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  #1  
Old 08-16-2017, 12:29 PM
Olefin Olefin is offline
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Default Combat crop duster

Saw this today and just had to post a link to it

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/08/...oin-fight.html

Sounds exactly like the kind of plane that the Army or Air Force would use in 2000 and after when aviation fuel is very scarce and many airfields are no longer operational
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Old 08-16-2017, 08:29 PM
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Sounds similar to an Antonov An-2, modified and hyper-specialized for a combat role. During the Croatian War for Independence, An-2 cropdusters were modified for use as bombers because they could fly so slow that radar-guided SAMs wouldn't lock on them.
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Old 08-16-2017, 09:27 PM
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Soooooo let me get this straight.

The A-10 is obsolete because it can't fly faster than about 450kts and operates too low. Never mind the fact that it can take heavy ground fire and even direct hits from SAMs and bring its pilot home. And it carries a heavy combat load backed up by a 30mm cannon.

Now, they agree that the F-35 is too vulnerable and expensive. So what to do? Apparently, the USAF want a single prop engine plane derived from a crop duster, lighter armor, slower at about 200kts, lower ceiling, no cannon, and no where near as much combat load. And oh yes, the A-10 is still too slow and flies to low and thus too vulnerable. Does anyone else see a problem with this proposal - as in dumb as hell?

And yep...in TW 2000 situation anything that flies is better than nothing.
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Old 08-16-2017, 10:20 PM
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Oh I would take an A-10 in a heartbeat over this plane - but if you dont have any A-10's its a lot better than nothing
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Old 08-16-2017, 10:37 PM
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Now maybe I'm being a little crazy or perhaps conspiratorially minded but...

We've heard plenty of tales that the USAF has tried to get rid of the A-10 and failed to do so. So now we have a test programme to find an aircraft that would "conveniently" remove the need for the A-10 in the Air Force arsenal... just sayin'
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Old 08-16-2017, 11:46 PM
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That has got to be one of the most pointless things I've ever seen.

The A-10 already fills that role, AND it won't get knocked out of the air by a PK machinegun, nevermind something in the 12.7-14.5mm range.
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Old 08-17-2017, 07:35 AM
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To be fair, aircraft like that have been very successful in the COIN role and it's actually better than the aircraft they would have used for CAS in WW2, Korea and other wars in the 1950s.

However... as indicated by you, the number of 12.7mm and 14.5mm machineguns on armoured and non-armoured vehicles and the autocannon on various IFVs/MICVs these days let alone the proliferation of SAMs/ManPADS really does call into question the survivability of such an aircraft... that turbo-prop exhaust would run hot enough for even older heat-seekers to lock on to (the Brit SAS had success with a Stinger versus IA.58 Pucara during the Falklands stoush and back then those Stinger IR seeker heads were 1970s technology).

Last edited by StainlessSteelCynic; 08-17-2017 at 07:38 AM. Reason: I spelt "back" as abck... grrr... still, at least it was in alphabetical order...
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Old 08-17-2017, 08:57 AM
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I actually like the aircraft but I also share your doubts about its survivability against any properly equipped adversary. I could see the Mexican Air Force for instance using an aircraft like this against internal rebels - in Chiapas they really were only facing people with rifles and at most light machine guns

In a Twilight 2000 scenario I could see aircraft like this being deployed in 1999-2001 as ways to get some air support better than a Cessna with a machine gun mounted on it as aviation fuel supply and lack of spare parts grounds military aircraft and as SAM's/MANPADS are discarded by troops who havent seen a plane in the sky in months or longer - and thus dont have them when they need them.
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Old 08-17-2017, 02:51 PM
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The USAF is currently looking at several light attack aircraft to supplement and, some hope, eventually replace the A-10 in the COIN/CAS role.

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone...onal-arms-fair

Armed crop-dusters have been used quite recently in Libya by mercs flying for one of the contending political factions.

https://medium.com/war-is-boring/eri...a-88fcb8e55292
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Old 08-18-2017, 09:45 PM
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The Air Force has been trying to get rid of the A-10 since before it was in production. And it's mostly superficial -- it's not fast, not sexy, looks like an old WWII fighter, doesn't have all the gee-whiz avionics of newer fighters (though the proposed A-10C does have a lot of that gee-whiz -- and most of the A-10 community says they don't need it).

Yet it's consistently proven itself to be the best ground support platform devised. And it's practically indestructible, able to continue supporting the ground troops when most planes wouldn't even be flyable anymore due to battle damage. Maintenance times and turnaround are short.

