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13 novembre 2015 5 13 /11 /novembre /2015 17:35
photo Armée de l'Air (archives)

photo Armée de l'Air (archives)

 

13 novembre lindependant.fr

 

Tombé chez les rebelles talibans, en Afghanistan, après une panne de moteur et une éjection, le capitaine Noug a vécu les deux heures les plus interminables de sa vie avant d'être récupéré par des militaires américains.

 

"Ce jour-là, je volais avec un navigateur que je connais très bien. Cela faisait neuf semaines qu'on était sur place (..) on était acculturé au danger", a-t-il raconté à ses camarades lors d'un stage de récupération de pilotes en zone hostile à Captieux, près de la base de Mont-de-Marsan (Landes).

 

Envoyés dans une région où des taliban avaient fait exploser une voiture et immobilisé un convoi, le pilote de Mirage 2000 et son navigateur vont se retrouver pris au piège d'un mauvais concours de circonstances. "On est deux, un Mirage F1 et un Mirage 2000D. Comme d'habitude, il faut aller ravitailler (...) Mais ce jour-là, le tanker est beaucoup plus loin que prévu. Ca fait un trajet aller-retour de 45-50 minutes pour le F1" parti en premier, se souvient Alexandre, 35 ans, "Noug" de son nom de guerre (les militaires français ne dévoilent pas leur identité pour des raisons de sécurité). Le F1, qui aurait pu donner l'alerte, est donc absent quand le sort s'en mêle. Le moteur du Mirage 2000 s'arrête subitement alors que le chasseur fait une démonstration de force à basse altitude pour impressionner les insurgés.

 

"Une panne purement mécanique. Ce n'était pas notre jour. On essaie de rallumer le moteur, en vain. En une minute quarante (le temps d'actionner le siège éjectable et de descendre sous voile), on est par terre", dit Noug. Projetés hors du cockpit, le pilote et le navigateur se retrouvent au sol, sonnés, complètement à découvert dans une étendue jaune désertique. En descendant, suspendu à son parachute, le pilote a repéré sous ses pieds des fermes. "Quand on arrive au sol, on voit des gens qui se rassemblent sur les toits donc on se doute que notre position est compromise".

 

Les villageois vont-ils alerter les taliban ? Les attaquer ? A ce moment-là, "il faut dire les choses comme elles sont, on se sent tout seul et on est mort de trouille", raconte l'officier d'une voix calme. Lors de l'éjection, "on s'est déjà pris 18 G dans un sens, une claque à 280 km/h, 20 G dans l'autre sens à l'ouverture de la voile, on est tombé à 9 mètres/seconde". Les deux hommes réalisent rapidement qu'après le choc de l'éjection, ils ne pourront pas courir si l'ennemi approche. Le secteur est de surcroît truffé de mines héritées des Soviétiques, rendant toute fuite illusoire.

 

"Mon navigateur a son flingue à la main, il regarde les alentours pendant que je tente d'établir un contact radio", décrit Noug. En Afghanistan, les aéronefs de la coalition ne sont jamais loin. Bientôt, deux hélicoptères foncent droit vers eux, tournent deux ou trois fois, se posent, redécollent puis s'éloignent. En plein jour, à 10 h du matin, ils n'ont pas vu les fusées de détresse tirées par les deux hommes. "Autant vous dire qu'on prend alors un sacré coup au moral", soupire le capitaine.

 

Arrivent enfin six A-10 américains, qui se sont reroutés vers la zone du crash après avoir entendu l'appel à l'aide. "Ils parlent clairement à la radio, sont superdirectifs. Je n'ai jamais aussi bien compris l'accent US que ce jour-là"! Un des pilotes leur fait un petit signe de la main en passant au-dessus d'eux. "C'est super rassurant, souligne Noug, ils nous disent que les hélicos vont arriver dans 20 minutes".

 

Deux hélicoptères Chinook déboulent finalement plus tôt que prévu. Venus eux aussi à la rescousse après avoir entendu le signal de détresse, les "superfrelons" américains ramassent en un éclair les deux Français dans un nuage de poussière et de caillasse. "On a pu reprendre le boulot 30 jours plus tard, au début avec une grosse appréhension (...) Trois mois plus tard, on repartait en Libye", conclut-il.

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31 octobre 2015 6 31 /10 /octobre /2015 12:20
Peace Time: Bombing Arizona

 

October 24, 2015: Strategy Page

 

On September 23rd a scrap yard worker in the United States (Arizona) was killed while trying to cut up an American Mk82 500 pound (227 kg) unguided bomb. Not all of the explosives in the unguided bomb went off but enough did to kill the worker. Normally these bombs carry 127.2 kg (280 pounds) of high explosives. The U.S. Department of Defense is investigating where the bomb came from because such weapons are not sold as surplus but are demilitarized (explosives removed) in Department of Defense facilities. Currently the most likely source of the bomb is the only missing Mk-82s in the area. These are four Mk-82s that still missing after the A-10 carrying them crashed in a remote area of nearby Colorado. That was over 700 kilometers away but it was also in 1997 so there was plenty of time for the banged up bomb to make its way to Arizona. Not only that but the bomb apparently was missing much of its explosives, which might be the result of someone else extracting them or scattered when the unarmed (to explode) bomb hit the ground and broke up.

 

Contemporary military munitions do show up frequently enough in the United States for most major police forces to have explosives experts trained to recognize and deal with them. In the rest of the world it is a little different. World War II era munitions continue to show up throughout Europe. Although most of the millions of land mines were removed from Europe within a few years of the war ending in 1945, there are still a huge number of unexploded of grenades, shells, rockets and bombs buried all over the place. At least the mine fields were easy to find, although dangerous to clear. But the remaining munitions were left behind, in unrecorded locations, for some pretty simple reasons. First of all, many bombs, artillery and mortar shells (over ten percent, for some manufacturers) do not explode when they are supposed to, but just buried themselves into the ground. These shells are still full of explosives, and often have a fuze that, while defective, is often still capable of going off if disturbed. Other munitions were left in bunkers, or elsewhere on the battlefield, and got buried and lost. Most of these lost munitions eventually get found by farmers, or anyone digging up the ground for construction. London and Berlin, two of the most heavily bombed cities during World War II, still suffer from construction crews unearthing unexploded bombs.

 

 The problem goes back farther than World War II. Unexploded munitions from the World War I (which ended in 1918), and the American Civil War, which ended in 1865, are still showing up, and some of them are still deadly. Currently, over a thousand World War II munitions are discovered each year in Europe and smaller amounts in East Asia; mainly Japan, China and Korea with lots of 1960s vintage stuff still surfacing in Vietnam.

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28 octobre 2015 3 28 /10 /octobre /2015 13:20
photo 355th Fighter Wing

photo 355th Fighter Wing

 

October 23, 2015

 

Officials downplay planned fly-off between warplanes

 

Several weeks ago, the Project on Government Oversight announced its cautious optimism upon learning the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation planned to conduct a close air support fly-off between the proven A-10 and the yet-to-be proved F-35.

The cautious aspect of that optimism has been proven to be warranted. Under questioning by Rep. Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican and former A-10 pilot, F-35 program executive officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan dismissed the idea of a comparative test as irrelevant. The exchange occurred during a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing on updates to the Joint Strike Fighter program.

Bogdan’s remarks echo earlier comments by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, who described the proposed test as a “silly exercise.”

Michael Gilmore, Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, said in late August, “The comparison tests on the close-air support mission will reveal how well the F-35 performs and whether there are gaps, or improvements in capability, compared to the A-10.”

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22 octobre 2015 4 22 /10 /octobre /2015 16:30
USAF A-10s deploy to Incirlik

 

22 October, 2015 By Arie Egozi – FG

 

Tel Aviv  - The US will accelerate its air operations in Syria against Islamic State militants by deploying the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II to Incirlik AFB in Turkey.

