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kitplane01
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Best Ground Attack Platform

Fri Feb 05, 2021 8:22 pm

Lets suppose you want to engage in close air support in a relatively uncontested air environment. Think Afghanistan or Iraq after the fall of Baghdad, or the thing between Armenia/Azerbaijan, or the French operations in Chad, Saudi Arabia in Yemen. You're a moderately sized air force like France or Saudi Arabia. You want to be cost effective.

If starting from scratch, I would buy as much stealth fighter as needed for air defense, but task them for ground attack as needed. The rest of my money I would spend split between drones and helicopters, with no light attack nor non-stealthy fighters. All ground attack operations that can be done by non-stealthy fighters would be, because economics.

1) Use a drone: Gives great video coverage, has super-great endurance, drops laser-designated stuff, works at an altitude where small arms fire doesn't matter, casualties don't cost pilots. Most economical solution. Maybe you could operate 10 of these cost of a stealth fighter.

2) Attack Helo: Very nap-of-the-earth, very in-your-face. Bad range. Cannot withstand MANPADS. No too expensive. Maybe you could operate 4-or-so of these cost of a stealth fighter.

3) Light attack like M346/Super Tucano: Can do both nap-of-the-earth and drop laser guided stuff from high. Cannot survive a contested environment (but nothing at this budget level can). Still vulnerable to MAN PADS. Can carry every bomb/pod a mainline fighter can. Maybe you could operate 4-or-so of these cost of a stealth fighter.

4) Mainline fighter like F-16, Typhoon: VERY expensive. Possibly too fast for true map-of-the-earth. More safe from MANPADS especially if attacking from high altitude. Also useful for air-air, deep strike, etc. Maybe you could operate 3 of these for the cost of 2 stealthy fighters.

5) Stealthy fighter (F-35, J-20): Super very expensive. Possibly too fast for true map-of-the-earth. Most safe from MANPADS especially if attacking from high altitude. Very useful for air-air, deep strike, etc.
 
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T18
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Fri Feb 05, 2021 8:35 pm

I think, a major factor in the mission profile to select the best platform is who the enemy is.
If you expect to find yourself fighting a lightly armed or insurgent force it will require a different platform opposed to fighting a major power like the US, China, Russia, NATO, etc.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:02 pm

T18 wrote:
I think, a major factor in the mission profile to select the best platform is who the enemy is.
If you expect to find yourself fighting a lightly armed or insurgent force it will require a different platform opposed to fighting a major power like the US, China, Russia, NATO, etc.


The thing you replied to says "Lets suppose you want to engage in close air support in a relatively uncontested air environment. Think Afghanistan or Iraq after the fall of Baghdad, or the thing between Armenia/Azerbaijan, or the French operations in Chad, Saudi Arabia in Yemen. ". The 'who' is not the US, China, Russia, etc. It will be a 'lightly armed or insurgent force'.
 
Ozair
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:46 pm

kitplane01 wrote:

If starting from scratch, I would buy as much stealth fighter as needed for air defense, but task them for ground attack as needed. The rest of my money I would spend split between drones and helicopters, with no light attack nor non-stealthy fighters. All ground attack operations that can be done by non-stealthy fighters would be, because economics.

I would favour the drone for low and stealth for high as well but you have to shape a force dependant on the biggest threat, which is what I think T18 was referring to. What I mean by that is the reason the USAF have flown B-1s and F-15Es etc over Afghanistan is because the force structure is designed to fight a near-peer. If you take that role away from the USAF and tell them they only need to fight insurgents in a permissive air environment then the Super Tucano/AT-6 is probably the cost effective option. In the USAF context, they can't afford two forces, one for permissive and one for near-peer, so better to abuse the near-peer force which is perfectly capable of permissive work, than try and accommodate both and perhaps fail at both.

I'd also argue that permissive air environments are not as common as they used to be. Yemen has seen fast jets engaged and at least a couple of shoot downs, Libya has seen numerous UCAVs shot down as did the Armenia/Azerbaijan conflict.
 
johns624
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Fri Feb 05, 2021 11:13 pm

Didn't we sorta answer this in the OP's last thread--the A-10.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sat Feb 06, 2021 12:51 am

johns624 wrote:
Didn't we sorta answer this in the OP's last thread--the A-10.


That's what inspired this.

But the A-10 is not really available any more. It's a fine answer, but ...

I thought the A-10 vs F-16 thing was really interesting and wanted to add drones and helicopters to it.
 
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N328KF
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sat Feb 06, 2021 12:52 am

My vote for best ground attack platform: MQ-9 Reaper.
 
