Jump to content
This site uses cookies! Learn More

This site uses cookies!

You can find a list of those cookies here: mysite.com/cookies

By continuing to use this site, you agree to allow us to store cookies on your computer. :)

Sign in to follow this  
Latinbear

Afghan Air Force - $8bn and counting

Recommended Posts

The link below is to a New York Times Article on how much effort the US has put into building Afghanistan's Air Force and the problems that still exist. 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/10/world/asia/afghanistan-air-force.html?fallback=0&recId=1GS1WeBiM6IftGAQLiuvv6yeMp7&locked=0&geoContinent=EU&geoRegion=LND&recAlloc=random&geoCountry=GB&blockId=signature-journalism-vi&imp_id=898938195&action=click&module=editorContent&pgtype=Article&region=CompanionColumn&contentCollection=Trending

 

Absolutely no desire or intention on my part to start a debate on the merits or otherwise of what is happening in Afghanistan. I simply post the link for interests sake on an air force that doesn't receive a lot of coverage. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always love the fact that the AAF is using the up-armored Super Tucano's and with time they could become effective than they already are, yet the USAF spent millions and too much time playing around testing them out with no hard decisions made. The hypocrisy is overwhelming in my opinion. It's almost like we've already forgotten and lost the lessons of Vietnam and the Cold War as far as light attack aviation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, whiskey said:

I always love the fact that the AAF is using the up-armored Super Tucano's and with time they could become effective than they already are, yet the USAF spent millions and too much time playing around testing them out with no hard decisions made. The hypocrisy is overwhelming in my opinion. It's almost like we've already forgotten and lost the lessons of Vietnam and the Cold War as far as light attack aviation.

 

What were the lessons of the cold war in light attack aviation ? During the cold war something like the Super Tucano would have been something with no place at all. These types can be useful only where the only AA available to the opposition is small arms fire.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not true, light attack aviation had a place in Europe and Korea during the 70's and 80's. Broncos and Dragonflies were working hand in hand with attack helicopters and A-10's on tactics devised to aid with the destruction of the massive armor units poised to invade if war broke out.

 

I know what the limitations are on these smaller aircraft in a high threat environment, but like what is going on currently in the battle space our aviation assets are working, you gotta ask yourself how long is it going to stay a high threat environment and are we going to continue to stress the fleet of heavier aircraft to it while ones such as these can do the job very well and at a more cost effective rate. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, whiskey said:

Not true, light attack aviation had a place in Europe and Korea during the 70's and 80's. Broncos and Dragonflies were working hand in hand with attack helicopters and A-10's on tactics devised to aid with the destruction of the massive armor units poised to invade if war broke out.

 

 

I wouldn't consider the Bronco as a light attack type in the contest of the Cold War European theatre. The OV-10 job was mainly forward air control and the type was really used as an observation aircraft.

The use of the Dragonfly in high threat environment was similar, as units in Korea used the OA-37 for FAC duties. IIRC no USAFE unit was equipped with the A-37, with only a couple of ANG Squadrons possibly being considered for deployment in case of crisis (again equipped with the OA-37).

 

12 hours ago, whiskey said:

 

I know what the limitations are on these smaller aircraft in a high threat environment, but like what is going on currently in the battle space our aviation assets are working, you gotta ask yourself how long is it going to stay a high threat environment and are we going to continue to stress the fleet of heavier aircraft to it while ones such as these can do the job very well and at a more cost effective rate. 

 

Could be a good idea as long as having the type in service can be done without reducing the number of units flying the heavier types. If having a couple of Tucano equipped wings means disbanding 2 F-16 equipped wings, then it's IMHO a very, very bad idea. Considering that the USAF, as most air forces, has been reducing the number of types in service, introducing a new type suitable for only very limited operations could also end up being more expensive in the long run than using F-16s and similar aircraft in such missions.

 

Edited by Giorgio N

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Giorgio N said:

Could be a good idea as long as having the type in service can be done without reducing the number of units flying the heavier types. If having a couple of Tucano equipped wings means disbanding 2 F-16 equipped wings, then it's IMHO a very, very bad idea. Considering that the USAF, as most air forces, has been reducing the number of types in service, introducing a new type suitable for only very limited operations could also end up being more expensive in the long run than using F-16s and similar aircraft in such missions.

