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The Hog That Saves the Grunts ...... A-10 Warthogs to be retired.
New York Times | 05/27/03 | Robert Coram

Posted on 05/27/2003 4:37:01 PM PDT by haole

The Air Force is planning to give the A-10 Warthog an ignominious homecoming from the Persian Gulf.

In early April, Maj. Gen. David Deptula of the Air Combat Command ordered a subordinate to draft a memo justifying the decommissioning of the A-10 fleet. The remaining eight active duty A-10 squadrons (in 1991, the number was 18) could be mothballed as early as 2004.

This is a serious mistake. The A-10 was one of the most effective, lethal and feared weapons of the Iraqi war. Its absence will put troops on the battlefield in grave danger. The decision to take this aircraft out of service is the result of entrenched political and cultural shortsightedness. About the same time that the general's order was issued, a crucial battle of the Iraqi war was unfolding. The United States Army had arrived at a Tigris River bridge on the edge of Baghdad to find Iraqi tanks and armored personnel carriers positioned at the other end. A deadly crossfire ensued. A call for help went out, and despite heavy clouds and fog, down the river came two A-10's at an altitude of less than 1,000 feet, spitting out a mix of armor-piercing and explosive bullets at the rate of 3,900 rounds per minute. The Iraqi resistance was obliterated. This was a classic case of "close air support."

The A-10 was also the most storied aircraft of the first gulf war. It flew so many sorties the Air Force lost count. The glamorous F-117 Stealth fighter got the headlines, but Iraqi prisoners interrogated after the war said the aircraft they feared most were the A-10 and the ancient B-52 bomber.

To understand why the corporate Air Force so deeply loathes the A-10, one must go back to 1947, when the Air Force broke away from the Army and became an independent branch. "Strategic bombing," which calls for deep bombing raids against enemy factories and transportation systems, was the foundation of the new service branch. But that concept is fundamentally flawed for the simple reason that air power alone has never won a war.

Nevertheless, strategic bombing, now known as "interdiction bombing," remains the philosophical backbone of the Air Force. Anything involving air support of ground troops is a bitter reminder that the Air Force used to be part of the Army and subordinate to Army commanders. For the white-scarf crowd, nothing is more humiliating than being told that what it does best is support ground troops.

Until the A-10 was built in the 1970's, the Air Force used old, underpowered aircraft to provide close air support. It never had a plane specifically designed to fly low to the ground to support field troops. In fact, the A-10 never would have been built had not the Air Force believed the Army was trying to steal its close air support role - and thus millions of dollars from its budget - by building the Cheyenne helicopter. The Air Force had to build something cheaper than the Cheyenne. And because the Air Force detested the idea of a designated close air support aircraft, generals steered clear of the project, and designers, free from meddling senior officers, created the ultimate ground-support airplane.

It is cheap, slow, low-tech, does not have an afterburner, and is so ugly that the grandiose name "Thunderbolt" was forgotten in favor of "Warthog" or, simply, "the Hog." What the airplane does have is a deadly 30-millimeter cannon, two engines mounted high and widely separated to offer greater protection, a titanium "bathtub" to protect the pilot, a bullet- and fragmentation-resistant canopy, three back-up flight controls, a heavy duty frame and foam-filled fuel tanks - a set of features that makes it one of the safest yet most dangerous weapons on the battlefield.

However, these attributes have long been ignored, even denied, because of the philosophical aversion to the close air support mission. Couple that with the Air Force's love affair with the high technology F/A-22 ($252 million per plane) and the F-35 fighter jets (early cost estimates are around $40 million each), and something's got to give.

Despite budget problems, the Air Force has decided to save money by getting rid of the cheap plane and keeping the expensive ones. Sacrifices must be made, and what a gleeful one this will be for the Air Force.

The Air Force is promoting the F-35 on the idea that it can provide close air support, a statement that most pilots find hilarious. But the F-35's price tag means the Air Force will not jeopardize the aircraft by sending it low where an enemy with an AK-47 can bring it down. (Yes, the aircraft will be that vulnerable.)

