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Random Thoughts on the Mighty Hog - Part 2

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  • Maybe the US should ask Sukhoy for a proposal, for when the A-10s run out of hours?

    Not a chance. They could never replace that dependable warbird. Shes one of a kind thats for sure. The only hope would be a newer generation A-10.
    Fortitude.....The strength to persist...The courage to endure.


    • Sniper again...

      Tinker officials adapt sniper pod for B-1Bs
      by Danielle Gregory
      72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

      9/22/2008 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFPN) -- The B-1B Lancer maintainers here adapted a video targeting pod normally employed on F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons to B-1Bs in response to an urgent request from U.S. Air Forces Central officials.

      The sniper pod enables aircrews to positively identify and engage enemy targets, significantly shortening the time it would take to kill a target.

      The B-1B community at Tinker Air Force Base used the B-1B Laptop Controlled Targeting Pod program, adapting the sniper pod to the B-1B by installing an external pylon and using an existing on-board laptop computer to control the pod and provide video image to the crew on board.

      The new system allows aircrews to look ahead with long-range video and see what is happening on the ground. It is a stabilized image and allows them to use a laser beam to target and engage in real time. It also allows aircrews to give their own bomb damage assessment and report back immediately on whether they hit their target or not.

      The pod shortens the kill chain from several minutes to almost instantly, said 2nd Lt. Douglas Richardson, a B-1B avionics engineer with the 427th Aircraft Sustainment Group.

      "That's a great capability, especially in Afghanistan where we're having troops in close contact," Lieutenant Richardson said. "They can call the B-1B and the B-1B can see exactly what's going on and target the enemy forces in seconds."

      Before the integration of the sniper pod, crews had used high resolution radar which is perfect for buildings but doesn't see a lot of "soft" images. With the new pod, aircrews can now see exactly what's going on and can see things more clearly.

      Since it was a new developmental program for the B-1B, the Laptop Controlled Targeting Pod program was managed by Ed England of the 812th Aeronautical System Group at the Aeronautical System Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Officials of the 812th AESG are responsible for managing all new B-1B development programs. The 427th ACSG members helped when requested to get the pod fielded on time to support the recent deployment of aircraft from one of the B-1B main operating bases to a forward operating location.

      "In 24 months this machine was fielded and developed for the B-1B and we just had the first combat use recently," Lieutenant Richardson said. "The use of the pod was deemed very successful."

      Although a targeting pod was mounted on the aircraft and it worked well during testing, the B-1B maintenance personnel and aircrews were training with the pod at their main operating base since the system was new. The field service engineers were provided from Tinker AFB for the support of the deployment effort.



      • Laser JDAM makes debut

        Balad warfighters unleash new weapon against mobile insurgent targets
        by Staff Sgt. Don Branum
        332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

        8/27/2008 - JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq -- Coalition air forces in Iraq unleashed a new precision guided weapon against anti-Iraqi forces Aug. 12 when two F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots with the 77th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron here executed the first-ever combat employment a GBU-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition against a moving enemy vehicle in Diyala Province.

        The GBU-54 is the U.S. Air Force's newest 500-pound precision weapon, equipped with a special targeting system that uses a combination of GPS and laser guidance to accurately engage and destroy moving targets.

        "This employment first represents a great step in our Air Force's ability to deliver precise effects across the spectrum of combat," said Lt. Gen. Gary North, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central and U.S. Central Command Combined Force Air Component Commander. "The first combat employment of this weapon is the validation of the exacting hard work of an entire team of professionals who developed, tested and fielded this weapon on an extremely short timeline, based on an urgent needs request we established in the combat zone."

        "We have consistently used precision-guided weapons to engage stationary threats with superb combat effects," said Brig. Gen. Brian Bishop, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander. "This weapon allows our combat pilots to engage a broad range of moving targets with dramatically increased capabilities and it increases our ability to strike the enemy throughout a much, much broader engagement envelope."

