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Thread: Random Thoughts on the Mighty Hog - Part 2

  1. #31
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    Spangdahlem Airmen deploy to Portugal for training

    by Tech. Sgt. Szu-Moy Ruiz
    Detachment 9, Air Force News Agency

    2/2/2007 - MONTE REAL AIR BASE, Portugal (AFNEWS) -- Airmen of the 81st Fighter Squadron left Germany and flew to Portugal to conduct training Jan. 5 through 31.

    The winter months at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, do not allow much flying time, so the Portuguese government opened its air space and allowed the 81st FS to conduct low-flying training flights.

    The Portuguese air force coordinated with the Americans to make sure everything went off without a hitch at Campo de Tiro de Alcochete, the only Portuguese firing range. This is also where most of the training occurred.

    The experience and training could not have gone better, said Capt. Jason Bartels, an 81st FS A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot.

    "The training has been phenomenal," he said. "You would think there would be a major problem with the language barrier because none of our people speak Portuguese but the international flying language is English."

    The A-10 pilots were able to shoot their 30 mm, seven-barrel Gatling guns at high- and low-flying altitudes. Pilots were also given the opportunity to get a ground's eye-view of their targets, something they are rarely able do.

    On this temporary duty assignment, Capt. David Marshall, an 81st FS A-10 pilot, had the opportunity to get up close and personal with his targets.

    "The target is a lot bigger than I thought it would be," Captain Marshall said. "When you're flying and trying to shoot the target from about a mile and a half away, it looks like this tiny dot. But, the target really is bigger than a barn door. I'm glad we came out here to train so that we can receive more experience."

    This exercise also gives the Portuguese and American forces a forum to exchange ideas. The things learned here can be shared with their Portuguese neighbors, who are also part of NATO and can deploy in support of the war on terrorism.

    "There are some things that (the Portuguese) thought about that we haven't and vice versa," Captain Bartels said. "It's just been a great experience."


    Spangdahlem Airmen deploy to Portugal for training

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    Friendly Fire, Basra, Iraq, 29 March 2003 (1)

    The British newspaper "The Sun" has released the presumed cockpit video from an A-10 involved in a friendly fire incident in which a British soldier, Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull, was killed.

    Below are a couple of links to the aforementioned video :

    Link#1

    Link#2

    Transcript in the next post.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 08 Feb 07, at 13:41.

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    Friendly Fire, Basra, Iraq, 29 March 2003 (2)

    Transcript of the video from the previous post :

    Notes :

    Lasting just over 15 minutes, it begins just before the A-10 Thunderbolt pilot spots the four British vehicles. The local time is 4.36 p.m., or 1.36 p.m. GMT.

    The pilot's wingman, in a second A-10, had the call sign POPOV35. The other main call signs are MANILA HOTEL, MANILA34, and LIGHTNING34 -- three U.S. Marine Corps Forward Air Controllers on the ground attached to British units.

    Later on, other call signs relay emergency cease-fire messages. They are SKY CHIEF, an American AWAC jet controlling the overall air battle and COSTA58, a British pilot nearby.

    The time code in hours, minutes and seconds is from the digital clock on the pilot's display.


    Transcript starts :

    1336.30 MANILA HOTEL:

    POPOV from MANILA HOTEL. Can you confirm you engaged that tube and those vehicles?

    1336.36 POPOV35:

    Affirm Sir. Looks like I’ve got multiple vehicles in reverts at about 800 metres to the north of your arty rounds. Can you switch fire, and shift fire, and get some arty rounds on those?

    1336.47 MANILA HOTEL:

    Roger, I understand that those are the impacts you observed earlier on my timing?

    1336.51 POPOV35:

    Affirmative.

    1336.52 MANILA HOTEL:

    Roger, standby. Let me make sure they’re not on another mission.

    1336.57 POPOV36:

    Hey, I got a four ship. Looks like we got orange panels on them though. Do we have any friendlies up in this area?

    1337.03 MANILA HOTEL:

    I understand that was north 800 metres.

    1337.12 MANILA HOTEL:

    POPOV, understand that was north 800 metres?

    1337.16 POPOV35:

    Confirm, north 800 metres. Confirm there are no friendlies this far north on the ground.

    1337.21 MANILA HOTEL:

    That is an affirm. You are well clear of friendlies.

    1337.25 POPOV35:

    Copy. I see multiple riveted vehicles. Some look like flatbed trucks and others are green vehicles. Can’t quite make out the type. Look like may be ZIL157s (Russian made trucks used by Iraqi army).

    1337.36 MANILA HOTEL:

    Roger. That matches our Intel up there. And understand you also have the other fixed wing up this push? For terminal control, if you can.

    1337.44 POPOV35:

    I’d love to. I didn’t talk to him yet.

    1337.46 MANILA HOTEL:

    Roger, I believe CASPER is up this push too. Two Super Tomcats.

    1337.54 POPOV35:

    Hey dude.

    1337.56 POPOV36:

    I got a four ship of vehicles that are evenly spaced along a road going north.

    1338.04 POPOV36:

    Look down at your right, 2 o’clock, at 10 o’clock low, there is a, left 10 o’clock low, look down there north along that canal, right there. Coming up just south of the village.

    1338.21 POPOV35:

    Evenly spaced? Where we strafed?

    1338.23 POPOV36:

    No. No. Further east, further west, right now. And there’s four or five of them right now heading up there.

    1338.29 POPOV35:

    No, I don’t have you visual.

    1338.30 POPOV36:

    I’m back at your 6 – no factor.

    1338.31 POPOV35:

    OK, now where’s this canal?

    1338.35 POPOV35:

    Don’t hit those F18s that are out there.

    1338.38 POPOV36:

    OK. Right underneath you. Right now, there’s a canal that runs north/south. There’s a small village, and there are vehicles that are spaced evenly there.

    1338.49 POPOV36:

    They look like they have orange panels on though.

    1338.51 POPOV35:

    He told me, he told me there’s nobody north of here.

    1338.52 POPOV36:

    I know. There, right on the river.

    1338.53 POPOV35:

    I see vehicles though, might be our original dudes.

    1339.09 POPOV36:

    They’ve got something orange on top of them.

    1339.10 POPOV35:

    POPOV for MANILA 3, is MANILA 34 in this area?

    1339.14 MANILA HOTEL:

    Say again?

    1339.15 POPOV35:

    MANILA HOTEL, is MANILA 34 in this area?

    1339.19 MANILA HOTEL:

    Negative. Understand they are well clear of that now.

    1339.23 POPOV35:

    OK, copy. Like I said, multiple riveted vehicles. They look like flatbed trucks. Are those your targets?

    1339.30 MANILA HOTEL:

    That’s affirm.

    1339.31 POPOV35:

    OK.

    1339.34 POPOV36:

    Let me ask you one question.

    1339.35 POPOV35:

    What’s that?

    1339.45 POPO36:

    (to MANILA HOTEL) Hey, tell me what type of rocket launchers you got up here?

    1339.50 POPOV36:

    I think they’re rocket launchers.

    1339.52 MANILA HOTEL:

    . . . (garbled) You were stepped on, say again.

    1339.54 POPOV35:

    MANILA HOTEL, fire your arty (artillery) up that 800 metres north, and see how we do.

    1340.01 MANILA HOTEL:

    Roger, standby for shot. They are getting adjustments to the guns now.

    1340.34 POPOV35:

    Copy.

    1340.09 POPOV36:

    Roll up your right wing and look right underneath you.

    1340.12 POPOV35:

    (angry) I know what you’re talking about.

    1340.13 POPOV36:

    OK, well they got orange rockets on them.

    1340.17 POPOV35:

    Orange rockets?

    1340.17 POPOV36:

    Yeah, I think so.

    1340.18 POPOV35:

    Let me look.

    1340.26 POPOV35:

    We need to think about getting home.

    1340.29 POPOV36:

    3.6 is what it says (a fuel measurement).

    1340.31 POPOV35:

    Yeah, I know. I’m talking time wise.

    1340.35 POPOV36:

    I think killing these damn rocket launchers, it would be great.

    (The tape then becomes garbled)

    1340.52 MANILA HOTEL:

    Yeah, POPOV36, MANILA HOTEL. I’ve got other aircraft up this push. Not sure they’re coming to me. Someone else might be working this freak.

    1341.00 POPOV35:

    Yeah, MANILA34 is working them, break, break.

    1340.12 POPOV36:

    Yeah, I see that, you see I’m going to roll down.