426Shadow
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sat Feb 06, 2021 1:32 am

kitplane01 wrote:

4) Mainline fighter like F-16, Typhoon: VERY expensive. Possibly too fast for true map-of-the-earth. More safe from MANPADS especially if attacking from high altitude. Also useful for air-air, deep strike, etc. Maybe you could operate 3 of these for the cost of 2 stealthy fighters.

5) Stealthy fighter (F-35, J-20): Super very expensive. Possibly too fast for true map-of-the-earth. Most safe from MANPADS especially if attacking from high altitude. Very useful for air-air, deep strike, etc.


Operating costs aside, the F-35 is actually cheaper to purchase than the Eurofighter.
 
426Shadow
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sat Feb 06, 2021 1:37 am

Best ground attack aircraft? AGM-86 ALCM with the W80 warhead.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sat Feb 06, 2021 1:59 am

426Shadow wrote:
Best ground attack aircraft? AGM-86 ALCM with the W80 warhead.


Like the way you think, go big, really big and go home!
 
IADFCO
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sat Feb 06, 2021 3:38 am

The situation is rapidly evolving. The buzzword du jour is MUM-T (Manned-Unmanned Teaming). Also, it matters how everything is networked together.
 
Reddevil556
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sat Feb 06, 2021 8:29 am

You have to look at the enemy force and who is possibly supplying them with weaponry. The situation in Yemen is completely different then lets say Somalia or Mali. In some circumstances drones work, others fast movers, and finally in some rotary wing. Afghanistan was ideal for a lot of rotary wing because they could loiter in a valley whereas a fixed wing would have to make several passes. So I will use a generic Army acronym to answer this. METT-TC. Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops, Time, and Civilian considerations. METT-TC is the foundation of the Army's decision making process, using this tool allows you to decide on the most favorable options. A while back we used to only have armed ISR for support, but when the threat level went up we had everything from F35s, F18s, and AC130s. We weren't taking chances, and I can say I liked knowing an AC130 was flying circles above over a drone. Having F35 above was nice too, because I knew one of the most sophisticated and modern combat aircraft was overhead covering us.
 
bennett123
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sat Feb 06, 2021 1:38 pm

In a relatively uncontested air environment, why do you need F35's?. More like a second hand F16.
 
Ozair
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sat Feb 06, 2021 9:14 pm

bennett123 wrote:
In a relatively uncontested air environment, why do you need F35's?. More like a second hand F16.

There are additional advantages than just the stealth to the F-35 compared to the F-16. The sensor fusion engine on the F-35 is taking in all the information the aircraft sensors is receiving and processing that, providing a near complete picture of the battlefield. The EODAS for example has a hostile fire detection capability. The aircraft will identify fire on the ground and determine the nature and type and display that to the pilot. Hence in an F-35 the pilot can have hostile fire that is behind him highlighted to him, something the F-16 pilot would miss. The F-35 helmet allows the pilot to look through the aircraft via the EODAS sensors instead of moving his aircraft providing better situation awareness and finally the night capability of the jet is much better. Not only with the Helmet but overall the F-35 is going to have more situational awareness at night than an F-16. At the moment where the F-16 is better is the ROVER capability to provide the JTAC on the ground, commonly present in these permissive environments, with the picture from his targeting pod as a means to confirm targets. F-35 is getting this capability as part of Blk 4 but it hasn't arrived yet.
 
RJMAZ
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sun Feb 07, 2021 12:00 am

kitplane01 wrote:
Lets suppose you want to engage in close air support in a relatively uncontested air environment. Think Afghanistan or Iraq after the fall of Baghdad,

A-10s flew 32 percent of combat sorties in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The sorties ranged from 27,800 to 34,500 annually between 2009 and 2012.

So the A-10 is the correct answer and nothing comes close. Drones will eventually become the better option but currently they are still quite expensive for the capability they give.

Besides the A-10 the second best option is the AC-235 gunship.

kitplane01 wrote:
But the A-10 is not really available any more. It's a fine answer, but ...

The A-10 is definitely available. Boeing has a rewing program currently running. There are hundreds of mothballed A-10A aircraft that can be refurbished to provide basic daylight close air support for extremely cheap. Most countries we are talking about, the basic capabilities of the A-10A is more than good enough.

The USAF also has 282 A-10C aircraft that have all the standoff precision and night capability. Half are active and half are in reserve units. Most of these have been rewinged and have lots of hours left. The USAF does want to draw down the the A-10 fleet so they would be happy to see the aircraft go to an ally.

