[FoRK] "Two faces of the Tea Party"

Dave Kammeyer kammeyer at kammeyer.org
Mon Jun 28 11:51:13 PDT 2010

On Sun, Jun 27, 2010 at 11:24 AM, J. Andrew Rogers
<andrew at ceruleansystems.com> wrote:
> The problem with the A-10 is that it was never designed to be upgradeable in the way that modern fighter aircraft are. They've gone through heroic efforts to get the avionics and weapon systems out of the 1970s with only partial success. There is no money to design a new airframe so they are stuck with what they have, which limits support for new armaments.
> The F-35 is not a replacement per se.  A-10s are explicitly designed to survive multiple SAM strikes. The Soviets learned the value of this in Afghanistan and they eventually redesigned their CAS airframes to integrate many A-10 features. The F-35 doesn't have any of these types of survivability features but the idea is that they can use stealth to loiter over a battlefield without getting shot at. This still doesn't make a great CAS platform but I think they believe that role can be handed off to other weapon systems in bits and pieces.
> The problem with MLRS and artillery is that they have limited range. Battlefields no longer organize along lines. Having strike aircraft flitting around is a low-latency and high-precision delivery mechanism that can adapt to much more complex battlefields. The US military has pretty much canceled all new artillery platforms, only spending money to increase the range of the old artillery systems. Artillery is inexpensive, but that doesn't help much if its limits render it useless for most strike missions going forward.

The CAS concept as it has existed is basically obsolete according to
current thinking, because everything will be done with guided weapons
dropped from high altitude where MANPADS can't reach.  All of the big
radar-guided SAMs will be destroyed very early using stealthy
aircraft.  This approach wasn't possible before, because with unguided
weapons, if you want to hit a tank, you need to get close-up.  Now,
they're putting SFWs or BATs in everything, so you just get
approximate coordinates from JSTARS, a forward observer, a UAV, or
whatever else that can see it.  The need to have a specialized
aircraft to kill tanks is over.  If you're fighting against the U.S.
the tank is a useless weapon.

Artillery launch platforms have been cut back recently, but we now
have GMLRS and the XM982, which give the existing platforms more range
and much better accuracy.  The Crusader would have been a nice
evolutionary improvement, but the XM982 is a huge jump -- more range,
and the ability to hit a point target at any distance, on the first

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