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Random Thoughts on the Mighty Hog - Part 2

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  • Damn... is everything but the F-16 falling apart?!

    If this keeps up, the USAF is gonna have to start getting planes from the boneyard...

    Comment


    • F-16s are falling apart too, but we still buy replacements so a lot of the fleet is younger than the F-15s and A-10s.

      Aren't the A-10s getting new wings anyway?


      Originally posted by Shipwreck View Post
      BAE Systems Demos Combat Identification System
      Mon. September 29, 2008; Posted: 12:12 AM

      Sep 26, 2008 (M2 PRESSWIRE via COMTEX) -- BAESF | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRating -- BAE Systems announced it has demonstrated a system that gives combat pilots a previously unavailable view of friendly forces on the battlefield and could reduce "friendly fire" events during combat operations.

      The capability combines existing communications, combat identification, and target identification systems and gives pilots ready access to information about friendly forces in the area.

      The Combat Identification (CID) System enables pilots to inquire about friendly forces within a specified area. To do so, the system queries several sources of ground situational awareness data and reports the five most-relevant results to the pilot in less than 10 seconds. The capability, intended for use by close-air-support aircraft such as F-15s, F-16s, F/A-18s, CF-18s, and A-10s, was demonstrated at the U.S. Joint Forces Command's Exercise Bold Quest Plus at Eglin Air Force Base.

      "The CID server is a perfect example of how we can improve combat identification capabilities and combat effectiveness and save lives," said Bob Summitt, senior analyst for the Joint Forces Command's Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team, which evaluated the capability. "It gives pilots a view of friendlies in the area that they've never had before."

      BAE Systems developed the capability in cooperation with the Joint Forces Command's J85 Joint Fires Division to fill a gap in air-to-ground combat identification.

      Link
      I'm glad to see they're still working on this. I was part of the first Bold Quest last year, and have heard nothing about it since.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Jimmy View Post
        F-16s are falling apart too, but we still buy replacements so a lot of the fleet is younger than the F-15s and A-10s.
        I thought the last F-16C delivered to the USAF was in 2005?

        Originally posted by Jimmy View Post
        Aren't the A-10s getting new wings anyway?
        I was under the impression that only part of the A-10 fleet was to be re-winged, and this did not even include all of the 'thin-wing' fleet. So this program may have to be expanded.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by JA Boomer View Post
          I was under the impression that only part of the A-10 fleet was to be re-winged, and this did not even include all of the 'thin-wing' fleet. So this program may have to be expanded.
          Post #105 :

          In addition to the A-10C upgrade, last summer, a $2 billion contract was awarded to Boeing to build 242 new wing sets for "thin skinned" A-10s.

          Comment


          • Well then problem solved. Inspect all the aircraft, the worst of the bunch get re-winged right away. Keep an eye on the rest until the whole fleet of been upgraded. Seems like a problem was found after the solution was already put in place.

            Comment


            • Wing Cracks

              More on DefenseNews :

              USAF to Inspect Its A-10s
              By Gayle S. Putrich
              Published: 3 Oct 17:14 EDT (21:14 GMT)

              The U.S. Air Force has ordered immediate inspection of about 130 A-10 combat attack aircraft due to fatigued, cracking wings.

              The order is to inspect 56 Air Combat Command (ACC), 42 Air National Guard, 18 reserve-owned and 11 Pacific Air Forces planes.

              The cracks are occurring on the center wing panel just aft of the main landing gear trunnion mount on both the right and left sides of the aircraft, ACC spokesperson Maj. Kristi Beckman said.

              The single-seat, twin-engine Thunderbolt II, affectionately known as the Warthog, is the only aircraft affected, Beckman said.

              The first 244 aircraft were built with "thin skin" on the wings, but Fairchild-Republic later determined that a stronger wing skin was needed if the planes were going to last longer. The remaining 112 aircraft were built with a thicker wing covering.

              "Taking immediate action is necessary for the safety of our aircrews and to bring our A-10 fleet back to health," the Air Force said via news release late Oct. 3. "Accordingly, [Air Force Material Command] is working closely with ACC and the other Combat Air Force major commands to address all of the thin-skinned winged A-10s, with a priority focus being on the A-10s we currently have in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility."

