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AA Weapon Carried During Mission Over Afganistan  
User currently offlineStall From Switzerland, joined Apr 2004, 257 posts, RR: 0
Posted (6 years 8 months 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 2807 times:

I have seen few pictures of F16 or F15 engaged in missions over Afganistan carrying different type of bomb and AA missiles when flying CAS mission.

My question is: Why are they carrying AA weapons for such mission. Do they expect to meet some AA threats or is it a question of aerodynamic ? (for example missile on the wing tip could may be reduce drag ?)

Any suggestion ?


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13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineUlfinator From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 314 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (6 years 8 months 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 2795 times:

I am in no way an authority but I have some guesses.

I would guess that is more SOP that anything. Even if air threats are uncommon in the area they are at war and should stay on their toes.

Also I would not put it past the Taliban to get their hands on some helicopters which could be taken out with air to air missles.

Just some thoughts.


User currently offlineDeltaGuy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (6 years 8 months 4 days ago) and read 2713 times:

Why would you carry a gun without any bullets? You're at war....having a fighter is useless unless it has a way to defend itself. You simply never, ever know, until it's too late. Even in Gulf War I, after the Iraqi AA threat was neutralized, we continued to carry them as a defense against who knows what they have stashed.

I'd rather carry it and sacrifice the drag/fuel, than to be caught without it and wtih a MiG-29 on my tail.

DeltaGuy


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13046 posts, RR: 78
Reply 3, posted (6 years 8 months 4 days ago) and read 2703 times:

As an example, what if a hijacked airliner was headed for say, Kabul?
Or they tried to use something easier, smaller, against a military base?


User currently offlineRwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2238 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (6 years 8 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 2626 times:
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Another thing to remember is that not all the stations can carry bombs. On the F-16, for example, station 1, 2, 8 and 9 (the two wingtip stations and the two outboard underwing stations), can *only* carry Sidewinders or AMRAAMs. Nor are those all that heavy (about 180lbs for Sidewinders, 330lbs for AMRAAMs). So there's really very little reason to not take a couple along, just in case.

And I'd assume these mostly launch with full cannon loads, if for no other reason that the off chance of finding something to strafe.


User currently offlinePADSpot From Germany, joined Jan 2005, 1676 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (6 years 8 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 2497 times:

Quoting Stall (Thread starter):
I have seen few pictures of F16 or F15 engaged in missions over Afganistan carrying different type of bomb and AA missiles when flying CAS mission.

German Tornadoes do normally not carry their AIM-9L/I-1 in Afghanistan.

I do not accept the "WhyDoIt?-WhyNot?" - Argumentation as some members presented it above. Weapon loads are deliberately planned and not "just" put on.

On the one hand Afghan air space is organized, monitored and protected by allied forces. Hence any air space violation has be tackled by coalition aircraft in a QRA-like manner, thus they need be equipped accordingly. On the other hand not all neighbors of Afghanistan are equally committed allies, so that one cannot be one-hundred-percent sure how they react when coalition aircraft operate near their border.


User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3396 posts, RR: 29
Reply 6, posted (6 years 8 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 2489 times:

Quoting PADSpot (Reply 5):
German Tornadoes do normally not carry their AIM-9L/I-1 in Afghanistan

Could this have anything to do with the fact that Germany government still claims it is not a war mission (Although it really is)?


User currently offlinePADSpot From Germany, joined Jan 2005, 1676 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (6 years 8 months 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 2460 times:

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 6):
Could this have anything to do with the fact that Germany government still claims it is not a war mission (Although it really is)?

Yes, less offensive mission and they do not participate in air space monitoring. But as I said "normally" ... I don't know if they never carry them along ...


User currently offlineAnalog From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 1900 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (6 years 7 months 4 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 2252 times:

Quoting Stall (Thread starter):
I have seen few pictures of F16 or F15 engaged in missions over Afganistan carrying different type of bomb and AA missiles when flying CAS mission.

It obviously makes sense that some do, but do all of them? Adding AAMs hurts range, increases maintenance costs, etc. etc.

If you don't carry AAMs, you can't shoot down your own guys (well, not easily at least).

Quoting DeltaGuy (Reply 2):
having a fighter is useless unless it has a way to defend itself.

The F-16 is perfectly capable of dropping a bomb when not carrying AAMs.

Quoting GDB (Reply 3):
As an example, what if a hijacked airliner was headed for say, Kabul?

(sarcasm on) that's what SAMs are for (sarcasm off) Would a US aircraft actually shoot down an airliner except to protect a US (or allied) military facility? Gotta weigh the cost of a bad shootdown vs. ground casualties. How densely populated is Kabul?


User currently offlineBsergonomics From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2002, 462 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 2024 times:

Two-and-a-half quick points:

1. As stated above, SOPs. Once you've released your A-S stores, you've still got an airborne, capable asset, should it be required (OK, highly unlikely, but you never know).

2. Wing flutter. The outboard AAMs actually reduce the wing flutter, both in the transonic range and in other flight regimes.