In the meantime, the Air Force is doing its utmost to get the public to think of the sleek F-16 fighter jet as today's close support aircraft. But in the 1991 gulf war and in Kosovo, the Air Force wouldn't allow the F-16 to fly below 10,000 feet because of its vulnerability to attack from anti-aircraft guns and missiles.

Grunts are comforted by the presence of a Hog, because when they need close air support, they need it quickly. And the A-10 can loiter over a battlefield and pounce at a moment's notice. It is the only aircraft with pilots trained to use their eyes to separate bad guys from good guys, and it can use its guns as close in as 110 yards. It is the only aircraft that can take serious hits from ground fire, and still take its pilot home.

But the main difference between those who fly pointy-nose aircraft and Hog drivers is the pilot's state of mind. The blue suits in the Air Force are high-altitude advocates of air power, and they aren't thinking about muddy boots. A-10 drivers train with the Army. They know how the Army works and what it needs. (In combat, an A-10 pilot is assigned to Army units.)

If the Air Force succeeds in killing the A-10, it will leave a serious gap in America's war-fighting abilities. By itself, air power can't bring about victory. The fate of nations and the course of history is decided by ground troops. The A-10 is the single Air Force aircraft designed to support those troops. For that reason alone, the Air Force should keep the A-10 and build new close support aircraft similar to the Hog, demonstrating its long-term commitment to supporting our men and women in the mud.

Robert Coram is author of "Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War."


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: a10; fighterpilots; stupidgenerals; thunderboltii; warthog
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remember the A-16 "tank-killer"? the fast jet jocks just don't like this airplane. Give them an F-16 and fly at 15,000ft, and they'll be happy.
1 posted on 05/27/2003 4:37:01 PM PDT by haole
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To: haole
Are they nuts? Killing the A-10? I'm gonna tell my son in the Army to NOT re-up!!!
2 posted on 05/27/2003 4:43:52 PM PDT by cookcounty
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To: haole
>>>If the Air Force succeeds in killing the A-10...

A good time to start-up the Army Air Corp, again.

3 posted on 05/27/2003 4:44:06 PM PDT by Reagan Man
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To: haole
Don't kill the program. Threaten to give it to the Army and watch the AF weinies change there mind.

Being a retired USAF guy, I've seen plenty of yahoo's in the AF who just don't understand the big picture and would rather create their own little empire.
4 posted on 05/27/2003 4:46:40 PM PDT by CommandoFrank (Peer into the depths of hell and there is the face of Islam!)
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To: haole
It's an effective aircraft, versatile, relatively cheap, loved by it's pilots and feared by the enemy.

Cancelling it makes sense. </ Government think>

5 posted on 05/27/2003 4:47:08 PM PDT by zarf (Republicans for Sharpton 2004)
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To: haole
. . . the fast jet jocks just don't like this airplane.

10-4. We've been through this before. They tried the same tactic prior to GW 1 and discovered (amazing) the A-10 could carry out missions those fast-movers couldn't. The projected decommission was extended out well past 2004.

Let's start writing our Congresscritters. This is important!

6 posted on 05/27/2003 4:49:01 PM PDT by toddst
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To: zarf
Wouldn't it be funny as hell if the Army commissioned a cheap, effective aircraft inspired by the Warthog and took those budget dollars away anyway.
7 posted on 05/27/2003 4:49:47 PM PDT by TheLurkerX ("When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro..." Hunter S. Thompson)
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To: haole
It won't be the same without the warthog. Who has that tornado of fire graphic (apologies + disregard if it's already posted)
8 posted on 05/27/2003 4:51:54 PM PDT by cake_crumb (UN Resolutions=Very Expensive, Very SCRATCHY Toilet Paper)
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To: dd5339; wku man
Stupid AF ping
9 posted on 05/27/2003 4:59:03 PM PDT by cavtrooper21 ("..he's not heavy, sir. He's my brother...")
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To: CommandoFrank
Don't kill the program. Threaten to give it to the Army and watch the AF weenies change there mind.

