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A-10: Not Dead Yet


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#1 TTK Ciar

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 1236 PM

The A-10's off the chopping block (again), at least for now, as the 122nd Fighter Wing gets deployed to Syria/Iraq:

Islamic State Fight Could Breathe New Life Into the A-10

Stars and Stripes | Sep 27, 2014 | by Jennifer H. Svan

Months after staving off a trip to the boneyard, the embattled A-10 Thunderbolt II is headed to the Middle East where it could be used to fight Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria.

An Indiana Air National Guard unit that flies the Cold War-era gunships, known as Warthogs, is planning to deploy about 300 airmen and an unknown number of its aircraft to the U.S. Central Command region early next month, says a Sept. 17 news release from the unit.

The 122nd Fighter Wing, located at Fort Wayne Air National Guard Base, Ind., has 21 aircraft, though its uncertain how many will be deploying, a spokesman said Thursday.

The Air National Guard release doesnt mention where the group is headed or for what purpose.

The Air Force wants to retire the A-10, an attack aircraft intended for close air support, to pay for its new and costly multipurpose F-35 stealth fighters. Retiring the decades-old fleet of about 300 A-10s would potentially save about $4.2 billion over five years, Air Force leaders have said.

But Congress this summer spared the plane from defense cuts. And now some experts say they wouldnt be surprised to see the almost-mothballed A-10 pulled into the air war in Iraq and Syria, a possibility that could further heat the debate on the planes future.

Designed to shoot Soviet tanks rolling across the open fields of Europe, the A-10 has been the primary aircraft for close air support of ground forces since the mid-1970s. Experts say that capability is well-suited to taking out ground targets in Iraq and Syria.

When you deploy the A-10, they only have one purpose, said Dakota Wood, the senior research fellow for defense programs at the Heritage Foundation, and that is to kill things on the ground. If the expectation is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and help the Iraqis push them out or do anything in Syria, especially in the border area between Syria and Iraq, you will need firepower well-suited to targeting armored vehicles and enemy fighters on the ground.

The A-10 flies low and slow, a capability that reduces collateral damage but also makes it more vulnerable to small-arms fire and portable anti-aircraft missiles, experts say.

The threat in Iraq, where Islamic State militants have shoulder-launched, man-portable air defense systems, is manageable, said Gareth Jennings, aviation desk editor for IHS Janes Defence Weekly.

Syria could pose more of a challenge for the A-10, Jennings said. It would not only be going up against ISIS and other military groups, but you do have the Syrian government to contend with.

The Syrian government, which has more sophisticated air defense systems, has not interfered with early strikes in the country but theres no guarantee that will continue, Jennings said. My enemys enemy is my friend only goes so far.

Those risks are worth managing, Jennings thinks, because of the distinct psychological advantage the A-10 and its fearsome 30 mm Gatling gun brings to a fight.

No other aircraft in the world has the reputation of the A-10 in terms of instilling fear into the enemy he said. It can stay over a target; it doesnt come in and drop its bombs and have to leave. It stays over the battlefield, picking off targets at will.

Wood thinks it is probable the Air National Guard A-10s are deploying because of basing options.

To be able to generate more sorties, its better to fly from airfields that are closer to the fight, he said.

The A-10 is more adept than other fighters at launching from short, austere airfields, so it could be the aircraft with that versatility gives the U.S. military more options for sortie generation, he said.

When you look at a map, he said, the A-10s could possibly deploy to Iraq, maybe Saudi Arabia, but theres a strong option for Jordan.

The aircraft could instead deploy to Afghanistan, if the Pentagon wants to shift types of airpower from Afghanistan to Iraq and replace that with the A-10, Wood said, but that seems kind of a cumbersome, expensive dance.

Deployment of the A-10s in Iraq and Syria would certainly extend the debate as to the aircrafts future, Wood said.

It will be a win for the A-10 communities and advocates one more argument in favor of it.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., is among lawmakers who say now is not the time to get rid of the A-10, particularly in light of the current Islamic State threat.

Defeating the Islamic State will require effective close air support not just dropping bombs from high altitude on isolated targets and there is no better [close-air-support] aircraft than the A-10, Ayotte said in a statement to Stars and Stripes.