 

Russia has increased its military presence in Syria, and satellite images – including those from an Israeli satellite – show that it has based a number of squadrons of fighters and attack helicopters in the Middle East. Russian air strikes have led Washington to change its strategy in Syria, resulting in the deployment of the A-10s – an aircraft that is well-equipped to carry out missions against IS. Twelve A-10s that are usually based at Moody AFB in Georgia have reportedly been sent to Turkey. They will replace six USAF Lockheed Martin F-16s that were deployed from Aviano AFB in Italy in August. The A-10 was first deployed in the anti-IS fight in 2014.

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25 juin 2015 4 25 /06 /juin /2015 11:20
L’A-10 en statique au salon du Bourget – photo Frédéric Lert (Aerobuzz.fr)

L’A-10 en statique au salon du Bourget – photo Frédéric Lert (Aerobuzz.fr)

 

22 juin 2015 par Frédéric Lert – Aerobuzz.fr

 

L’US Air Force a de nouveau amené un A-10 à Paris. Sans doute la dernière fois que l’avion y sera vu sous les couleurs américaines. En attendant une vente à l’export ?

 

Inutile de présenter le A-10, tout le monde le connaît. L’avion est venu pour la première fois au salon du Bourget en juin 1977. Il n’en était pas reparti, ayant été détruit (et son pilote tué) dans un accident au cours de sa présentation en vol. Trente-huit plus tard, l’avion était encore là la semaine dernière, venu dans les fourgons de l’US Air Force aux côtés des inoxydables F-15 et F-16…

Au cours des 38 années écoulées, le A-10 a monté la garde devant le rideau de Fer avant d’aller semer vigoureusement ses obus de 30mm à l’uranium appauvri dans les sables irakiens et la rocaille afghane. Aucun doute là-dessus, le A-10 a la générosité des fromages du terroir qu’on nous montre à la télé. Malgré son aura de vétéran, l’avion est aujourd’hui au centre d’un vigoureux débat entre l’US Air Force et le Congrès américain.

 

Suite de l’article

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20 mars 2015 5 20 /03 /mars /2015 12:20
An A-10 sits on the tarmac after a mission against Islamic State. photo US Air Force

An A-10 sits on the tarmac after a mission against Islamic State. photo US Air Force

 

March 19, 2015 by JOSEPH TREVITHICK – War is boring

 

Eventually, the U.S. Air Force wants to replace the low and slow-flying A-10 Warthog with the fast-moving F-35 stealth fighter. But it’ll take years before the troubled jet fighters are ready for duty. In the meantime, the Air Force still needs a plane for dedicated close air support missions — something the A-10 excels at. So what does the flying branch propose? Not keeping the Warthog. Instead, the Air Force wants to replace the Warthog with a modified F-16 fighter jet — an old concept that failed to live up to expectations decades ago. The F-16s would fill in temporarily until the F-35s can take over. We have a hard time believing it — but yes, this is a serious proposal.

 

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13 février 2015 5 13 /02 /février /2015 08:51
photo USAF

photo USAF


10 février 2015 par Edouard Maire – Info Aviation
 

L’US Air Force (USAF) a déployé un détachement de Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II Warthog en Europe au sein d’un Theater Security Package (TSP) en soutien à l’opération « Atlantic Resolve » (source : U.S European Command).

 

Douze avions A-10 Warthog et environ 300 membres du personnel du 355th Fighter Wing, basée à Davis-Monthan (Arizona), seront affectés au 52e Escadron de chasse à la base aérienne de Spangdahlem en Allemagne. Tous les équipements devraient être opérationnels d’ici la fin février.

Selon l’USAF en Europe, le TSP accentuera la force de frappe aérienne de l’opération « Atlantic Resolve » pour améliorer l’interopérabilité entre les alliés de l’OTAN. Une fois en Allemagne, les A-10 pourront être déployés vers différents pays d’Europe de l’Est membres de l’OTAN.

Il s’agit du premier déploiement d’un TSP en Europe et d’un signal clair envers Moscou suite à la crise en Ukraine. Les rotations devrait durer six mois selon les missions et les exigences du United States European Command.

L’US Air Force mène déjà des rotations de TSP dans la zone du Pacifique depuis 2004, notamment en Corée du sud.

Le A-10 Warthog est conçu pour l’attaque au sol et la destruction des blindés. Il est équipé d’un turboréacteur à double flux General Electric TF34-GE-100 d’une poussée de 40 kN chacun. Il témoigne d’une excellente maniabilité à faible vitesse et à basse altitude. Son arme emblématique est un canon GAU-8 Avenger de 30 mm qui peut tirer jusqu’à 3 900 projectiles à la minute. Son utilisation en Europe était envisagé depuis les années 70 par l’armée américaine en cas d’invasion des blindés soviétiques durant la guerre froide.

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20 janvier 2015 2 20 /01 /janvier /2015 22:30
U.S. A-10 reportedly shot at by ISIS militants with Strela MANPADS in Iraq

 

Jan 19 2015 - By David Cenciotti- theaviationist.com

 

U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft face the threat of Man Portable Air Defense Systems in Iraq.

 

According to a report by Iraqi News, American A-10 were shot at with four Strela missiles during the recent air strikes carried out by the Warthogs (as the Thunderbolts are referred to by the pilot community) on ISIS positions near Mosul, in Iraq. Based on reports by unnamed sources who witnessed the attack, the A-10s killed and wounded several terrorists but were also targeted by the ISIS militants who allegedly attempted to shoot down the U.S. planes fling at low altitude using 9K32 Strela-2 (NATO reporting name SA-7 Grail) man-portable, shoulder-fired, low-altitude, IR (infra-red) guided, surface-to-air missile systems.

 

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17 décembre 2014 3 17 /12 /décembre /2014 17:20
Les USA augmentent le budget de la défense

Le budget de la défense américain en hausse de près de 10 % en 2015

 

14/12/2014 latribune.fr 

 

Le Congrès américain a voté vendredi un budget 2015 de la défense à 577 milliards de dollars (463 milliards d'euros). En hausse de près de 10 % par rapport à celui voté en 2013.

 

La baisse du budget de la défense américain n'aura été finalement qu'une très légère parenthèse... Face à la montée des menaces, le Congrès américain a voté vendredi un budget 2015 de la défense à 577 milliards de dollars (463 milliards d'euros), qui autorise l'entraînement par les Etats-Unis des forces syriennes et irakiennes qui luttent contre l'Etat islamique. En 2013, la loi sur la défense prévoyait pour le Pentagone un budget annuel de 526,8 milliards de dollars (385 milliards d'euros) pour l'exercice budgétaire 2014. Soit une hausse de près de 10 %.

Sur ce total de 577 milliards de dépenses militaires, 496 milliards constituent le budget de base du Pentagone, près de 64 milliards sont consacrés aux guerres hors des Etats-Unis et 17,9 milliards aux travaux sur les armes nucléaires du département de l'Energie. Le Sénat a voté le texte, qui avait été voté la semaine dernière par la Chambre des représentants, par 89 voix contre 11. Il sera ensuite signé par Barack Obama et promulgué.

 

Lutter contre l'Etat islamique, une priorité

Le budget avalise le plan du Pentagone concernant l'entraînement et l'équipement d'une force militaire de l'opposition syrienne modérée pour lutter contre l'Etat islamique, défendre le peuple syrien et mettre en place les conditions d'une fin de la guerre civile en Syrie. De même, le programme d'entraînement des forces irakiennes et kurdes qui combattent l'EI est également autorisé.

Des mesures de contrôle des dépenses de personnel du Pentagone, qui représentent environ la moitié du budget, sont prises. En particulier, le texte réduit l'allocation logement des militaires d'un point de pourcentage et reste silencieux sur les augmentation de salaires qui ne devraient pas augmenter de plus de 1 %.

 

De vieux systèmes d'armements maintenus

Le texte rejette un certain nombre de demandes du Pentagone qui veut mettre hors service, ou réduire, des systèmes d'armements qu'il estime ne plus avoir les moyens de maintenir en raison d'un programme d'économies budgétaires qui vise à réduire les dépenses militaires de près de 1.000 milliards de dollars en dix ans.

