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Should Usaf Start A A-10 Follow-on Program?  
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12158 posts, RR: 51
Posted (9 years 2 months 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 5009 times:

As great as the A-10 is, it will eventually become outdated. Currently the USAF has an A-10 SLEP going on to extend the airframe life another 20-25 years (based on current usage). This program keeps current flying A-10 maintanable by the manufacturing of some new parts and wing box components. But, the bulk of the program uses parts stripped from A-10 airframes that are stored in the boneyard at DM.

Eventually, these parts will become unavailable as the "supply" drys up unless more A-10s go to DM.

The A-10 is really a mission critical airplane. No other airplane can do the CAS and tank killing missions like the Warthog can. The ground troops feel a lot better when the 'Hog is around.

But, all good things must end, sometime. This is true for the 'Hog too.

Should the USAF cancel the advanced tanker program to get the money to start the 15 year long A-10 follow on program? It will take about 15 years just to get a prototype into a flight test program. The KC-135Es can easily be converted into KC-135Rs and will last until the 2050 time frame. The A-10 can only last until 2030 at best.

23 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineLMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (9 years 2 months 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 4965 times:

Reminds me of the saying, if it's not broken don't fix it. Given today's budgetary climate it's seems to be somewhat doubtful that the money would be available for a A-10 follow on. IMHO the best bet would be to build new A-10's. Even if the tooling is no longer around I bet the specs for them are out there somewhere. New engines and upgraded avionics would fit the bill nicely if you ask me.

User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12158 posts, RR: 51
Reply 2, posted (9 years 2 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 4934 times:

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 1):
Reminds me of the saying, if it's not broken don't fix it.

That is true. However, no one will go for building new A-10s. R&D should start soon, if we want a new ground attack airplane to start flight testing around 2020. Then low rate production could start in maybe 2025, and full production in 2028-2029. That should allow the last flyable A-10s to retire in 2030.


User currently offlineContinentalFan From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 357 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (9 years 2 months 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 4925 times:

Despite how useful it is, the A-10 is the red-headed stepchild of the Air Force.

User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Reply 4, posted (9 years 2 months 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 4906 times:

If anything they should just make newer ones from the ground up using modern parts and manufacturing techniques. Put newer more modern turbofans on it with a modern pit and you'd have another great niche aircraft for the next 30-50 years. Like the Navy found out with the BB's there is no true sbustitute for the big gun!

User currently offlineLMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (9 years 2 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 4872 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 2):
That is true. However, no one will go for building new A-10s. R&D should start soon, if we want a new ground attack airplane to start flight testing around 2020. Then low rate production could start in maybe 2025, and full production in 2028-2029. That should allow the last flyable A-10s to retire in 2030.

Given the high costs of R&D for new aircraft it's also doubtful that the powers that be will go for a new build a/c to replace the A-10. Especially one that would have a limited production. One must not forget that the fewer aircraft produced the higher the unit cost will be. If the USAf were to replace every A-10 it has along with the USAF Reserve and Air Guard plus attrition replacements that would be a production run of around 250-300. That means unit cost will be quite high.

Chances are that when the last A-10 is flown to the desert the days of a dedicated CAS with a big gun in the USAF will be over.


User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 29802 posts, RR: 58
Reply 6, posted (9 years 2 months 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 4851 times:

Quoting ContinentalFan (Reply 3):
Despite how useful it is, the A-10 is the red-headed stepchild of the Air Force

Always surprised me that the USMC never seriously looked at the aircraft.

I wouldn't say a completely new frame is needed but maybe an improved subtype should be developed.



OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
User currently offlineVirginFlyer From New Zealand, joined Sep 2000, 4575 posts, RR: 41
Reply 7, posted (9 years 2 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 4819 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 2):
However, no one will go for building new A-10s. R&D should start soon

The question is, could an all new aircraft offer anything more than a new version of the A-10. To my understanding, the aircraft is almost perfect for its role. If you started from a clean sheet, you'd probably end up with something which bore a remarkable resemblance to the A-10...

V/F



"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth." - Bahá'u'lláh
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12158 posts, RR: 51
Reply 8, posted (9 years 2 months 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 4778 times:

Quoting VirginFlyer (Reply 7):
To my understanding, the aircraft is almost perfect for its role.

