means you should be able to put some of them at some of the FOB’s and such — which I don’t think you’ll be able to do with the A-10C.

Doesn’t make the A-10 obsolete anytime soon, though. There isn’t much of anything that hits quite like the A-10.

lower hourly operating cost by an order of magnitude.

Also, if done right, larger availability and more rapid response. It also allows the Airforce to better manage resources. Why send a gunship, if a gunship is overkill?

I though it was a silly idea at first, then after some thought I think it might be a really good one at that.
While we’re at it, why not build an updated version of something like the A-10?

If your from Brazil your Brazilian not American nor USA which is what I stated (AMERICAN COMPANY).

Propeller-driven — able to land and take off from austere (read: dirt) airstrips.
Slower aircraft — better able to tell friend from foe

Give them a titanium tub, lots of cheap guns, and a few rockets and do it, I say.

There lurks a creature in the Mojave desert.

B. Bolsøy

These birds are intended to be old school point and shoot, not to carry smart bombs and such so the digital displays are not neccessary. Just bullets, rockets and the occasional napalm. nothing fancy. UAv’s are not as great as many would have you believe, They might prove useful in suicide missions but then a Tomahak cruise missle could do it as well so I see no real need for them other than security patrols of know routes around FOB’s and borders but you will never replace the eyes and boots on the ground. Just sew a thermal blanket to you ghuillie net or inside you suit and you can get past the UAv’s or any aircrafts sensors whereas a trained eye will catch you.

Boomer, this is in the form of an agreement:

With a UAV you’d have to transmit video/telemetry either back to a base somewhere and then hope that you can transmit back to the team on the ground and then start to refine the data by back and forth transmissions. When we start dealing with a technologically equipped enemy they may actually be able to block those transmissions.

With a coupla guys circling in your area you can have line of sight transmission and the observer and pilot are refining the information in real-time and with transmissions which will be harder to disrupt (line of sight and only two points at which they can be disrupted. Heck, your pilot could actually fire or drop markers onto areas of concern he/she has spotted — and radio transmission may not be totally required in some cases.

There is just a lot more flexibility and with a pilot and an observer you can start to approach 360 degree coverage (OK, maybe more like 270 degrees?).

HAS BEEN — I’m in total agreement with you as well, I never liked working with UAV’s any more than I liked tagging targets for smart bombs, would had rather come in after a good carpet bombing of the area. Most people who rave about UAV’s either make a living around building or selling them or just like neat toys, They dont realize men ar in harms way most of the time guiding them in and how long they are exposed waiting for info updates and feedbacks to occur. Just as they dont realize just how time constrained you are when operating jointly with aircraft flying in from safe zones, they can only be in area so long before you are left alone, or heaven forbid it takes you longer to get to your destination than planned due to heavier than reported enemy activity. We need front line aircraft period, always have and always will, never should have been shelved to start with.

so what you meant to say was a a company from the United States of America… Or does your ignorance of English cloud your perception on continental reality…

America and American are widely used to describe the United States and its citizens.

Bring back the Skyraider!!

Why not dirigibles or drone blimps? Imagine the loiter time of those suckers

Boomer, you might want to reconsider your bigotry, if you wish to be perceived as an impartial and logical commenter.

In essence, one-half of the landed globe is the north and south stretch of the Americas. All humans who live in the Americans are in the deepest sence “Americans, as in comparison for example Europeans, Asians, or Africans.

Thereafter, humans divide themselves into smaller and increasingly more numerous and smaller geographical and governmental entities.

Sepecifically the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) included Canada, The United States (of America) [a subset of North America], and The Republic of Mexico.

NAFTA did not include the central American States, or the south American States, all of which, despite your nationalistic bigotry, are equally “American” and composed of “Americans”.

Just because the dominant nation in the Americas abrogates the term “American” for itself does not mean that only US citizens are actually and truly the only “Americans”.

Pride-of-place is my particular oath of allegiance as a US service member. But logic and courtesy give me the confidence to allow for others to share our American stage.