Par exemple, l'abandon de l'A-10 Warthog, avion conçu pour l'appui aérien rapproché des forces terrestres, n'est pas accepté. L'armée de l'air voulait retirer de la circulation ces appareil très appréciés des troupes au sol en raison de leur capacité à voler à basse altitude et à détruire les chars ennemis et faire passer le personnel sur le F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. La loi votée vendredi interdit également la mise hors service du porte-avion USS George Washington et autorise les financements pour entamer un remaniement du navire.

 

L'Irak demande plus d'aide aux Etats-Unis

Le Premier ministre irakien Haïdar al Abadi avait exhorté mardi les Etats-Unis à lui fournir davantage d'appui aérien et d'armes lourdes pour lutter contre le groupe l'Etat islamique à l'occasion d'une visite surprise à Bagdad du secrétaire américain à la Défense, Chuck Hagel. "Nous sommes très reconnaissants du soutien qui nous a été donné", avait souligné le chef du gouvernement irakien lors d'un entretien avec le chef du Pentagone, Chuck Hagel, qui quittera ses fonctions dans les prochaines semaines.

L'EI est "actuellement sur la pente descendante", avait précisé Haïdar al Abadi. "Nos forces progressent beaucoup au sol. Mais elles ont besoin de plus de soutien aérien et d'armement lourd. Nous en avons besoin". Les Etats-Unis ont lancé il y a quatre mois une campagne de frappes aériennes contre l'Etat islamique mais Bagdad souhaiterait que Washington s'engage davantage. C'était la première visite d'un ministre de la Défense en Irak depuis que le président Barack Obama a ordonné le retrait des troupes américaines du pays en 2011. C'est aussi la dernière visite officielle à l'étranger de Chuck Hagel en tant que secrétaire à la Défense, poste qu'il occupe depuis près de deux ans.

 

Un rôle de soutien

"Nous avons un rôle à jouer ici mais il doit toujours se cantonner à un rôle de soutien(...). C'est leur pays. Il leur revient de conduire les choses", avait expliqué le chef du Pentagone à des militaires américains et australiens à l'aéroport de Bagdad. "Il s'agit d'un effort sur le long terme. La tâche est difficile. Il y aura des revers et des victoires. Voilà, je crois, où nous en sommes, et j'ai hâte d'avoir des comptes rendus de première main". Les djihadistes ont conquis une bonne partie du nord et de l'ouest de l'Irak, dont la grande ville de Mossoul, en juin dernier à la faveur d'une offensive éclair, et tiennent aussi des régions entières de l'est et du nord de la Syrie.

Le président Obama a autorisé en novembre le doublement du nombre de militaires américains présents en Irak, à 3.100 hommes. Lundi, le général américain James Terry a déclaré que les alliés des Etats-Unis au sein de la coalition anti-Etat islamique allaient envoyer en Irak 1.500 militaires, chargés de conseiller et de former les troupes irakiennes mais aussi les peshmergas (combattants kurdes).

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16 novembre 2014 7 16 /11 /novembre /2014 08:20
Fight Over A-10 Re-opens Hill, US Air Force Divide

 

Nov. 15, 2014 - By AARON MEHTA – Defense News

 

WASHINGTON — After a relatively quiet summer, the battle for the future of the A-10 Warthog exploded in the last two weeks, reopening deep fissures between Congress and the US Air Force that seem to show the two sides at a total stalemate.

 

The A-10 issue — the Air Force wants to scrap it, Congress wants to keep it — has aroused a passionate array of protectors in a way the Air Force seemed unprepared to deal with. At this point, neither side in the debate is willing to trust the other’s ideas or facts.

 

Deborah Lee James, service secretary, acknowledged in July that the service needs to do a better job of showing “consistency” to members of Congress, and the drive to better relations with the Hill was highlighted as a key part in the service’s newest 30-year strategy document.

 

While that is a noble goal, those in the trenches indicate trust is still a hard concept for the two sides, particularly when the A-10 is involved.

 

The relations between the Hill and the Air Force have been degrading since the middle of the last decade, said Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute.

 

“There is no doubt that is an issue, and this current crop of leadership has tried hard to steer the vessel in a new direction and to slowly move the organization back to a place of mutual trust with the Hill,” Eaglen said.

 

The current A-10 fight “just goes to show how deep the damage has been and how lasting the effects are,” she added.

 

Emotions are running high on both sides, creating a winner-take-all culture that is unlikely to result in any sort of compromise.

 

One Hill staffer who has been engaged with the service on the A-10 issue said there is a feeling the service plays with facts and figures to force its argument down the throat of Congress.

 

“Their arguments come up, don’t stand up to facts, we push back, we don’t get satisfying responses, and my assessment is the Air Force wants to retire the A-10 and they don’t want to find a solution to make it work,” the staffer said.

 

Rep. Ron Barber, an Arizona Democrat who made saving the A-10 a key part of his re-election campaign, expressed frustration with the service during a Nov. 13 rally in support of the plane.

 

“We’ve seen several attempts by the Air Force to go around our decisions, to make moves to divest even though we told them not to,” Barber added, his voice rising in anger. “We will continue to tell them to listen to the will of Congress.

 

“The Air Force, they are persistent. But so are we. We’re not going to give up this fight until we prevail.”

 

On the other side, two Air Force officials complained that the Hill ignores the service’s analysis supporting the need to retire the Warthog.

 

Those officials singled out Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., as particularly dug in on the issue, and complained that her office doesn’t offer any alternatives when it rejects options brought forth from the Air Force.

 

“The options, we’ve [explained] — in exquisite detail — why those aren’t feasible options,” one official said, “it comes down to, she just doesn’t believe us.”

 

“If they had something to offer, believe me, we would go take a look at it,” the second official said.

 

Maintenance Battle Lines

 

The latest fight over maintainers is a perfect summary of the situation.

 

The Air Force is claiming that its planned Aug. 16 initial operating capability (IOC) date for its fleet of F-35A joint strike fighters is now in peril because the A-10 cannot be retired, as a large chunk of the 1,100 maintainers needed for IOC on the stealthy jet were to be moved from the stood-down fleet of Warthogs.

 

Members of Congress who appeared at a Nov. 13 event supporting the A-10, including Ayotte, expressed skepticism over the sudden use of the F-35 as a talking point.

 

“The Air Force has continued to make this a false choice between the F-35 and the A-10,” Ayotte said, noting the argument has just appeared on the scene after previous talking points failed to retire the Warthog. “How many different arguments has the Air Force made along the way?”

 

“I’m not trying to impugn their motives,” the senator later told Defense News. “I just think they have been of the mindset from the beginning to retire this airframe, and that mindset doesn’t seem to have shifted despite the Congress weighing in pretty clearly on this.”

 

The service officials countered by saying they looked at 11 choices for how to handle this issue, and while it weighed them all, the A-10 retirement remains the best choice.

 

Take two of those 11 choices as examples of the “he said, she said” nature of the discussion.

 

One option would involve finding Air National Guard volunteers to come online and take over some F-35 maintenance work. The Air Force officials said that plan has many flaws, including requiring pulling Guardsmen from their units and the fact their civilian jobs would not be guaranteed without a full mobilization order from the president.

 

The staffer disagreed with that assessment, concluding that the service could find a way to make it work. “After interviews and exchanges I’ve had with the Air Force, I was left with the impression they have not fully explored the mobilization option,” the staffer said.

 

What about turning to contract maintainers? Could Lockheed Martin workers, already familiar with the F-35, chip in?

 

The Air Force claims it will take a year to spin up those contractors and establish a contract vehicle to get them on board. But the staffer believes there is a contracting vehicle in place through existing agreements with Lockheed.

 

Eaglen believes both sides have an argument, but are simply talking past each other at this point.

 

“The Hill is right the Air Force has lots of options, and the Air Force is right they probably chose the best one,” she said. “Just because there is another option doesn’t make it the best option that hurts the [least].”