Back to the A-10 RAAF proposal. For instance if the RAAF purchased a fleet A-10C back in 2006 I'm sure the USAF would have placed a squadron or two of their own A-10 aircraft in Darwin as part of their regular commitment to Australia. Going from an Apache to the F-35 does cover the full spectrum of ground targets. However when you take into account the size of Australia the short range of the Apache creates a capability gap for the longer range A-10 to fill. The RAAF can operate the Chinook, C-27J, C-130J and C-17 to have no airlift capability gap and lots of overlap. Yet the RAAF thought going from a Tiger helicopter to the F-35 is fine. Buying the Apache only reduces the gap. The A-10C fills it completely with lots of overlap.

There is a chance the A-10C will be retired with plenty of life left as it is becoming a niche capability for the USAF as drones and the F-35 eat away at the A-10 mission. The USAF obsession with fast jets could see them retiring the A-10 while it is still relevant. A different country could buy a very useful capability for very little money.
 
ThePointblank
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sun Feb 07, 2021 2:33 am

RJMAZ wrote:
kitplane01 wrote:
Lets suppose you want to engage in close air support in a relatively uncontested air environment. Think Afghanistan or Iraq after the fall of Baghdad,

A-10s flew 32 percent of combat sorties in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The sorties ranged from 27,800 to 34,500 annually between 2009 and 2012.

So the A-10 is the correct answer and nothing comes close. Drones will eventually become the better option but currently they are still quite expensive for the capability they give.

Besides the A-10 the second best option is the AC-235 gunship.

kitplane01 wrote:
But the A-10 is not really available any more. It's a fine answer, but ...

The A-10 is definitely available. Boeing has a rewing program currently running. There are hundreds of mothballed A-10A aircraft that can be refurbished to provide basic daylight close air support for extremely cheap. Most countries we are talking about, the basic capabilities of the A-10A is more than good enough.

The USAF also has 282 A-10C aircraft that have all the standoff precision and night capability. Half are active and half are in reserve units. Most of these have been rewinged and have lots of hours left. The USAF does want to draw down the the A-10 fleet so they would be happy to see the aircraft go to an ally.

Back to the A-10 RAAF proposal. For instance if the RAAF purchased a fleet A-10C back in 2006 I'm sure the USAF would have placed a squadron or two of their own A-10 aircraft in Darwin as part of their regular commitment to Australia. Going from an Apache to the F-35 does cover the full spectrum of ground targets. However when you take into account the size of Australia the short range of the Apache creates a capability gap for the longer range A-10 to fill. The RAAF can operate the Chinook, C-27J, C-130J and C-17 to have no airlift capability gap and lots of overlap. Yet the RAAF thought going from a Tiger helicopter to the F-35 is fine. Buying the Apache only reduces the gap. The A-10C fills it completely with lots of overlap.

There is a chance the A-10C will be retired with plenty of life left as it is becoming a niche capability for the USAF as drones and the F-35 eat away at the A-10 mission. The USAF obsession with fast jets could see them retiring the A-10 while it is still relevant. A different country could buy a very useful capability for very little money.


The 'hundreds' of mothballed A-10A's are effectively scrap; they've been raided for components to keep the existing A-10 fleet operational to the point where there is nothing left on them and are basically a shell.

That's partially the reason why the USAF wants to retire the A-10; parts are getting hard to find.
 
RJMAZ
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sun Feb 07, 2021 3:01 am

ThePointblank wrote:
The 'hundreds' of mothballed A-10A's are effectively scrap; they've been raided for components to keep the existing A-10 fleet operational to the point where there is nothing left on them and are basically a shell.

That's partially the reason why the USAF wants to retire the A-10; parts are getting hard to find.

Is this coming from the same source that incorrectly said the F-16's had LANTIRN pods during Desert Storm?

The USAF even has 18 modernised A-10C aircraft that have been retired in 2015 and put into "backup inventory”. These aircraft could be flyable within a month. They would be perfect for another country to pick up. About 100 A-10A aircraft have been kept unstripped on purpose. With over 700 aircraft produced a couple hundred have been fully stripped for parts.

I would have preferred Australia to keep the relatively young Tiger Helicopter and the RAAF picked up the 18 A-10C aircraft instead of an Apache purchase. 22 Tiger helicopters combined with 18 A-10C would have far more capability and be overall cheaper than 29 Apache helicopters.

The decision for the RAAF not to buy the A-10C in 2006 has so far resulted in an expensive Super Hornet purchase, now an Apache helicopter purchase and soon an armed drone purchase to fill the gap under the F-35. What's next? It would be funny if the RAAF tried to add inflight refueling to the Apache and a dedicated helicopter refueling platform to try and cover the role of the A-10. :lol:
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sun Feb 07, 2021 4:55 am

RJMAZ wrote:
I would have preferred Australia to keep the relatively young Tiger Helicopter and the RAAF picked up the 18 A-10C aircraft instead of an Apache purchase. 22 Tiger helicopters combined with 18 A-10C would have far more capability and be overall cheaper than 29 Apache helicopters.