    1340.15 MANILA 34:

    Break, be advised MANILA34 is not working the F18s unless they are trying to check in with me, over.

    1341.21 POPOV35:

    Copy.

    1341.24 POPOV36:

    OK, do you see the orange things on top of them?

    1341.32 MANILA HOTEL:

    POPOV 36 from MANILA HOTEL. Are you able to switch to Crimson?

    1341.37 POPOV36:

    POPOV 36 is rolling in.

    1341.40 MANILA HOTEL:

    Tell you what.

    1341.41 POPOV35:

    I’m coming off west. You roll in. It looks like they are exactly what we’re talking about.

    1341.49 POPOV36:

    We got visual.

    1341.50 POPOV36:

    OK. I want to get that first one before he gets into town then.

    1341.53 POPOV35:

    Get him – get him.

    1341.55 POPOV36:

    All right, we got rocket launchers, it looks like. Number 2 is rolling in from the south to the north, and 2’s in.

    1342.04 POPOV35:

    Get it.

    POPOV36, “rolls in” for an attack and turns his A-10 into a vertical dive to strafe the British column, destroying two Scimitar armoured vehicles and killing L/Cpl of Horse Matty Hull.

    1342.09 - GUNFIRE -

    1342.18 POPOV35:

    I’m off your west.

    1342.22 POPOV35:

    Good hits.

    1342.29 POPOV36:

    Got a visual.

    1342.30 POPOV35:

    I got a visual. You’re at your high 10.

    1342.31 POPOV36:

    Gotcha.

    1342.30 POPOV36:

    That’s what you think they are, right?

    1342.39 POPOV35:

    It looks like it to me, and I got my goggles on them now.

    1342.59 POPOV35:

    OK, I’m looking at getting down low at this.

    1343.13 MANILA HOTEL:

    POPOV 36 from MANILA HOTEL, guns . . .

    1343.17 MANILA HOTEL:

    To engage those targets in the revetts (slopes).

    1343.24 POPOV36:

    It looks like he is hauling ass. Ha ha. Is that what you think they are?

    1343.34 POPOV36:

    1–2

    1343.35 POPOV35:

    It doesn’t look friendly.

    1343.38 POPOV36:

    OK, I’m in again from the south.

    1343.40 POPOV35:

    Ok.

    1343.47 - GUNFIRE -

    1343.54 LIGHTNING 34:

    POPOV 34, LIGHTNING 34.

    1344.09 POPOV35:

    POPOV 35, LIGHTNING 34 GO.

    1344.12 LIGHTNING 34:

    Roger, POPOV. Be advised that in the 3122 and 3222 group box you have friendly armour in the area. Yellow, small armoured tanks. Just be advised.

    1344.16 POPOV35:

    Ahh s***.

    1344.19 P0POV35:

    Got a — got a smoke.

    1344.21 LIGHTNING 34:

    Hey, POPOV34, abort your mission. You got a, looks we might have a blue on blue situation.

    1344.25 POPOV35:

    F***. God bless it.

    1344.29 POPOV35:

    POPOV 34.

    1344.35 POPOV35:

    F***, f***, f***.

    1344.36 MANILA 34:

    POPOV34, this is MANILA 34. Did you copy my last, over?

    1344.39 POPOV35:

    I did.

    1344.47 POPOV35:

    Confirm those are friendlies on that side of the canal.

    1344.51 POPOV35:

    S***.

    1344.58 MANILA 34:

    Standby POPOV.

    1345.04 POPOV36:

    God dammit.

    1344.14 MANILA HOTEL:

    Hey POPOV 36, from MANILA HOTEL.

    1344.25 MANILA 34:

    OK POPOV. Just west of the 3-4 easting. On the berm up there, the 3422 area is where we have our friendlies, over.

    1344.39 POPOV35:

    All right, POPOV 35 has smoke. Let me know how those friendlies are right now, please.

    1344.45 MANILA 34:

    Roger, standby.

    1344.49 POPOV35:

    Gotta go home dude.

    1344.50 POPOV36:

    Yeah, I know. We’re f***ed.

    1345.54 POPOV35:

    S***.

    1346.01 POPOV36:

    As you cross the circle, you are 3 o’clock low.

    1346.03 POPOV35:

    Roger.

    1346.12 POPOV35:

    POPOV 35 is Bingo. Let us know what’s happening.

    13446.15 MANILA HOTEL:

    Roger. We are getting that information for you right now. Standby.

    1346.20 POPOV36:

    F***.

    1346.47 MANILA 34:

    POPOV, this is MANILA 34 over.

    1346.51 POPOV35:

    Go.

    1346.55 MANILA 34:

    POPOV 4, MANILA 34 over.

    1347.01 POPOV35:

    Go.

    1347.02 MANILA 34:

    We are getting an initial brief that there was one killed and one wounded, over.

    1347.09 POPOV35:

    Copy. RTB (return to base).

    1347.18 POPOV35:

    I’m going to be sick.

    1347.24 POPOV36:

    Ah f***.

    1347.48 POPOV35:

    Did you hear?

    1347.51 POPOV36:

    Yeah, this sucks.

    1347.52 POPOV35:

    We’re in jail dude.

    1347.59 POPOV36:

    Aaaahhhh.

    1348.12 SKY CHIEF:

    MANILA this is SKY CHIEF over.

    1348.18 MANILA34:

    This is MANILA 34, send SKY CHIEF.

    1348.22 COSTA58:

    SKY CHIEF, SKY CHIEF. COSTA 58.

    1348.25 MANILA HOTEL:

    SKY CHIEF, this is MANILA HOTEL.

    1348.30 COSTA58:

    SKY CHIEF, SKY CHIEF. COSTA 58.

    1348.41 SKY CHIEF:

    Relaying for TWINACT, the A-10s are running against friendlies.

    1348.47 COSTA58:

    POPOV 35, this is COSTA58. Relaying message for TWINACT. Abort, abort.

    1348.54 SKY CHIEF:

    MANILA how copy A-10s are running against friendlies. Abort. Over.

    1349.07 COSTA58:

    From TWINACT, abort, abort.

    1349. 11 POPOV35:

    POPOV 35 aborting.

    1349.14 COSTA58:

    We will relay that back to TWINACT.

    1349.18 POPOV36:

    F***. God f***ing s***.

    1350.21 POPOV36:

    Dammit. F***ing damn it.

    1351.17 P0POV36:

    God dammit. F*** me dead (weeping).

    1351.25 POPOV35:

    You with me?

    1351.27 POPOV36:

    Yeah.

    1351.30 POPOV35:

    They did say there were no friendlies.

    1351.33 POPOV36:

    Yeah, I know that thing with the orange panels is going to screw us. They look like orange rockets on top.

    1351.48 POPOV35:

    Your tape still on?

    1351.49 POPOV36:

    Yeah.

    1351.54 POPOV35:

    Mine is end of tape.

    Transcript ends.


    Links :

    CNN

    The Sun
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 08 Feb 07, at 15:02.

  4. #34
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    This blows.
    Fortitude.....The strength to persist...The courage to endure.

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    Air Force Reserve A-10s get 'smart' systems
    by Tech. Sgt. Leo Brown
    442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

    2/14/2007 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. (AFNEWS) -- You can build just about anything on a good foundation.

    Air Force reservists from the 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 303rd Fighter Squadron here are being reminded of that as five of the 442nd Fighter Wing's A-10 Thunderbolt IIs are being equipped with "smart" multi-function color display systems.

    This technology, new to the A-10, is manufactured by the Raytheon Company, headquartered in Waltham, Mass. It will provide a host of cutting-edge capabilities for the Air Force Reserve Command pilots, including increased awareness and communication.

    "The A-10 was designed as a bare-bones airplane," said Maj. David Kurle, 442nd FW chief of public affairs. "It wasn't designed with all these modifications in mind. When it came into the inventory in 1975, no one had any idea it was going to last as long as it has."

    Currently, the Air Force plans to keep the A-10 in its inventory another 20 years or more.

    "The original A-10 was just an aircraft with weapons systems on it. It wasn't integrated to the Army or to the battlefield at all, " said Lt. Col. Mark Ernewein, assistant director of operations for the 303rd Fighter Squadron.

    The 442nd AMXS began installing the new systems in 2006. Colonel Ernewein said the new technology "is a huge jump for the A-10s."

    "We are now joining the data-link world," he said. "(This) is just like the Internet for the armed forces. That's the No. 1 asset this brings to us. The Army has about half their assets as part of the data-link world."