              The Warthog was originally manufactured by the now-defunct Fairchild-Republic and has been in service 1975. The Air Force has more than 350 of the planes. The Warthog has been used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan to provide close air support and to drop precision-guided weapons from high altitudes.

              Link

              Comment


              • Originally posted by JA Boomer View Post
                I thought the last F-16C delivered to the USAF was in 2005?
                I have no idea, but even so, that gives us quite a few Vipers built in the 90s and 2000s. The A-10 line shut down in 1984 (production started in 75).

                A lot of A-10s have been retired, leaving the pick of the litter in service. And even those are finally wearing out.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Jimmy View Post
                  I have no idea, but even so, that gives us quite a few Vipers built in the 90s and 2000s. The A-10 line shut down in 1984 (production started in 75).

                  A lot of A-10s have been retired, leaving the pick of the litter in service. And even those are finally wearing out.
                  And don't forget, it's not just age, it's also usage: the A-10's flight regime (low and hard) wears them out faster...

                  Comment


                  • Wing Cracks

                    More on CNN :

                    Air Force grounds jets used to protect ground troops in combat
                    From Mike Mount
                    CNN Pentagon Senior Producer
                    updated 7:11 p.m. EDT, Fri October 3, 2008

                    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Air Force is grounding more than 100 planes used to support ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan because of fatigue cracks in the wings, Air Force officials said Friday.

                    The officials said 127 A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, including some used in the United States, will be grounded until they are each inspected for the cracks.

                    "The inspections are a necessary step in addressing the risk associated with A-10 wing cracking, specifically with thin-skin wings. This risk is of great concern to the Air Force and is representative of a systemic problem for our aging Air Force fleet," the Air Force said.

                    The A-10 Thunderbolt II, nicknamed the "Warthog" because of its unique un-aerodynamic look, is one of the Air Force's older aircraft, having first been delivered to the service in 1975. The average age of the A-10 fleet is now 28 years, but the entire Air Force fleet has an average age of 25 years, according to Air Force statistics.

                    The Air Force has more than 400 A-10s in its fleet. The cracks in the older A-10 A-models and A-10 C-models were discovered at Hill Air Force Base in Utah during routine maintenance.

                    No A-10 has had an accident because of the cracks just discovered, according to Air Force officials.

                    The inspection of the 127 planes will give priority to the planes in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters of battle, officials said.

                    The plane was designed as a tank killer, with a front-mounted Gatling gun that fires 30-mm armor-piercing ammunition capable of destroying a tank.

                    The planes are now primarily used in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect ground troops in close combat situations, flying low and slow and with the ability to target individuals hidden on mountainsides or rooftops.

                    Last year, the Air Force grounded hundreds of F-15 fighter jets after one fell apart during a training mission.

                    The culprit was a fatigued longeron, a part that holds the fuselage together. Numerous F-15s flying in Iraq and Afghanistan also were grounded until they were inspected, forcing the service to fly other aircraft in their place. The Navy was also asked to help cover the F-15 missions during the weeks they were grounded.

                    Link

                    Comment


                    • Ugh. The Vipers are going to busy picking up the slack until they get these guys flying again. Hopefully the problem isnt too widespread.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by jlvfr View Post
                        Not surprising really. Both planes were designed for the same purpose, facing the same threats. So it stands to reason that both have massive amounts of armor, reinforced structure and redundancy up the wazoo.
                        Exactly.

                        A twin-engine dedicated CAS plane (designed by a country that historically knows CAS aircraft really well) took a hit to one engine from a 6.6 pound warhead and still limped back to base.

                        Some serious brass balls and flying skills on the part of that pilot and a testament to a good design most definitely.

                        But personally I'd only count on a MANPADS to totally kill a single engine aircraft or a helicopter.
                        Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Jimmy View Post
                          Ugh. The Vipers are going to busy picking up the slack until they get these guys flying again. Hopefully the problem isnt too widespread.
                          Shouldn't it be a matter of inspecting the 'thin-winged' fleet over the next few days and clearing the vast majority of them to fly again? And then just keeping an eye on them as they all progress towards re-winging?