Why do you think this? How can 22 Helicopter + 18 jets be cheaper than 29 helicopters?

If you had a source I'd read it.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sun Feb 07, 2021 4:59 am

RJMAZ wrote:
[
So the A-10 is the correct answer and nothing comes close. Drones will eventually become the better option but currently they are still quite expensive for the capability they give.

Besides the A-10 the second best option is the AC-235 gunship.



I'm curious how you feel about the A-10 vs Apache? My impression is that you don't love the Apache.

I would think any environment that is safe for an AC-235 is also safe for an Apache, unless the AC-235 is operating beyond gun range.
 
ThePointblank
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sun Feb 07, 2021 7:10 am

RJMAZ wrote:
ThePointblank wrote:
The 'hundreds' of mothballed A-10A's are effectively scrap; they've been raided for components to keep the existing A-10 fleet operational to the point where there is nothing left on them and are basically a shell.

That's partially the reason why the USAF wants to retire the A-10; parts are getting hard to find.

Is this coming from the same source that incorrectly said the F-16's had LANTIRN pods during Desert Storm?

The USAF even has 18 modernised A-10C aircraft that have been retired in 2015 and put into "backup inventory”. These aircraft could be flyable within a month. They would be perfect for another country to pick up. About 100 A-10A aircraft have been kept unstripped on purpose. With over 700 aircraft produced a couple hundred have been fully stripped for parts.

I would have preferred Australia to keep the relatively young Tiger Helicopter and the RAAF picked up the 18 A-10C aircraft instead of an Apache purchase. 22 Tiger helicopters combined with 18 A-10C would have far more capability and be overall cheaper than 29 Apache helicopters.

The decision for the RAAF not to buy the A-10C in 2006 has so far resulted in an expensive Super Hornet purchase, now an Apache helicopter purchase and soon an armed drone purchase to fill the gap under the F-35. What's next? It would be funny if the RAAF tried to add inflight refueling to the Apache and a dedicated helicopter refueling platform to try and cover the role of the A-10. :lol:

Check with AMARG; they only have 49 A-10A's and 50 A-10C's left in storage. With 281 listed in service, the remainder are all gone.

In fact, some sites do list what AMARG has in inventory, per FOI requests:

http://gmap.nl/amarg-full-current/

http://www.amarcexperience.com/ui/index ... Itemid=274


And on F-16's and LANTRIN pods; I suggest you tell the 388th Fighter Wing that they didn't have LANTRIN pods during Desert Shield and Storm:

https://www.388fw.acc.af.mil/News/Artic ... 6s-at-war/

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- When the Gulf War began, the footage of precision weaponry striking Iraqi government buildings, military installations, and tanks impressed the nation. Laser guided bombs and high speed anti-radiation missiles (HARMs), carried by the new stealthy F-117 Nighthawk, and the F-111 Aardvark caught the world's attention. The tank-busting A-10 Warthog also came in for its share of the Gulf War glory. The F-16 Fighting Falcon, which had arrived at the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing in 1979 played a vital role in the 1991 American air power campaign between the opening strikes in the very early morning of Jan. 17, and the end of the war on Feb. 28. Carrying air-to-air missiles, a heavy bomb load, and equipped with the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pods, 48 of the 388th's F-16s from the 4th and 421st Tactical Fighter Squadrons flew 3,944 sorties in support of the overall mission of destroying Iraq's army and liberating Kuwait.


Image

A ground crewman guides a 388th Tactical Fighter Wing F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft onto the taxiway. The 388th TFW deployed to Saudi Arabia to take part in Operation Desert Shield. Mounted on the aircraft's left outboard wing pylon is an AN/ALQ-131 Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) pod; mounted on the side of the engine intake is a Low Altitude Navigation, Targeting Infrared Night (LANTIRN) navigation pod. (U.S. Air Force photo)
 
RJMAZ
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sun Feb 07, 2021 7:42 am

kitplane01 wrote:
Why do you think this? How can 22 Helicopter + 18 jets be cheaper than 29 helicopters?

If you had a source I'd read it.

The Tiger helicopters are free. They have already been purchased and are in service with the ADF.

18 second hand and retired A-10C aircraft with high flight hours will be a tiny fraction of the cost of 29 brand new state of the art Apache helicopters.

Second hand USAF F-16's have sold for under $10 million each and the A-10C would be similar. This is extremely cheap. Simply converting the Apache AH-64D to the AH-64E costs $24 million each. New build AH-64E aircraft are $80+ million and even more with export fees on top.