    "The data-link is just one aspect of what it does," Colonel Ernewein said.

    The system also serves as a display monitor for Litening II targeting pods and Maverick missiles.

    "It runs the targeting pod and captures images that can be sent to personnel on the ground," Colonel Ernewein said. "It lets us pass targeting information, imagery and video between ground personnel and fliers, as well as to command and control with increased resolution.

    "We're replacing a (black and white) monitor built in the 1970s," he said.

    Tech. Sgt. Rik Davis, an avionics technician with the 442nd AMXS's specialist flight, said, "It helps (pilots) pinpoint targets instead of having to say, 'It's the building to the right of the white gate' or something like that."

    As a pilot who will use the new system in the A-10, Colonel Ernewein had high praise for the technology.

    "It's a network that's modular so not everybody has to be in a line of sight with everyone else," he said. "It's just like the Internet. I see a target and I can make that my sensor point of interest. My wingman will see my call sign (on the screen in another A-10), and I can capture his sensor's point of interest. I can fly his targeting pod from my aircraft. It's much more streamlined, efficient and much more complex.

    The new system will enhance situational awareness.

    "It has a situational awareness page," the colonel said. "It has moving maps, as well as imagery and range rings. The system has its own processors in it. It's two of the fastest processors in any aircraft. It's modular and inexpensive and can be linked with any modification of the aircraft."

    For example, the colonel used to carry several printed maps on the aircraft; now he can get everything he needs on a small computer thumb drive.

    "When I get a target, I can sort out where the nearest friendlies are located, which is important for reducing fratricide," he said.

    Along with imagery, he can overlay the "order of battle" on the ground.

    Colonel Ernewein also noted that the system allows pilots, through the "situational awareness data link," which the Army also possesses, to see friendly and enemy locations.

    The increased technology is a bit of double-edged sword, according to Colonel Ernewein, because it can be "overwhelming."

    "We're developing tactics, techniques and procedures for how to use this system," he said. "There're so many capabilities in it, you have to narrow down specific tasks for our mission on which to focus."

    None of this capability would be possible, however, were it not for the know-how and dedication of the maintenance Airmen installing these multi-function color display systems.

    "Once you run and install the wiring and the line-replaceable units, you have to do all the follow-on operational checks," Sergeant Davis said. "A whole new control stick has to be installed with new buttons. There are dozens of checks, and that involves three or four shops. Crew chiefs have to put the aircraft on jacks and do landing-gear retraction. The armaments shop does gun-function checks."

    This process, according to Sergeant Davis, typically takes more than 200 hours.

    Maintenance troops also have to contend with the simple mathematical problem of currently possessing only five systems for the wing's fleet of 24 A-10s.

    As planes go in for phase inspections or other repairs, the systems must be taken out and re-installed in other aircraft to train pilots and keep them current on the system.

    "We're learning as we go," Sergeant Davis said. "I think from what I'm being told, though, we're having luck."

    While such work can be tedious and frustrating, Sergeant Davis said it simply must be done.

    "We have to do it," he said "There are no ifs, ands or buts. For a modification, it hasn't gone too bad. We're getting it done, and they're flying with it."

    On the flipside, Sergeant Davis said pilots, after flying A-10s with the system, provide feedback to maintenance by describing what they experienced in the air. Also, additional systems are scheduled to arrive in the future and will be installed in the wing's entire fleet of A-10s.

    "The pilots will say, 'It's actually doing this,'" he said. "So we use that information to troubleshoot (the system). It's a lot of playing with buttons and figuring out what they do."

    As bugs are worked out to make the A-10 more effective, Sergeant Davis said the 442nd FW is not alone in this process.

    Four other A-10 wings are at various stages of implementing this system.

    (Courtesy of Air Force Reserve Command News Service)

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  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shipwreck View Post
    [b]

    "When I get a target, I can sort out where the nearest friendlies are located, which is important for reducing fratricide," he said.
    Great document Shipwreck, about time to an amazing aircraft to have on call and these mods/upgrades will go a long way towards reducing the potential of the above. A great relieve for those on the ground and equally reducing the stress level for the flyers.
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    F-15 Strike Eagles take over close-air-support mission at Bagram
    by Staff Sgt. Carlos Diaz
    U.S. Central Command Air Forces Public Affairs

    2/10/2007 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFNEWS) -- The F-15 Strike Eagle recently swapped out with the A-10 Thunderbolt II to assume responsibility of the close-air-support mission here.

    The F-15s are assigned to the 391st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and are deployed from the 391st Fighter Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.

    Approximately 200 squadron members collaborate to make the CAS mission happen every day.

    "It's been a significant integration for us," said Capt. Joe Ryther, 391st EFS weapons system officer. "So far, it's been a great experience."

    That experience involved the completion of a $68 million runway and aircraft ramp in December. The runway and aircraft ramp can handle most aircraft in the military's inventory.

    Captain Ryther explained the type of CAS the F-15s provide.

    "When a Joint Terminal Attack Controller is on the ground with the troops, he'll call for airpower. Then we'll go to a certain location to monitor from the air and wait for them to ask for support. At that point, they call in for air support and talk us onto the target area by giving us coordinates of a target they need destroyed."

    Captain Ryther is proud of the CAS mission.

    "We're very proud to be able to help out our ground troops," he said. "We come over here and we're really a support asset to them. They are the backbone of what's going on over here. Every day I see them, it's an honor for me to help."

    The captain points out that one of the main reasons the F-15s conduct the mission flawlessly is because of the maintenance performed on them.

    The work the maintainers perform is nothing short of magic, Captain Ryther said.
    One of those magicians is Senior Airman Robert James.

    "We do launch recovery of the jet," Airman James said. "Basically, we're in communication with the pilots the whole time during launch, going around the system doing checks like flight controls, brakes, lights, etc."

    Airman James is a tactical aircraft maintenance technician. He noted one of the major things that makes his job possible.

    "Team cohesion is a must," he said. "Here, we have to make things happen together. It's something that a lot of people in the world love to do," he expressed. "I get to be around these jets and see them fly and hear what they do up there. That just gives me a great deal of satisfaction, and it's just a great piece of machinery to work on."

    According to Airman James, his job defines the Air Force's "bombs on target" phrase.

    "It really puts you right there in the center of the action."

    "The whole aircraft maintenance unit knows we're the first F-15 fighter squadron to be based out of Afghanistan," Airman James said. "So this is our legacy, and we're trying to set the pace."

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    Close Air Support
    An Employment Concept


    Major William A. Gorton
    Air University Review, March-April 1970

    A conversation between two forward air controllers (FAC’S) recently returned from combat tours with Army units in South Vietnam might sound something like this:

    First FAC: Joe, which bird did you find best for close air support?

    Second FAC: No question in my mind on that one, Sam—the good old A-1. Man, could those guys put’ em in there with that bird! Just where I wanted’em—every time!

    First FAC: Yeah, they were good all right, but in my area their response time was pretty long. Besides, those F-4s really carried the goodies. When I needed the heavy stuff, and lots of it, I sure liked to see those F-4s coming!

    Second FAC: The A-1s did take some time getting to me, but I normally preplanned a couple “on station,” and that way I had ’em right over the battlefield just waiting for Charlie to show.


    The conversation is just getting started, and they will soon be talking about the relative merits of B-57s, F-l00s, A-37s, AC-47s, all types of air munitions, and equipment not yet on the drawing boards. Should an Army troop join the conversation, it could go well into the night.

    It should not be surprising that there are differences of opinion regarding which aircraft or combinations of aircraft are best for providing close air support to ground troops. The arguments generally center on whether it is best to employ a specialized aircraft designed solely for close air support or a multipurpose aircraft with greater utility over the full spectrum of tactical fighter missions.

    However, a case can be made for a close air support concept that employs a tactical fighter force comprising a limited number of specialized close air support aircraft and a greater number of multipurpose tactical fighters. This concept of dose air support employment will be discussed in the context of the air and ground war in South Vietnam. That environment has been selected for two reasons. First, it is generally conceded that a “permissive air environment” has existed in South Vietnam; that is an environment in which we have had air supremacy and the enemy anti-aircraft threat is of a low order—primarily small arms and automatic weapons (1). Because of the characteristics of a specialized close air support aircraft, a “permissive air environment” is desirable in order to utilize the aircraft fully in the role for which it was designed. The second reason for selecting the South Vietnam environment is that my own combat experience, as an Air Liaison Officer (ALO) with an independent Army brigade, is limited to that area.