Otherwise, we ourselves become the “Ugly Americans”, never able to see the harm we sometimes impose on our geopolitically weaker but nonetheless worthwhile neighbors.

Freedom and the pursuit of happiness rings hollow when we apply it only to all special four-hundred-million of ourselves and not to others.

Nothing says that this bit of name grace diminishes our own interests or our true selves as a proud nation. On the contrary, in recognizing an undeniably logical fact of geography it shows our strength as a nation composed of confident peoples.

Boomer, are you a proud and confident “American”, or only a begrudging citizen of the United States.

I don’t know about this specific aircraft, but the idea is great and badly needed. Every recent war that we have been in has proven the need for this kind of aircraft, even when a lot of “experts” were saying that it is obsolete. I’m glad someone is thinking on the right track, I just hope they develope a very capable aircraft to do this job.

No way, we need an aircraft like this, remember the Mowhawk? This aircraft was used for surveilance as well as being armed with a variety of weapons unitil 1996 in the US. The Vietnamese called it “Whispering Death”.

Musket 104 nailed it on the head. The piper enforcer, originally built as a counter drug platform had almost Sky Raider performance with a hundred knots more on the top end. Although not carrier capable. It is already a proven platform. AND it was built to combat specs, not to civilian flight school specs.

I agree with SuprDav! Don’t we still have old A1 skyraiders in the bone yard that can be upgraded/fixed/re-engined to work? I don’t know its capabilities and how well it worked for the guys during nam, but have heard it did the job well. Guess i’ll have to do some reading on the aircraft. What ever they come up with better damn well work to cover the guys on the ground!

They should have kept a few P-51s in storage after WW-II. Put a turboprop in one of those babies and you’d really have a heck of a ground support vehicle there. A P-47 “Jug” would kick some serious camel too, IMHO. Didn’t they used to pack TONS of ordnance along with their 6 (or was it 8?) .50 cals?
Tuck a couple of Vulcans under the wings for a real deadly upgrade.

Why can’t they build in an option of quick interchange remote control (drone) and human pilot capabilities?
Make like a robot pilot with electric servo or hydraulic connections to controls and onboard cameras slung under the fuselage. A live pilot could use a monitor to scan normally blind spots beneath the wing.
There might be advantages to either mode in certain situations.

If top speed were under 300MPH or so I would imagine that an ejection system could be dispensed with to save weight. If things went to heck, the pilot could just “bail out” like they used to do in WW-II.
Of course you don’t want pilots bailing out over hostile territory where Muslims tangos are involved, do you?
“Capture” by Jihaddist is not really an option, we are told. Certainly one of the up sides of the UAV.

In a desert environment a STOL aircraft could land among ground forces for re armament, refuel, repair, or team conference. Pilot or remote controlled, it could Medivac out a wounded Soldier and perhaps a Medic to attend him before choppers could be called in.

Potential drawback; would probably be operating at relatively low altitude and noise from prop engine could give away presence if not location of your patrol, alerting enemy of your activity in the area.

I don’t understand this argument that these STOL aircraft or even the JSF version are going to be landing somewhere in the field for rearming and refuelling or even maintenance. Where and who is going to be setting up the logistics to provide aviation fuel and parts out in the middle of nowhere that is a safe base not requiring large defenses in order to not be over run? I think some of you are thinking a little too unrealistically here about this fantasy of landing and rearming right behoind the “front lines.”

Don’t think the resurrection of an old airframe is cost effective or necessary. During the Vietnam war, they totally refurbished a dozen or more A-26 Invader’s. And soon after they were sent to Vietnam, some general found out about it and had them sent back to the US. Not in his backyard. Lynch Air Tankers, who operated A-26 retardant bombers, offered to buy them. No dice. They offered to tade them their old ones for scrapping in exchange for the new ones. Still no dice. So the newer planes went to suffer their fate at D-M.

The “Jug” was much more devastating in ground attack. The O/A-10X offered by Boeing would be a good alternative. Since it was designed as a COIN airplane originally.