Yes, it is. That is the major problem with the USAF A-10s, and the USN BBs. They are essentially single mission role weapons systems. With the US Political Leadership (both Democrats and Republicans leading the US to Official third world status) insisting on multi-role weapons systems (thus the stupid designation F/A-22), single mission platforms will not be built.

It does not matter that an A-10 or BB can support and protect the ground troops like nothing else can. Multi-role platforms are needed, but they are not great systems in any one role. A single role system, may be limited in its tactical application, but when you do need it, it is pretty much all you need.


User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (9 years 2 months 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 4761 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 8):
(thus the stupid designation F/A-22),

The F/A-22 is an attack aircraft like the F-117 is a fighter jet!  Yeah sure


User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12158 posts, RR: 51
Reply 10, posted (9 years 2 months 10 hours ago) and read 4670 times:

Quoting AirRyan (Reply 9):
Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 8):
(thus the stupid designation F/A-22),

The F/A-22 is an attack aircraft like the F-117 is a fighter jet!

Yes, I believe it (F-22A) is mostly an air superiority fighter. That is the reason for the super cruise and BVR missiles. It does not have much of a useful bomb load.

I think that someone can design an airplane to replace the A-10. In the USAF/USAFR/ANG the A-10 replaced the A-7D/K SLUF.

I don't know why the USN/USMC never built a Navalized version of the A-10A (with fold up wings, tailhook, and tougher landing gear) to replace the A-7E, A-6D, A-4, and A-3 (B-66). True the A-10 could not replace the EA-6B, KA-6D, ERA-3B, or KA-3D. as it is not a good tanker or jammer platform. But, it could be a great Marine CAS airplane.


User currently offlineVirginFlyer From New Zealand, joined Sep 2000, 4575 posts, RR: 41
Reply 11, posted (9 years 2 months 2 hours ago) and read 4639 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 10):
I don't know why the USN/USMC never built a Navalized version of the A-10A

I thought the USMC used the AV-8B for the same sort of role as the A-10?

V/F



"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth." - Bahá'u'lláh
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12158 posts, RR: 51
Reply 12, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 4547 times:

Quoting VirginFlyer (Reply 11):
I thought the USMC used the AV-8B for the same sort of role as the A-10?

The AV-8B cannot carry the weapons load the A-10 carries. It also doesn't have that big 30mm gun.


User currently offlineLMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 4520 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 10):
I don't know why the USN/USMC never built a Navalized version of the A-10A (with fold up wings, tailhook, and tougher landing gear) to replace the A-7E, A-6D, A-4, and A-3 (B-66). True the A-10 could not replace the EA-6B, KA-6D, ERA-3B, or KA-3D. as it is not a good tanker or jammer platform. But, it could be a great Marine CAS airplane.

Adapting a land based aircraft for carrier use is a bit problematic. The Navy found out how difficult with the T-45 Goshawk. One can only imagine how much redesign and added weight would have gone into a "navalized" A-10. Redesign of wheel wells to accommodate larger landing gear, beefing up the airframe, folding wings etc.

When it comes down to it the A-10 would not have been a good replacement for the A-6E. It would not have had the range, all weather attack capabilities, and payload of the A-6E. Don't forget it took two people to operate that aircraft as well. You would have had to make the A-10 a two seater. As for it being a replacement for the A-7 that's what the F/A-18 was for. Once the last Essex class carrier was gone there was not much need for the A-4. Not much need for a replacement then.


User currently offlineBhmbaglock From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 2698 posts, RR: 5
Reply 14, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 4519 times:

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 5):
Given the high costs of R&D for new aircraft it's also doubtful that the powers that be will go for a new build a/c to replace the A-10. Especially one that would have a limited production.

If the replacement were truly a step up from the A-10 at a reasonable cost, the sales to foreign govs would easily make for a good run. There isn't an army commander anywhere who wouldn't kill to have a bunch of these backing him up.

I agree with others that this is one of the few aircraft where an evolutionary rather than revolutionary replacement would be desirable. Evolutionary is cheaper, faster, and lower risk.



