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Offline MarkOttawa

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USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« on: March 03, 2017, 15:51:18 »
Be interesting to see what really comes of this--note possible jet trainer derivatives at end:

Quote
Air Force leaders confirm light attack aircraft demo to take off this summer

The Air Force’s light attack aircraft flight demonstration is officially on the books, with an experiment scheduled this summer at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.

That event could be the first in a series of demos to determine the business case for a program of record, which has been termed OA-X. 

“We’re going to formally invite industry to participate,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said Friday. “Bring us what you have that fits the basic criteria of what we’re looking for. We call it ‘shovel ready.’ This is not something we’re looking to do a lot of research and development on. This is commercial, off-the-shelf that we can rapidly employ.”

A second phase of the experiment would send those aircraft to the Middle East, in very much the same manner as the Combat Dragon II exercise earlier this decade, when two OV-10 Broncos were deployed to Central Command, Goldfein said.

In a speech at the Air Force Association’s air warfare symposium, Acting Air Force Secretary Lisa Disbrow said the experiment will prove whether it makes sense to add money to the budget for a low-price aircraft that could be procured almost immediately to do low-end combat in the Middle East.

“We want to see if there’s a business case there,” she said. “This concept could free up higher-cost, higher-performance platforms from doing low-threat missions, which would allow us time to prepare for more complex threats with those assets. It could also help us absorb new pilots and be useful as we work with allies and partners.”..

At this point, it’s unclear whether the Air Force will limit its options to inexpensive turboprop airplanes or if a more advanced light fighter could be of interest. Much excitement has surrounded the Textron AirLand Scorpion since it was released on the market. The aircraft hasn’t secured its first order yet, but its low operating and acquisition costs — less than $20 million per unit and $3,000 per flight hour — could make it a good fit for OA-X.

Other low-cost options could include the Beechcraft AT-6 or Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano. If the service considers higher-performing entries, some T-X entrants — particularly Lockheed Martin’s FA-50 or Leonardo’s M-346 — could be other alternatives.
http://www.defensenews.com/articles/air-force-leaders-confirm-light-attack-aircraft-demo-to-take-off-this-summer


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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2017, 14:21:57 »
USAF OA-x latest:

Quote
Is the U.S. Air Force’s OA-X Light Attack Aircraft Really Going to Happen?

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) has added $1.2 billion to the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the U.S. Air Force’s OA-X light attack/observation aircraft effort.

The service will be conducting an experiment this summer to determine if such an aircraft would be useful to perform missions over permissive airspace in place of much more expensive and capable fourth and fifth-generation fighters. The Air Force is expected to test four different aircraft types including Sierra Nevada’s A-29 Super Tucano, the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6, the Textron Scorpion Jet and the Air Tractor AT-802U during its experiment. The Senate—and particularly SASC chairman Sen. John McCain—wants to push the Air Force into buying a fleet of roughly 300 OA-X aircraft to help relieve the ever-increasing burden on the service’s tactical fighter fleet and to help season younger pilots.

“The idea behind funding this is actually to move this program along,” a Senate aide told reporters during a SASC background brief on June 29.

“The best way to do that is to provide the funding to get the program started.”

The OA-X is not technically an Air Force program of record yet, but the idea behind the SASC funding line is to push the service into transforming it into a formal acquisitions program. The Air Force had intended to use its experiment this summer to gauge the utility of an OA-X aircraft for combat missions over permissive environments during low intensity conflicts before building a business case to buy such a plane. The SASC language would bypass that process and appropriate $1.2 billion to buy 300 OA-X aircraft by 2022. Those aircraft would be an addition to the Air Force fleet—bolstering the number of frontline squadrons—rather than a replacement for any other type...
http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/the-us-air-forces-oa-x-light-attack-aircraft-really-going-21411?page=show

Air Tractor AT-802U is now 802L OA-8 Longsword:
http://www.janes.com/article/68365/avalon-2017-l3-and-air-tractor-marketing-at-802l-armed-turboprop-as-oa-8-longsword
http://www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft/detail.asp?aircraft_id=1766



New Shturmovik?
https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/stalin%E2%80%99s-ilyushin-il-2-shturmovik
 
 

Mark
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Offline Colin P

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2017, 15:50:40 »
My gut says they go with turboprops to avoid buy a "Jet fighter" which someone in congress will point to as being cheaper than a F-35.