    Before considering how tactical fighters might be employed to enhance our ability to provide timely and effective close air support, let us review some typical target situations and the requirements generated by those targets.

    Targets and target requirements

    The character of the ground war in South Vietnam is diverse. A friendly ground force engaged in an operation may make contact with a well-equipped North Vietnamese Army (NVA) unit, and the ensuing battle may last for days. On the other hand, that same ground force on the same operation may be confronted by a small guerrilla unit, and the engagement may last only minutes. Because of this diversity, the close air support forces supporting the ground operation must be able to provide not only rapid response but sustained response as well. Yet often when a ground element begins to receive enemy fire, considerable time elapses before the size and type of enemy force can be determined. What was thought at first to be a small Viet Cong force may turn out to be an NVA or VC main force unit that is dug in and ready to fight. In both instances there may be a call for rapid close air support to silence the initial enemy firing position; in the latter, however, there will also be a need for follow-on and sustained close air support.

    Because small guerrilla units are well trained in the tactics of dispersal when confronted by a superior force, such a target is normally short lived and must be struck immediately. Another consideration is that only the target should be struck. Often a hamlet guerrilla unit will fire from a position in or near a populated area. It is then important that our firepower be “surgically” applied, thereby limiting destruction of nearby life and property to an absolute minimum.

    Today, in Vietnam, the war is still primarily characterized by small-unit operations, brief encounters of South Vietnamese or allied units with the VC. Although these engagements make few headlines, the necessity of destroying the guerrillas’ ability to terrorize and control the populace is still a paramount consideration. How can tactical air power be effectively and efficiently employed to aid friendly ground units in dealing with both the local VC and the NVA?

    Force employment

    In order to meet the diverse close air support requirements generated in South Vietnam, our force employment concept must be flexible. We must be able to concentrate our tactical fighter forces rapidly in support of a major ground engagement while, at the same time, providing rapid response against fleeting targets. But these two requirements, rapid response and concentration of force, create a dilemma.

    The best way to provide rapid response is to place tactical fighters “on station” over the ground operation, thereby reducing response time to the few minutes required to attack a fleeting target. However, to position our force in that manner would require many sorties to cover a single ground operation. For example, let us assume that we employ multi-purpose F-4 aircraft, in flights of three, each flight “on station” for one hour, for a twelve-hour period (2). This would require 36 F-4 sorties to be flown in support of a single ground operation. Should no enemy contact be made, it would mean that 36 bomb loads would be dropped on secondary targets. Thus the number of sorties flown would be considerable when viewed from a theater-wide perspective. The cost of bombs, fuel, and manpower required to sustain such air operations would be high. The total number of tactical fighter aircraft needed to do the job would be larger than we now have or can expect to have in the future. It becomes obvious, when considering all the ground operations which may be taking place at one time, that the “on station” tactic is an inefficient way to employ multipurpose fighters on a day-today basis. Furthermore, we lose flexibility, since a large portion of the fighter fleet would be airborne or tasked to support a specific ground unit, which could well cause delays in our ability to concentrate our force rapidly against a lucrative target.

    Conversely, the best way to provide for rapid concentration of force in response to a major ground engagement is to keep our fighters in a ground alert status, fully loaded and ready to take off as soon as it is confirmed that a major engagement is under way. But this tactic is not acceptable for two reasons. First, rapid response to fleeting targets would be precluded. And second, the determination of what is or is not a major ground engagement is rarely clear at the outset of a ground action. This problem might bring about disastrous delays in providing air support.

    It appears therefore that, if we are to meet the requirements of rapid response and concentration of force effectively and efficiently, the proper tactical fighter force employment concept must be a compromise between “on station” and ground alert that will provide the needed flexibility.

    The “cork-puller concept”

    The concept of a close air support force described here as “cork-puller” consists primarily of the F-4 and A-7 aircraft, plus a new aircraft created for the purpose of illustrating the concept. We will call this new specialized close air support aircraft the A-10. In addition, O-2 and OV-10 FAC aircraft will be employed as they are presently used in South Vietnam. The employment of the USAF Tactical Air Control System (TACS) will also remain the same. Some aircraft presently in use in South Vietnam, such as the F-100 and B-57, are not considered because it is assumed that they will not be part of the tactical inventory during the time period when the concept could be employed. The performance characteristics of the F-4, OV-10, and O-2, being well known already, will not be discussed; however, the A-7 and A-10 require some explanation.

    The A-7 will soon enter the tactical fighter inventory. It is a subsonic, ground attack aircraft that can deliver a wide variety of munitions in adverse weather, both day and night. One of its outstanding characteristics is the ability to stay “on station” for extended periods of time. A drawback is that it must be operated from a main operating base (MOB) because of its need for lengthy, prepared runways for takeoff and landing and considerable maintenance support facilities.

    The A-10, as a new addition to the tactical fighter forces, would have the following characteristics:

    Simplicity: The aircraft will be easily maintained at austere forward operating bases (FOB’S) and capable of high utilization rates. It will normally require only fuel, oil, and munitions between flights. It will be capable of operating on a sustained basis from an FOB with a 2000-foot semiprepared runway and minimum maintenance facilities.

    Maneuverability and speed: The A-10 will have a low wing loading which will enable it to deliver air munitions under low ceilings and rapidly maneuver for target reattack. High-speed flight will not be a characteristic of the A-10, having been traded off in favor of low-speed munitions delivery.

    Armor protection: The A-10 will be heavily armored. It will have critical component armor protection against smallarms and automatic weapons through 14.5-mm. Its power plant will be heat-shielded to provide a low infrared signature.

    Munitions: The A-10 will use munitions tailored for the close air support role. These munitions will consist primarily of small, 100-to 250-pound bombs, napalm bombs, and cluster bomb unit (CBU) canisters. In addition, the A-10 will have four low-rate-of-fire, high-velocity 30-mm cannons. The pilot will be able to elect to fire all guns at once or separate pairs of guns.

    Endurance: The A-10 will remain “on station” at 5000-feet altitude or below for a minimum of 5 hours, with reserve fuel for landing.

    Avionics: The A-10 has no avionics per se. Only basic flight instruments and navigational aids, such as TACAN are installed.

    Fire control: The A-10 will have a simple ground attack sight. Possibly a fixed reticle sight will be all that is required.

    Radios: In addition to the normal UHF radio, the A-10 will also have an FM radio for direct contact with ground troops and a VHF radio for FAC communications.

    In short, the A-10 is a simple, rugged, and relatively inexpensive aircraft wholly specialized to provide “on station” close air support. As will soon be seen, it is the “cork-puller” in the “cork-puller concept.”

    As major components, the concept calls for A-10 aircraft staged from FOB’S and flying preplanned “on station” missions, backed up by A-7 and F-4 aircraft at MOB’S on ground alert status, ready to handle any immediate and certain preplanned requests for close air support (3).

    The A-10 will be employed in flights of two aircraft on four-hour “on station” missions. Each aircraft will be armed with a large number of small bombs, possibly as many as 36 in number, plus a full load of 30-mm ammunition. A flight will be tasked to support a particular ground operation and will be controlled by an airborne FAC. The decision as to whether A-l0s will be requested to support a particular ground operation will be made by the appropriate ground unit commander with the advice of his ALO. Normally, an A-10 mission will be requested only when current intelligence indicates that enemy contact is likely or when the importance of the operation is such that rapid response is mandatory. Theater A-10 forces will be apportioned and allocated by the joint task force commander or unified commander and his component commanders, respectively.

    The ground alert forces, the A-7s and F-4s, will be scheduled to stand 5-, 15-, and 30-minute alert. The A-7s will meet the 5-minute alert requirement and as much of the 15-minute alert as the size of the force allows. The F-4s will cover the remaining ground alert requirements. All aircraft standing alert will have mixed munitions loads. The remaining theater fighter forces that have been allocated for close air support will be tasked to perform preplanned missions, such as landing zone prestrikes. The proportion of the F-4 and A-7 fleets that are scheduled for ground alert and preplanned missions will be determined on a daily basis dependent upon the ground and air tactical situations.

    How might this concept work in response to an actual operation? First, let’s assume that three A-10 missions have been preplanned to provide “on station” coverage of a particular ground operation. The operation is a brigade-size search and destroy mission which is attempting to locate and engage a VC main force unit reported in the area. At 0600 hours, two A-l0s check in with the airborne FAC, “on station” over the ground operation. For the first four hours, the friendly ground forces make no contact with the enemy, and the first A-10 flight is directed by the FAC to a preselected secondary target. The fighters quickly release their bombs and return to the FOB to refuel and rearm.