2.5 As a result of (2), you reduce the wear on the whole airframe (but especially the wing, which is the expensive bit), resulting in extended airframe life.

Enjoy,

BSE



The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...
User currently offlineAnalog From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 1900 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 2013 times:

Quoting Bsergonomics (Reply 9):
1. As stated above, SOPs. Once you've released your A-S stores, you've still got an airborne, capable asset, should it be required (OK, highly unlikely, but you never know).

But what if the likelihood is so low that the increased costs of carrying the armament outweigh the benefit? Sidewinders weigh on the order of 85kg, and AMRAAMs weight something like 150kg.

Is it necessary to inspect the missile and hardpoint after each flight? That, plus the added fuel of dragging around the missiles is probably not trivial. Is it? (I don't know.)

Quoting Bsergonomics (Reply 9):
2. Wing flutter. The outboard AAMs actually reduce the wing flutter, both in the transonic range and in other flight regimes.

Is this a rule for all aircraft? I can imagine it being true for an F-16.

Aren't there dummy missiles (weights) to use in this application? The USAF Thunderbirds keep the rails on tip (reduce vortex formation?)


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User currently offlinePADSpot From Germany, joined Jan 2005, 1676 posts, RR: 5
Reply 11, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 2007 times:

Quoting Analog (Reply 8):
It obviously makes sense that some do, but do all of them? Adding AAMs hurts range, increases maintenance costs, etc. etc.

If you don't carry AAMs, you can't shoot down your own guys (well, not easily at least).

I think they are just not enough airplanes in Afghanistan to have dedicated QRA-flights. They are there for CAS and have to do the air space monitoring so to say as a secondary mission. I don't think anybody is afraid they could get into any sort of airborne blue-on-blue incident.

As for the F-16s the technical aspect might be important. Putting some weight on the far end reduces vibrations and increasing stability (same with effect with handle bars of bikes, acrobatic balancing bars etc.).


User currently offlineBsergonomics From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2002, 462 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 1985 times:

Quoting Analog (Reply 10):
But what if the likelihood is so low that the increased costs of carrying the armament outweigh the benefit? Sidewinders weigh on the order of 85kg, and AMRAAMs weight something like 150kg.

Is it necessary to inspect the missile and hardpoint after each flight? That, plus the added fuel of dragging around the missiles is probably not trivial. Is it? (I don't know.)

You need to understand how the budgets work. For some air forces, there are different directorates/departments etc. who deal with each aspect. For example, the central Ministry Of Defence may be responsible for fuel bills (£15000 per flight, for example), while the squadron commander may be responsible for the recording medium for post-flight analysis (£2 per flight). Therefore, the operations people may not care how much the armaments people have to spend - the overall commander may have dictated that every air-to-surface vehicle must have and air-to air capability! Also, if you are a pilot, would you want to carry a partial load, on the grounds of cost, or would you prefer every armament possible?

The hardpoints do have a limited life, but it is relatively insignifiant in terms of operations and cost. There is a significant fuel penalty, but it is 'reasoned off' with the fact that there is a defensive or offensive asset available when no other asset would be.

Quoting Analog (Reply 10):
Is this a rule for all aircraft? I can imagine it being true for an F-16.

Not necessarily. Not being an aerodynamacist, I couldn't tell you what the precise parameters are. Sorry.

Quoting Analog (Reply 10):
Aren't there dummy missiles (weights) to use in this application? The USAF Thunderbirds keep the rails on tip (reduce vortex formation?)

You may have Handling & Jettison store variants, which replicate the weight and aerodynamics (especially during jettison) of the real stores. However, why carry an inactive store when you can carry a live one? In the grand scheme of things, the costs are of the same order of magnitude (more or less)...

Lastly, we have to consider the costs of the vehichle itself. When I say vehicle, I mean the aircraft plus it pilot. A modern, 4th generation aircraft will cost you in the region of £50 million. 15 years ago, the cost of training an RAF pilot was £3 million. I am assuming that it has more than doubled since then. Just that argument would inidicate that the loss of one aircraft would cost more that a couple of expired missiles. In addition, we regularly drop missiles and bombs into the sea and then recover them. They are fairly sturdy beings!

In summary, the costs of sending up aircraft with A-A missiles in a low threat environment can be criticised, However, it cannot be overcome. The argument for self-protection, the ability to react to a changing scenario and extended airframe lifespan should be sufficiently strong. That said, the rivalry between the various arms of the military mean that this debate will continue to rumble and the final victor will have won on the grounds of politics, not warfighting capability, nor common sense.



The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...
User currently offlineAnalog From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 1900 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (6 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 1936 times:

Quoting Bsergonomics (Reply 12):

That said, the rivalry between the various arms of the military mean that this debate will continue to rumble and the final victor will have won on the grounds of politics, not warfighting capability, nor common sense.

Thanks for the informative answer. Sadly I agree with your conclusion.

Quoting Bsergonomics (Reply 12):
Also, if you are a pilot, would you want to carry a partial load, on the grounds of cost, or would you prefer every armament possible?

Good point, but if carrying fewer stores meant one less trip to the tanker...


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