        The joint terminal attack controller who called in the airstrike is part of a military transition team supporting Iraqi army operations in Diyala, said Marine Maj. Robert Washington, 1st Iraqi Army Division MiTT fires adviser.

        "From my perspective as an artilleryman, being able to hit a moving ground target is a great advantage -- especially with insurgents using vehicles to escape quickly once they're identified," said Major Washington, who manages all aspects of fire support for the 1st IA Division MiTT, including artillery, mortars and air support. "Any improvement we can get is a big one."

        The pilots who employed the GBU-54 are captains deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. They have flown a combined 1,360 hours in F-16s with more than 400 combined combat hours. Their identities were withheld for operational security reasons.

        Both pilots have to work together closely to successfully employ the GBU-54.

        "It's a complicated weapon to employ: it takes two people backing each other up and making sure the weapon is employed properly," one of the pilots said.

        Both considered the historic significance of their successful mission.

        "I thought it was a really rewarding part of being history, in a sense, when you consider the evolution of precision guided weapons," the second pilot said.

        That evolution has allowed the Air Force to employ weapons proportionately to the enemy threat, said Col. Michael Fantini, 332nd Expeditionary Operations Group commander.

        "Precision's a big deal," he said. "In World War II, it took a lot of bombs to take out a target due to (low) accuracy. If I don't have accuracy, I need more bombs.

        "Now, the fact that we can nearly always put one weapon against one target means we need less ordnance to destroy a target and less air power to put against a threat to achieve a desired effect," he said. "That translates to less exposure to the threat environment and a higher probability of killing targets." It also minimizes collateral damage, a critical consideration in winning the peace.

        Teamwork in all aspects from development to the actual weapon employment was crucial, General North said.

        "Teamwork was the name of the game to accomplish this," he said. "From the experts in our Air Force Materiel Command who shaped our requirements, then developed, tested and fielded the weapon, to our aircraft maintainers, our munitions Airmen, and weapons loaders ... and everyone in between ... they made the operational employment of this weapon possible.

        "At endgame, on Aug. 12, the team of the U.S. Air Force joint terminal attack controller, alongside his ground unit commander in this event, ensured all criteria were met for the first combat delivery of the LJDAM. And finally, our F-16 pilot accurately and precisely delivered and guided the weapon to desired weapons effects, the disabling and destruction of an enemy vehicle and personnel," he said.

        Development of the weapon began in January 2007 as an urgent operational need request, said Lt. Col. David Lujan, 332nd Expeditionary Operations Group deputy commander. Colonel Lujan was the program management officer for the GBU-54's development while commanding the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron at Eglin AFB, Fla. The 86th FWS tests precision guided munitions for the Air Force.

        "Around 2006, warfighters started to ask us for better capabilities against movers," said Colonel Lujan, who is deployed from Luke AFB, Ariz. "Boeing came up with the idea of putting the laser kit on the GBU-38, and we pitched it to the Air Force under an urgent operational need request."

        The Air Force made the 86th FWS' request a top priority, moving the GBU-54 through the development and testing cycle in less than 17 months, fielding the bombs aboard 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing F-16s in May.



        • Originally posted by Shipwreck View Post
          Both pilots have to work together closely to successfully employ the GBU-54.
          Really? Why? Shouldn't it be easier to employ than current laser-only or satellite-only guided weapons? I would have thought it could have been emplyed in the same fashion as current weapons, but if the pilot was guiding it through the laser mode and had to stop designating for some reason, the satellite guidance would than take over.


          • B-52 w/ SNIPER

            Boeing Awarded Contract for B-52 Advanced Targeting
            NEWS RELEASE
            WICHITA, Kan., Sept. 24, 2008 --

            The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today announced a $15 million contract award from the U.S. Air Force to develop advanced targeting capabilities for the B-52 Stratofortress.

            The software upgrades will include improvements for transmitting video and targeting information from the targeting pod to friendly forces, and reduce flight crew workload. These capabilities will enable better close air support for ground troops and prepare the most versatile aircraft in the U.S. inventory for future enhancements of the flight crew's situational awareness.