    The second A-10 flight checks in with the FAC at 1000 hours for the next four-hour mission. Soon after the second A-10 flight’s arrival, a ground element makes contact with an enemy force of unknown size. The ground element commander calls the FAC and requests an air strike. At the moment the air strike is requested, the FAC, through his ALO, requests that a ground alert flight be scrambled. It is important to note that the ground unit did not specifically request that the ground alert mission be scrambled, although there was a request for fighters “on station” for the operation. The reason for this Air Force-initiated request is twofold. First, the A-10 flight is soon to be expended on a target, and the next A-10 flight is not scheduled to be available until 1400 hours. Something is needed to fill the gap that will be created in the “on station” coverage schedule. And second, the size and type of the target are still unknown. It might be the VC main force unit or only hamlet guerrillas. If it is the former, then massive close air support may be needed, and getting the ground alert aircraft on the way to the target early could pay great dividends.

    Using 30 minutes as an average response time from a five-minute ground alert posture, the FAC keeps the A-10 flight on-target until the A-7 flight arrives. This is accomplished by expending only a few bombs on each pass at the target so as to keep constant firepower on the target for the 30-minute period. During the period that the A-10 flight is on-target, more information is gained on the nature of the target. This information is provided by the ground element commander, the FAC, and the A-10 pilots. Frequently the FAC is better able than the ground commander to determine what kind of target is being engaged. From his elevated view of the battlefield, he can spot enemy troop movements or positions that may be obscured from ground observation. Also, the type and quantity of ground fire directed against him and the fighters provide a good indication of the size and type of the enemy unit. In any event, a decision must be made during the first 30 minutes of target engagement as to whether a second A-7 strike will be needed. If the unit commander requests it, another A-7 flight will be scrambled. The first A-7 flight will then be directed on the target, while the second A-7 flight will provide the gap filler in the “on station” schedule. Once again, the FAC should request the second flight of A-7s if, based on his experience and knowledge of the situation, the target is lucrative. He thus once again anticipates ground request for air firepower.

    This chain of decision and request will continue until the target is effectively neutralized. If the target is the beginning of a major ground engagement, fighter forces can be employed in a continuing series, thereby providing the necessary concentration of force. If the target is a small VC unit and quickly neutralized, then we can easily revert to an “on station” posture. In this concept of employment, the A-10 represents the “cork” in the fighter force “tub.” When the FAC employs the A-10 flight against a “hot” target, he effectively pulls the cork which triggers a flow of fighter aircraft to the target area.

    Advantages of the cork-puller concept

    While the greatest advantage of the cork-puller concept is that it provides for both rapid response to fleeting targets and concentration of force in major engagements, there are some additional advantages as well. One such advantage deals with the cost of employing the fighter forces.

    In a war characterized by small-unit engagements, the lion’s share of the close air support requirements would be met by the A-10 force. Because of the A-10 characteristics of simplicity and maintainability, the cost of operating such a force would be considerably less than the A-7/F-4 force in the same role. In the target engagement example, only three A-10 missions of two aircraft each were necessary, whether or not a target was engaged. This is a 1.5 sortie rate per four A-10 aircraft assigned, an easy rate to maintain on a sustained basis for as simple an aircraft as the A-10. Furthermore, only a maximum of three secondary targets were struck, thereby reducing munitions expended.

    Cost savings will also accrue through the use of small air munitions on the A-10. Because of the small size of the munitions, they will require little or no special equipment for up-loading on the aircraft; in fact, many could be man-handled.

    Another cost advantage is realized in A-7/ F-4 ground alert flights not scrambled. Since these flights are primarily employed in support of engaged troops, their use is in direct relationship to the number of “hot” targets generated. The A-7/ F-4 force application against secondary targets is held to a minimum, since the only time they will be required to strike a secondary target is when they are performing a gap-filling mission in the “on station” schedule. The cork-puller concept therefore provides for the most effective and productive use of the costlier A-7/F-4 force.

    Another advantage of this concept is that the A-10 is an ideal aircraft for use by USAF Special Operations Forces (SOF) in counter-guerrilla operations—in fact, in its design, consideration should be given to SOF requirements. In this regard, it should be readily exportable through the Military Assistance Program to developing nations to aid in their efforts against subversive insurgency.

    Impact on fighter force structure

    In adopting the cork-puller concept, one must consider its impact on the capability of the total fighter force to conduct effective operations at higher levels of conflict. Because the A-10 requires a permissive air environment, its utility in the close air support role will decrease as the air environment becomes less permissive. Since we must be prepared to conduct effective tactical air operations at all levels of conflict, it is apparent that we cannot afford many A-10s in the tactical fighter force structure. For, with large numbers of A-l0s in the force, the overall capability of the total force to effectively conduct other tactical air operations would be reduced. (This assumes that the A-10 will be purchased in lieu of multipurpose fighters.) Yet, proper execution of the cork-puller concept will not require large numbers of A-10 aircraft. In view of the numerous cost advantages which will accrue in application of the concept, it is possible that the required A-10 force could be added to the fighter force without a significant increase in cost of total force operations.

    Another consideration in regard to this concept is the lower utilization rates of the A-7/ F-4 forces. Under the concept, A-7/F-4 forces will operate primarily from a ground alert posture in response to “hot” targets, and it is quite possible that low sortie rates could result. This might cause pressures to build for an overall fighter force reduction on the basis that we have more multipurpose tactical fighters than we can efficiently utilize. But, in my opinion, efficient and effective fighter force utilization is not measured by the number of sorties flown or the number of bombs dropped; it is measured only by the number of enemy killed and supplies destroyed.

    The cork-puller concept represents my ideas on how a specialized close air support aircraft could be combined with our multipurpose fighters to enhance our ability to provide responsive and massive air firepower. I am in hopes that the concept will, at the very least, stimulate further thinking about the subject of close air support and how the Air Force can continue to improve its capability in this important role.

    Notes:

    (1) There have been times, as at Khe Sanh and A Shau, when the enemy has mounted a significant antiaircraft threat. However, these instances are exceptions to the general state of the environment.

    (2) The three-aircraft flight composition is typical for F-4 and F-100 operations in South Vietnam.

    (3) This is not to say that the A-10 would not operate from an MOB or, for that matter, from a field more austere than an FOB; e.g., a road segment. The area and location of potential and actual ground operations would be a primary consideration in positioning theater A-10 forces.


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Contributor

    Major William A. Gorton (M.B.A., Auburn University) is an Operations Staff Officer, Europe/NATO Branch, Plans Directorate, Hq USAF. After flying training, 1955, he served in TAC and USAFE flying F-104, F-100, F-86, and F-84 aircraft. Subsequent assignments have been with the 101st Airborne Division as a Forward Air Controller and Air Liaison Officer; and with the Fighter Commitments Branch, Directorate of Fighter Operations, Hq TAC. Major Gorton is a graduate of Squadron Officer School and Air Command and Staff College.

  9. #39
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    Close air support is U.S. priority in Iraq, Afghanistan

    By Chris Pocock
    Aviation International News
    Dubai November 2005 Edition

    The Dubai airshow is a benign environment. As you cruise the air-conditioned halls, or sip your drink while watching airplanes cavort in the sunny skies, it’s easy to forget that war is going on. In the air. Just 800 miles from here. That is roughly the distance from Dubai to Baghdad in one direction, and to Kandahar in another. Every single day, more than 250 sorties are being flown in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan (OIF and OEF). This massive, ongoing effort is controlled from Al Udeid airbase in Qatar, the home of U.S. Central Command’s Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC).

    Maj. Gen. Allen Peck runs the CAOC. He met with Aviation International News during a recent visit to London, where he spoke at IQPC’s Close Air Support Conference. This former F-15 pilot was a key planner for Operation Allied Force over Serbia in Kosovo in 1998-1999.

    What is the role of airpower now, in two conflicts where we hear much about troops versus insurgents on the ground, but relatively little about the air action? “We’ve narrowed our focus to support for the ground commanders,” Peck explained. “They request our support every day, and they must approve all our strikes. I have one section airborne continuously over Afghanistan, and two or three over Iraq.”