The 18 used A-10C would easily save a couple billion in purchase costs compared to 29 new Apache. That money saved would go a long way towards the operational costs of the Tiger/A-10 combo. Even if the per hour cost of the used Tiger was 20% higher than the heavier Apache it would take decades of service to use up a billion dollars. The A-10 also has low hourly operating costs.

kitplane01 wrote:
I'm curious how you feel about the A-10 vs Apache? My impression is that you don't love the Apache.

I would think any environment that is safe for an AC-235 is also safe for an Apache, unless the AC-235 is operating beyond gun range.

I measure armed combat aircraft in "spectrum per dollar". The spectrum is the mission sets. A long range Bomber is at one end of the spectrum and a short range helicopter with a door gunner at the other end. An aircraft that covers a large spectrum often costs more per aircraft so spectrum per dollar is the best measurement. The F-35 for example has the best spectrum per dollar.

The Apache is excellent. It offers far more capability over the Tiger and it covers more spectrum than any other attack helicopter. The Apache has greater sensors and can operate in a higher threat environment. However if you already operate the Tiger then adding the Tiger and A-10 combined covers much more spectrum than any number of Apache helicopters.

The AC-235 has a combat radius 3 times further, a loiter time 3 times longer and twice the speed of the Apache. You would need 10 Apache aircraft to cover the same area for close air support. The Apache helicopters would also need multiple FARP forward armed refueling points that then need to be defended and provided with logistics.

The Apache might cover more spectrum than the AC-235 but 10 Apache helicopters has poor spectrum per dollar over a single AC-235.

The Apache and A-10 has significant mission overlap. Mission overlap usually results in money wasted but the USAF can afford this. If a military operates the A-10 then it can get away with cheaper/older armed reconnaissance helicopters. However without the A-10 then a military definitely wants the hardest hitting attack helicopter they can get.
 
ThePointblank
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sun Feb 07, 2021 10:40 am

RJMAZ wrote:
kitplane01 wrote:
Why do you think this? How can 22 Helicopter + 18 jets be cheaper than 29 helicopters?

If you had a source I'd read it.

The Tiger helicopters are free. They have already been purchased and are in service with the ADF.

18 second hand and retired A-10C aircraft with high flight hours will be a tiny fraction of the cost of 29 brand new state of the art Apache helicopters.

Second hand USAF F-16's have sold for under $10 million each and the A-10C would be similar. This is extremely cheap. Simply converting the Apache AH-64D to the AH-64E costs $24 million each. New build AH-64E aircraft are $80+ million and even more with export fees on top.

The 18 used A-10C would easily save a couple billion in purchase costs compared to 29 new Apache. That money saved would go a long way towards the operational costs of the Tiger/A-10 combo. Even if the per hour cost of the used Tiger was 20% higher than the heavier Apache it would take decades of service to use up a billion dollars. The A-10 also has low hourly operating costs.

kitplane01 wrote:
I'm curious how you feel about the A-10 vs Apache? My impression is that you don't love the Apache.

I would think any environment that is safe for an AC-235 is also safe for an Apache, unless the AC-235 is operating beyond gun range.

I measure armed combat aircraft in "spectrum per dollar". The spectrum is the mission sets. A long range Bomber is at one end of the spectrum and a short range helicopter with a door gunner at the other end. An aircraft that covers a large spectrum often costs more per aircraft so spectrum per dollar is the best measurement. The F-35 for example has the best spectrum per dollar.

The Apache is excellent. It offers far more capability over the Tiger and it covers more spectrum than any other attack helicopter. The Apache has greater sensors and can operate in a higher threat environment. However if you already operate the Tiger then adding the Tiger and A-10 combined covers much more spectrum than any number of Apache helicopters.

The AC-235 has a combat radius 3 times further, a loiter time 3 times longer and twice the speed of the Apache. You would need 10 Apache aircraft to cover the same area for close air support. The Apache helicopters would also need multiple FARP forward armed refueling points that then need to be defended and provided with logistics.

The Apache might cover more spectrum than the AC-235 but 10 Apache helicopters has poor spectrum per dollar over a single AC-235.

The Apache and A-10 has significant mission overlap. Mission overlap usually results in money wasted but the USAF can afford this. If a military operates the A-10 then it can get away with cheaper/older armed reconnaissance helicopters. However without the A-10 then a military definitely wants the hardest hitting attack helicopter they can get.


The Tiger's also aren't meeting requirements, have extremely high sustainment costs, and have experienced lower than expected availability. See the Australian Government's report on the Tiger, as posted by Ozair:

https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performanc ... helicopter

Conclusion
6. The Tiger helicopter fleet has not yet delivered the original capability expected by the Australian Government, and continues to experience higher than expected sustainment costs and lower than expected aircraft availability.