 

Perhaps most telling, the Air Force is talking with members of the Hill about a partial retirement — shutting down three A-10 squadrons, or about 72 planes, which the service officials said would free up enough maintainers to handle F-35A IOC.

 

On the face, that would seem like a compromise. The Air Force gets enough planes retired for its requirement, while keeping the Warthog around to protect troops on the ground. But the Hill staffer derided that idea, calling it “just another version of the same plan to divest the A-10, and that is not a compromise.

 

“There is a pattern here of ‘give me what I’m asking for,’ but framing it as a compromise,” the staffer said. “This is not the first time they’ve done this. They tried to send some to the boneyard and called it a ‘compromise.’ That’s not a compromise. That’s how you divest things.”

 

Both Barber and Ayotte have rejected that option, leaving the service and Congress once again at loggerheads — and growing increasingly frustrated with each other.

 

“The Air Force doesn’t want to find a creative solution of fully [maintaining] the F-35A, which is a requirement they’ve known about for years and should not have been surprised by,” the staffer said. “The question is whether they want to.”

 

“We’ve gone through it and they haven’t been able to provide us with a viable option,” the first Air Force official countered.

 

At the start of the summer, Eaglen expected the A-10 fight to end as these things usually do — with the Air Force getting its way, even if it had to wait a year or two. Now, she’s not certain that is true.

 

“I’m surprised at the ferocity of the A-10 community,” she said. “They punch above their weight class. I’ve seen this fight play out a million times before and it doesn’t turn out this way normally. Eventually the services get their way. But there are always exceptions, and this may prove to be one of them.

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28 septembre 2014 7 28 /09 /septembre /2014 11:20
Warplanes: A-10 Storm Chaser

 

 

September 27, 2014: Strategy Page

 

The U.S. Air Force is providing the NSF (National Science Foundation) with a working A-10 ground attack aircraft for conversion to a storm (tornado or hurricane) chaser. The A-10 will have all its weapons and military electronics removed. The NSF is providing $13 million to install electronics (in place of the fire control system) that will enable the A-10 to monitor weather conditions in the immediate vicinity more accurately and also launch small sensors into a storm. The aircraft will be ready later in 2014, in time for late season hurricanes.

 

The basic A-10 is a 1960s design that has been upgraded a lot since it first appeared in the 1970s. The A-10 is a 23 ton, twin engine, single seat aircraft whose primary weapon is a multi-barrel 30mm cannon originally designed to fire armored piercing shells at Russian tanks. In addition, the A-10 can carry seven tons of bombs and missiles. Cruising speed is 560 kilometers an hour and the A-10 can slow down to about 230 kilometers an hour. In Afghanistan two drop tanks are usually carried, to give the aircraft more fuel and maximum time over the battlefield. The storm chaser version will still have the hard points on the wings so it can carry more wing tanks in addition to the small bomb-like sensor devices (that broadcast what they detect) that are dropped into storms. Removing the 30mm cannon leaves space for cameras, special radars and whatever.

 

The A-10 was built to withstand a lot of ground fire and be a stable gun platform when flying close to the ground (where the weather can be rather bumpier for aircraft.) Storms tend to generate high winds and hail and close to the ground the winds can send a lot of small objects moving around at high speed. The A-10 can handle this sort of thing and carry enough fuel to stay in the air for six hours or more.

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18 septembre 2014 4 18 /09 /septembre /2014 16:20
General: ‘We Don’t Have a Replacement’ for A-10, U-2

 

September 16, 2014 by Mike Hoffman - defensetech.org


The Air Force does not have a suitable replacement for the planned divestiture of the A-10 Warthog aircraft and U-2 spy plane, senior service leaders said Sept. 16 at the Air Force Association Air and Space Conference, National Harbor, Md.

“I don’t want to cut the A-10 and the U-2 – we don’t have a replacement,” said Gen. Michael Hostage III, Commander, Air Force Air Combat Command.


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RQ-4 Global Hawk taxies on the flightline as a U-2 makes its final approach

RQ-4 Global Hawk taxies on the flightline as a U-2 makes its final approach

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4 mars 2014 2 04 /03 /mars /2014 17:20
Les 350 A-10 en service sont équipés pour opérer au plus près de l’adversaire. Photo USAF

Les 350 A-10 en service sont équipés pour opérer au plus près de l’adversaire. Photo USAF

 

3 mars 2014 Aerobuzz.fr

 

Aux USA, le budget prévisionnel de la Défense (496 Md$) prévoit le retrait de deux avions de légende : l’avion-espion U-2, et le tueur de chars A-10. Ces deux appareils emblématiques de la guerre froide sont pourtant, encore aujourd’hui, appréciés des militaires américains.

 

Il est temps de tourner la page. Pour le Secrétaire américain à la Défense, Chuck Hagel, les USA ne peuvent plus se permettre de conserver, au sein de leur arsenal, des avions « mono mission ». En conséquence, l’A-10 et le U-2/TR-1, deux avions de légende, se retrouvent dans le collimateur du Pentagone et de la Maison Blanche se trouvent.

 

Selon l’administration américaine, supprimer le parc d’avions d’attaque A-10C , soit 350 avions au total, permettrait d’économiser 3,5 Md$ en cinq ans. Une somme qui aiderait à financer partiellement le programme d’avion d’attaque furtif F-35, les drones d’attaque Reaper et surtout, une partie des avions ravitailleurs. Selon la Maison Blanche, ces avions d’attaque qui ont plus de 40 ans, sont des reliques de la guerre froide. Ils sont aujourd’hui qualifiés d’obsolètes et de vulnérables aux moyens de défense modernes.

 

 

Le A-10 est capable d’encaisser les coups des défenseurs adverses. Photo  USAF

Le A-10 est capable d’encaisser les coups des défenseurs adverses. Photo USAF

 

Au congrès, une sénatrice dont le mari est un ancien pilote de A-10, a fait remarquer que le « tueur de chars » des années 80 est aujourd’hui qualifié de « meilleur ami du fantassin » sur tous les théâtres où il a été engagé, et plus d’un marines lui doit la vie sauve. En outre le parc vient de subir, aux frais du contribuable américain, une modernisation importante qui a porté sur l’avionique, le système d’arme, les moyens d’autoprotection et l’installation d’une nouvelle voilure. De quoi faire durer ces monstres blindés de titane et d’aluminium jusqu’en 2028 au moins.

 

Si les drones d’attaque sont en train de monter en puissance dans l’arsenal américain, leur souplesse d’emploi et leur fiabilité laisse encore à désirer parfois. Quant au remplaçant furtif, le F-35 JSF, présenté comme le fer de lance des années 2020, les retards de programme, les dépassements de budget et les déboires techniques à répétition n’augurent, pour le moment, rien de bon. Ainsi, là où un A-10, taillé pour le combat au plus près de l’adversaire avec son blindage peut survivre à des impacts de munitions de 12,5 mm et des tirs de missiles courte portée, le coûteux JSF, dépourvu de tout blindage et dont la soute interne ne permet pas d’emporter beaucoup de missiles, devra rester à distance de sécurité.

 

 

Le A-10 tire des munitions à uranium appauvri capables de percer tous les blindages. Photo USAF

Le A-10 tire des munitions à uranium appauvri capables de percer tous les blindages. Photo USAF

 

 

En outre plusieurs sénateurs font remarquer que depuis les années 80, le spectre des missions du A-10 est passé de « simple » «  tueur de chars  », à avion d’appui aérien, de contrôle des opérations avancé et moyen de localisation de personnes en détresse en zone hostile. Bref le A-10 est aujourd’hui le couteau suisse des avions d’attaque, à l’instar des SU-25 en Russie.