Offline gryphonv

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2017, 16:47:42 »
My gut says they go with turboprops to avoid buy a "Jet fighter" which someone in congress will point to as being cheaper than a F-35.

There are advantages to turboprop fighters in certain scenarios. Not all of them due to cost.

If I was a FAC, I'd rather have access to a platform with 2+hrs of overhead time vs one with 20-30 minutes. (made these numbers up, but it should show my point)


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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2017, 17:55:37 »
The amount of loiter time per machine is not itself significant. Constant coverage is.

During Fallexes in Germany, we had almost constant access to A10 coverage, with fresh pairs every fifteen minutes, when warranted, in 4 CMBG's area. One pair would head home as we briefed the new one for its run. The schedule rotation was based upon ammunition duration, not fuel.

There were always multiple aircraft, rotary- and seized-wing, aloft in Kandahar and eager to pounce, and as soon as one pair ran out of ordnance another would replace it.

We took out IED emplacement teams with Predator (Hellfire) followed by B1 (500lb JDAMs) followed by A10 (cannon) and Kiowa (.50 cal/2.75 in rocket/full-mag single burst M4 out of the left-hand door) followed by F15 (500lb JDAMs) combinations, for example, with no interruption.

Aircraft were lightly loaded, presumably to avoid having to land at high weight with unexpended weaponry, as most missions did not see anything fired/dropped.

Offline gryphonv

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2017, 18:30:01 »
The amount of loiter time per machine is not itself significant. Constant coverage is.

During Fallexes in Germany, we had almost constant access to A10 coverage, with fresh pairs every fifteen minutes, when warranted, in 4 CMBG's area. One pair would head home as we briefed the new one for its run. The schedule rotation was based upon ammunition duration, not fuel.

There were always multiple aircraft, rotary- and seized-wing, aloft in Kandahar and eager to pounce, and as soon as one pair ran out of ordnance another would replace it.

We took out IED emplacement teams with Predator (Hellfire) followed by B1 (500lb JDAMs) followed by A10 (cannon) and Kiowa (.50 cal/2.75 in rocket/full-mag single burst M4 out of the left-hand door) followed by F15 (500lb JDAMs) combinations, for example, with no interruption.

Aircraft were lightly loaded, presumably to avoid having to land at high weight with unexpended weaponry, as most missions did not see anything fired/dropped.

Thank you for this post as I don't have any real first hand knowledge. Do you feel a multirole A/C is the best path going foward for something as defined as ground support? To me it seems like its a huge waste of money for something with less compairable capabilities.

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2017, 19:05:38 »
For us, F35.

In much bigger militaries, specialization has more viability.

It is no longer required to overfly targets at low levels to attack them. Technology has advanced, and will continue to do so. Weapons have more standoff capability, detection/designation/guidance systems have improved (laser, millimetre-wave radar, GPS), platforms are increasingly being connected via networks to share target and other information, cockpit workloads have been decreased, and low-observable technology has reduced the chances of radar detection and virtually eliminated the chances of radar tracking and guidance.

Armoured vehicles replaced cavalry in the First World War.

Firearms replaced bows, crossbows, and trebuchets.

Offline gryphonv

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2017, 19:11:59 »
For us, F35.

In much bigger militaries, specialization has more viability.

It is no longer required to overfly targets at low levels to attack them. Technology has advanced, and will continue to do so. Weapons have more standoff capability, detection/designation/guidance systems have improved (laser, millimetre-wave radar, GPS), platforms are increasingly being connected via networks to share target and other information, cockpit workloads have been decreased, and low-observable technology has reduced the chances of radar detection and virtually eliminated the chances of radar tracking and guidance.

Armoured vehicles replaced cavalry in the First World War.

Firearms replaced bows, crossbows, and trebuchets.

Oh I agree with that, but there has to be a value of the psychological effect of having constant overhead a/c towards a less robust enemy. Even though we can strike from far, I would think the sound and visuals of having AC buzzing their heads would benefit our guys with boots on the ground.

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2017, 19:49:14 »
Don't underestimate the effect of targets just blowing up, and not knowing where it's coming from, or who's next, and not being able to stop it or even shoot back.