- The Chief of Army declared Final Operational Capability for the Tiger on 14 April 2016, allowing the helicopter to be operationally employed. The declaration was seven years later than planned, and was accompanied by nine operational caveats.

- As at April 2016, the Tiger also had 76 capability deficiencies relating to Army’s current and future operational requirements, 60 of which were deemed by Defence to be critical. Other key limitations relate to shipborne operations, pilot flying hours, interoperability and communications, airworthiness, and the roof-mounted sight.

- To date, sustainment costs have exceeded the original contract value. The 15 year (2004–2019) sustainment contract provided for expenditure of $571 million.4 That sum was expended by June 2014, and expenditure as at June 2016 was $921 million.
As at June 2016, the cost per flying hour for the Tiger fleet was $30 335, compared to a target of $20 000. The long-term average was $39 472 per hour. Defence negotiated a cost cap to control sustainment cost growth in 2014.

- On average only 3.5 aircraft of the operational fleet (16 aircraft) were serviceable at 10am on any given day in 2015, against a target of 12 aircraft.

7. Defence’s internal lessons learned review of the Tiger program concluded that the ‘rushed’ nature of the initial Through-Life Support contract negotiations resulted in a flawed outcome for the fleet’s sustainment, and that Defence was ineffective in enforcing its contractual rights under the contract. These factors weakened Defence’s position in managing the fleet’s sustainment arrangements.

8. The 2016 Defence White Paper allocated $500–$750 million to address the current capability requirements of the Tiger platform with a view to replacing the platform mid next decade, at a cost of some $5–$6 billion. In effect, an upgrade is scheduled for consideration less than 12 months after the Tiger achieved Final Operational Capability. Defence should conduct a thorough analysis of the value-for-money of investing further in the Tiger, pending the introduction of a replacement capability.


This Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies –Australia (RUSI) paper notes that the Tiger is actually the more expensive of the options to both acquire and operate; there's a table on page 12 which shows it:

https://www.rusi.org.au/resources/Docum ... rogram.pdf
 
RJMAZ
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sun Feb 07, 2021 11:44 am

The hourly costs are fairly low compared to the purchase price. Let's do the Math.

Buying A-10C and keeping the Tiger would have saved the ADF $2 billion in purchase costs by not buying Apache.

The first billion saved pays for 33,300 hours of free flying on the Tiger.

The second billion saved pays for 90,000 hours of free flying on the A-10C.

I agree the Tiger by itself failed to satisfy the requirement. But there is nothing the Apache can do that the Tiger/A-10C combo couldn't do. The 22 Tiger helicopters having low availability wouldn't be a problem if 18 A-10C were introduced. There would now be 40 close air support aircraft available which is far above the 29 Apache requirement. Most of the targets that would be given to the attack helicopter would be given to the A-10C.
 
ThePointblank
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sun Feb 07, 2021 10:13 pm

RJMAZ wrote:
The hourly costs are fairly low compared to the purchase price. Let's do the Math.

Buying A-10C and keeping the Tiger would have saved the ADF $2 billion in purchase costs by not buying Apache.

The first billion saved pays for 33,300 hours of free flying on the Tiger.

The second billion saved pays for 90,000 hours of free flying on the A-10C.

I agree the Tiger by itself failed to satisfy the requirement. But there is nothing the Apache can do that the Tiger/A-10C combo couldn't do. The 22 Tiger helicopters having low availability wouldn't be a problem if 18 A-10C were introduced. There would now be 40 close air support aircraft available which is far above the 29 Apache requirement. Most of the targets that would be given to the attack helicopter would be given to the A-10C.

The RUSI document I pointed to indicates that 29 AH-64E's are cheaper to acquire and operate than an equivalent number of Tigers over a 20 year service life. Note that the article indicates that the number of Tigers includes the 22 in service and upgraded, plus an additional 7 airframes.

Per the document, a AH-64E costs half as much as a Tiger to operate, both per hour and as lifecycle costs per year.

And the big issue with a small fleet of A-10C's would be that Australia would be required to replicate the entire support and training infrastructure in Australia to operate them. That isn't cheap; the USAF is able to keep costs down because they have economies of scale because they have so many aircraft operating. Australia operating 18 A-10C's doesn't have that economy of scale. With the Super Hornets, much of the support and training infrastructure can be shared with the existing fleet of Hornets.
 
RJMAZ
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Sun Feb 07, 2021 11:37 pm

ThePointblank wrote:
The RUSI document I pointed to indicates that 29 AH-64E's are cheaper to acquire and operate than an equivalent number of Tigers over a 20 year service life. Note that the article indicates that the number of Tigers includes the 22 in service and upgraded, plus an additional 7 airframes.