I believe that's how they saved the Hog last time around.

10 posted on 05/27/2003 5:01:02 PM PDT by NovemberCharlie
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To: haole
Had an A-10 do a flyby at the Jersey shore a few years ago.
Definitely put a little more fear of Jesus into me than the Blackhawks that a did a close inspection of my parents pool a few years before that.
The A-10 should be redesigned and brought up to snuff. It's a killer and should be recognized as such.
Just my $0.02.
11 posted on 05/27/2003 5:05:41 PM PDT by dyed_in_the_wool (Syria. Iran. North Korea. Decisions, decisions, decisions...)
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To: haole
"......generals steered clear of the project, and designers, free from meddling senior officers, created the ultimate ground-support airplane."

This is a good formula for success in any project, military or otherwise. Keep the gubmint out of the designer's hair and let them come up with something that works.

The F111 was the best example of how NOT to build a military airplane. Ol' never-made-a-mistake-in-his-life Robert McNamara just wouldn't leave the project alone, so the result was an airplane which was originally supposed to do everything that couldn't do anything really well. The last use I saw them being put to was back in the late 60s where they had volleyball nets attached to their vertical stabilizers in 'Nam.

The way they fly the A-10 reminds me of my crop-dusting days. Much the same techniques are used. I hope the Army takes them over or acquires a second generation of them. They can do so much better than a helicopter which is so limited in speed.

12 posted on 05/27/2003 5:06:29 PM PDT by nightdriver
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To: haole
Anyone want to guess who builds the A-10, and WHERE?

The A-10 is awesome, but it's time to take the pilots out of low-level duty. We need capable UAV's for close air support (IMHO).

13 posted on 05/27/2003 5:10:45 PM PDT by ZOOKER
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To: NovemberCharlie; toddst; CommandoFrank; RummyChick
I thought this decommisioning talk sounded familiar. Would this move put the A-10's out in reserve units or in the boneyard?

What does Rummy have to say on the subject? I thought he was a voice of reason, at odds with typical pentagon-think.

14 posted on 05/27/2003 5:11:47 PM PDT by NonValueAdded ("Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." GWB 9/20/01)
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To: haole
The airforce does NOT believe in the truth of combat -- close in and DESTROY your enemy.

After reading an Airforce journal article last year that stated that the purpose of war was, like the rest of the left-wing extremists believe, NOT to destroy your enemy, but to be "mr nice guy" and convince them to join in and sing "Cumbaya" around the fire.

The Marine Corps methods were crude and offensive to the fine sensibilities in the airforce and clinton whitehouse.
15 posted on 05/27/2003 5:15:06 PM PDT by steplock ( http://www.spadata.com)
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To: haole
The Air Force tried to pull this after Gulf War I. It won't work this time around either.
16 posted on 05/27/2003 5:15:12 PM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
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To: NonValueAdded
I thought this decommisioning talk sounded familiar. Would this move put the A-10's out in reserve units or in the boneyard?

What does Rummy have to say on the subject? I thought he was a voice of reason, at odds with typical pentagon-think.

OK, my opinion:

I suspect the AF Brass tossed this out there to see what happens. The Army & Marines may very well come forward with proposals to take the A-10 over. THEN we'll see what happens.

As I understand it the earlier proposal put many A-10's in the boneyard, but not scheduled for destruction. Other opinions on this? I'm not current or former AF.

17 posted on 05/27/2003 5:19:10 PM PDT by toddst
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To: haole
Screw the Air Force. Give the A-10s to the Army and reestablish the Army Air Corps.
18 posted on 05/27/2003 5:19:43 PM PDT by Sparta
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To: ZOOKER

We need capable UAV's for close air support (IMHO).

The UAVs don't have the armor or the ability to carry the A-10's big ass gun. Also, the A-10 destroys enemy tanks so well.