 

Actually the USAF's goal has been to INCREASE the number of operational squadrons of aircraft within the fleet. And you are csrrect about USAFE and the OA-37, I wasn't trying to say they had them I just put it in the same sentence.

 

As far as the the original intent of my point I refer you to this latest and greatest about the whole issue: http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/26279/top-usaf-generals-latest-excuses-for-delaying-light-attack-program-just-dont-make-sense

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, whiskey said:

 

Actually the USAF's goal has been to INCREASE the number of operational squadrons of aircraft within the fleet. And you are csrrect about USAFE and the OA-37, I wasn't trying to say they had them I just put it in the same sentence.

 

As far as the the original intent of my point I refer you to this latest and greatest about the whole issue: http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/26279/top-usaf-generals-latest-excuses-for-delaying-light-attack-program-just-dont-make-sense

Well... its the Warzone... which is considered the tabloid journalism of defence news. 

 

 

Goldfein was clear in his comment; the USAF doesn't know where its going and doesn't want to fund this program. The USAF is in the middle of a massive pilot shortage that is crippling its ability to provide its current operational activities; it does not want to add another whole new capability right now to staff, which would require OTU and the operational squadron (going back to disbanding F-16 squadrons).

 

Probably more critically, the US military is going through a major revolution in doctrine (broadly known as multidomain battle, but also system of systems or mosaic warfare). If platforms are not wired into the emerging battlespace networks and doctrine, they're not very valuable. Light attack faced that issue. Within low intensity conflicts, you're probably just going to see increasing numbers of UCAVs of multiple types start appearing and supplanting manned aircraft, but providing greater persistent coverage in a way that would be difficult to accomplished by manned capabilities on their own. Thats not to say that Light Attack couldn't have a role. However  in an constrained budget environment and the need to spend a lot of money to incorporate light attack into these growing networking efforts to make it relevant in the medium term, the USAF doesn't judge it to be a high priority among the many others out there. 

 

Finally, you have a president who is dead set on winding down counterinsurgency operations, and winding up massive near-peer warfare, so theres' a top down directive to push towards high end capabilities and drop ones that are focused on low intensity conflict. Considering the lethality of Russian and Chinese AD systems (which are proliferating), the survivability of light attack aircraft is questionable at best. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To be fair, it's less of the US President "winding up massive near-peer warfare" and more to do with the actions of Putin, in particular (other expansionist regime leaders are available), that are forcing a strategic shift for DOD.  After 25+ years of low intensity, asymmetric warfare, the US must (re)learn how to take on a major adversary in a force-on-force fight.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just be carefulk we dont go down the political route too much here pls.

 

Julien

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 12/02/2019 at 20:35, mhaselden said:

To be fair, it's less of the US President "winding up massive near-peer warfare" and more to do with the actions of Putin, in particular (other expansionist regime leaders are available), that are forcing a strategic shift for DOD.  After 25+ years of low intensity, asymmetric warfare, the US must (re)learn how to take on a major adversary in a force-on-force fight.  

Like the PC neutrality, it adds a level of maturity to an insightful comment

Edited by dadofthree
Typo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The use of lighter attack aircraft is possible if, as Giorgio remarks, you do not have to worry about enemy aircraft or the AAA/SAM threat. And even then, NATO employed a considerable number of unsophisticated aircraft with little or no defensive aids on the front line into the late 1980s; Luftwaffe Alpha Jets, RAF first generation Harriers and Portuguese G.91Rs amongst others.

 

In this situation, however, employing the Super Tucano or T-6B or Bronco can be a lot more cost efficient than putting Typhoons or F-35s in the sky. Does it really take a multi-million dollar/pound/Euro jet to drop an expensive piece of ordnance onto a pair of jihadists with a heavy machine gun or driving a battered old pick up truck? And does it require a guided weapon to do the trick when a salvo of CRV7s or even 50-calibre gun fire will do just as well when there is no possibility of collateral damage or civilian casualties -though perhaps that is another argument.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah but is it something the US military is fond of or the US defence industry lobbyists😉

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, whiskey said:

Be careful @Truro Model Builder, you are approaching dangerous levels of common sense. Not exactly something that the US military is very fond of. 