 

Le A-10 a bénéficié d’un important programme de remise à niveau. Photo USAF

Le A-10 a bénéficié d’un important programme de remise à niveau. Photo USAF

 

Autre victime pressentie des restrictions budgétaires américaines : l’avion espion U-2/TR-1 « Dragon Lady ». Cet appareil est apparu dans les années 50. Né en huit mois seulement de la volonté d’un seul homme, l’ingénieur de Lockheed Martin Clarence Kelly Johnson, cet appareil vendu à la CIA puis à l’USAF est depuis 50 ans de toutes les opérations, qu’elles soient secrètes, ou officielles. Le parc actuel d’avions espions, U-2 compte 32 unités. Le potentiel théorique de cet avion singulier peut lui permettre de rester en service pendant encore 35 ans. Les U-2 sont des avions optimisés pour la haute altitude, environ 77.000 pieds au maximum, soit largement au dessus des avions de ligne. Plus on vole haut, plus on voit loin, et moins on a de chance d’être abattu expliquait Kelly Johnson.

 

Vers une sortie définitive des U-2 et A-10 de l’arsenal militaire américain

Le U-2 est apparu dans les années 50. Il a permis par exemple d’estimer dès ses premières missions le véritable potentiel offensif de l’URSS. Photo Lockheed-Martin

 

Depuis son perchoir, le U-2 met en œuvre des charges utiles diverses suivant les données à collecter. Ainsi pendant les missions en ex Yougoslavie, un U-2 interceptait en permanence toutes les communication radio militaires et civiles. Des données relayées en direct par satellite vers Washington, qui, après traitement, élaborait une situation tactique claire de tout le théâtre d’opérations. Ainsi équipé, le U-2 savait avant même les Awacs, qu’un pilote serbe ou croate s’apprêtait à mettre en route son MiG21. Un préavis inestimable pour les forces de l’Otan. Plus tard en Afghanistan, c’est encore le U-2 qui surveillait les mouvements des Talibans poseurs de bombes improvisées sur les routes. La panoplie du U2 comprend également un radar capable de détecter les cibles au sol les mieux camouflées tout en restant au dessus des nuages, et des caméras à très haute résolution.

 

Vers une sortie définitive des U-2 et A-10 de l’arsenal militaire américain

Le U-2 croise à plus de 21.000 mètres pendant des heures pour fournir de précieux renseignements aux militaires et aux politiques. Photo Loockheed-Martin

 

Le remplaçant pressenti du U-2 est le drone Global Hawk Block 30. Avec une endurance de 30 heures environ il bat à plate couture le U-2 dont le pilote a besoin de repos après huit heures exténuantes dans la stratosphère. Mais le drone a ses défauts, sa vulnérabilité au brouillage des communications, la faiblesse de sa capacité d’emport, ses capteurs aux performances moyennes, son altitude de croisière inférieure et ses couts d’exploitation élevés. Bref un manque de maturité qui suscite des réactions de méfiance outre-Atlantique.

 

Vers une sortie définitive des U-2 et A-10 de l’arsenal militaire américain

Le parc de U-2, qui se monte à 32 unités est encore « jeune » en termes de potentiel. photo Lockheed-Martin

 

Quant aux satellites espions, leur cout élevé et leur manque de souplesse d’emploi ne compenseront pas le départ du U-2. En effet, un satellite défilant ne peut passer que quelques minutes sur un point donné, et il emporte soit un radar à ouverture synthétique, soit des capteurs SIGINT (radio) soit des caméras. Le U-2, lui peut aisément être configuré pour n’importe quel mission et assurer la permanence du renseignement là où les autres moyens ne sont pas présents.

 

Vers une sortie définitive des U-2 et A-10 de l’arsenal militaire américain

Le U-2 collecte des données tactiques et stratégiques.  Il dispose de moyens d’écoute électroniques, d’un radar air-sol et de caméras très puissantes. Photo Lockheed-Martin

 

La bataille qui opposera bientôt le Congrès à la Maison Blanche pour le budget de la Défense s’annonce rude, mais il y a cette fois peu de chances que le U-2 et le A-10 en réchappent.

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25 février 2014 2 25 /02 /février /2014 19:20
L’US Air Force sur le point de se séparer de ses A-10 et ses U-2

Plus de 700 A-10 ont été produits par Fairchild pour les besoins de l'US Air Force. Photo © US Air Force

 

25.02.2014 Helen Chachaty journal-aviation.com

 

 

Le secrétaire d’État du Pentagone, Chuck Hagel, a détaillé le 24 février l’ensemble des mesures et des recommandations concernant l’armée américaine pour la prochaine année budgétaire, qui doivent être présentées au Congrès la semaine prochaine. Deux décisions sont particulièrement emblématiques pour l’US Air Force : le retrait du service actif de la flotte d’A10 « Warthog » et d’U-2 « Dragon Lady », deux flottes qui permettrait au Pentagone de faire de substantielles économies, les deux modèles étant relativement âgés.

 

Le Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II devrait ainsi être mis à la retraite, la date précise n’étant pas encore connue. Le remplacement de ce bi-réacteur par des F-35 à l’horizon 2020 devrait permettre de réaliser une économie de 3,5 milliards de dollars selon le Pentagone, qui parle de coûts et de difficultés croissants pour le MCO de ces appareils. « Des économies significatives ne sont possibles que si la totalité de la flotte est retirée du service actif, en raison des coûts fixes de maintenance associés à cet avion. Ne garder qu’un nombre restreint d’A-10 ne ferait que retarder l’inévitable », a déclaré Chuck Hagel lors de son discours. De plus, l’A-10, utilisé uniquement pour l’appui aérien rapproché depuis 40 ans, n’est pas viable dans un environnement aérien qui nécessite de plus en plus d’avoir des avions multirôles.

 

L’US Air Force devrait donc également se séparer de sa flotte d’U-2 « Dragon Lady », en service depuis 50 ans. Cette retraite s’opèrera au profit des drones HALE RQ-4 Global Hawk. Il avait un temps été question de maintenir les U-2 en complément des Global Hawk, pour des raisons de budget, mais la réduction des coûts d’exploitation des drones HALE a mis en avant leur efficacité par rapport à l’U-2, d’une autonomie et d’un rayon d’action moindre. « Le Global Hawk représente une meilleure plateforme de reconnaissance à haute altitude pour le futur » a déclaré Chuck Hagel.

 

Le retrait des A-10 et des U-2 permettra selon le secrétaire d’État une redistribution au profit de programmes-clés : nouveau bombardier, F-35, nouveau ravitailleur KC-46A. Le Pentagone émet également une recommandation pour l’investissement d’un milliard de dollars dans un programme technologique de moteur de nouvelle génération.

 

De plus, le ministère de la Défense précise que si les niveaux budgétaires du « séquestre » sont reconduits en 2016, l’US Air Force devrait alors retirer du service actif d’autres flottes d’aéronefs, 80 avions, dont la flotte de ravitailleurs KC-10. Le séquestre obligerait également à ralentir les achats de F-35 prévus en 2019 ainsi qu’à opérer une réduction drastique des heures de vols allouées aux pilotes.

L'USAF dispose aujourd'hui de 32 U-2 opérationnels. Photo © US Air Force

L'USAF dispose aujourd'hui de 32 U-2 opérationnels. Photo © US Air Force

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13 décembre 2013 5 13 /12 /décembre /2013 12:20
End looms for US Air Force’s A-10 ground-attack jet

 

December 13th, 2013 defencetalk.com (AFP)

 

Long disliked by the US Air Force, the A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack jet may finally be heading for the chopping block due to budget constraints.

 

The “Warthog,” first designed as a tank buster to target Soviet armored vehicles in the middle of the Cold War in the early 1970s, is shunned by many aviators.

 

Although the twin-engine aircraft is slow, it is incredibly efficient to provide close air support of ground forces, making it an appreciated asset for the US Army.

 

But the US Air Force “never had a whole lot of interest in a subsonic close-air support plane,” explained Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with consulting firm Teal Group.

 

“This is a plane for large land combat engagements and for the foreseeable future, you probably won’t face too many of those and there’s also the budget pressure.”

 

The US Air Force had tried several times since the end of the Cold War to scrap a large part of its A-10 fleet but then gave up in the face of a series of unexpected deployments, such as the Gulf War and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

“Just because they’ve had this long-standing dislike for the A-10 doesn’t mean that they aren’t right this time,” said Aboulafia.