19 posted on 05/27/2003 5:22:43 PM PDT by Sparta
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To: haole
As a former Marine, I have always wondered why the Corps never got the A-10. Marine aviation is much more understanding of close air support. Maybe now is the time.
20 posted on 05/27/2003 5:23:38 PM PDT by AlaskaErik
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To: haole
OK -- I'll post the photos. She's ugly but she sure is fun to ride:


21 posted on 05/27/2003 5:23:53 PM PDT by tom h
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To: haole
Ongoing discussion: grunts
22 posted on 05/27/2003 5:24:45 PM PDT by SMEDLEYBUTLER
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To: All
It seems like deja vu all over again.

Some of you flyers help my memory here. Wasn't it in the late 60's or early 70's that the Army proposed its own close air support fixed wing based on an updated P51 airframe with turbo power?

Didn't the AF go crazy and was the A10 a result?
23 posted on 05/27/2003 5:24:48 PM PDT by x1stcav ( Liberalism is part of a religious disorder that demands a belief that life is controllable. Ann C)
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To: haole
Better stick with the proven tech of the A-10
24 posted on 05/27/2003 5:29:30 PM PDT by pointsal
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To: x1stcav
I believe that there was some consideration of using a beefed-up P-51 with turboprop. You may also recall that the 1st Cav experimented with UV-1 Mohawks w/guns in RVN. The Air Force went nuts.
25 posted on 05/27/2003 5:29:32 PM PDT by Gnarly
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To: tom h
My husband's favorite plane *s*

On a (somewhat) related note, the USS Constellation was due to be decommed within a year. Given her role in this latest war, does anyone know if that is still on schedule?

26 posted on 05/27/2003 5:36:00 PM PDT by Severa (Wife of Freeper Hostel, USN Active Duty Submariner)
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To: haole
Already posted!



http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/918314/posts?q=1&&page=101
27 posted on 05/27/2003 5:38:03 PM PDT by aculeus
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To: haole
They got bigger projects to blow money on like the "Osprey" aka "flying flaming coffin" The A10 is just too cheap and effecient to justify it's existance it has no pork appeal inspite of it's name.
28 posted on 05/27/2003 5:44:41 PM PDT by Rodsomnia (Export em all)
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To: ZOOKER
The last A-10 was delivered in March of 1984. Fairchild Republic closed the plant in Farmingdale where the A-10s were built in 1987 and laid off 3500 employees. That site is now being cleaned up by the EPA.
29 posted on 05/27/2003 5:45:33 PM PDT by SMEDLEYBUTLER
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To: haole
The A-10 is an incredible and reliable aircraft. However, after 15 years in the Artillery and FO fields, I have to admit: The A-10 relies inordinately upon the good graces of other aircraft and services to survive. Before the A-10 begins its interdiction role (the majority of its work, not CAS), there is a very high level of assurance that all threats have been eliminated. ADA and SAM units are extensively targeted before the A-10 makes it's first flight. That's just the nature of a slow and highly targetable aircraft like the A-10.

There will come a day when we need to target armor in theaters where there hasn't been a visible presence. As in the past, F-16 and F-18 aircraft will perform that role. They get their faster and they don't have the dangerous limitations of the A-10.

In GWI, it was Apache's that cleared the ADA/SAM path for attacking coalition aircraft. The A-10 did not routinely operate in areas of active SAM/ADA. In addition, the lack of targeting equipment (FLIR, Radar) kept the A-10 in the interdiction role more than Close Air Support. The A-10 has to fly low (and slow) to properly identify and engage targets, and this is where it's most vulnerable.

I'm not calling for a retirement of the A-10, RIGHT NOW. But there is definitely a need for an attack aircraft with greater performance and electronics. Hopefully, the JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) will possess the required capabilities.
30 posted on 05/27/2003 5:46:27 PM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: pointsal
Green A-10s and gray A-10s fly over my house at the Lake of the Ozarks two or three times a week. Why all the training is this is a dead bird ?
31 posted on 05/27/2003 5:46:54 PM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: AlaskaErik
The Marine Corps didn't and still doesn't want or need the A-10.
32 posted on 05/27/2003 5:46:59 PM PDT by SMEDLEYBUTLER
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To: haole
As a member of the AF, I haven't heard any of this.