    Multinational Fleet

    An air section comprises a half-dozen or more combat jets. Over Iraq, these can be USAF A-10s, F-15s or F-16s, U.S. Navy F-14s or F-18s, or British Tornado GR-4s. Over Afghanistan, there are typically USAF A-10s and B-52s, British Harrier GR-7s, Dutch or Belgian F-16s, and French Mirage 2000s. To keep them airborne, about 30 air refueling sorties are needed each day, from a mix of U.S., British and French tanker aircraft. At least another 150 sorties are flown each day by airlifters, mostly U.S. C-17s and C-130s but with contributions from British, Canadian, Japanese and Korean C-130s.

    Peck explained that close-air support (CAS) is now the priority, and many of the targets are in urban areas. “We’ve adapted pretty well, especially since CAS was not previously a primary mission for our B-52s and F-16s. The recent experience in OEF and OIF has revitalized CAS. It has also enhanced the role of our joint tactical air controllers (JTACs) on the ground–they are true heroes, and many have been highly decorated,” he told AIN.

    JTACs play a vital role in approving strikes on enemy targets that, nowadays, are often in close proximity to friendly forces and noncombatants. The media is quick to report the consequences when things go wrong–innocent bystanders killed or injured, and homes destroyed. Less well-reported are the rigorous procedures which have been devised to ensure that the right target is hit with the right weapon from the right aircraft.

    Peck described to the IQPC conference how today’s sophisticated gridded reference graphics can really contribute to accurate urban CAS, provided that they are well-prepared, with updated inputs from both air and ground commanders. By adding a terrain elevation database, the fidelity of these graphics is good enough to provide coordinates for a GPS-guided weapon; display the line-of-sight to a potential target for both pilots and ground controllers; help determine which weapon should be employed; and the best axis of attack.

    “The bottom line: the final control authority must have an accurate picture of a complex and dynamic environment,” Peck told the conference. Here is where the JTACs come in. Ideally with “their eyes on the target,” they are that final authority. JTACs are now using a new laptop system called ROVER which provides them with real-time video feed from the targeting pod of a strike jet patrolling overhead (or, alternatively, from the video camera of a Predator UAV). Therefore, any ambiguity between what the JTAC sees and what the pilot sees can be resolved.

    Collateral Damage

    The potential for collateral damage is always a primary consideration. Peck said that heavier, 2,000-pound-class weapons are seldom employed in urban CAS, because their blast and fragmentation effect is too scattered. “A single 500 pound [munition] or less is currently the weapon of choice, and the 100-pound warhead of a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator is often enough to do the job,” the major general said. By using a fuse delay, a weapon can penetrate the target before exploding, further mitigating the chance of collateral damage.

    The GPS-guided JDAM can be programmed for various angles of impact–another means of controlling blast effects. It is the weapon of choice when accurate coordinates are available, Peck explained. But for mobile targets, laser-guided weapons such as the Hellfire, the Maverick and the GBU-12 bomb are preferred. The urban CAS armory also includes guns–20 to 30-mm caliber from combat jets and 40- and 105-mm from the AC-130 gunship.

    Looking to the future, Peck told AIN that he would like to see the 250-pound small diameter bomb in the inventory as soon as possible.

    What else could make the difficult mission of urban CAS easier? “The ability to select the appropriate fusing and yield for air-dropped weapons in real-time, from the cockpit. You might even want to command a weapon to drop inertly,” said Peck. He also looks forward to more digital connectivity, so that the JTACs can transmit the nine-line message that identifies a new target to pilots. Today, the “nine-line” is usually communicated by voice over a secure radio link, which is a potential source of error. Going further, Peck sees the day when a ground-based laser marks a target and transmits the coordinates automatically, thus eliminating the need for any human to enter them by hand.

    This senior airman is clearly doing his best to support two difficult, dangerous and controversial conflicts in a professional manner. Despite the best efforts of air power, however, U.S. and allied troops are being killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan on an almost daily basis. It seems a long way from the poolside of a luxury hotel in Dubai–but it isn’t.

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    A-10 Makeover On The Horizon

    By Michael Burnett
    Military Aerospace Technology, Online Edition
    Volume 6, Issue 1
    Published: Feb 21, 2007

    The A-10 Thunderbolt II, aka the Warthog, has long been admired for its effectiveness in achieving its mission of close air support of ground forces. But as U.S. Air Force (USAF) pilots will see in the next year or so, a comprehensive upgrade package is about to make the attack jet an integrated part of the total force, thereby boosting its effectiveness even more.

    Major Drew English, the USAF program manager for A-10C Precision Engagement, told Military Aerospace Technology that the Precision Engagement Suite 3 overhaul of the A-10 represented an unparalleled opportunity to bring added strength to the Air Force.

    “It’s the largest upgrade the A-10 has ever had by far,” English declared. “The general gist of it is to bring the A-10 from being an analog jet to a digital jet.”

    English oversees Precision Engagement from the 422 Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) near Las Vegas, Nev. One of the most exciting changes coming to the A-10 through Precision Engagement is a fully integrated targeting pod that brings the Lockheed Martin Sniper XR Targeting Pod along with a Northrop Grumman LITENING Extended Range Pod, English said.

    “What the A-10’s are flying right now in theater is kind of a patchwork,” English noted. “The A-10 never had a program that really integrated targeting pod, smart weapons, digital stores management, all of that kind of stuff together with the navigation system. This ties all of that stuff together.”

    The addition of the Digital Stores Management System (DSMS) provides the capability to field smart weapons, such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD). These capabilities have required power upgrades to the jet as well. The A-10C, as the improved jet is designated, will have two new electric buses to power all of the electronics upgrades. Six of its 11 pylons will have MIL-STD-1760 connections for handling the smart munitions.

    As far as precision control goes, A-10 pilots will experience the power of Hands-On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS), adapted from the F-16 Falcon and F-15E Eagle.

    “HOTAS allows me to use my fingers and hands on a bunch of different buttons and never take my hands off the stick and throttle for tactical flying. The A-10 has never had that full integration,” English described.

    But perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Precision Engagement Suite 3 enhancement is providing a networking data link to the A-10C to provide situational awareness and integration with the rest of the armed forces assets in theater.

    “I would say the biggest one we have coming impact wise is the data link. It will shape our tactics and it bring us into a new era, probably as much as night vision goggles did when we got those in the mid-’90s,” English said.

    English anticipates fielding the A-10C data link sometime around March 2007 as part of the first increment of Precision Engagement implementation. The addition of the data link includes fully integrating the latest Raytheon-built Situational Awareness Data Link (SADL) radio into the Precision Engagement hardware and software suite.

    After that time, the second increment of Precision Engagement begins. That involves the installation of smart munitions and increased targeting pod and weapons delivery capabilities, English summarized.

    Currently, the Weapons School at Nellis AFB started the year with three test jets modified; five more were scheduled to arrive last June. Modifications to Weapons School jets should be complete by October 2006, English said, and then operational units start to send their jets in for modification. The first two operational units on the schedule are the Maryland Air National Guard at Martin State Airport and the Michigan Air National Guard at Battle Creek. Those units are currently scheduled to be completed in March 2007.

    Squadrons will release their jets for modification at Hill AFB in Utah, English explained. The jets undergo Precision Engagement Suite 3 upgrades and return as A-10C models after about 90 days per jet.

    The entire force of 356 jets will undergo modification, English added.

    Prime Contractor

    Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, based in Owego, N.Y., leads the prime contractor team on the A-10 including Precision Engagement Suite 3 modifications. Lockheed Martin’s teammates for the project include BAE Systems, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Northrop Grumman.

    Roger Il Grande, Lockheed Martin’s A-10 program director, provided MAT with some additional details on how some of the new components of the A-10 will work.

    For example, he explained, the Digital Stores Management System enables pilots to better manage targeting and employment of on-board weapons and sensors. The Digital Stores Management System serves as the backbone for integrating applications within Precision Engagement, Il Grande said. Systems such as video from the targeting pod, weapons status reports and the data link rely upon the Digital Stores Management System to work together.

    “The Digital Stores Management System is an enabler that helps the integration of all of these systems so that the information is displayed to the pilot in a way that makes sense of what he is seeing on his displays,” Il Grande said.

    Among the applications available to the pilot is a digital moving map—visible through two new 5x5 multi-function color displays—that pinpoints locations for available targeting information. Visual information comes from the targeting pod to the map through the capabilities of the Digital Stores Management System. The digital moving map will show the pilot his position at all times on a map of different selectable scales, thereby reducing navigational workload and vastly improving situational awareness.

    These capabilities come through both software and hardware upgrades, Il Grande emphasized. Indeed, in the title Precision Engagement Suite 3, the Precision Engagement part refers to hardware portions while the Suite 3 part refers to software.