The Tiger price in the document includes fairly expensive upgrades to increase lethality and an additional 7 Tiger aircraft. With an A-10C added there would be no need to improve the capability of the Tiger or a need for 7 extra aircraft. The Tiger as it sits right now can serve 10+ years in the armed reconnaissance role as it was originally intended. 18 A-10C and the existing 22 Tiger helicopters would easily cost less money than 29 Apache over the full service life.

Both the A-10C and Tiger would then get replaced by a faster VTOL attack aircraft in say 15 years time. The US is already planning to replace the Apache in the high end squadrons with a faster longer ranged attack aircraft and move the Apache down to the lower end squadrons.


ThePointblank wrote:
And the big issue with a small fleet of A-10C's would be that Australia would be required to replicate the entire support and training infrastructure in Australia to operate them. That isn't cheap; the USAF is able to keep costs down because they have economies of scale because they have so many aircraft operating. Australia operating 18 A-10C's doesn't have that economy of scale. With the Super Hornets, much of the support and training infrastructure can be shared with the existing fleet of Hornets.

The USAF has a history of operating the A-10 overseas in multiple allied countries including South Korea, England and Germany. Ideally the USAF could base one or two squadrons of A-10's in Australia. Our training grounds are extremely good. That solves the support problem. I would make that a key criteria of the deal. Not that it will happen.
 
ThePointblank
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Mon Feb 08, 2021 1:40 am

RJMAZ wrote:
ThePointblank wrote:
The RUSI document I pointed to indicates that 29 AH-64E's are cheaper to acquire and operate than an equivalent number of Tigers over a 20 year service life. Note that the article indicates that the number of Tigers includes the 22 in service and upgraded, plus an additional 7 airframes.

The Tiger price in the document includes fairly expensive upgrades to increase lethality and an additional 7 Tiger aircraft. With an A-10C added there would be no need to improve the capability of the Tiger or a need for 7 extra aircraft. The Tiger as it sits right now can serve 10+ years in the armed reconnaissance role as it was originally intended. 18 A-10C and the existing 22 Tiger helicopters would easily cost less money than 29 Apache over the full service life.

Both the A-10C and Tiger would then get replaced by a faster VTOL attack aircraft in say 15 years time. The US is already planning to replace the Apache in the high end squadrons with a faster longer ranged attack aircraft and move the Apache down to the lower end squadrons.

The Tiger upgrades also deal with obsolesce issues with the existing platform, namely to the radios, datalinks, navigation and interoperability with UAV's. The updates to those systems on the Tiger are considered high risk compared to an already funded and mature systems onboard the AH-64E.

RJMAZ wrote:
The USAF has a history of operating the A-10 overseas in multiple allied countries including South Korea, England and Germany. Ideally the USAF could base one or two squadrons of A-10's in Australia. Our training grounds are extremely good. That solves the support problem. I would make that a key criteria of the deal. Not that it will happen.


The USAF concentrates their the training and depot level maintenance at Davis-Monthan. If an A-10 needs depot level maintenance for the USAF, it goes to Davis-Monthan for that work. Australia would need to replicate the support infrastructure for the A-10 in Australia in order to effectively operate the type, otherwise, Australia would be forced to send A-10's to the US for such work.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:32 am

The A-10 depot is at the Ogden ALC, Utah, not D-M. Ogden is on Hill AFB. You’re forgetting the RAAF was the sole operator of the F-111 for some time. I hauled a plane load of spares to RAAF Amberley when they went out of USAF service.
 
RJMAZ
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Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2016 2:54 am

Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Mon Feb 08, 2021 5:37 am

Back to the original question.

An attack helicopter is a great choice for close air support. Flying at 100 feet and 200km/h they are very hard to hit. They are operating below the long range SAM bubbles and small arms only has a window of a few seconds to get a shot. It is probably the most versatile and precise weapon for close air support.

Countries are now building their military not around defending their country but for coalition deployments. Does a country prepare for a full blown invasion of their own country, a small conflict with a neighnour or to contribute assets on the other side of the world?

I assume Australia is preparing for East Timor 2 with the Apache and LHD. A Chinese invasion is what the F-35 and submarines are for.

With western Europe what are they planning for? There is little threat of invasion and all the neighbours are friendly. This will decide what is the best ground attack platform.
 
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seahawk
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Mon Feb 08, 2021 6:46 am

There is no simple answer.