 

The Defense Department faces $1 trillion in budget cuts over the next decade, half of them due to automatic reductions in spending known as sequestration.

 

The US Air Force alone needs to save $12 billion in 2014, according to the service’s Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh.

 

So by 2015, the Air Force plans to part ways with its entire A-10 fleet — 326 aircraft — hoping to save $3.7 billion in the process.

 

“It is the best airplane in the world at what it does,” Welsh told lawmakers, noting he had flown the aircraft himself for a “thousand” hours.

 

But “if we’re going to look at what we must divest, not what we want to divest, but what we must divest, we have to be very honest with ourselves inside the Air Force about how much we can afford,” he added.

 

The problem with the A-10, which sports a heavy rotary cannon, is that it is limited to its only capacity to support ground missions, a big drawback compared to multi-mission aircraft such as the F-15 or F-16.

 

“If we have platforms that can do multiple missions well and maybe not do one as well as another airplane, the airplane that is limited to a specific type of mission area becomes the one most at risk,” Welsh said.

 

“You only gain major savings if you cut an entire fleet.”

 

Speaking Thursday before the American Enterprise Institute think-tank in Washington, Welsh stressed that to make the same savings of $3.7 billion, “we would have to shut down three to four times as many F-16s squadrons as we do A-10s.”

 

“If that’s the case, we can’t do the mission,” he added.

 

The A-10 also only makes less than 30 percent of sorties for close air support missions.

 

F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters currently contribute to such missions and the F-35 — the Pentagon’s main armament program — is due to participate in the future.

 

“Historical animosity,” however, has seen the Army try to halt the Air Force’s plans, Aboulafia said.

 

“The A-10 is the best close air support platform we have today,” Welsh’s counterpart in the Army, General Ray Odierno, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in November.

 

“It’s performed incredibly well in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

 

Three dozen senators and lawmakers from both main parties wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last month noting their “deep concern” over plans to scrap the A-10 in their respective states.

 

“We oppose any effort that would divest the A-10, creating a CAS (close air support) capability gap that would reduce Air Force combat power and unnecessarily endanger our service members in future conflicts,” they wrote.

 

The letter was led by Senators Kelly Ayotte, Mark Pryor, Saxby Chambliss and Claire McCaskill, along with Representatives Ron Barber and Jack Kingston. It was also signed by nine other senators and 18 other representatives.

 

Ayotte has proposed an amendment to the 2014 budget law seeking to delay until at least 2022 the A-10 fleet’s retirement.

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20 novembre 2013 3 20 /11 /novembre /2013 08:20
Northrop Grumman gets task orders for A-10 modernization support

 

HERNDON, Va., Nov. 19 (UPI)

 

Task orders worth nearly $24 million have been given to Northrop Grumman by the U.S. Air Force to help keep A-10 Thunderbolts flying until 2028 and beyond.

 

The two task orders to Northrop were issued under the A-10 Thunderbolt life cycle program support contract, which is an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity vehicle.

 

Under the four-year aircraft structural integrity program Modernization V deal, Northrop Grumman will perform tasks such as damage tolerance analysis, materials testing, probabilistic and risk analysis, and stress and thermal analysis.

 

"Northrop Grumman is proud to continue to supporting the Air Force's premier ground-attack aircraft," said John Parker, director of Northrop Grumman's global logistics and modernization business unit. "Our focus is to always provide our customer with the highest level of engineering services possible to ensure superior program performance. We look forward to continuing our work with the Air Force and the A-10 Thunderbolt."

 

Northrop said its team for the task orders includes the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, the University of Dayton Research Institute in Dayton, Ohio, Borsight Inc. of Ogden, Utah, and Prime Machine Inc. of Salt Lake City.

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16 octobre 2013 3 16 /10 /octobre /2013 07:20
Air Force, Marines Clearing APKWS Guided Rockets for F-16, A-10 and AV-8B

In April 2013 an Air Force A-10 Warthog launched APKWS FW guided rockets from altitudes of 10,000-15,000 ft at an airspeed of 348 knots. Photo  BAE Systems

 

October 15, 2013 defense-update.com

 

The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed the success of recent tests conducted with a fixed wing variant of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) laser-guided rocket. The tests were performed by the Direct & Time Sensitive Strike Weapons Program Office (PMA-242), demonstrating robust design of the and the completion of the Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps. The conclusion of the JCTD is the next step toward evaluating the addition the Fixed Wing variant to the current APKWS Program of Record.

“The variety of tests helped us evaluate weapons systems build up, loading and delivery, and later, illustrate that the weapon would perform, as designed, to hit stationary and moving targets,” Bill Hammersley, the JCTD technical manager, said. “The success of these tests means that an aircraft pilot will be able to carry seven guided rockets in one launcher that weigh less than a single 500 lb. bomb, allowing for more shots in a single sortie,” added Hammersley.

“Fixed wing APKWS uses a different guidance control system to compensate for the higher altitude and longer range employments of the weapon,” Cmdr. Alex Dutko, Airborne Rockets /Pyrotechnics deputy program manager for PMA-242 explained. “The deployment mechanism had to be redesigned in order to overcome the higher aerodynamic forces of the fixed wing environment.” Guidance section tests not only demonstrated design robustness but also helped reduce risk in subsequent live-fire tests, Dutko continued. Rocket testing included ground launches and two different aerial launches, performance and MUA shots. Flight launches were tested from the A-10 Thunderbolt II, AV-8B Harrier II, and F-16 Fighting Falcon.

“These latest test results underscore the power and versatility of the APKWS technology and provide further proof that the system can be launched off of any platform capable of shooting an unguided 2.75-inch rocket,” said David Harrold, director of precision guidance solutions at BAE Systems. “Since its introduction on Marine Corps helicopters in combat operations, the APKWS rocket has proven its ability to defeat a broad range of targets. This test is an important step in bringing that same capability to fixed-wing aviators.”

During the tests held since the spring of 2013 at the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, APKWS rockets were fired from various aircraft at different altitudes. In April BAE reported that an Air Force A-10 Warthog launched the rockets at altitudes of approximately 10,000 and 15,000 feet, at airspeeds up to 348 knots. During this test the first controlled test-vehicle shot performed a series of pre-planned maneuvers to collect in-flight data. The second shot, into a 70-knot headwind, hit the target board well within the required 2 meters of the laser spot. The shot was laser-designated from the ground with a special operations forces marker.

To date, the APKWS rocket has been qualified on the AH-1W and UH-1Y helicopters, demonstrated on the Bell 407GT, and has been flown off the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, the Beechcraft AT-6B, AV-8B and A-10. It is expected to be similarly qualified for use on several other rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft including the AH-64D/E Apache, the armed MH-60R/S, AH-6, AV-8B, F-16, and F/A-18. BAE Systems is the prime contractor for the APKWS rocket, the only U.S. program of record delivering precision guidance for 2.75-inch rockets.

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18 septembre 2013 3 18 /09 /septembre /2013 07:20
USAF General: A-10 Fleet Likely Done if Sequestration Continues

Sep. 17, 2013 - By BRIAN EVERSTINE – Defense News

 

The A-10 will likely see its last flight if sequestration continues, the chief of US Air Combat Command said today.

 

The Air Force will be forced to look at cutting single-mission aircraft under continuing budget cuts because more savings will be realized by ending the full weapon system, including infrastructure and training, as opposed to cutting just squadrons. With the F-35 coming online to take over the close-air support role, the venerable Thunderbolt II will be a likely target, Gen. Mike Hostage told reporters at the Air Force Association's Air and Space Conference.

 

“This is not something I want to do,” Hostage said, explaining that no decisions had been made.

 

Hostage said he had already talked to Army officials about losing the A-10 and using other jets to take over the close-air support role. The Army was “not happy” about the possibility, Hostage said.

 

“I will not lose what we have gained in how we learned to support the Army,” Hostage said. “I had to make sure the Army understood that I am not backing away from the mission.”