The Air Farce doesn't want the A-10 because no one wants be a mud-mover, let alone flying a plane that is dedicated to mud-moving. To which I say, let the Air Force get rid of them, get rid of that ridiculous law about Army fixed-wing aircraft not being armed, and let the Army fly the A-10s. And keep the A-10 in production -- our current examples, despite their excellent quantities, are getting long in the tooth.
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Old 08-18-2017, 10:46 PM
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AMEN Paul!

The A-10 is the best CAS attack fighter ever built.

Personally, I don't believe the F/A-35 will ever be built in the numbers proposed and will NEVER prove effective in the CAS mission. Sooner or later, Congress will end up mandating the USAF to either develop and buy about 500 A-10-like CAS attack fighter or will turn CAS over to the Army.
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Old 08-20-2017, 02:48 AM
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AMEN Paul!

The A-10 is the best CAS attack fighter ever built.

Personally, I don't believe the F/A-35 will ever be built in the numbers proposed and will NEVER prove effective in the CAS mission. Sooner or later, Congress will end up mandating the USAF to either develop and buy about 500 A-10-like CAS attack fighter or will turn CAS over to the Army.
The latter would be preferable, IMO. CAS should be the purview of the branch being supported. Let the army and Marine Corps be able to support themselves. Don't get me wrong, the Harrier and Hornet are good planes, but the A-10 (for example) would be MUCH more useful to the Marines and soldiers on the ground.
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Old 08-20-2017, 09:47 PM
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The big question is can they make the A-10 launchable from a carrier. That would really improve its role. See one of those taking out a destroyer or frigate?
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Old 08-20-2017, 10:58 PM
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The big question is can they make the A-10 launchable from a carrier. That would really improve its role. See one of those taking out a destroyer or frigate?
They'd have to rework the wings so that they could fold. The cruciform A-10 would take up to much deck/hangar space without folding wings. Given the landing gear housing, I'm pretty sure that retro-engineering this would be prohibitively complicated.

@stg58fal: Did I miss something or doesn't the USMC still have its own fixed wing air?
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Old 08-21-2017, 02:15 PM
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The decomission of the A-10 has to do with its lost of mission, let face it the A-10 was built as tank buster for the massives tanks formation of the Soviets. And yes is it a great job in Gulf in 89-90 and agian in Afghanistan but not for what is was attended. Just look the cannon and weapons it carried.
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Old 08-21-2017, 05:51 PM
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The decomission of the A-10 has to do with its lost of mission, let face it the A-10 was built as tank buster for the massives tanks formation of the Soviets. And yes is it a great job in Gulf in 89-90 and agian in Afghanistan but not for what is was attended. Just look the cannon and weapons it carried.
The DOD can say that, but that argument is disingenuous at best (and fatuously incompetent at worst). They (and we) are well aware that the A-10 is currently the USAF's best jet-powered COIN/CAS platform, and there's been 16+ years of COIN/CAS missions in Afghanistan alone (with no end in sight). The A-10 has saved plenty of U.S. and allied troops' bacon there. Since, in the foreseeable future, the U.S.A. is more likely to engage in COIN than a large-scale conventional war with a technologically comparable rival, getting rid of the USAF's best COIN weapons is silly (to put it nicely), even if it was originally designed as a tank buster.
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Old 08-22-2017, 12:44 PM
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The DOD can say that, but that argument is disingenuous at best (and fatuously incompetent at worst). They (and we) are well aware that the A-10 is currently the USAF's best jet-powered COIN/CAS platform, and there's been 16+ years of COIN/CAS missions in Afghanistan alone (with no end in sight). The A-10 has saved plenty of U.S. and allied troops' bacon there. Since, in the foreseeable future, the U.S.A. is more likely to engage in COIN than a large-scale conventional war with a technologically comparable rival, getting rid of the USAF's best COIN weapons is silly (to put it nicely), even if it was originally designed as a tank buster.
Well I guess is all depends on how you look at the A-10 combat record, this article here, states that according to air force records over 80% of the CAS missions where by other aircraft. Now it also looks at how the stats were collected, but the point is other aircraft could do the roll

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/...10-retirement/

I also think that aircraft while a good design, is past its prime with airframes around 33-42 years old. An interesting note is the large structural cracks that found in the wings during inspections in 93-95 this led to the HOG UP program in 1999 which fixed and upgraded the A-10.