The armed MALE drone gives you the longest on station time, a constant increased situational awareness but the lightest weapons load and a long reaction time if not on station for small operating costs
The armed Turboprop gives you a decently long time on station, very good situational awareness, a decent response time, a light weapons load for low operating costs.
The armed jet trainer, gives you a limited time on station, good to very good situational awareness, a good response time, a light to medium weapons load for higher costs and lower on station time.
The specialized attack jet gives you a good time on station, a very good situational awareness, a good response time, a huge weapons load a good to average time on station for higher operating costs.
The attack helicopter gives you a good to average situational awareness, slow response time, short time on station, the slowest response time for the same distance (but you could operate more easily from a FOB) for high operating costs and an unrivalled anti armour capability even against near peer enemies.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Mon Feb 08, 2021 7:29 am

seahawk wrote:
There is no simple answer.

The armed MALE drone gives you the longest on station time, a constant increased situational awareness but the lightest weapons load and a long reaction time if not on station for small operating costs
The armed Turboprop gives you a decently long time on station, very good situational awareness, a decent response time, a light weapons load for low operating costs.
The armed jet trainer, gives you a limited time on station, good to very good situational awareness, a good response time, a light to medium weapons load for higher costs and lower on station time.
The specialized attack jet gives you a good time on station, a very good situational awareness, a good response time, a huge weapons load a good to average time on station for higher operating costs.
The attack helicopter gives you a good to average situational awareness, slow response time, short time on station, the slowest response time for the same distance (but you could operate more easily from a FOB) for high operating costs and an unrivalled anti armour capability even against near peer enemies.


I think we knew all that. It's about making tradeoffs. So chose what you value most, and pick an option :-)
 
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seahawk
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Mon Feb 08, 2021 8:10 am

Problem is that even your examples are very different.

Armenia/Azerbaijan for example has multiple layers to it. At first it looks as if the drones were the key, but if the Azeri MiG-29s would not have kept the Armenian Su-25s from operating freely, the drone bases would have become easy targets for Su-25s or Mil-24s.

The other question is what do you need anyway for your main missions:

If you look at France:
1. nuclear strike
2. air defence of France
3. ability to participate in near-peer conflicts succesfully

This means 4th or 5th gen. fighters are needed anyway. The attack helicopters is probably also needed as an anti-armour system for near-peer conflicts so you will have it any way too.
So the only system that really adds something is the MALE drone, which gives you long loiter times and a lasting recce capability for such conflicts and can be operated as your high-end fighters are likely to guarantee air dominance.
 
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kitplane01
Topic Author
Posts: 2094
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Mon Feb 08, 2021 6:44 pm

seahawk wrote:
Problem is that even your examples are very different.

Armenia/Azerbaijan for example has multiple layers to it. At first it looks as if the drones were the key, but if the Azeri MiG-29s would not have kept the Armenian Su-25s from operating freely, the drone bases would have become easy targets for Su-25s or Mil-24s.

The other question is what do you need anyway for your main missions:

If you look at France:
1. nuclear strike
2. air defence of France
3. ability to participate in near-peer conflicts succesfully

This means 4th or 5th gen. fighters are needed anyway. The attack helicopters is probably also needed as an anti-armour system for near-peer conflicts so you will have it any way too.
So the only system that really adds something is the MALE drone, which gives you long loiter times and a lasting recce capability for such conflicts and can be operated as your high-end fighters are likely to guarantee air dominance.


I do agree it's hard to make plans for an unknown future. But one must.

Let's pick France (to use your example). Should France have light fighters? They could keep the 56 AlphaJets they have (or not). They could buy some Super Tucanos, or M346s. If you were running the French Air Force, would you spend money on light fighters?
 
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seahawk
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Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Mon Feb 08, 2021 8:28 pm

Imho they should not. They are not good enough for the main missions and the money saved by using them instead of the necessary (for your main missions) 4th gen fighters in low tier conflicts is probably to small. And if you look at a force to deploy regularly you need a certain size to guarantee acceptable time on deployment for the personnel. To deploy 6 for a year, you would probably need a fleet of 18. (1/3 deployed, 1/3 used for training, 1/3 in maintenance)
 
ThePointblank
Posts: 3856
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:39 pm

Re: Best Ground Attack Platform

Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:59 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
The A-10 depot is at the Ogden ALC, Utah, not D-M. Ogden is on Hill AFB. You’re forgetting the RAAF was the sole operator of the F-111 for some time. I hauled a plane load of spares to RAAF Amberley when they went out of USAF service.

Thank you.

When Australia was the last operator of the F-111, the costs for maintaining and operating the type skyrocketed. That's why Australia made the decision to ditch the F-111 and procure the Super Hornet; the analysis showed that buying Super Hornets as an interim replacement would be either cost neutral or actually a net positive.

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