 

Hostage said the service can do the close-air support role with the F-35, but it would be more expensive and “not as impressive” without the famous GAU-8 Avenger 30 millimeter gun.

 

“In a perfect world, I would have 1,000 A-10s,” Hostage said. “I can’t afford it. I can’t afford the fleet I have now. If I cut the fleet in half, do I save enough to get through this problem?

 

“My view is, while I don’t want to do it, I would rather lose the entire fleet and save everything I do in the infrastructure.”

 

Hostage’s comments follow similar statements from both acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh that single-mission aircraft would need to be cut if budgets continue to decrease.

 

“If we go into [fiscal year 2014] with sequestration still in effect, and we need to achieve those savings, you have to look at cuts,” Fanning said Monday. “You can’t get your money out of installations because they won’t support [base realignment and closure]. You can’t get money out of people fast enough. It takes about a year to get savings out of people."

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17 septembre 2013 2 17 /09 /septembre /2013 12:20
USAF Weighs Scrapping KC-10, A-10 Fleets

Sources say the US Air Force is considering eliminating its entire fleet of KC-10 tankers in order to save money. (US Air Force)

 

Sep. 15, 2013 - By MARCUS WEISGERBER and AARON MEHTA  - Defense News

 

WASHINGTON — Faced with steep budget cuts and the desire to keep existing procurement initiatives on track, the US Air Force is considering scrapping its entire fleet of KC-10 tankers and A-10 attack jets, according to multiple military and defense sources.

 

Also on the chopping block are F-15C fighter jets and a planned $6.8 billion purchase of new combat search-and-rescue helicopters, these sources say.

 

While these proposals are far from final, the options show the magnitude of the decisions facing Air Force leadership as the service wrestles with the prospect of cutting billions of dollars in planned spending over the next decade.

 

“You only gain major savings if you cut an entire fleet,” Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, told sister publication Air Force Times last week. “You can cut aircraft from a fleet, but you save a lot more money if you cut all the infrastructure that supports the fleet.”

 

When directly asked about phasing out the A-10 fleet, Welsh declined to comment on specific aircraft.

 

“We are looking at every platform we have, every one of those five core missions and trying to decide where must we recapitalize versus where can we modernize,” Welsh said.

 

The Air Force’s 2015 spending plan is due to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) by Sept. 23.

 

Each US military service is developing two budgets for 2015 — one that includes sequestration spending cuts and another that builds on the Pentagon’s 2014 budget proposal, which is $52 billion above the sequestration cap.

 

OSD must approve the services’ budget proposals during a series of back-and-forth deliberations in the coming months before a final spending plan is sent to lawmakers in February.

 

In an emailed statement, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said no decisions have been finalized.

 

“As the Air Force plans for a future with sequestration, we are looking at all options to accomplish our mission within available resources,” Stefanek said. “At this time, all options being considered are pre-decisional.”

 

Deep Cuts

 

The four-month-long Strategic Choices and Management Review — a DoD effort that looked at ways the Pentagon might have to modify its military strategy due to budget cuts — found the Air Force could cut up to five tactical aircraft squadrons, DoD announced in July.

 

The proposed aircraft cuts, particularly the 340-aircraft A-10 fleet, are sure to face scrutiny in Congress. About half of the A-10 fleet resides in the Air National Guard. An Air Force proposal to cut five A-10 squadrons last year faced stiff opposition in Congress and from state governors.

 

The Air Force Reserve also operates A-10s, which were heavily used to provide support to ground troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. A-10s also are based in South Korea.

 

Sources say the Army is interested in obtaining A-10s should the Air Force decide to retire the twin-engine jets, which have been flying since the 1970s.

 

The Air Force operates 59 KC-10s, according to a service fact sheet. The tri-jet, which is based on the commercial McDonnell Douglas DC-10 jetliner, is the workhorse of the Air Force aerial refueling fleet.

 

The tankers — equipped with both boom and hose-and-drogue refueling systems — can refuel Air Force, Navy and international military aircraft on a single sortie.

 

Also on the table is an unspecified number of cuts to the Boeing F-15C Eagle fleet. The Air Force has about 250 of the fighter jets, which, along with the F-22 Raptor, make up the service’s air-to-air fighter arsenal.

 

Pentagon leaders for several years have said they would like to get rid of single-mission platforms.

 

An Air Force plan to cut the A-10 doesn’t come as a surprise, said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Virginia-based Teal Group. He said the active service has been trying to kill off the platform for years. But while congressional pressure has saved the planes in the past, budget realities may make cuts realistic for the first time.

 

“These are strange and dangerous times budgetarily, which means the Air Force might finally get their way,” Aboulafia said. He pointed out that the A-10 is not particularly useful for either counterinsurgency actions or for the so-called pivot to Asia, leaving the platform strategically on the outside looking in.

 

“If there were any plans to fight a land war, this would not be good news. But everything about the budget implies they have stepped away from land wars,” he said. “It’s a good way for the Air Force to save cash and declare victory in a turf war.”

 

Conversely, Aboulafia calls the potential KC-10 cuts “a baffler,” citing the relatively young age of the aircraft and its importance for movement across the Pacific. He speculated that including the KC-10 may be the Air Force attempting to drive home the impact of sequestration and budget cuts, as the program still provides a number of jobs that members of Congress would want to protect.

 

Retiring the F-15C would save maintenance and upgrade costs, Rebecca Grant, president of IRIS Research and a former USAF official, said. The service could then use those funds to speed procurement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

 

“It’s a gutsy move assuming a lot of risk, but there’s risk to all these scenarios,” Grant said. “It may be there is less risk retiring the F-15C right now than there is in getting the fleet we need some years down the road.”

 

Air Force leaders are still locked in a passionate debate over whether to move aircraft and personnel into the Guard and reserve. Advocates for this move say the savings achieved could allow the Air Force to keep aircraft in the inventory.

 

New Rescue Helos Still in Limbo

 

While the Air Force sequestration budget proposal cancels the Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) program, a separate 2015 budget proposal — the one that builds on the Pentagon’s 2014 budget plan — funds the effort, sources said.

 

Sikorsky is the only company to publicly announce a bid in the CRH program. A contract award was expected this month, but has been pushed to the first quarter of fiscal 2014, which begins Oct. 1.

 

If CRH is canceled, the service could coast with its inventory of HH-60 Pave Hawks, perhaps with limited procurement to replace losses. Grant, however, cautions that could be a mistake.

 

“The Air Force needs [CRH], but it wouldn’t surprise me to see it flip,” Grant said. “We’ve taken risk in the helicopter fleet for close to a decade now, and it’s time to take the risk somewhere else. They need to get that one done.”

 

While many factors can change over the next five months of budget deliberations, the decision to abandon the service’s one-time No. 2 acquisition program shows the desire of Air Force leaders to protect procurement programs already in production or of higher priority, sources said.

 

The Air Force brass wants to continue funding Boeing KC-46A refueling tankers, Lockheed Martin F-35 joint strike fighters and development of a new long-range bomber.

 

Pentagon officials do not want to break the fixed-price tanker contract that requires Boeing to pay for development or production hiccups. The bomber is a key component in the Pentagon’s long-term, Pacific-focused strategy, and the F-35 is the only fifth-generation US combat fighter aircraft in production.

 

In the end, Congress will have the final say. Lawmakers were less than thrilled with the Air Force’s 2014 budget proposal, reversing several big-ticket items.

 

Jeff Schogol contributed to this report.

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28 mai 2013 2 28 /05 /mai /2013 12:20
A-10C arrives in Davis-Monthan

A-10C arrives in Davis-Monthan

May 28, 2013: Strategy Page

 

The last American A-10 attack aircraft has left Europe. A-10s were designed during the Cold War for combat against Russian ground forces in Europe. That war never happened, but the A-10 proved to be a formidable combat aircraft in post- Cold War conflicts; first in the 1991 liberation of Kuwait and later in Afghanistan and Iraq. During the last decade the most requested ground support aircraft In Afghanistan has been the A-10.  There was similar A-10 affection in Iraq. Troops from all nations quickly came to appreciate the unique abilities of this 1970s era aircraft that the U.S. Air Force has several times tried to retire. Two years ago the air force did announce that it was retiring 102 A-10s, leaving 243 in service. At the same time the air force accelerated the upgrading of the remaining A-10s to the A-10C standard.