            "This contract includes full integration of the SNIPER targeting pod, allowing the B-52 to have one of the most advanced targeting capabilities available for our warfighters," said Cathy Clothier, B-52 deputy program manager for Boeing. "Continuing to make upgrades and advancements to this platform is critical as we help the Air Force keep the B-52 as a relevant and viable asset now and into the future."

            The contract also calls for the development of software that will better use new technologies such as the B-52 Multi-Function Color Display and a digital-integrated hand controller.

            The new targeting capabilities will begin tests in 2009 and are planned to be integrated onto the entire fleet by 2010. Software integration, interface design and installation will take place at Boeing's Wichita, Kan., facility.



            • Originally posted by Shipwreck View Post

              The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today announced a $15 million contract award from the U.S. Air Force to develop advanced targeting capabilities for the B-52 Stratofortress.
              The A-10 is so good that it even takes other planes on it's forum threads :))

              But seriously, that enhanced B-52 will trully be "death from above". One of those "beasts" can just fly around over a large target area and drop guided lead on literally dozens of targets...


              • Gunship Lite aka Stinger II

                AFSOC Would (Almost) Kill for New Gunships
                By Bryant Jordan Friday,
                September 19th, 2008 11:31 am

                If Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, could put his hands on one more dollar to spend he would buy a heavily armed version of the new Joint Cargo Aircraft. In fact, he wants them so badly that after spending that dollar, he’d “go down the table, stab the others in the back and take their dollars” for the program. Or at least that’s what he said during a roundtable of four-star generals at the annual Air Force Association conference.

                The command, based at Hurlburt Field, Fla., needs a successor to the aging AC-130 gunship, and so it’s asking to redirect about $32 million from its current fiscal year budget to buy a prototype from JCA maker Alenia Aeronautica and its U.S. partner, L3 Communications.

                The command hasn’t settled on what size cannon to go in the plane, but it wants something that can take out a truck or tank — probably something between a 25mm and 40 mm weapon, said Jason Decker, a spokesman for L3.

                The AFSOC version would be called the AC-27J Stinger II, Decker said this week at the Air Force Association’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., where he stood before an oversized illustration of the proposed plane. Though it’s being called a gunship — gunship lite, in some quarters — Decker said that reference tends to draw the ire of Lockheed Martin, maker of the AC-130 family of gunships since the 1960s and the -130A and H model Spectre and the AC-130U Spooky.

                But the AC-130s are showing their age and need replacing, AFSOC officials have said. Wurster, commander of AFSOC, said during a presentation at the conference that he wants 16 combat JCAs ready by 2015.

                In March, in an interview with CBS Evening News, AC-130 pilot Lt. Col. Mark Clawson said the planes are seeing so much action in Iraq and Afghanistan that “it’s hard to keep them flying.”

                Another pilot noted that for every hour of flying,the gunship requires 14 hours of maintenance. And cracks in the wings are prompting their replacement five years ahead of schedule, Capt. James May said, according to a transcript of the interview.

                The original version of the Stinger was a C-119 manufactured by Fairchild and initially were deployed to Vietnam in 1969 and used by the 18th Special Operations Squadron, 14th Special Operations Group, at Phan Rang Air Base, but also were operated by detachments out of air bases at Da Nang and Phu Cat, according to the National Museum of the Air Force.



                • Originally posted by jlvfr View Post
                  The A-10 is so good that it even takes other planes on it's forum threads :))
                  If it's about CAS, it belongs in this thread. ;)
                  Last edited by Shipwreck; 28 Sep 08,, 22:04.


                  • Originally posted by Shipwreck View Post
                    AFSOC Would (Almost) Kill for New GunshipsThe command, based at Hurlburt Field, Fla., needs a successor to the aging AC-130 gunship

                    The AFSOC version would be called the AC-27J Stinger II
                    So wait, would the AC-27 be a replacement for the AC-130? Why wouldn't the USAF order AC-130J's to replace its current fleet? I would have thought the AC-27 would be a compliment to the AC-130.

