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The A-10 - Can Anything Replace It?  
User currently offlineVirginFlyer From New Zealand, joined Sep 2000, 4575 posts, RR: 40
Posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 7214 times:

I am not a military connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, so I am not certain whether this post will make sense to people in this forum, but here goes anyway...

I was watching a documentary on the A-10 the other day, and it got me thinking what a unique aircraft it really is. Although it looks nothing like what you would expect a military jet to be, it seems ideally suited to its purpose. To me, it seems a rare case in engineering where they got it right first time.

Sadly, the A-10 isn't getting any younger. I remember reading a number of years back that they were going to be replaced by F-16s, however I gather this never happened. I can't say I'm surprised - the F-16, as good an aircraft as it is, doesn't have any of the qualities that make the A-10 so perfect for its role (two engines, massive gun, wing optimised for low speed, high ordinance load, redundancy of pertty much everything, etc).

Now with the F-35 on the horizon, I see that it is supposed to replace the A-10. However, like the F-16, it seems rather unsuited to the role, for much the same reasons. While it should work nicely to replace pretty much every other aircraft it is supposed to (provided it can live up to its promises), the A-10 just seems too unique a platform to be replaced by a 'one size fits all' aircraft.

Ignoring the F-35, are there any other aircraft (fixed or rotary wing) on the horizon that could replace the A-10? Surely the role, which seems so important for the armed forces, cannot be left to vanish.

Is the final answer going to be that the only true replacement for an A-10 is another A-10, and that the designs had better be dusted off?

Thanks for any insight that can be given,

V/F


"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth." - Bahá'u'lláh
53 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineKukkudrill From Malta, joined Dec 2004, 1123 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 7180 times:

I suspect the A-10's role will simply be parcelled out to other available aircraft -- Apaches taking over much of its really-close-in ground support/tank-killing mission and fixed-wing strike aircraft (maybe, in future, UCAVs) doing the rest.


Make the most of the available light ... a lesson of photography that applies to life
User currently offlineAGM114L From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 7171 times:

Quoting VirginFlyer (Thread starter):
Ignoring the F-35, are there any other aircraft (fixed or rotary wing) on the horizon that could replace the A-10?

I think you got it right V/F. The only suitable replacement for the A-10 is another A-10. The AC-130 Spooky and attack helicopters are able provide close air support but lack the A-10's strike capability and no other jet fighter can stay in the fight like the A-10 does. I don't even think the F-35 will be able to do the job as well as the A-10.


User currently offlineCitation501SP From United States of America, joined May 2000, 209 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 7151 times:

Make no mistake about it the US Air Force has been trying to get rid of the A-10 since the late 70's I know of 3 programs to utilize the F-16 in the CAS role. in 1979 at Hill AFB 2 aircraft where tested complete with a lizard paint. In the 80's a squadron was used at Nellis AFB again all in a lizard paint scheme and in 1990 the 174th FW of the New York ANG was trained on using a 30mm gunpod on the centerline pylon. They also deployed to the pesian gulf durring Operation Desert Storm with the 30mm pod.

However after seeing both the A-10 and the F-16 on the live fire range, Gun and Bomb, I have to say I think the A-10 is far better suited to Close Air Support. The F-16 is a great all around aircraft but the A-10 is specifically designed for the mission. The hog is an endangered species, but should last for several more years. Nothing beats sending a bigger bullet to the target. and the 30mm is an impresive sight to hear and see.


501sp



Smoke and Thunder! Stage 2 FOREVER!!!
User currently offlineCTR From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 303 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 7069 times:

The excuses the US Air Force typically uses to rationalize getting rid of older model aircraft they no longer want are:

1) The mission can be performed more efficiently by a newer aicraft.

2) The maintenance costs of the aircraft are becoming excessive.

3) The aircraft airframes have reached their design fatigue life and are no longer safe to fly.

4) Replacement parts are no longer available.

The problem for the USAF is that none of these reasons can be applied to the A-10 Hog. Up high the F-16 is supreme, but down and dirty is where Hogs were designed to "LIVE".

A brand new Fly-by-Wire F-16 with composite airframe panels will always be more expensive to maintain than even a 20 year old Hog.

Because the A-10 airframe was designed with redundant load paths for ballistic tolerance, they have almost an infinite fatigue life.