 

Also called the PE (for precision engagement) model, the refurbished A-10s are supposed to remain in service until 2028, meaning most A-10Cs will have served over 40 years and as many as 16,000 flight hours. The upgrade effort has been underway for over five years. The upgrades include new electronics as well as structural and engine refurbishment. The A-10C provides the pilot with the same targeting and fire control gadgets the latest fighters have. The new A-10C cockpit has all the spiffy color displays and easy to use controls. Because it is a single-seat aircraft, that flies close to the ground (something that requires a lot more concentration), all the automation in the cockpit allows the pilot to do a lot more, with less stress, exertion, and danger.

 

The basic A-10 is a 1960s design, so the new additions are quite spectacular in comparison. New commo gear has also been added, allowing A-10 pilots to share pix and vids with troops on the ground. The A-10 pilot also has access to the Blue Force Tracker system, so that the nearest friendly ground forces show up on the HUD (Head Up Display) when coming in low to use the 30mm cannon. The A-10 can now use smart bombs, making it a do-it-all aircraft for ground support.

A-10s are worked hard in Afghanistan. For example, an A-10 squadron has a dozen aircraft and 18 pilots. Pilots often average about a hundred hours a month in the air. That's about twenty sorties, as each sortie averages about five hours. The aircraft range all over southern Afghanistan, waiting for troops below to call for some air support. The A-10, nicknamed "Warthog" or just "hog", could always fly low and slow and was designed, and armored, to survive a lot of ground fire. The troops trust the A-10 more than the F-16 or any other aircraft used for ground support.

A-10s Move On

The A-10 is a 23 ton, twin engine, single seat aircraft whose primary weapon is a multi-barrel 30mm cannon originally designed to fire armored piercing shells at Russian tanks. These days, the 1,174 30mm rounds are mostly high explosive. The 30mm cannon fires 363 gram (12.7 ounce) rounds at the rate of about 65 a second. The cannon usually fires in one or two second bursts. In addition, the A-10 can carry seven tons of bombs and missiles. These days the A-10 goes out with smart bombs (GPS and laser guided) and Maverick missiles. It can also carry a targeting pod, enabling the pilot to use high magnification day/night cameras to scour the area for enemy activity. Cruising speed is 560 kilometers an hour and the A-10 can slow down to about 230 kilometers an hour. In Afghanistan two drop tanks are usually carried, to give the aircraft more fuel and maximum time over the battlefield.

 

 

A-10s Move On

If there is another major war in some place like Korea or with Iran, the A-10s will once more be one of the most popular warplane with the ground troops.

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18 avril 2013 4 18 /04 /avril /2013 17:50
Fixed-Wing Aviators Set Sights on APKWS

Apr 18, 2013 ASDNews Source : BAE Systems PLC

Our proven laser-guided rocket continues to impress

BAE Systems’ Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS™) rocket recently launched and engaged targets from a U.S. Air Force A-10 jet, marking another milestone for the laser-guided rocket system. This expanded capability gives pilots of fast-moving jet aircraft a precision-guided stand-off system that has proven to be the low-collateral-damage weapon of choice for Marine Corps helicopter pilots in Afghanistan.

“These latest test results underscore the power and versatility of the APKWS technology and provide further proof that the system can be launched off of any platform capable of shooting an unguided 2.75-inch rocket,” said David Harrold, director of precision guidance solutions at BAE Systems. “Since its introduction on Marine Corps helicopters in combat operations, the APKWS rocket has proven its ability to defeat a broad range of targets. This test is an important step in bringing that same capability to fixed-wing aviators.”

During the recent tests at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, two APKWS rockets were fired from an Air Force A-10 Warthog at altitudes of approximately 10,000 and 15,000 feet, at airspeeds up to 348 knots. The first controlled test-vehicle shot performed a series of pre-planned maneuvers to collect in-flight data. The second shot, into a 70-knot headwind, hit the target board well within the required 2 meters of the laser spot. The shot was laser-designated from the ground with a special operations forces marker. These shots are the first in a series planned under a Joint Capabilities Technology Demonstration program with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps. The A-10 is the first Air Force platform to conduct testing of the fixed-wing variant of the APKWS weapon. The U.S. Marine Corps recently conducted similar tests off the AV-8B Harrier aircraft.

At one-third the cost and one-third the weight of other precision weapons in inventory, the APKWS rocket is an ideal precision weapon for today’s fiscal environment, reducing the direct cost of target engagement and the total operational cost of each sortie. To date, the APKWS rocket has been qualified on the AH-1W and UH-1Y helicopters, demonstrated on the Bell 407GT, and has been flown off the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, the Beechcraft AT-6B — and now, the A-10. It is expected to be similarly qualified for use on several other rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft including the AH-64D/E Apache, the armed MH-60R/S, AH-6, AV-8B, F-16, and F/A-18.

BAE Systems is prime contractor for the APKWS rocket, the only U.S. program of record delivering precision guidance for 2.75-inch rockets.

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26 avril 2011 2 26 /04 /avril /2011 11:30

http://www1.american.edu/TED/images4/A10.jpg

source american.edu

 

April 26, 2011: STRATEGY PAGE

 

For the first time in twenty years, the U.S. Air Force has placed an order for PGU-13 30mm cannon rounds used in the A-10 aircraft. The A-10 is a 23 ton, twin engine, single seat aircraft whose primary weapon is a multi-barrel 30mm cannon originally designed to fire armored piercing shells at Russian tanks. These days, the 30mm rounds are mostly high explosive, and it has been heavily used in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Libya. The 30mm cannon fires 363 gram (12.7 ounce) rounds at the rate of about 65 a second. The cannon is usually fired in one or two second bursts.

 

The new $32.5 million contract will not only include new rounds, but refurbishment of older 30mm high explosive rounds still in inventory. Over 200,000 new and refurbished rounds will be delivered within two years. Since 1991, the A-10s have been using up large Cold War era inventories, which is why refurbishing of some older munitions is included. Some of the older 30mm ammo was quite old indeed, since large war stocks had been maintained since the A-10 was introduced in the late 1970s. While only 716 A-10s were built, each carried the 30mm cannon, and 1,174 rounds of 30mm ammo. Wartime use of the 30mm rounds was expected to be high, and the ammo was bought and stockpiled accordingly.

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18 avril 2011 1 18 /04 /avril /2011 17:30

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/82/A10Shark.jpg/800px-A10Shark.jpg

 

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., April 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/

 

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), has been awarded a $32.5 million contract for 30mm ammunition by the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Rock Island, Ill.  The award consists of a mixture of new production of PGU-13 D/B cartridges and the remanufacture of existing U.S. Air Force inventory of PGU-13 HEI cartridges.

 

The PGU-13 is a high-explosive incendiary (HEI) round, predominately used in air-to-ground and close-air support by the Air Force's A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft. Fired from the A-10's 30mm GAU-8 Avenger cannon, the PGU-13 provides incendiary effects against an array of targets. The ammunition has been extensively used in operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. "The PGU-13 has been widely used in combat operations since Desert Storm, demonstrating excellent performance and reliability with A-10's cannon," said Tim McAuliffe, vice president and general manager of medium-caliber ammunition. "This is the first production of the PGU-13 in over 20 years to replenish critical levels in the Air Force's inventory." Work will be performed in Marion, Ill., with an estimated completion date of July 2012. General Dynamics is the only U.S. manufacturer that can produce all three rounds in the 30mm x 173 ammunition family. Along with the PGU-13, the family consists of the PGU-14/B API and PGU-15/B TP that provide armor penetration and training capability, respectively, to the Air Force.

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