Where are all of my respected members going?
User currently offlineCloudy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 4497 times:

The A10 was built in the days when precision guided munitions were unreliable and expensive. Now, we can drop JDAM's, etc. from high altitude. The troops themselves can spot the targets, or UAV's can do it. So what we have is the rather ironic situation of close tactical support being conducted from high altitude by planes like the B1 and B52. It is no longer necessary to have a manned aircraft for this mission. UAV's and bombers can do it.

At least, that is what many think. If we have an enemy that can put up a real fight on the electronic battlefield and in the air, the picture may change.

One other reason there is no rush to build a replacement that does the same thing as the A10 is that it would be fairly simple to design a modern version if the need arrised. Simply take the avionics suite and engines from something else, build a slow and tough airframe, and load-er up with stuff. A simple ground-attack craft need take nearly as long to design and build as the F-22 or JSF. It still would take long enough that it could not be made to order for a specific war, however.


User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 29802 posts, RR: 58
Reply 16, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 4480 times:

Quoting Cloudy (Reply 15):
At least, that is what many think

Yeah and then you get a 9/10'a cloud cover over the ops area, combined, with dust and smoke generated by the combat action and they are blind as a bat.

At least the hog could get under it.

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 13):
Adapting a land based aircraft for carrier use is a bit problematic. The Navy found out how difficult with the T-45 Goshawk. One can only imagine how much redesign and added weight would have gone into a "navalized" A-10. Redesign of wheel wells to accommodate larger landing gear, beefing up the airframe, folding wings etc.

I never said the navy should adapt it, I just said I was surprised the Marines never picked it up. They have operated other non-carrier aircraft, like the Bronco.

Actually, with the A-10, I don't think the structure would need that much beefing up. Just a tailhood and a nosegear catapult connector. I wouldn't bother with folding wings. That way the Marines could deploy off a carrier.



OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
User currently offlineLMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 4464 times:

Quoting L-188 (Reply 16):
I never said the navy should adapt it, I just said I was surprised the Marines never picked it up. They have operated other non-carrier aircraft, like the Bronco.

Actually, with the A-10, I don't think the structure would need that much beefing up. Just a tailhood and a nosegear catapult connector. I wouldn't bother with folding wings. That way the Marines could deploy off a carrier.

Yes I realize that you never said the navy should adapt it. I was responding to KC135TopBoom's post. There's more than just throwing a launch bar and arresting hook to naval aircraft. One would have to beef up the landing gear and the surrounding structure in order to take the loads. Same goes for the arresting hook. And folding wings are a must on a carrier. Especailly for an aircraft with the wingspan of the A-10.


User currently offlineUALPHLCS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 4442 times:

Quoting Cloudy (Reply 15):
UAV's and bombers can do it.

I think this is your answer. The follow on of the A-10 has been developed, it is a UAV with Mavericks on board.

You will never again see the likes of an A-10, because it has been replaced by platforms that eliminate the need for an armoured tub for a pilot becasue there is no pilot. The plane doesn't have to be surviveable, because it is esentially disposable. Everything the A-10 was built to do, fly low and slow and kill tanks can be done with out putting a pilot in that position. so surviablity is no longer a factor.


User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12158 posts, RR: 51
Reply 19, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 4419 times:

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 13):
Adapting a land based aircraft for carrier use is a bit problematic. The Navy found out how difficult with the T-45 Goshawk. One can only imagine how much redesign and added weight would have gone into a "navalized" A-10. Redesign of wheel wells to accommodate larger landing gear, beefing up the airframe, folding wings etc.

Well, it is more political than engineering. The USN never liked a USAF jet shoved down their throat. From an engineering prospective, the USN F-111B successfully did the conversion from it's longer nosed cousin, the USAF F-111A. But the Navy didn't want an "Air Force" jet. They said it was to big on the CV flight deck, and it was to heavy. But, they built the F-14A to replace the F-111B (the USN took delivery of 24 airplanes, 18 of which they flew directly to DM). It was heavier and bigger than the Ardvark.

But the USAF didn't have any problem using the F-111B's bigger landing gear and tail hook design when they built the larger FB-111A (later called the F-111G). The USAF also didn't have a problem buying the F-4C (and later D and E models), which started life as the USN F-4A and USMC F-4B.

