Skip to comments.New aircraft, UAVs to shape future fight
Posted on 01/17/2006 5:08:32 PM PST by SandRat
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan 17, 2006) More than 300 aircraft of all types will roll off assembly lines and improve the Armys war-fighting capability during the next seven years, according to Army aviation leaders at a forum here.
Speaking to more than 400 attendees during the Institute of Land Warfare and Aviation Symposium Jan. 12, Claude M. Bolton Jr., assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, said new Apaches, light utility helicopters, cargo fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles will be built. He also stressed the importance of future aircraft development programs.
Monies drive momentum
When we terminated the Comanche program, I put up a chart from time to time to remind us what we promised ourselves, what we promised Congress, and more importantly, what we promised Army aviators, Bolton said, that we would take the nearly $15 billion coming from the termination of the Comanche program and we would fix Army aviation.
It is imperative that we stay the course on the plan that we laid out because if we falter one nano-second, the money for that program is gone, said Bolton. We also believe that when this fight is over that we will require two years of supplementals to refit and put things back in a readiness state.
Because when the fighting stops, people of this country through their elected officials do the same thing over, and over, and over again; they take the money from the military, he said. Its been that way for 230 years. So, I say plan accordingly, regardless of where you are in industry or in the government.
Eye in the sky
The two-day Army aviation conference, sponsored by the Association of the United States Army, featured exhibits and lectures from many of the leaders of commercial aviation industry. Unmanned aerial vehicles emerged as a major player for the future of battlefield.
Unmanned aerial vehicles is an interesting market to watch grow over the last five to six years, said Bolton. Theyve come a long way as weve seen how to really use these operationally, with hand or rolling launches that quickly get eyes-on situational awareness that is unbelievable. They dont cost all that much and when they occasionally crash, you fix a wing and fix a motor and theyre good to go again.
When we think about the future, for example, youve got our units UAVs, another units UAVs, the Air Force UAVs, and the Navy might want to through one in there too and it wouldnt surprise me if the media had their own UAVs. Were concerned about who would be controlling all this stuff, so were looking at future combat systems and all the categories of UAVs. The contingency operations with UAVs is going to be interesting.
The role of unmanned aerial vehicles in the integration of Army aviation is engaged in is huge, said Sinclair We continue to conduct every type of mission possible, weather theyve been manned or unmanned to protect convoys from being ambushed and Ive challenged people to find a mission we havent done since 9-11.
Unprecedented combat flight hours
In fact, within the next few days, we will have flown 1 million combat flight hours since 9-11 and that is truly a phenomenal number for Army aviation and a great recognition of our pilots and our air crews and maintainers on what theyve been able to accomplish, Sinclair said.
We have 58,000 aviators in our branch and since 9-11, 48,000 have deployed, Sinclair said. To put that in perspective, some of those Soldiers are on their third deployment. Thats truly a huge commitment that we have for our aviation forces worldwide. We have more than 600 aircraft deployed in OIF and OEF and we will continue to have that many aircraft deployed for the foreseeable future to support combat operations.
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UAV's are going to shake up inter-service stuff big-time. Currently, the AF provides fixed-wing, close-air support for the army. That's why the Army has gone to helicopters like the Apache--so they have some control over their close air support. And that's why the AF keeps trying to lose the A-10. Close air support is just not nearly as cool as air dominance. Two vitally important roles but one is much dearer to the AF than the other.
But with UAV's becoming lethal, the army will be able to provide its own fixed-wing, close-air support. Currently, the AF isn't complaining about that because the Army is at war. After the boys come home from Iraq, I predict an inter-service donnybrook over UAV's.
It's bound to happen but I don't think it will on Rumsfeld's watch.
"But with UAV's becoming lethal, the army will be able to provide its own fixed-wing, close-air support. Currently, the AF isn't complaining about that because the Army is at war. After the boys come home from Iraq, I predict an inter-service donnybrook over UAV's."
I think the Air Force is concerned about losing the CAS role. They are developing the MQ-9 UAV and are also watching the progress of the Army's ER/MP program pretty closely, especially since the Army decided to weaponize it.
Agreed. I have just never understood why the army shouldn't be providing its own CAS. As things are now, all the institutional imperatives tend to make CAS get too few resources--as I understand it, the AF has been trying to kill the A-10 for years.
I'm happy to see the Army stepping up the role of UAV's. It will put pressure on the AF to take CAS more seriously in order to retain its role.