Early Hellfires were laser-designated. Apaches could fire sequentially, have multiple missiles in the air, and move the designator from one target to another as each blew up. The helicopter could be up to 8 k away, so it was hard to detect, but still had to be exposed throughout the engagement process. The Longbow system (millimetre-wave radar) on AH64D was a huge step forward - a single helicopter simply had to unmask for just long enough to do a single sweep of the battlefield, share target information with the rest in the company, which would then be fed to the missiles (now fire-and-forget), and all could then be fired simultaneously. The ultimate result was virtually identical (but fewer missiles would be launched as the company commander could block off individual killzones for each machine and thus avoid multiple strikes on targets), with one difference from the enemy's point-of-view: instead of his vehicles blowing up in sequence when engaged by A-models, they would all blow up simultaneously when engaged by D-models. Instant, simultaneous mass death; nobody got any warning.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2017, 20:41:28 »
An interesting footnote, a New Zealand company called the ILM group did conceptual studies of aircraft which used their volume more efficiently and came up with a design concept called ADDEX. Widely spaced engines and upper surface blowing (called at the time "Self Stabilized Airfoil") combined to produce a compact aircraft with some rather amazing predicted performance, especially for a late 1970-early 1980's design project.:

https://hushkit.net/2016/10/25/iml-addax-new-zealands-design-for-a-super-fighter/

Quote
IML Addax: New Zealand’s design for a superfighter

One free-thinking group of aircraft designers considered how to make a new multirole fighter. The result of the study was a design for an aircraft like nothing else before or since. Even more surprisingly, this exciting plan for a futuristic superfighter came not from the elite fighter houses of the USSR or the US, but an unknown company in New Zealand.

From the late 1970s, the IML Group in New Zealand studied existing combat aircraft to see if they could come up with a better solution. Their concept, the Addax, proved to be exceptionally bold. The Addax-1 was to be powered by two vectored thrust turbofans in the 10,000-Ib thrust class (obvious contenders would have included the Rolls-Royce Spey or TF34)

The aerodynamic configuration was unusual to say the least, consisting of a ‘self-stabilising aerofoil’ formed by the fuselage between the tailbooms, with upper surface blowing across all lifting surfaces providing the aircraft with extreme short take-off and landing capabilities.

Internal weapon bays could carry up to ten 1,000-Ib bombs and external pylons could carry an additional 3,000 Ibs. The gun armament would have been ferocious comprising either four 30-mm Oerlikon cannon or two 20-mm M61A1 Vulcans. Maximum speed would have been 740mph, and it would had a lo-lo-lo tactical radius of 480 miles with maximum bombload.

The Addax-S was even more impressive. This was a supersonic air-superiority fighter based on the same configuration, with outstanding manoeuvrability.

Of course, The New Zealand Government was never really going to fund either Addax, but it was an intriguingly left-field glimpse of how fighters could have evolved. The designs were released in 1982, but even today they appear more futuristic than any known aircraft programme.

A battlefield support variant was also proposed, which from the one illustration I can find is suggestive of an attack helicopter fitted with field wings rather than rotors.

Looking at the United States, there was a 1980's vintage concept as well which might solve several issues (including new high performance trainers), the Northrop F-20, an evolution of the F-5 with a much more powerful engine.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2017, 20:44:19 by Thucydides »
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2017, 11:04:33 »
More on Air Tractor Longsword:

Quote
From Pest Control To Drug Patrol, Now Air Tractor Targets OA-X

Air Tractor is best known for pest control and fertilization. But the Olney, Texas-based company’s AT-802 agricultural aircraft has evolved from crop duster to firefighter, narcotics eradicator and now a surveillance and strike platform for counterinsurgency operations.

The newest AT-802 combat derivative—the L3 Technologies AT-802L Longsword—has been invited to fly in the U.S. Air Force’s OA-X capability assessment of lightweight-attack platforms; alongside the Textron Aviation AT-6 Wolverine, Scorpion Jet and Sierra Nevada Corp./Embraer A-29 Super Tucano.
Ag Attack

L3/Air Tractor AT-802L Longsword invited to fly in OA-X capability assessment

Iomax’s Thrush 710-based “Archangel” sitting out OA-X

Kenya deal would certify Longsword attack variant

Air Tractor eyes U.S. special forces LASSO light-attack program

The hardy agricultural aircraft might not be a perfect fit for the Air Force’s proposed light-attack and fighter pilot training fleet, but L3 and Air Tractor are mostly eyeing opportunities for export and special forces missions. Air Tractor confirms interest in the newly launched Light Attack Support for Special Operations (LASSO) program, a partnership between the Air Force’s fighters and bombers directorate and U.S. Special Operations Command’s Office for Fixed-Wing aviation programs.