And finally, the simple metal construction, mechanical flight controls and lack of complex electronics allow replacement parts to be fabricated at low cost even in small quantities.

So far the only honest reason the USAF has been able to come up with to get rid of the Hog is that it is Ugly. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.



Aircraft design is just one big compromise,,,
User currently offlineDuce50boom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 7064 times:

Quoting VirginFlyer (Thread starter):
Ignoring the F-35, are there any other aircraft (fixed or rotary wing) on the horizon that could replace the A-10?

No. The only way to replace the A-10 would be to design a bird for CAS and only CAS from the ground up, again. What the AF wants to replace the A-10 with (F-35B) reminds me of their shannanigans with the SR-71. You can assign it's mission to other platforms, Apaches, F-35Bs/U-2s, satellites, but you can't replace the aircraft.


User currently offlineDL021 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 11447 posts, RR: 75
Reply 6, posted (9 years 2 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 7048 times:
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Simple answer....

No.

Nothing will replace the A-10's abilities and strength. We will hopefully keep them as long as possible, and I really hope that we keep the plans intact, because when they go we are going to be forced to make a bunch of new ones.



Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
User currently offlineAGM114L From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 6913 times:

Any one know the stall speed of the A-10?

User currently offlineGPHOTO From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 829 posts, RR: 24
Reply 8, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 6878 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
DATABASE EDITOR

I don't understand why the USAF is trying to turn full circle. The reason they got the A-10 in the first place was because the role it was to perform was previously pushed onto other airframes which had not been designed to do that role from the outset. This gave varying degrees of success depending on the aircraft used, but it was clear that what was needed was a purpose designed aircraft tailored to the role. What was required was something faster than a helicopter, but slower than other jets, with efficient engines for loiter capability, with simple maintenance and ability to absorb damage (reduced downtime, ease and speed of return to service after incidents) and dish it out. They got all this in one airframe and yet they have never seemed to be happy with it. The machine seems to have given the USAF everything it wanted for this role, yet never been fully accepted, even before the Soviet Bloc collapsed.

As CTR says, can it really be that the USAF has a problem operating an aircraft that is not sexy? Or is it an attempt to reduce costs by reducing the number of types the Air Force operates, just like an airline looking for efficiency savings? Maybe it dosesn't feel comfortable with the role this bird performs, which is basically an Army support job (so let the Army operate them)? I have not yet come across an explanation as to why this bird is always under threat - it seems to be a permanent thing - but its proposed replacements seem to offer more disadvantages than the current platform with questionable advantages. The only logical answers seem to be to refurbish the A-10 or produce the A-10 Model 2, with a similar design philosophy but using newer techniques and materials. How much money has already been wasted on F-16 proposals that come to very little or nothing?

I'm very curious about this aircrafts seemingly lowly status and it looks like several other forum members are too. Can anyone offer any reasons why this might be?

Best regards,

Jim



Erm, is this thing on?
User currently offlineN328KF From United States of America, joined May 2004, 6485 posts, RR: 3
Reply 9, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 6869 times:

Quoting GPHOTO (Reply 8):
I'm very curious about this aircrafts seemingly lowly status and it looks like several other forum members are too. Can anyone offer any reasons why this might be?


  • It's subsonic.
  • It's not swept-wing.
  • It isn't meant to attack another aircraft.



When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.' T.Roosevelt
User currently offlineAGM114L From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6868 times:

Quoting GPHOTO (Reply 8):
Maybe it dosesn't feel comfortable with the role this bird performs, which is basically an Army support job (so let the Army operate them)?

Supposedly the A-10 was going to go to the Army back in the late 1980s. But the USAF changed their mind after the A-10's success in the first Gulf War. I can't find anything official on this other than ramblings from a bunch crusty army aviators.

What is probably the case is that the US Army and the USAF for some wacky reason have a treaty between them. All fixed-winged aircraft will be operated by the USAF. Leaving the Army with helicopters and a small fleet of VIP and sensor airplanes. Agreed it would make more sense if the A-10 were operated by the Army for training and logistical purposes. But then we get into the slippery slope of the Army then wanting C-130s for their Airborne units and so on.


User currently offlineAGM114L From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6867 times:

Quoting N328KF (Reply 9):
It's subsonic.

It's not swept-wing.

It isn't meant to attack another aircraft.