What a bunch of drivel…the same pabulum that was expressed by sophomore political science teachers.… A waste of oxygen and soooo very righteous! GAG!

Amen, to that Skyraider, bring’em back, hell from the sky. Sandies and Hobos get’er done.

I’m curious about how this will work myself, but consider that the Abrams tank runs on JP-8, same stuff they’ll put in a turboprop or a jet. We know how to do a FARP, but that’s probably more temporary. I think it depends a great deal on what aircraft is selected, obviously an Air Tractor is easier to keep flying out in the boondocks than anything because that’s what it was designed for. I’m not sure about Super Tucs or AT-6s because they just never operated that way. The OV-10 physically CAN do it, but I don’t recall if they ever did.

Maybe this is part of what the “Imminent Fury” program is up to around Nellis– I suspect that’s more about interoperability with ground forces, but I think they should build a little airport, run practice ops, and red-team the hell out of it. Put some numbers to the theory. I don’t understand why we shouldn’t try.

The USAF interviewed Stuka pilot Hans Ulrich Rudel who advised them against doing certain things with the A-10 before it was built, like making it too fast for a slow steady well aimed gun run, which the USAF ignored. The Soviets in WW2 built the Sturmovik, a hardy, sturdy and hard to shoot down ground attack plane, much feared by the Wermacht. We had the Skyraider, a suerby built aircraft, but the needs are for all of these best attributes that each possessed, and more from our finest mechanical and electrical wizards. We must do the job well or not at all, and protect the investment in well trained pilots. America can build it.

Updated OV-10D Bronco like the US Marines operated in Gulf War One. Add one Mil-Std 1760 data bus, low band JTIDS and GPS all incorporated in one or two small black boxse, rewire the hard points for the mini-munitions on the UAVs, new multi-band radio and adda a laser and new FLIR/CCD to the little nose turret.The stuff doesn’t have to be state of the art as its a slow mover (except the FLIR) and voila a cheap as chips (french fries) IW aircraft. Add a flare dispenser for good luck too given MANPADS. Again as i say, all off the shelf compnents which should be available in store.

The A-10 is too fast for a gun run? The thing was designed for gun runs. The problem with the A-10 is that they are no longer in production and sooner or later spare parts will run out.

The modernized A-10C is probably one of the best aircraft we have for COIN work, however there is use in my opinion for a lighter aircraft such as the ones being discussed.

Yes Daniel, exactly. Everyone knew exaclty what Boomer meant. Alberto needs to stop being “estupido” or ” un imbecil”

Oh for goodness sake! When anyone in the world says “American or Americans” They mean people from the USA and everyone knows it. They don’t mean Mexicans, Canadians, Argentineans, Brazilians, Cubans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans…need I go on? Stop being a self righteous, pompous elitist. Boomer was obviously not being a bigot as you imply. Stop making things up so as to sound intelligent, it is extremely irritating and is completely off this specific topic.

I agree. This is the closet we’ll get to it.. I love the idea

I’ll take this kind of support anyday over a drone or a high flying cowardly jet jockey.

Amen, Mr Wittington has highlighted the fallacy of the STOL concept. Getting fuel, bombs & spare parts to front line logistics “briefs well” but is not practical.…wouldn’t tubes be more efficient?

THIS is a great example of a General in Search of a Retirement Plan! Another soon to be retired Uniform-Crat that is looking for a company to hire him because of his “..leadership abilities,… contributions to the program blah blah blah.…”. Nothing new there!
This is a waste when all the stuff needed already exists or is sitting on the retired shelf! Sldo, UAV’s are coming along to do the job even better in the future with newer technology and a reduced loose of crews in combat. Still,… I’d love to see the OV-10 “Bronco” come back &/or the ARMY get the A-10 into their inventory to fly and work with their attack helo’s. The A-37 was a neat little package and had a good punch and TOT. Why not try that again too!?

But a whole new program is just another General looking for a feather bed for himself with a nice paycheck after he retires from the Pentagon. Nothing ever changes in that part of Washington DC.

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