The AT-802, a single-engine turboprop, flies low and slow, carrying almost 2.5 times its own weight in fuel and stores.

It was used by the U.S. State Department for several years to eradicate coca plantations in Colombia, the source crop for cocaine and a critical income stream for the FARC rebel group.


The AT-802L Longsword is L3 Technologies’ and Air Tractor’s answer to the Iomax Archangel, now based on the Thrush 710. It’s pictured carrying a combination of six Mk. 82 bombs, two rocket pods, two guns pods and one centerline MX-15D sensor ball. Credit: L3 Technologies...
http://aviationweek.com/military-trainers-light-attack/pest-control-drug-patrol-now-air-tractor-targets-oa-x

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2017, 15:48:52 »
By USAF officer actually at Hollman (imagine such a piece by a serving Canadian officer):

Quote
Back to Basics: The Light Attack Experiment Begins

This month at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, an unusual event is occurring. For the first time since the end of the Vietnam era, the Air Force is conducting a flying experiment with combat aircraft. This nontraditional event, bringing together four major commands and three industry partners, was put together in only five months. The cost is in the single digit millions. Here, a mix of test pilots and operationally experienced aircrew are putting four light attack aircraft through their paces. The method? Experimentation. The objective? Learn. The Air Force is interested in assessing the potential of low-cost, commercially developed ground attack aircraft to conduct the kind of combat missions that have composed the vast majority of combat missions in the last 25 years. The light attack experiment is the first large-scale experiment of its type in decades.

Two years ago, this would have been impossible. The Air Force had no money appropriated for experimentation. Budgetary pressures imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act took a toll across the board, affecting readiness, force structure, manpower, and research and development. But in the past two budgets, small amounts of money have been set aside for experimentation. The Air Force established a brand-new organization within Materiel Command — the Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) Office — to facilitate experimentation. Over two years SDPE has toiled in relative obscurity to rack up a series of small successes, focused on emerging weapons and tactics. The light attack experiment is the first full-scale, live fly event, with aircraft conducting representative missions on tactical ranges, complete with precision and non-precision weapons, aerial gunnery, and simulated targets, supported by terminal attack controllers on the ground.

The Air Force is below our minimum sustainable force size. We have too much mission and too little force. Maintaining sustained combat operations for 26 years has taken its toll. We have worn out our tactical aviation fleet, sacrificing readiness and size, and delaying modernization in the face of relentless demand for combat airpower. In order to successfully rebuild and re-train the force to handle major combat operations against a traditional, nation-state enemy, we have to get some breathing room. By switching the weight of burden to aircraft that are less expensive to purchase and easy to sustain and operate, we can shift the majority of day-to-day operations to aircraft designed for the kind of relatively low-intensity warfare that has characterized air operations since Operation Desert Storm. A push by experienced combat aviators for this class of aircraft has been brewing by nine years — but the lack of government-collected data has made this a hard sell. The experiment has provided an opportunity for U.S. Air Force and industry aviators, maintainers, engineers, and acquisition personnel to exit their comfort zones to engage in old-style, in-depth data gathering with the objective of creating a cadre of experimenters who are better-informed about modern, commercial aviation developments as they apply to combat aircraft. It’s not business as usual, and many of the participants have jumped at the opportunity to be part of it.

For a service that has long become accustomed to expensive, high-performance jets, the experiment is an eye-opener. The Longsword, Super Tucano, and Wolverine aircraft use a powerful variant of the most popular turboprop engine in the world. The Scorpion uses advanced versions of commercial “bizjet” engines [read on]...

Col. Mike “Starbaby” Pietrucha was an instructor electronic warfare officer in the F-4G Wild Weasel and the F-15E Strike Eagle, amassing 156 combat missions and taking part in 2.5 SAM kills over 10 combat deployments. As an irregular warfare operations officer, Colonel Pietrucha has two additional combat deployments in the company of US Army infantry, combat engineer, and military police units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is on the staff at Air Combat Command and is at Holloman AFB for the experiment. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force or the US Government.
https://warontherocks.com/2017/08/back-to-basics-the-light-attack-experiment-begins/

Mark
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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2017, 15:53:36 »
By USAF officer actually at Hollman (imagine such a piece by a serving Canadian officer):

Mark
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Well, since there is a Canadian there for that test, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a write-up about it either in official or unofficial circles.
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF looking for new light attack aircraft: O-AX
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2017, 16:00:45 »
But not publicly on a popular internet publication  ;)

Mark
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