Most of the USAF aircraft are like that. While I do agree the zoomies are a lot about the image they do know a good thing when they have one.

Where does everyone get this idea that the Air Force doesn't like the A-10? I've seen them work, awesome aircraft. The Hog pilots I know absolutely love them. I even want to fly one.


User currently offlineTedTAce From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6847 times:

This post was suppoed to go up last night, but ....need I say more?

Quoting Kukkudrill (Reply 1):
UCAVs

This indeed may be the only thing that even MIGHT work as a 'silver' bullet. The only diference I think will be between the two is the canopy as it exists will be gone, and the life support systems will be gone (replaced with remote controls/cameras).
The only way to make the A-10 a 'safer/better' option is to eliminate the crew. Even then if the cameras are arranged PERFECTLY, the chance of a mis-identification is the only thing that will make it more dangerous.

Quoting CTR (Reply 4):
So far the only honest reason the USAF has been able to come up with to get rid of the Hog is that it is Ugly. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

There are two Military planes I 'realistically' want. A T-38 to go where I want to fast, and an A-10 to have fun/mess around with on the days I have nowhere to go to in a hurry.


User currently offlineEchster From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 399 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6840 times:

The Army vs. Air Force and the A-10s basically boils down to money. The Army essentially pays the Air Force for providing CAS with the A-10s just as it pays for ETACs. The Air Force would lose that money and then have to turn around and spend its own money to provide air cover with F-15s and 16s.

User currently offlineDuce50boom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 6818 times:

Quoting GPHOTO (Reply 8):
I don't understand why the USAF is trying to turn full circle. The reason they got the A-10 in the first place was because the role it was to perform was previously pushed onto other airframes which had not been designed to do that role from the outset.

Dude, your thinking is far too logical to have come out of the pentagon. Here's why the AF even agreed to buy the A-10: The plane was force-fed to them by far-sighted politicians and lower ranking, but influential, military officers whose arguments made sense to those politicians. Read a book called "The pentagon wars" and you'll understand. The made for cable movie was based on the second half of that book.

Quoting AGM114L (Reply 11):
Where does everyone get this idea that the Air Force doesn't like the A-10? I've seen them work, awesome aircraft. The Hog pilots I know absolutely love them. I even want to fly one.

Probably by keeping current on the history and goings-on of the aircraft. The only people who don't like the A-10 are, unfortunately, the ones who have power over the fate of the program. Many times, the AF brass has tried to retire the aircraft, transfer it's mission to other airframes (CAS F-16, what a joke), etc, etc. It WAS on the chopping block to the boneyard when Desert storm kicked off. After that they decided to keep most of them, but sent as many as possible to the reserves/guard. Why don't they like it? I don't know. It's not pretty, subsonic, and is specialized for one (now a couple) mission. And that's to support the guys on the ground. In the AF fighter jock run world, BFM/ACM is pretty, interdiction is pretty. Everything else isn't, and like it's appearance the primary missions of the A-10; CAS and CSAR, are not pretty.

Sides, if they retire the A-10 they can afford 2 more F/"a"-22s!


User currently offlineSATL382G From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 6809 times:

Quoting Duce50boom (Reply 14):
In the AF fighter jock run world

...,where the motto is "Speed is Life", the A-10 is the slowest game in town....


User currently offlineDL021 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 11447 posts, RR: 75
Reply 16, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 6 days ago) and read 6798 times:
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The A-10 is intended to operate in a high threat environment by working at low level. Todays environment is typically one where it has no enemies other than ground fire, and thus they operate it accordingly.....

The Army was looking at several aircraft for their ground support role, including the Fiat G.91, the A-4 and others, and in doing so forced the AF to agree to build a CAS airplane so they could keep the Key West Agreement in place and their funding would still all be under their control.



Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7780 posts, RR: 16
Reply 17, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 6714 times:

I may be talking out of my hindend here, but what role does the AV-8B Harrier do in CAS for the Marine Corps? And if it is, as I recall, the primary CAS aircraft for the Corps why could it not be used more widely in support of Army operations?


Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlineTedTAce From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 6708 times:

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 17):
why could it not be used more widely in support of Army operations?

TOT/Loiter capability. If the Harrier could loiter around barely sipping gas the way the A-10 does it would START to be considered, right up to the point when someone looks at surviveability with that BIG HOT ENGINE in the fuselage..Harrier is not even close..