But if it is true, I think it is a MAJOR mistake.

But then again, the Air Force tried before the first Gulf War to mothball these magnificent machines.

So as much as it disgusts me, it doesn't surprise me.
33 posted on 05/27/2003 5:49:54 PM PDT by OriginalV (If any of you sum bit@#s call me grandpa, I'll kill ya)
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To: Severa
7 August 2003
34 posted on 05/27/2003 5:51:47 PM PDT by SMEDLEYBUTLER
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To: Rodsomnia
Take another hit on your crack pipe.
35 posted on 05/27/2003 5:53:44 PM PDT by SMEDLEYBUTLER
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To: toddst
The Army is not allowed to operate fixed wing combat aircraft: Key West Agreement 1948. The Marine Corps does not want nor does it need the A-10.
36 posted on 05/27/2003 5:55:55 PM PDT by SMEDLEYBUTLER
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To: haole
I don't understand why they would want to mothball this beautiful plane. I reckon the American taxpayer has gotten more than their money's worth out of this plane and the B-52. I watch them all the time at the practice range at Warren Grove. BUUUUUUUUUURP....
37 posted on 05/27/2003 5:58:00 PM PDT by muslims=borg (Behind enemy lines in New Jersey)
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To: haole
Helicopter gunships and A-10s ought to go to the Army...anything that is necessary for ground support...should be under Army C&C imo Why have to laise with Airdale's?
38 posted on 05/27/2003 6:11:52 PM PDT by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: SMEDLEYBUTLER
It's time to amend the Key West Agreement. The Army nees the A-10; the Air Force doesn't.

The solution is obvious.
39 posted on 05/27/2003 6:27:17 PM PDT by John Valentine (Writing from downtown Seoul, keeping an eye on the hills to the north.)
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To: x1stcav; Gnarly
Wasn't it in the late 60's or early 70's that the Army proposed its own close air
support fixed wing based on an updated P51 airframe with turbo power?


That's the Piper Enforcer (PA-48).
I remember it because of that hughmongous exhaust vent on the fuselage.

See it (and some text) at this URL on the Wright-Patterson AFB Museum site:
http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/annex/an2.htm

And for other Mustang fanatics (plane AND car):
www.mustangsmustangs.com
40 posted on 05/27/2003 6:39:39 PM PDT by VOA
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To: nightdriver
The F111 was the best example of how NOT to build a military airplane

It actually was a kind of test platform for things like side-looking radar. I seem to remember that it also had a little problem with parachutes not opening when the crew ejected.

I also read somewhere that the F111 was used in developing the F14. But it never did do all of the things it was originally commissioned to do.

41 posted on 05/27/2003 6:41:10 PM PDT by Tom Bombadil
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To: haole
After 20+ years in the Army, one thing I know is that soldiers love to complain about the Air Force (soft, spoiled, elitist, etc., etc.). I'm sure the Air Force has its own set of jokes and complaints about the Army. However, put an Air Force A-10 pilot in an Army Officers' or NCO club and he won't be buying a beer all night.
42 posted on 05/27/2003 6:50:17 PM PDT by arm958
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To: SMEDLEYBUTLER; FreeInWV
This man has a link up that speaks volumes . I do hope for the sake of anyone needing CAS will reconsider . Damn it .
43 posted on 05/27/2003 6:53:20 PM PDT by Ben Bolt
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To: SJSAMPLE
Couple of comments -

A-10: There is a modification program to give the A-10 digital avionics, data link, targeting pod and the ability to use precision weapons. It is called the Precision Engagement upgrade, and I'm told ACC put it at the TOP of their list to be canceled. The F-16 is more capable at CAS than it used to be - as targeting pods improve, it becomes possible IN CLEAR WX to target with great precision at 35,000 feet. The new targeting pods (Litening and maybe someday Sniper) offer awesome performance. However, in cr@ppy wx, you have to get low & slow. Not all wars are fought in clear weather!