But, later the USN needed an airplane to replace the A-7E, F-4J/N, and A-4s. They actually chose the losing design in the USAF light weight fighter fly off (YF-16 vs. YF-17) program. The Navy never considered a Navalized version of the F-16A (except the USN later bought 36 F-16Ns {F-16A with some of the F-16C avionics}, but only for the land based aggressor squadron). They took the F-17 design from Northrupt, brought it to McDonald-Douglas, and called it the F-18, later redesignated the F/A-18 for political reasons.

Yes, there are design differences between the YF-17 prototype and the production F/A-18. But the 9 original prototype F/A-18s all started life as YF-17s, and were re-built.

Redesign of the A-10, or any other airplane is not difficult. It is getting it through the political arena of the USN that is the problem.


User currently offlineLMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 4411 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 19):
Well, it is more political than engineering. The USN never liked a USAF jet shoved down their throat. From an engineering prospective, the USN F-111B successfully did the conversion from it's longer nosed cousin, the USAF F-111A. But the Navy didn't want an "Air Force" jet. They said it was to big on the CV flight deck, and it was to heavy. But, they built the F-14A to replace the F-111B (the USN took delivery of 24 airplanes, 18 of which they flew directly to DM). It was heavier and bigger than the Ardvark.

There's a reason the Navy is not to keen on converting land based aircraft for carrier use. The trials and tribulations of the T-45 shows why. Also previous experience. The FJ Fury was a navalized version of the Sabre. It was heavy aircraft that did not have the performance it's Sabre cousin had mainly due to the added weight.

The F-111B was a grossly overweight and oversized aircraft for naval use, in spite of what you may have heard. So overweight in fact General Dynamics instituted a SWIP program for it, Super weight Improvement Program. Yet they still were unable to get the weight down to what the Navy wanted. Fortunately when senator Stennis asked Admiral Tom Connolly if more powerful engines were required for the F-111B he gave the legendary reply "Mister Chairman, all the thrust in Christendom couldn't make a fighter out of that plane. Thus was killed the F-111B program, thank god for that. I'm pretty sure if you were to ask if he had a choice between a F-111 and F-14 to fly air-to-air combat in I think we all know what the answer would be.

Not sure where you got the info saying the F-14 was bigger than the F-111B but the Tomcat was about 6000 pounds lighter than the F-111, six feet shorter, extended wingspan six feet shorter. The F-111B's swept wingspan was about five feet less than the F-14's. Height was the same. As for number built, seven F-111B's were produced.

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 19):
The USAF also didn't have a problem buying the F-4C (and later D and E models), which started life as the USN F-4A and USMC F-4B.

That's because it's easier to adapt a carrier based aircraft to land based use. No need for structural strengthening, bridle/launch bar, or oversized tail hook. I believe there was brief talk of a naval version of the F-16 but it went no where. After experiences with single engine aircraft like the F-8, A-4 and A-7 the navy wanted a twin engine aircraft.

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 19):
Redesign of the A-10, or any other airplane is not difficult. It is getting it through the political arena of the USN that is the problem.

It's more difficult than you think. Just look at the Navy's experience with the T-45. The powers that be in DC thought it was going to be easy and it ended up being behind schedule and overbudget due to the extensive redesign.


User currently offlineLMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 4408 times:

Almost forgot, with oversweep the wingspan is reduced another couple of feet.

User currently offlineLMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (9 years 1 month 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 4326 times:

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 20):
I believe there was brief talk of a naval version of the F-16 but it went no where. After experiences with single engine aircraft like the F-8, A-4 and A-7 the navy wanted a twin engine aircraft.

Forgot to add that one has to wonder how much heavier a navalized F-16 would have been. Just look at the nose landing gear and nose wheel well on the Viper. Some serious redesign there.


User currently offlineTedTAce From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (9 years 1 month 1 week 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 4288 times:

I think there is no way to accomplish the only way to make the A-10 better and that is to make it more stealthy. Those beautiful sounding high Bypass Turbines are just to difficult to hide from Radar. I can't see how you could effectively hide them and still make it so you could blow one off and not kill the airframe. Not to mention covering up the front of the Gun would be a nightmare to it's image.

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