    Despite the fact that the program has these two aspects, thinking of the two separately is not practical, said Il Grande.

    “When I think of the hardware versus the software, I could describe the different hardware elements and the different software elements but I really couldn’t describe those two independent of each other,” he said.

    The digital moving map, for example, is a software product operating on a new processor that also provides weapons processing. So the weapons teams also work with the processor.

    “This is an example where we are introducing new processor capability,” Il Grande explained. “But working very closely on that hardware activity are different elements of digital map. We also have different operational flight programs that reside in that computer.”

    Other hardware changes are more subtle but critically important. Lockheed Martin will implement a “significant wiring change” from the cockpit of the A-10 through the wings. Prior iterations of the Warthog had no displays, so Lockheed Martin has to redesign the instrument panel to accommodate the inclusion of multi-function displays. Also, the Digital Stores Management System requires the replacement of switches and other hardware. Meanwhile, a new upfront controller enables the A-10 pilot to do more data input with his head up and looking outside as opposed to his head down inside the cockpit.

    “I can look at the different hardware elements in terms of physically what they are and describe them. But when I think of the development programs, I don’t think of them as hardware or software, I think of them as a system upgrade,” Il Grande commented. “I would say that it is the integration of all of those things, not any one in particular, is really what is happening for the A-10 under Precision Engagement. We are not strapping any one of these systems on as a stovepipe.”

    More on Timelines

    Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, based in Owego, N.Y., received the Precision Engagement contract in early 2001. The contract team has successfully completed the development phase of the contract as well as the development and integration and test phases.

    The USAF began flight-testing the Precision Engagement capabilities in January 2005, and in mid-2006 had as many as 13 A-10 jets in flight test at Eglin AFB, Fla., and Nellis AFB, Nev. At press time, the Lockheed team was continuing to support the USAF’s flight test program.

    “We have released to flight test the functions that make the targeting pod go, that make the Digital Stores Management System work, and that support the new pilot/vehicle interface. We began releasing smart weapons and situational awareness data link functions to flight test in mid-October,” Il Grande said. Flight-testing will result in reports that point to any additional changes that may be required.

    The USAF at Hill AFB rolled out the first production A-10C aircraft on August 18. Lockheed Martin packages the Precision Engagement hardware and software upgrades for each aircraft into a kit of more than 1,600 parts. The kits are shipped to Hill AFB, in Ogden, Utah, where installation by the depot takes about 90 days per aircraft. Lockheed Martin is currently under contract for more than 170 kits of Precision Engagement production.

    While Il Grande anticipates fielding Precision Engagement-modified A-10s in September 2007, fielding suitability decisions are likely to occur in the first and second quarters of calendar year 2007. Around the same time, USAF and Lockheed Martin should begin implementation of the second increment of Precision Engagement, which includes smart weapons capability and any additional changes required from testing. Completion of the first increment includes the addition of the targeting pod, Digital Stores Management System, digital moving map, and the situational awareness data link.

    “Situational awareness is what I think of when I think of Precision Engagement,” Il Grande noted. “The primary mission of this aircraft is close air support. The most important aspect of close air support is situational awareness, providing the pilot with the information about what is happening in the overall situation. Precision Engagement is bringing a vast increase in situational awareness capability to the pilot. It is going to limit fratricide, which is a top priority. It is going to enable the A-10 weapons system to be a much more flexible asset in terms of its capabilities to combatant commanders.”

    Il Grande stressed that Lockheed Martin engaged the input of USAF pilots early through the use of its A-10 Systems Integration Lab (SIL) in Owego.

    “With the magnitude of the change brought about by Precision Engagement, we saw early on that it was absolutely essential to build the SIL,” he said. “The SIL is comprised of a very significant testing capability to check out all of the operational flight programs, but as importantly, it was used to develop the requirements with the pilots. We have a full Precision Engagement cockpit in the SIL. The pilots have been involved all along with helping us develop requirements, especially as they pertained to the pilot/vehicle interface.”

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  11. #41
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    Hmm...I didnt know the upgrade was going to include SADL. That should be interesting to integrate with.

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    A-10 & S A D L

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy View Post
    Hmm...I didnt know the upgrade was going to include SADL. That should be interesting to integrate with.
    Installation schedule for SADL (as of February 2007) :

    FY-07
    * Q2 : 20 kits
    * Q3 : 20 kits
    * Q4 : 19 kits

    FY-08
    * Q1 : 19 kits
    * Q2 : 21 kits
    * Q3 : 21 kits
    * Q4 : 21 kits

    FY-09
    * Q1 : 22 kits
    * Q2 : 8 kits
    * Q3 : 8 kits
    * Q4 : 8 kits

    FY-10
    * Q1 : 8 kits
    * Q2 : 12 kits
    * Q3 : 12 kits
    * Q4 : 13 kits

    FY-11
    * Q1 : 13 kits
    * Q4 : 2 kits

    FY-12
    * Q4 : 2 kits


    Aircraft breakdown for SADL installation (as of February 2007) :

    Active : 108
    Reserve : 45
    ANG : 96
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 07 Mar 07, at 13:05.

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    Making the Best of the Fighter Force

    by John A. Tirpak, Executive Editor
    Air Force Magazine Online
    March 2007 , Vol. 90, No. 3

    (snip)

    Perhaps the most dramatic aspect of the Air Force fighter roadmap is that involving the A-10, an aircraft the service has moved to retire several times in the last decade. Now, rather than phase out the venerable Warthog, the service plans to retain the type at least to 2028, through the use of a comprehensive life extension program.

    The program, known in an earlier iteration as “Hog Up,” will see 223 A-10s receive all-new wings, “wingtip to wingtip,” according to Lt. Col. Don Henry, the A-10’s modernization requirements director for ACC.

    The wings will be “100 percent brand new,” he said, with replaced “flight controls, new fuel pumps for the fuel tanks in the wings,” and new wiring. The factory-fresh wings will be externally “identical” to those with which the A-10 has been flying since late 1975.

    Out of the 715 A-10s that were produced from 1975 to 1984, there are 356 still in service, and at least 223 of those are expected to be retained in the inventory until 2028.

    The wing replacement became necessary when ACC discovered that a number of early A-10s, those with thinner wing skins than later versions, were suffering from wing cracks that couldn’t be repaired.

    “It was fortunate that we had a lot of jets out on the boneyard” at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., Henry noted. For a time, the old airplanes could be salvaged for parts to keep the A-10s flying.

    “That helped us up to a point,” Henry said, but as the situation with the F-22 and F-35 evolved, it became clear the A-10s would have to serve a good deal longer than expected. Thus, the SLEP became more elaborate.

    The drawings for the A-10 still exist, but not the tools. A competition will be held for design and production of the new wings. Early response from industry indicates that the Air Force underestimated how much the program would cost, “so we’re a little bit short up front” in funding, Henry said. However, there’s enough money to get the program started. The Air Force expects to get the first, low-rate production wings delivered in 2010 and then modify 40 A-10s a year until 223 have been equipped. The program is expected to cost $1.5 billion for the new wings alone.

    Along with the new wings, the A-10s will get some other structural repairs and a capability improvement known as “precision engagement.” It will equip the Warthogs with all the newer Air Force weapons, the ability to carry new targeting pods—either Sniper or Litening—the Universal Armament Interface, data links, a boost in DC power, new cockpit displays, a new processor, and other enhancements.

    The precision engagement modification is already under way; 30 A-10s have already received it and the rest will cycle through at the rate of six per month between now and 2011.

    Moseley has said that he considers improving the A-10 engines a high priority, but the funding to update the engine had to be sacrificed to pay for the wing replacement. (See “Washington Watch: Building Better Warthogs,” September 2006, p. 16.)

    The propulsion upgrade program, or PUP, envisioned by the service would allow the A-10’s TF34 engines to provide up to 30 percent more thrust, Henry said. There’s no money to develop the change, but the requirement is carried as a high priority if funds do become available.

    “That program is suspended, ... on hold,” Henry said.

    “Any self-respecting fighter pilot wants to have more power, but it’s one of those tough decisions. ... What it comes down to [is] ‘bang for the buck.’ There are other things that would be more important to the A-10.” While an engine improvement would improve survivability of the airplane, the wing replacement is a more urgent “sustainment” issue, Henry said.

    The Air Force had to “mortgage the PUP,” Johns said, “but we still want to do that.”

    The entire fleet of A-10s will be of an identical configuration once all the modifications have been made—a far cry from just a couple of years ago, when ACC was considering the possibility of having to divide the fleet among deployable and nondeployable Warthogs.