:sorry:

 

I'll go and sit on the naughty step now and just think about what I've done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Truro Model Builder said:

The use of lighter attack aircraft is possible if, as Giorgio remarks, you do not have to worry about enemy aircraft or the AAA/SAM threat. And even then, NATO employed a considerable number of unsophisticated aircraft with little or no defensive aids on the front line into the late 1980s; Luftwaffe Alpha Jets, RAF first generation Harriers and Portuguese G.91Rs amongst others.

 

In this situation, however, employing the Super Tucano or T-6B or Bronco can be a lot more cost efficient than putting Typhoons or F-35s in the sky. Does it really take a multi-million dollar/pound/Euro jet to drop an expensive piece of ordnance onto a pair of jihadists with a heavy machine gun or driving a battered old pick up truck? And does it require a guided weapon to do the trick when a salvo of CRV7s or even 50-calibre gun fire will do just as well when there is no possibility of collateral damage or civilian casualties -though perhaps that is another argument.

 

The problem is that the term "cost efficient" only applies to the single item; yes, a converted trainer is cheaper to acquire and to fly, Yes, rockets and machine guns are cheaper than guided weapons. The item itself is however only one part of the complex equation that gives the overall cost of something and as such the introduction or not of a simpler combat aircraft must be seen within the context of the whole system in which this must operate.

Sure, a Super Tucano is cheaper than an F-16s... but the F-16 is already in service. A new aircraft means new logistics and new training put in place, both expensive things.

And more, is the new platform going to replace or supplement the existing ones ? If it's supplementing then there's a need for new pilots, meaning even more resources devoted to training. More pilots also mean more more housing and other personnel related costs, and more social security costs. Could also mean more bases, with all the associated costs.

If the new platform is replacing existing platforms then there's the big problem of adapting these new platforms to other potential theatres. An F-16 may not be the ideal aicraft to fight insurgents armed with small calibre weapons but can do this job while at the same time being able to fight in high threat conflicts. A Super Tucano on the other hand has absolutely no place in any theatre with threats higher than insurgents armed with small calibre weapons, therefore in any other situation it would be forced to stay on the ground, so creating a serious capability gap in the Air Force.

All the above to highlight how whenever we judge something as cheap or expensive we have to take into account much more than the purchase cost of this something and sometimes the option with a higher price tag is actually the cheaper when all the accompanying costs are considered. In an era of relatively low budgets there is no room to have everything regarldess of the costs, so focusing on the systems that can give greater flexibility is good a way to keep costs down.

 

The selection of the right weapon for the job is also affected by considerations that go beyond the price tag attached to each of them. Guided weapons are more expensive but give a higher chance of neutralising the target, that is afterall what is generally asked from a weapon. Any weapon with a lower kill probability will require more missions to achieve the same results, meaning higher costs overall. Unguided weapons also often require the launching aircraft to move closer to the target, so potentially making the launcher more vulnerable: 4-500 rounds of .50 BMG are sure much cheaper than an LGB but an aircraft using these guns must move so close to the target as to enter in the lethality zone of something like the various Soviet era 12.7 mm calibre guns, that are plentiful in places like Afghanistan.

Rockets are better in this respect but again are best when guided variants are used.

Then there's the matter of what impact the failed neutralisation of the target may have on other forces present in the area. If I have to provide support to friendly forces that are under fire, the quicker the enemy is neutralised the lower are the chances of my forces taking casualties. I may achieve this with a single drop of guided weapons or with 2-3 passes of aircraft armed with unguided weapons. The quicker I do it the better it is, the extra cost of the guided weapon is justified if means reducing the risk of casualties.

Of course unguided weapons still have their uses and no air force has totally abandoned them, but expensive guided weapons are here to stay even in low threat environments.

 

And then there are all aspects mentioned by @-Neu- : any new platform must fit within the systems that the USAF are implementing, if they don't fit then there's no sense in having them.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...