User currently offlineSATL382G From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 6699 times:

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 17):
why could it not be used more widely in support of Army operations?

From a logisticians point of view....

1. It would be difficult for it to self deploy on a global basis. Marines operate it from an amphib or carrier, no problem for them..... A-10 just follows a boomed tanker wherever it needs to go.

2. MX. It needs the intermediate repair capability that Navy has aboard it's carriers and amphibs. Again not a problem for the Marines since they use those ships to deploy it anyhow. With the A-10 you just pull the bad LRU (and they consider wings, stabilizers, etc as LRUs) and replace. New/refurbed LRUs arrive via sustainment flow or deploy with unit. BTW: ever see an engine change on a Harrier? The WING has to come off first........

3. V/STOL. It adds a lot of complexity to the Harrier. The Marines need it to operate from small ships. A-10 units in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown that the A-10 can make do with whatever stretch of concrete happens to be available. Yes I know about JSF....

regards


User currently offlineRuger11 From United States of America, joined May 2005, 50 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 6651 times:

The AV-8 is expensive, labor intensive, and if you don't take into account the V/Stol Capability, there's a lot of planes that can do more for less $$.

I think the A-10 is perfect for it's role and will be a real @#$%^ to replace. Plain and simple.

I honestly hope for once that we don't go nuts with technology when we do replace it, too, and instead build a reasonably cost efficient, WELL armed, armored and protected aircraft, with equal survivability. There's some times faster and stealthier doesn't always add up to getting the job done.

As a grunt I'll take a Hog over my head before I'd want two F-16's... forced to fly higher due to ground fire or whatever, coming in possibly too fast to positively ID my pos, etc etc etc.

The A-10 is an awesome plane. Good topic.


User currently offlineAGM114L From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 6647 times:

What is the ultimate CAS weapon?

As much as it pains me to say, I vote for the AC-130 Spooky


User currently offlineVSIVARIES From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 108 posts, RR: 4
Reply 22, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 6630 times:

I've always loved the A10. The 'Flying gun' as it's been called.
Has always stood out with some unique statistics like the way the main cannon reduces airspeed by x knots by y amounts of rounds fired/time etc.

Think the problem is that with all of the recent coalition forces work Afghanistan, Iraq etc. there probably aren't that many tanks left in the world that we have the need to kill, for now anyway.

What do we do with the old tank killer?

Keep it! It far to good to retire. Awesome aircraft.



For every action there is always an unequal but mostly similar reaction.
User currently offlineDL021 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 11447 posts, RR: 75
Reply 23, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 6607 times:
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Quoting SATL382G (Reply 19):
1. It would be difficult for it to self deploy on a global basis.

They dragged an entire squadron around the world for the first Gulf War. Done it several times since. They can even use USAF birds with drogue kits.....can't they?

Quoting SATL382G (Reply 19):
. MX. It needs the intermediate repair capability that Navy has aboard it's carriers and amphibs



Quoting SATL382G (Reply 19):
. V/STOL. It adds a lot of complexity to the Harrier. The Marines need it to operate from small ships.

The Marines used a soccer stadium in Saudi to operate Harriers. They can operate pretty much anywhere. But the point about additional complexity is absolutely correct.

Quoting SATL382G (Reply 19):
A-10 units in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown that the A-10 can make do with whatever stretch of concrete happens to be available. Yes I know about JSF....

A-10 will probably prove to be the ultimate CAS weapon. Even over the F-35.

Quoting AGM114L (Reply 21):
What is the ultimate CAS weapon?

As much as it pains me to say, I vote for the AC-130 Spooky

See above. The AC-130 probably comes in second or third.



Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
User currently offlineSATL382G From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 6602 times:

Quoting DL021 (Reply 23):
They dragged an entire squadron around the world for the first Gulf War. Done it several times since. They can even use USAF birds with drogue kits.....can't they?

My understanding of the doctrine is for them to be operated off ships, at least initially. Then to be supported over the beach from the boat. I see no reason why they couldn't do what you suggest. My personal opinion is though that I won't want to fly it trans pacific/atlantic.


