Faster Kill Chain

BY Herschel Smith
9 years ago

In A-10s Aid in Counterinsurgency, we discussed the new role being contemplated for A-10s.  The storied tank-killer has a new mission, i.e., that of aiding and assisting in counterinsurgency, or so it was being planned (debates on this can be seen in Air Power and Small Wars, and Warfare and Lawfare: An Unstable Alchemy).  Perhaps as a test for this mission, the A-10 (438th Air Expeditionary Group) went back into action to provide close air support for Marines in the Anbar Province.  Not long after this deployment, it was announced that the The USAF was considering a new A-10 COIN Squadron.  The consideration and debates have been concluded, and the decision has been made to upgrade the “Warthog” to the A-10C, with improved electronics, avionics and weapons controls, consistent with our observation that “redeployment of this beautiful aircraft will require the involvement of engineering.”

The deployment of the newly upgraded Fairchild Republic A-10C Thunderbolt II bomber-attack aircraft in Iraq next month will make it easier for the US Air Force (USAF) to provide close air support to ground troops, according to the commander of USAF’s Air Combat Command, General Ronald Keys.

However, more extensive upgrades are still needed to keep the aircraft on top of its game, he said.

General Keys said the USAF’s modernisation plans for the A-10 ‘Wart Hog’ have been held back from their full potential by bureaucratic wrangling and congressional resistance.

“This is not the super Hog we envisioned but this is a better-than-average Hog,” Gen Keys said during a ceremony to announce initial operational capability of the A-10C at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia on 21 August.

“The hardest wars we fight are not on the battlefield but the wars we fight in the halls of Congress, they are fought in the Pentagon, they are fought in these programmes, to make sure the money is paid and eventually the programme is operating.”

Despite voicing frustration with the overall pace of A-10 modernisation, Gen Keys said the USAF was off to a good start with the USAF’s Precision Engagement programme, which aims to upgrade all 356 aircraft to the A-10C configuration by 2011.

The modifications to the A-10C were significant.

The A-10’s enhancements included, among other modifications, new sensors that allow the fighter to “identify and strike targets from higher altitudes and greater distances,” according to the Air Force.

New color displays were added in the cockpit and the throttle and stick were upgraded to increase “situational awareness of the pilot and the ability to perform most tasks without removing his or her hands from the throttle or the stick.”

Courtesy of Dailypress.com.  We only disagree on one count: ugly aircraft!  Nay, and in the superlative degree.  She’s a beauty!  Watch it all.  Faster kill chain.  Just so.



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  • http://www.fumento.com fumento

    Ah! But just another chance for the Air Force to claim that there’s no use for helicopter gunships!

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  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Michael, leave it to you to think of something that I have not. No, and in the superlative degree. Not only do we need a COIN aircraft, but we need helicopter gunships. Yes to all of the above.

    When we were at Myrtle Beach years ago when the air force base was open there (on vacation), and took a visit to the AFB as part of our vacation, upon hearing about the A-10’s redundant pneumatic controls design, she asked, “where is the plane that Tom Cruise flew?”

    And at this point, every educated person wanted to shoot her. And properly so. It is a good thing we didn’t have firearms.


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This article is filed under the category(s) Air Force and was published August 26th, 2007 by Herschel Smith.

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