While the A-10 has gotten a lot of press for its limited combat missions, I think it is a good idea that the air force look at other options such as the Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano, Textron’s AT-6 Wolverine and the Air Tractor’s OA-802 Longsword. It should also be looking at unmanned options as well.

I also wonder if CAS/COIN aircraft should be given over to the army as ultimately they will the ones needing them.

Anyway it a long way till 2022.
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Old 08-22-2017, 02:24 PM
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Well I guess is all depends on how you look at the A-10 combat record, this article here, states that according to air force records over 80% of the CAS missions where by other aircraft. Now it also looks at how the stats were collected, but the point is other aircraft could do the roll

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/...10-retirement/

I also think that aircraft while a good design, is past its prime with airframes around 33-42 years old. An interesting note is the large structural cracks that found in the wings during inspections in 93-95 this led to the HOG UP program in 1999 which fixed and upgraded the A-10.

While the A-10 has gotten a lot of press for its limited combat missions, I think it is a good idea that the air force look at other options such as the Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano, Textron’s AT-6 Wolverine and the Air Tractor’s OA-802 Longsword. It should also be looking at unmanned options as well.

I also wonder if CAS/COIN aircraft should be given over to the army as ultimately they will the ones needing them.

Anyway it a long way till 2022.
One line tells me that the Chair Force has no idea what they are doing "Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh has said, “We’ve flown a number of close air support missions with multiple airplanes,” including the B-1 bomber, F-15E, and F-16."
Using a B-1 Bomber for close air support? Having spent the second half of my career as EOD my personal experience with Air Force close air support was that using specialty munitions do not work, we got sent in after the fact to destroy the classified guidance package on smart munitions that did not go off, and clean up the cluster bomb field that because the pilot did not follow the procedures for deploying them did not activate correctly. As for having close air support cover us the only unit I have first hand experience with is the AH-64, but the A-10 does about the same job with direct fire gun/missiles, and the Apache worked very well.
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Old 08-22-2017, 06:56 PM
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Well I guess is all depends on how you look at the A-10 combat record, this article here, states that according to air force records over 80% of the CAS missions where by other aircraft. Now it also looks at how the stats were collected, but the point is other aircraft could do the roll

...
I also think that aircraft while a good design, is past its prime with airframes around 33-42 years old.
I remain a fan of the A-10, but as seen above, plenty of planes can do some sort of CAS. It's better with a low, slow, airframe such as the A-10. Getting a COIN design from this flyoff would be great, as long as the AF supports it with funding and crewing.

"War is Boring" (I think) made much this point yesterday, it's the training & attitudes of the crews that matters as much as the airframe when it comes to delivering effective CAS.

IMO, the AF needs specialized planes for specialized missions. COIN missions, with a more permissive air-defense environment, can get away with "cheaper" planes, so I'd like to see something develop there, which may or may not be the A-10.

In short, as long as /something/ dedicated replaces the A-10, I'm OK with letting it go. The F-35 seems to want to replace the F-15E and F-117, which are not what I'm looking for. Back in the '70s, the Navy spoke of a "high-low" mix of ship designs, I guess that's a label I wouldn't mind for attack aircraft.
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Old 08-22-2017, 11:20 PM
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@stg58fal: Did I miss something or doesn't the USMC still have its own fixed wing air?
The Corps still has its own fixed wing air. I should have worded that better.

If the USAF doesn't want to fly slow and blow up shit on the ground, give those A-10's to the army and Marine Corps. As good as the Harrier and Hornet are, I'm sure there are plenty of Marine pilots that would kick their mother in the ass for a chance to fly the A-10, especially in combat. And the army probably drools over the thought of having fixed wing CAS.

As for the A-10 only being a tank killer, the munitions racks can hold things other than Hellfire missiles. Load the plane up with FAE, iron dumb bombs, cluster bombs, or hell, put another Gatling gun on the outer pylon on each wing, and an ammo drum on the inner, and let them strafe.