As for the F-111: it was given an avionics upgrade in the mid-90s that turned it into a highly reliable and very precise aircraft, with operating costs equivalent to an F-15E. It was retired almost immediately after modification. In fact, one of the EF-111s went directly from the mod line in Sacremento to the boneyard in Tucson - one flight post mod.

The USAF could have kept 24 F-111Fs and 36? EF-111s - all modified - for the cost of operating 20 Prowlers...and each Prowler carries (typically) 60% of the EF-111's transmitters. In addition, the EF-111 had been modified to PREVENT it from carrying HARM missiles - the wires to the wing station were cut to prevent competition with the Block 50 F-16s. Had they been spliced, the EF-111 could have carried 4 HARMs and 10 transmitters on every sortie with twice the loiter time of a Prowler - with twice the numbers and 24 F-111Fs thrown in for free...but the USAF killed the remaining 111s while the Navy agreed to fund the 20 Prowlers.

Wish I could be more optimistic about the A-10 surviving - I would like to work on the upgrade - but the F-111 example shows how stupid the USAF can be about their 'second class' aircraft. BTW - when I was an ALO, I loved the A-10 and despised the F-16.
44 posted on 05/27/2003 7:12:24 PM PDT by Mr Rogers
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To: Reagan Man
This would be a great project for the Air wings of the USMC!
45 posted on 05/27/2003 8:07:06 PM PDT by BnBlFlag
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To: toddst
I cant beleive they would kill this. I think that there was work on an A12. We should be building the next gen built out of Kevlar or something.

But we need the flying tank.
46 posted on 05/27/2003 8:51:47 PM PDT by fooman (Get real with Kim Jung Mentally Ill about proliferation)
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To: x1stcav
The revised A-51 was a counter to the A-10 -- to save money.
For the record, the A-10 replaced the A7 and the A7 pilots were none to happy. None of the wiz-bang avionics. I worked on the A10 OT&E at Nellis in the early 70s. First time they fired the gun, an engine flamed out because of injestion of powder residue....A WHOLE lot of work went into the plane to make it work.

You may remember when, in GW1, the A10s got close to ZSU-23/4 they got shredded big time. The A10 was originally made for 'nam as a COIN support A/C like the Mohawk or Bronco. The Bronco and F4 had a 30mm gun pod for busting tanks as well.

A Preditor with a Hellfire sounds like a good deal to me.

BTW, the USAF will still provide CAS for the Army and Corps - weather permitting.....which is why the smart commander will insist on arty to go along to the field.

Hoo-ah
47 posted on 05/27/2003 9:33:00 PM PDT by ASOC
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To: cavtrooper21
No kidding. Hopefully someone will slap some sense into the AF CoS. Better yet, let the Army have 'em.

Scouts Out! Cavalry Ho!

48 posted on 05/28/2003 3:08:08 AM PDT by wku man
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To: SMEDLEYBUTLER
The Army is not allowed to operate fixed wing combat aircraft: Key West Agreement 1948. The Marine Corps does not want nor does it need the A-10.

I would like to know more about the "Key West Agreement." The Army could decide it wants this weapon system IMO. The same goes for the Marines. I hope we'll see some "out of the box" thinking. The A-10 has application well beyond next year and already exists - NO R&D costs.

49 posted on 05/28/2003 4:36:07 AM PDT by toddst
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To: haole
I know a lot of USMC buddies that would love to add the A-10 to their air arm. But then again that would mean the Pentagon would become logical and that will never happen in my lifetime.
50 posted on 05/28/2003 4:41:05 AM PDT by Beck_isright (When Senator Byrd landed on an aircraft carrier, the blacks were forced below shoveling coal...)
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