                          Comment


                          • Yeah basically, but the timeframe depends on the type of inspection they have to do. It may be something they can do in-country, or they may have to do it in Germany or somewhere else. Or they may have to ship specialized equipment. I have no idea, but the severity of the problem makes me think this is going to take a few weeks.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Jimmy View Post
                              Yeah basically, but the timeframe depends on the type of inspection they have to do. It may be something they can do in-country, or they may have to do it in Germany or somewhere else. Or they may have to ship specialized equipment. I have no idea, but the severity of the problem makes me think this is going to take a few weeks.
                              Ouch. Well at least it didn't take an aircraft falling out of the sky to find this out, like the Eagle fleet.

                              Comment


                              • Wing cracks

                                Latest news on af.mil :

                                ACC maintainers expedite A-10 inspection actions
                                by Master Sgt. Steven Goetsch
                                Air Combat Command Public Affairs

                                10/6/2008 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- Air Combat Command maintenance Airmen will begin an immediate inspection of all A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft with thin-skinned wings for cracking following a Time Compliance Technical Order issued to ACC A-10 units on Oct. 3.

                                ACC officials are working closely with those in Air Force Materiel Command and other combat Air Force major commands to address all of the thin-skin winged A-10s with a priority focus being the A-10s currently in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

                                There are later models of the A-10 that have thicker-skinned wings.

                                "The TCTO was released very early this morning and ACC maintainers have been actively complying with the requirements of that TCTO," said Lt. Col. David Trucksa, ACC A3 chief of flight management, "and the jets that were affected were pulled off the schedule and they are not flying as the maintainers are setting up their inspections and pressing forward."

                                Air Force flying and combat operations are inherently dangerous, ACC officials said. Aircrew and maintenance personnel mitigate risk by continuously applying Operational Risk Management principles.

                                "ACC maintainers will never provide an airplane to a pilot that is known to be unsafe," said Colonel Trucksa. "It will meet all safety standards."

                                Because of intense cross-checking of maintenance operations, Colonel Trucksa said he has full confidence in the inspection process.

                                Air Combat Command has 56 A-10 aircraft affected by this AFMC-issued TCTO. This risk is of great concern to ACC officials and is representative of a systemic problem of an aging Air Force fleet, they say.

                                "The airframe is 28 years old on average," said Major David Ruth from the ACC A-10 Weapons System Team. "Every weapons system has fatigue of some type. It's just a matter of identifying it ahead of time and mitigating that through scheduled depot inspections and maintenance."

                                As the aircraft are getting older, they will have different problems in different areas, said Colonel Trucksa.

                                "It's just a concern if the jet doesn't meet the standards of safety," he said.

                                ACC A-10s will not be cleared for operational status until they have been inspected and any discrepancies found have been repaired or cleared. Command maintenance planners will work with AFMC experts on a timeline for repairs.

                                The location, size and orientation of cracks identified will determine the length of time aircraft are down.

                                After engineers analyzed data, they determined the number of flight hours it took for the wing to suffer critical crack length.

                                "They apply a safety factor that basically guides them in developing the TCTO," said Major Ruth. "This drives the current 450 flight hours in the current TCTO."

                                Depot personnel who were working on a repair regarding the A-10's thick-skin fleet identified the cracks on the thin-skin aircraft that drove the depot to evaluate crack criticality and identification of the thin-skin aircraft that are affected.

                                "For the thin-skin fleet, they did fatigue testing over the years," said Major Ruth. "We are programmed to replace the thin-skins beginning in fiscal year 2010 through FY 2016. We already have contracts to replace those."

                                To maintain combat readiness and support, ACC maintainers are working diligently with inspection data to minimize the impact this critical ground support aircraft provides to the warfighter.

                                "Right now we are looking at courses of action," said Major Ruth. "We do have some capability within the mission design series, within the A-10 fleet to meet AOR commitments."

                                Major Ruth explained that ACC officials are determining the proper courses of action needed to keep the A-10 combat ready for USCENTCOM requirements.

                                Link

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