25 TedTAce : Nobody in their right mind wants to fly either from what I have come to understand. I'm sure I'm wrong, so I'm asking for the correction up front. I
26 SATL382G : Poorly written sentence on my part, aside from that I'm not sure what you want. The paragraph was in reference to the Harrier not A-10
27 Post contains links Fumanchewd : It's very old. The JSF will have VTOL version for the USMC as well as the Royal Marines. I just talked to a AV8 pilot Major from the 214 the other da
28 Post contains images SATL382G : 125 get the upgrade out of the original production run of, what, 700(?). So what replaces the A-10C?
29 Post contains images Fumanchewd : Your guess is as good as mine. I thought that they would never take the F22 orders below 300, but what do I know?  However if your read it says that
30 Fumanchewd : Read my first link. The A10 is valuable to the AF, who has no attack helicopters. A fixed wing aircraft (especially the bathtub) is far more safe and
31 Duce50boom : I read your link and I agree with your point, but maybe you should reread that, as well as some of the other links included in it. Here's a brief lis
32 SATL382G : ??? You're not thinking new frames are you? My point is that the A-10 fleet has suffered some pretty severe attrition over the years. Seems unlikely
33 MD-90 : There's also not a Soviet army poised to plunge through Europe anymore, either. 700 ships surely aren't necessary, although 125 isn't very many.
34 LongbowPilot : I think everyone is mixing arguments here. The thread is titled A-10 can anything replace it. No nothing can replace the Thunderbolt II, it is the las
35 Cloudy : The A-10 was concieved in an era before cheap guided munitions. In the first gulf war we had precision munitions but they were expensive. We also did
36 ERAUMcDlover : well i'm here to tell you all there is a replacement that is absoulutely viable! F/A-10D is what i think it'll be called, it will replace the current
37 Prebennorholm : The A-10 Hog will not be replaced by anything similar to the Hog. The A-10 was based on 35 years old technology as a relatively "cheap" way to counter
38 Stoney : If they upgraded the A-10 and give them all lost of new technology, wouldn't the advantage of them still being able to fly even if "half the plane is
39 GDB : My understanding is that the programme that eventually led to the A-10, was a SE Asia requirement for basically a A-1 Skyraider replacement in the CAS
40 XT6Wagon : Its very short sighted to think anything "pointy nosed" can replace the A-10. The harrier makes a TERRIBLE A-10. Of course landing an A-10 on anything
41 Oroka : Some aircraft designs are just perfect already. Look at the B-52, it is going to out live its own replacement, and it's replacements replacement (B-1
42 Arrow : XT6wagon: Why didn't you start a new topic? I got halfway through this before I realized some of the comments sounded familiar -- the thread was start
43 TedTAce : There was no need to. He was continuing the topic @ hand in an un-archived thread, nothing wrong with that. Now if he had something like a link to th
44 KevinSmith : Roger. You got it right with that post man. The hog is a one time only aircraft,l never to be imitated of repeated. You'll never see anything like it
45 Post contains images MCIGuy : The thing the Hog does best is CAS. No, the F-35 can't do "low and slow" as well as the Hog, but it doesn't need to.   BTW, this is one awesome pic i
46 XT6Wagon : However thats exactly what the Air Force brass think it CAN DO. That it can and will replace the A-10 as soon as they have enough frames to do so. Of
47 Soren-a : I don't think the leaders of the USAF are as keen to replace the A-10 now as it was in the early 90'ties. Its performance in the first Gulf War, the f
48 Par13del : I'll add my 2 cents to this. First, enjoy the A-10 while you can, the Air Force wanted to kill it, Sadaam revived it, they tried to kill it again, Bus
49 Post contains images Fridgmus : As a former Airborne Grunt, I'm with Ruger11. I love that bird! Sexy, Evil, Wicked, Dirty, Mean and Nasty! Like so many have said, you can only replac
50 Covert : Old post, but actually it was a platoon of Rangers, AF guy TSgt Kevin Vance was with them providing terminal attack control. Anyways, Strike Eagles d
51 Post contains links and images ZANL188 : IIRC Northrup Grumman bought the rights to the A-10 when Fairchild went TU. Here you go... View Large View MediumPhoto © Steve Kempf - Jetwash I
52 Post contains links RomeoKC10FE : I didn't read all of the posts in this thread but of the ones I did no one mentioned the A-10C, that's right the A-10 is being upgraded with a glass c
53 Covert : I talked about that above, I just didn't mention it by name.
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