But Wood said the argument still comes down to money.

Even if you said you wanted to keep the A-10, where does the Air Force come up with the money to retain the A-10 and all that comes with it and still get its full complement of F-35s?

Though Air Force brass are intent on retiring the plane, no one is saying because its no good, Jennings said. Theyre saying in this day and age you cant afford to have aircraft that are only good at one thing.

He said this isnt the first time the A-10 has been on the chopping block only to see a decision reversed in the face of a new conflict.

What makes it different (now) is the U.S. Air Force doesnt have the money to support all these different types of aircraft. Unless that changes, Im afraid the writing is on the wall for the A-10, regardless of how it functions in Iraq, Syria and on.


http://www.military....to-the-a10.html
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#2 Colin

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 1238 PM

I suspect Syria will allow the USAF to degrade ISIS to certain point and then make threats, followed by radar painting, followed by a missile launch. 


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#3 WRW

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 1259 PM

I remember at the start of ISIS major drive, convoys of dozens if not 100 vehicles - A10 heaven. Now way less on the road, At least would have been a day or two of happy hunting


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#4 Colin

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 1405 PM

Would have been better is a secret deployment and air strikes without warning.


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#5 Guest_Jason L_*

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 1508 PM

I suspect Syria will allow the USAF to degrade ISIS to certain point and then make threats, followed by radar painting, followed by a missile launch. 

 

They certainly can't have forgotten the west was talking about bombing them just a few short months ago ;)


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#6 Marcello

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 1533 PM

I suspect Syria will allow the USAF to degrade ISIS to certain point and then make threats, followed by radar painting, followed by a missile launch. 

 

What would they gain from it?


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#7 crazyinsane105

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 2057 PM

A-10s can effectively degrade the ability of ISIS to carry out large scale military assaults. A few months of heavy airstrikes can help the Kurds and possibly the inept Iraqi military to win back large chunks of territory.


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#8 Colin

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 2152 PM

 

I suspect Syria will allow the USAF to degrade ISIS to certain point and then make threats, followed by radar painting, followed by a missile launch. 

 

What would they gain from it?

 

Your using logic. If you applied logic, Assad would have supported a Iraq without Saddam and not allowed Sunni nutbars to cross into Iraq. A normal functioning Iraq would be good for Syria economically. Hence my post, he would want the USAF to kill a whole bunch of the ISIS to get rid of the main threat, but he can't have them do to good of a job or he will appear weak and appearing weak will cause the knives to come out. Threatening the USAF in stages would look good for him and the people around him. 


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#9 TonyE

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 0218 AM

A10 is good!


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#10 Panzermann

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 0317 AM

A Frankenstein's Monster from old "classic" movies or a Zombie Hog would make fine nose art. B)
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#11 shep854

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 0724 AM

Overhaul them with a few more black boxes on them and call them new aircraft; the A-15 Thunderbolt III.  It's been done before.


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#12 crazyinsane105

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 0914 AM

 

 

I suspect Syria will allow the USAF to degrade ISIS to certain point and then make threats, followed by radar painting, followed by a missile launch. 

 

What would they gain from it?

 

Your using logic. If you applied logic, Assad would have supported a Iraq without Saddam and not allowed Sunni nutbars to cross into Iraq. A normal functioning Iraq would be good for Syria economically. Hence my post, he would want the USAF to kill a whole bunch of the ISIS to get rid of the main threat, but he can't have them do to good of a job or he will appear weak and appearing weak will cause the knives to come out. Threatening the USAF in stages would look good for him and the people around him. 

 

 

 Part of the reason Syria supported those nutjobs is due to Bush's gung-ho action of putting Syria on the 'Axis of Evil' list. How Assad saw it back then...Saddam was accused of WMDs, invaded, and overthrown. His country actually had WMDs, violations of human rights, and was a big threat to Israel. Hence supporting those nutjobs probably made sense.

 

So basically, Assad did it to save his seat in Syria, just like he sacrificed control over half his country for this purpose. Threatening the USAF and shooting down American planes (which he is more than capable of doing) is a terrible way to save his seat. I don't think any of his supporters want to see a war with the US or Israel, and neither does he. 