                    What are the pros and cons of the two aircraft? AC-27 is smaller, faster, and more maneuverable. AC-130 can carry more and more varied weapons. Can the AC-27 really accomplish everything the current AC-130 fleet does?


                    • Originally posted by JA Boomer View Post
                      So wait, would the AC-27 be a replacement for the AC-130? Why wouldn't the USAF order AC-130J's to replace its current fleet? I would have thought the AC-27 would be a compliment to the AC-130.
                      I remember reading they want a plane that's easier to manouver at low lvl and hilly terrain, has a shorter landing run and it's easier/simpler to maintain...


                      • Originally posted by jlvfr View Post
                        I remember reading they want a plane that's easier to manouver at low lvl and hilly terrain, has a shorter landing run and it's easier/simpler to maintain...
                        I can understand these advantages for a gunship built specifically for SOCOM...but I would think the AC-130J provides a more robust platform that would be more versatile for the USAF squadrons.


                        • Speaking of which...

                          AC-XX Gunship Lite: The C-27J “Stinger II”

                          Scroll up to see all the (free part) of the article.


                          • BAE solution to reduce "friendly fire"

                            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.



                            • A-10 Wing Cracks

                              Looks like some of the fleet may be suffering from wing cracks. This is not good news, on the other hand, maybe the entire fleet will now undergo the re-winging upgrade (or at least the entire thin-wing fleet).

                              Wing cracks ground one-third of USAF A-10s-03/10/

                              The US Air Force has grounded 127 Fairchild Republic A-10s that require immedate inspection and repairs for wing cracks, which the service calls a "systemic problem" for an aging fleet.

                              The USAF operates a total of about 360 A-10s, of which the oldest roughly 240 were manufactured with "thin-skin" wings. All of the grounded aircraft come from the thin-wing fleet.

                              The affected aircraft are grounded until they can be inspected and any repairs made, a US Air Force spokesman says. The first priority for inspections are A-10s based in US Central Command, which includes Iraq and Afghanistan, where the close air support asset is in heavy demand.

                              It was not immediately clear how long it would take for the entire fleet to be inspected.

                              The A-10 first entered service in 1977, and is now the target of several modernization programs.

                              In June 2007, the USAF awarded Boeing a $2 billion contract to replace the wing sets for all A-10s with thin-skin wings.

                              The USAF's tactical air fleet is showing increasing signs of brittleness as the average age rises well over two decades. The A-10s were originally expected to be replaced by the Lockheed Martin F-35A, but are now being counted on to remain in service for at least 20 more years.

                              Last November, the USAF also grounded all Boeing F-15s after one fighter disintegrated during flight on 2 November. That issue was traced to longeron cracks caused by shoddy manufacturing, but was limited to affecting only nine remaining aircraft across the fleet.


                              • Wing Cracks

                                More on :

                                Inspections ordered for A-10 Thunderbolt IIs

                                10/3/2008 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force officials have issued a time compliance technical order requiring immediate inspection and repair of wing cracks for a portion of the A-10 Thunderbolt II fleet. This action impacts approximately 130 A-10 aircraft with thin-skin wings installed during original manufacture and is being taken to ensure the continued operational safety of the aircraft.

                                Such action has become necessary due to an increase in fatigue-related wing cracks currently occurring in aircraft assigned to Air Combat Command, Pacific Air Forces, the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command and Air Force Materiel Command.

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

                                Taking immediate action is necessary for the safety of aircrews and to bring the A-10 fleet back to health. Accordingly, AFMC officials are working closely with those in 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 currently in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

                                The A-10 is a valuable asset to joint warfighters because of its unique capabilities. It can deliver precision guided weapons at high altitudes, as well as surgical close-air support at low altitudes. The inspections, however, will not impact on-going or future operational combat missions.