Last edited by stg58fal; 08-23-2017 at 10:03 PM. Reason: Spelling error that ruined the sentence
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Old 08-23-2017, 01:23 PM
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I also think that another aircraft the Army should be flying is the Harrier. (And please, Army, pass on the F-35!)
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Old 08-23-2017, 02:01 PM
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Well I guess is all depends on how you look at the A-10 combat record, this article here, states that according to air force records over 80% of the CAS missions where by other aircraft. Now it also looks at how the stats were collected, but the point is other aircraft could do the roll

I also think that aircraft while a good design, is past its prime with airframes around 33-42 years old. An interesting note is the large structural cracks that found in the wings during inspections in 93-95 this led to the HOG UP program in 1999 which fixed and upgraded the A-10.
I can guarantee that the USAF is playing fast and loose with the definition of CAS. The current fad position is that PGM can enable CAS by "fast movers" (F/A-35, F-16, F-15, B-1, etc) and even "high fliers" (B-52 and drones). I just don't buy. An F-16 dropping a GBU-32 at 600 kts and 5,000 ft is NOT flying CAS in my opinion. Any grunt will tell you that effective CAS is from a plane under 2,000 ft and 400 kts. When I was at the 8th TFW at Kunsan AB Korea the USAF was all about "speed is life' and the A-10 was simply un-survivable and the F-16 was going to take over the mission. "Studies" showed it could cut it. Few re-call that the A-10 was slated for retirement at the start of "Desert Storm" and NO A-10 were scheduled to deploy. Gen Horn briefed Gen Schwarzkopf on the deployed air assets, not mentioning the A-10. Schwarzkopf pointedly ask when the A-10s would arrive, and Horn responded none were deploying and the F-16 would perform the mission, primarily going to an Air Guard unit with 30mm gunpods. Schwarzkopf, noticeably miffed, responded, "General, I don't think you understood me. When are MY A-10s arriving?" Horn got the hint (order) and the A-10s deployed, but that did not stop the USAF for going forward to "prove" the A-10 was obsolete and the "do all" F-16 could do the job better and safer.

It was a disaster! The F-16s performed horribly. They couldn't do the strikes without getting down on the deck and slowing to A-10 speed, and they could not do that without taking hits that would force them down. The gunpods were useless; vibration was so severe some pilots almost lost control and accuracy was nil. In contrast, the A-10 was a champion! Studies also showed it had one of the highest readiness rates and was the most effective for CAS. All talk or retiring them ceased.

I suspect budget realities are going to throw the F-35 into doing this, and the USAF will finally have to admit it can't - after either losing a couple of planes or a unit getting overrun. Either way, people are going to die because some idiots that have never been stuck on the ground BEGGING for a flight of A-10s AND praying that the ridiculous B-1 that was first sent does not drop another GBU-32 on top of them decided that the F-35 could do the job as well as the A-10.

And keep in mind the A-10 is pushing 45 now, and it is still the best CAS plane out there. Sorta tells you the genius of the designers and ineptitude of the USAF brass and Congress. My guess, in the short term, the USAF is going to end up trying to use drones with Hellfires and Mavericks. The geewiz F-35 and B-21 are going to EAT the available budget, meaning they can't develop a new CAS aircraft. The Scorpion or something like it might work. As for an armed crop duster...for pity sake PLEASE try and get something like the P-47 or A-1....armored, able to break AT LEAST 300kts, and carrying a few tons of ordinance.

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Old 08-23-2017, 03:50 PM
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I can guarantee that the USAF is playing fast and loose with the definition of CAS. The current fad position is that PGM can enable CAS by "fast movers" (F/A-35, F-16, F-15, B-1, etc) and even "high fliers" (B-52 and drones). I just don't buy. An F-16 dropping a GBU-32 at 600 kts and 5,000 ft is NOT flying CAS in my opinion. Any grunt will tell you that effective CAS is from a plane under 2,000 ft and 400 kts. When I was at the 8th TFW at Kunsan AB Korea the USAF was all about "speed is life' and the A-10 was simply un-survivable and the F-16 was going to take over the mission. "Studies" showed it could cut it. Few re-call that the A-10 was slated for retirement at the start of "Desert Storm" and NO A-10 were scheduled to deploy. Gen Horn briefed Gen Schwarzkopf on the deployed air assets, not mentioning the A-10. Schwarzkopf pointedly ask when the A-10s would arrive, and Horn responded none were deploying and the F-16 would perform the mission, primarily going to an Air Guard unit with 30mm gunpods. Schwarzkopf, noticeably miffed, responded, "General, I don't think you understood. When are MY A-10s arriving?" Horn got the hint (order) and the A-10s deployed, but that did not stop the USAF for going forward to "prove" the A-10 was obsolete and the "do all" F-16 good do job the better and safer.