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#13 BansheeOne

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 1037 AM

Hence:

 

"Mr. President, the American airstrikes on Syrian territory have begun, and just now there was a mail from the US State Department: 'As of now'."

 

"That's enough prior consultation to me."

 

sakurai-assad.jpg?itok=xmxZr2O9

 

"America's Partner in the Fight Against Terror"


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#14 rmgill

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 1141 AM

I thought we were saying that the A-10s were useless for any sort of modern combat because of the Anti-air environment they were likely to face. 

And I thought someone here said that the chances of getting into another COIN war was close to zero. 


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#15 ScottBrim

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 1217 PM

Overhaul them with a few more black boxes on them and call them new aircraft; the A-15 Thunderbolt III.  It's been done before.

 

I can see it now. F35D Budgetmaker. :D

 

 

An advanced version of the F-35 as depicted below, the F-35E Super Lightning, could become a prime candidate for placing a true 5th generation air superiority fighter aboard an aircraft carrier:

 

F-35E--A1.jpg


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#16 swerve

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 1301 PM

Why F-35E? Surely it'd be F-35D?

 

Or is ignoring the official designation system* now so firmly established that designations are just made up on a whim?

 

 

*F18E/F/G, F-35A/B/C, AIM-9X . . . . 


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#17 Colin

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 1322 PM

 

 

 

I suspect Syria will allow the USAF to degrade ISIS to certain point and then make threats, followed by radar painting, followed by a missile launch. 

 

What would they gain from it?

 

Your using logic. If you applied logic, Assad would have supported a Iraq without Saddam and not allowed Sunni nutbars to cross into Iraq. A normal functioning Iraq would be good for Syria economically. Hence my post, he would want the USAF to kill a whole bunch of the ISIS to get rid of the main threat, but he can't have them do to good of a job or he will appear weak and appearing weak will cause the knives to come out. Threatening the USAF in stages would look good for him and the people around him. 

 

 

 Part of the reason Syria supported those nutjobs is due to Bush's gung-ho action of putting Syria on the 'Axis of Evil' list. How Assad saw it back then...Saddam was accused of WMDs, invaded, and overthrown. His country actually had WMDs, violations of human rights, and was a big threat to Israel. Hence supporting those nutjobs probably made sense.

 

So basically, Assad did it to save his seat in Syria, just like he sacrificed control over half his country for this purpose. Threatening the USAF and shooting down American planes (which he is more than capable of doing) is a terrible way to save his seat. I don't think any of his supporters want to see a war with the US or Israel, and neither does he. 

 

Assad could have played his cards as "bad guy see the error of his ways and turning his life around" and milked the UN and the west for all they were worth. Syria would be a perfect transit route for Iraq goods, exports and imports. This is the same guy that shoots down Turkish planes. Let's face it, Syria would be in the right to shoot at US/Western aircraft operating in it's airspace and with the O as POTUS he will figure he can get away with it and likely he is right.


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#18 Josh

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 1337 PM

I thought we were saying that the A-10s were useless for any sort of modern combat because of the Anti-air environment they were likely to face. 

And I thought someone here said that the chances of getting into another COIN war was close to zero. 

 

The airspace over Syria is hardly modern combat. And the COIN role that the A-10s are fulfilling likely could be just as well done by F-16s. The A-10s still in inventory, cheaper to operate, along with being hardier at low level. But if you substituted them ship for ship for F-16s I doubt anyone on either side would notice.


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#19 rmgill

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 1342 PM

Yet we have them and we're not racking up airframe bomb/carrying hours on the more expensive aircraft which have a more critical role. 

As to modern, it's happening today. It's just not a highly defended airspace. Which is my point. 


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#20 Josh

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 1342 PM

Let's face it, Syria would be in the right to shoot at US/Western aircraft operating in it's airspace and with the O as POTUS he will figure he can get away with it and likely he is right.

 

 

That seems exceedingly far fetched considering he nearly unilaterally went to war against Assad by himself and was reigned in only by Congress and public opinion. Pretty sure that would just give him the reason he needs to attack Syrian units after taking flak for engaging ISIS and not engaging Assad by the FSA and other critics.


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