    (snip)

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    A-10 modifications speed up to support warfighters
    by Bill Orndorff
    309th Maintenance Wing

    3/26/2007 - HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFNEWS) -- The Air Force will soon benefit from an A-10 Thunderbolt II milestone achieved here in March. Personnel from the 571st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron completed a precision engagement modification on an A-10 14 days ahead of schedule.

    The modification gives the A-10 precision weapons capability through significant rewiring and the addition of modern avionics upgrades. The A-10C precision engagement program was accelerated by 18 months to meet the needs of the warfighter, causing the program to undergo concurrent fielding and development.

    "We're delivering airplanes to Air Combat Command, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units, while we're still finishing the development and design of the modification," said Greg Hoffman, the 571st AMXS director.

    "The program is being pushed on a fast track. You start to do the modifications as you go and you don't have time to sit there and flow out how to best lay it out, so you get a couple of airplanes under your belt and then make changes as you go. It's part of continuous process improvement -- we're always looking for ways to do things better."

    As with many new and accelerated programs, there were challenges with parts supportability from vendors as well as maintenance procedures.

    Lockheed Martin Systems Integration from Owego, N.Y., is the prime contractor," Mr. Hoffman said.

    "When you accelerate a program on us and accelerate our aircraft flow, it accelerates the delivery schedule as well. Initially, we had some points where we were waiting for components from Lockheed, but they've done a tremendous job rising to meet every challenge and give us the support we need," he said.

    To add to the challenges, the A-10s lost six production docks to another workload. Additionally, nearly 100 new technicians hired over the past year needed training.

    "Our squadron almost doubled in size with the addition of this modification," said Mr. Hoffman. "We had a lot of new people who had never worked in the aircraft business before, so the training curve was pretty steep. A lot of them still have less than a year at the center and they're still learning the weapon system."

    As a way to ensure the program's success, a 12-member lean team was formed in October to establish a standard work package that logically flows every step of this new program from wheels down to wheels up.

    The team used critical chain process management, also known as buffer management, to create a daily "hot list" of operations that need to be accomplished. The team further enhanced the process by breaking the technicians into cells to improve training, quality and cost.

    "The cells we established were to focus on a couple issues," Mr. Hoffman said. "One was to keep our process moving. More importantly, it was to ensure our training curve was accelerated. Instead of technicians getting assigned to an airplane and having to work the entire airplane, they can focus on the gun bay area or the cockpit area so the skills build up much quicker. We keep them in that area, and when everybody gets to a certain level, then we can start swapping personnel around to expand their abilities."

    These efforts will allow the 571st AMXS to meet its goal of 70 A-10 Precision Engagement modifications this year.

    "The 571st mechanics are well on their way to successfully executing the A-10 Precision Engagement program," Mr. Hoffman said. "They have reduced overtime from more than 1,400 hours per aircraft to an average of 600 hours. Overall modification time was reduced from a high of 5,400 hours to consistently less than 4,000 hours and is well on its way to the 3,512-hour target.

    "Focusing on these aspects will not only ensure the warfighter gets a quality product on time, but reducing overtime and installation hours will, in essence, be giving money back to our customer to keep pushing additional aircraft to us within the program."

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    Wing teams up for total force training
    by Maj. David Kurle
    442nd Fighter Wing public affairs

    3/26/2007 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The lines between active duty and the Air Force Reserve blurred a little more at the 442nd Fighter Wing in February as it partnered with the 81st Fighter Squadron from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, the same A-10 unit it deployed with 10 months ago.

    Twenty pilots from the 81st, part of the 52nd Fighter Wing, will fly with the 442nd at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., through the beginning of May.

    "It's a win-win situation for both units," said Lt. Col. John Hoff, commander of the 442nd FW's 303rd Fighter Squadron. "It's a win for Ops because we keep our instructor pilots sharp, it's a win for maintenance because they bring in new Airmen for seasoning and it's win for (the 81st FS at) Spangdahlem because they get upgrade training."

    "It's nice to see these guys again," said Capt. David Kirkendall, an A-10 pilot from the 81st. The two squadrons teamed up in May 2006 for an Aerospace Expeditionary Force deployment to Operation Enduring Freedom at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

    Pilots from the 81st will rotate through in three stages for the next three months to fly with Reserve pilots and catch up on training sorties, which have been hard to come by at their base in Germany.

    A number of factors limited the amount of training sorties the 81st was able to fly this winter in Germany, including bad weather, flight restrictions on the type and amount of flights allowed by the German government, and the availability of aircraft, which needed maintenance after returning from a four-month AEF deployment.

    "In Germany, we normally don't get to fly at 500 feet wherever we want to," Captain Kirkendall said. "It's great to come to Whiteman and fly low."

    Low-level flying is important in A-10 training since its primary role is providing close air support to combat units on the ground.

    "We have no tactical ranges in Germany where we can shoot tactically and drop practice bombs," Captain Kirkendall said. "In January we had two weeks when we couldn't fly because of ice-fog."

    A-10 pilots at Whiteman fly daily training missions to Cannon Range near Fort Leonard Wood in central Missouri to shoot the plane's 30-milimeter gun and drop practice bombs.

    "Spangdahlem is in a unique situation because of bad weather, airplane availability and flight rules in Germany," Colonel Hoff said. "They have a problem getting enough flying time, so that's where we step in.

    "Some of them will employ more practice bombs in a month at Cannon Range than they will all year back at Spangdahlem," he said.

    Colonel Hoff's plan for getting the active-duty pilots the flying time they need include three priorities. The first is getting them re-current on training sorties they need to maintain a status of "combat-mission-ready."

    To maintain a CMR status, active-duty pilots need eight flights per month for experienced aviators and nine per month for those considered inexperienced, according to Captain Kirkendall.

    Colonel Hoff's second priority is to provide "lead-upgrade" training, so that pilots will return to Germany fully qualified to lead two- and four-aircraft formations in combat.

    This requires four to eight training flights and a final "check ride" to make sure a pilot is fully "lead qualified," he said. "The third goal is other associated training - night takeoffs and landings, as well as targeting pod upgrades."

    Colonel Hoff credits the 442nd Maintenance Group for making this Total Force initiative a reality. After all, without well-maintained aircraft, flying the training sorties would not be possible.

    "It's not only pilots teaching these guys," he said. "It's maintenance generating the additional airplanes. It's a team effort."

    Both Air Force Reserve Command and U.S. Air Forces Europe approved the Total Force initiative. USAFE provided funding for 900 man-days in the 442nd Maintenance Group so that enough reservists were available to support the additional sorties.

    "This allowed the maintenance group to bring in 10 Airmen for 90 days each," Colonel Hoff said. "Maintenance can bring in younger Airmen to get experience. Instead of waiting for an annual tour, we can bring in a young maintainer, right out of training, and season them, reinforcing what they learned in tech. school."

    It also benefits the 442nd Fighter Wing in other ways, according to Colonel Hoff.

    "The future leaders in the A-10 community are some of these young pilots (from the 81st)," he said. "If they see now what the Reserve can do for them, they will trust us when they get into leadership positions. They're going to be the squadron commanders in 12 to 15 years."

    In addition, the wing's instructor pilots gain experience in teaching techniques and procedures while flying alongside the younger, active-duty pilots, according to Colonel Hoff.

    "The active duty has faith that we will train their pilots and train them right," he said. "Reserve squadrons are heavy on instructor pilots. We've got the experience and we're willing to help them out."

    "It's just good training to come here and learn different tactics and see different ranges," Captain Kirkendall said. "Flying is dynamic, so it's good to see something different and get inputs from experienced instructor pilots."

    The two units also share the same AEF rotation schedule and could very well be deployed together again in the future.

    "This prepares us for war because we'll be flying again with these pilots in combat," Colonel Hoff said.

    "One of the best benefits is getting to fly with the guys you went to war with," Captain Kirkendall said.

    The current partnership with the 81st is not the only Total Force initiative underway at the 442nd Fighter Wing. Active-duty pilots from Spangdahlem and Eilson Air Force Base trained here in 2006.

    In addition, under the Fighter Associate Program, the active-duty currently has four pilots assigned to the wing for three-year tours and plans call for a total of six active-duty pilots in the future, according to Colonel Hoff.

    "Our wing receives requests to train active-duty pilots because of our credibility," Colonel Hoff said. "One of the greatest compliments we can get is when these pilots return to their units and tell their commanders 'those 442nd folks are just like us.'"

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