It was a disaster! The F-16s performed horribly. They couldn't do the strikes without getting down on the deck and slowing to A-10 speed, and they could not do that without taking hits that would force them down. The gunpods were useless; vibration was so severe some pilots almost lost control and accuracy was nil. In contrast, the F-16 was a champion!

I suspect budget realities are going to throw the F-35 into doing this, and the USAF will finally have to admit it can't - after either losing a couple of planes or a unit getting overrun. Either way, people are going to die because some idiots that have never been stuck on the ground BEGGING for a flight of A-10s AND praying that the ridiculous B-1 that was first sent does not drop another GBU-32 on top of them decided that the F-35 could do the job as well as the A-10.

And keep in mind the A-10 is pushing 45 now, and it is still the best CAS plane out there. Sorta tells you the genius of the designers and ineptitude of the USAF brass and Congress. My guess, in the short term, the USAF is going to end up trying to use drones with Hellfires and Mavericks. The geewiz F-35 and B-21 are going to EAT the available budget, meaning they can't develop a new CAS aircraft. The Scorpion or something like it might work. As for an armed crop duster...for pity sake PLEASE try and get something like the P-47 or A-1....armored, able to break AT LEAST 300kts, and carrying a few tons of ordinance.
And if my personal experience is not an anomaly I have seen a 50% failure rate in PGM, or I guess I should say from the drops that I know of we (EOD) got sent to destroy the classified guidance package on the 50% of the bombs that did not go boom.
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Old 08-23-2017, 05:31 PM
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I also think that another aircraft the Army should be flying is the Harrier. (And please, Army, pass on the F-35!)
The Harrier is an incredibly unfriendly platform for many systems. There was a project a while back - probably 15-20 years ago now - that was completely passed on by some of the RFP recipients because the vibration for the Harrier's centerline position was worse than a Falcon's wingtip rail.
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Old 08-24-2017, 12:07 AM
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Default while we're talking close air support

Remember the OV-10 Bronco? 2 turboprop engines, wide variety of combat loads (including an option of 4-5 paratroops snuggled into the back of the fuselage). Re-open the production lines and call back those that have been farmed out for fire-fighting duty. They've already done some fine work in the Middle East against ISIS.
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Old 08-24-2017, 09:20 AM
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Agree with you on the OV-10 - in the East Kenya Sourcebook I had the Army pull several of them out of storage and use them in Africa for close air support when there were no Air Force units available to go to Africa during the initial deployment and the Army needed something better than helicopters for attacking tanks and armored vehicles from the air
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Old 08-24-2017, 08:41 PM
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Re-open the production lines and call back those that have been farmed out for fire-fighting duty. They've already done some fine work in the Middle East against ISIS.
In 2009 Boeing put together plans internally to build a modernized, improved version of the Bronco, called the OV-10X, to satisfy a possible Air Force requirement for a light attack plane. According to Pentagon and industry officials, while the aircraft would maintain much of its 1960s-vintage rugged external design, modernizations would include a computerized glass cockpit, intelligence sensors and smart-bomb-dropping capabilities.

http://www.ov-10bronco.net/Technical...rd_2009_01.pdf
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Old 08-24-2017, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by mpipes View Post
It was a disaster! The F-16s performed horribly. They couldn't do the strikes without getting down on the deck and slowing to A-10 speed, and they could not do that without taking hits that would force them down. The gunpods were useless; vibration was so severe some pilots almost lost control and accuracy was nil.
Here is an article I found on the Gun Pod, check out the end where the Marines found a use for it

http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/the...art-1597577525
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  #29  
Old 08-27-2017, 09:22 PM
Adm.Lee Adm.Lee is offline
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I remember hearing about "A-16" in 1990 or so, and could never figure out why the AF wanted to take their agile dogfighter down into the weeds. I knew they wanted to bury the A-10, but were they so enamored of the F-15 that they wanted to bury the F-16, too?

So it would seem.
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Old 08-28-2017, 12:33 AM
mpipes mpipes is offline
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Yep. The 174th was the only dedicated CAS aircraft assigned to that particular mission. It was THE A-10 stand in that was scheduled which Storming Norm ended rather pointedly. Its a miracle no one lost control and augered in or tore a firing gunpod loose and kill themselves or a wingman.

If I remember right, they were talking about sending some to the 8TFW where I was stationed in 1989 after development. One of the maintenance officer had worked on A-10s and then F-16, and did not believe there was any way the F-16 could take the firing vibrations for any appreciable time.
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