Combat Dragon II and the OV-10G+ Bronco

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discofishing

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Unread post02 Sep 2013, 18:00

The Combat Dragon requirement for a light armed warplane for use in Afghanistan originated with the combatant commander there – at the time, Gen. Stanley McChrystal – and has been through on-again, off-again incarnations. The program enjoyed strong support from Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, who headed U.S. Central Command from 2010 to 2013. Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2010 that using a robust, complex aircraft like an F-15E Strike Eagle to support troops patrolling rural villages “amounts to overkill.” According to a source, the current Combat Dragon II effort is purposely kept low-profile, but basic facts about it are not classified.


http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/combat-dragon-ii-demonstrates-ov-10g-bronco-capabilities/

Looks like the topic of COIN aircraft is still worth talking about, but not too loudly. I am still of the opinion A-10s can do the job for conventional stuff, but for special operations nothing is going to get the job done better than an upgraded OV-10.
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Unread post15 Sep 2013, 15:39

Disco
I can see we are going to get back into it again about the re-vamped OV-10 in a close air support role.

First both Generals that are mentioned are ground commanders with limited knowledge of air operations (The marine more then the Army General) so you have to take half of what they are saying cause they want the project ---BUT WITH THE WRONG ASSET!!!! Read further into the article offered and you will see what McCain says about the bird and the comment that follow the article by those that flew the bird and know its capabilities. In my day you listened to those who had "Been There, Done That" over some sales pitch by some slick salesman who wants to sell something. No matter how they re-vamp the aircraft it is still an OV-10 with the same airframe, and lack of survivability that its forefathers had. And while we may not be operating in the high mountains of Afghanistan (SP) for very much longer there are other places with the same high mountains where the bird will not perform at its peak operational or survivability envelope.

And before you try to convince me otherwise --SHOW ME THE FINDINGS OF THE OPERATIONAL TESTING IN THOSE REGIONS!!!

IT's the wrong bird for the job.

Snake-1
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Unread post15 Sep 2013, 20:59

Snake-1 wrote:Disco
I can see we are going to get back into it again about the re-vamped OV-10 in a close air support role.

First both Generals that are mentioned are ground commanders with limited knowledge of air operations (The marine more then the Army General) so you have to take half of what they are saying cause they want the project ---BUT WITH THE WRONG ASSET!!!! Read further into the article offered and you will see what McCain says about the bird and the comment that follow the article by those that flew the bird and know its capabilities. In my day you listened to those who had "Been There, Done That" over some sales pitch by some slick salesman who wants to sell something. No matter how they re-vamp the aircraft it is still an OV-10 with the same airframe, and lack of survivability that its forefathers had. And while we may not be operating in the high mountains of Afghanistan (SP) for very much longer there are other places with the same high mountains where the bird will not perform at its peak operational or survivability envelope.

And before you try to convince me otherwise --SHOW ME THE FINDINGS OF THE OPERATIONAL TESTING IN THOSE REGIONS!!!

IT's the wrong bird for the job.

Snake-1
2 1/2 years since last post :?: Who is this guy?
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Unread post15 Sep 2013, 21:27

lookieloo

May I suggest you go back and look at:

Air-Ground in Vietnam
Air Tactics During the Vietnam War
The USAF is seeking a COIN Aircraft design
Combat Dragon II

To get some idea about

Snake-1
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Unread post15 Sep 2013, 22:08

Snake-1 wrote:lookieloo

May I suggest you go back and look at:

Air-Ground in Vietnam
Air Tactics During the Vietnam War
The USAF is seeking a COIN Aircraft design
Combat Dragon II

To get some idea about

Snake-1
In that case, what "bird" would you consider right for the COIN job?
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Unread post15 Sep 2013, 23:03

lookieloo

Instead of re-writing what already has been writ I suggest you go to "The USAF is seeking a COIN Aircraft design" and review my position on the subject along with what others have offered on the subject.

But to add to that and my first posting on this thread you also have to understand that the Army for years has attempted to get a fixed wing aircraft to support their operations. Not an Air Force COIN bird but one, to start with and then do away with the Air Force entirely by taking over its role. It started way back in the early 60's when they took three T-37's under the guise of wanting to use it as an observation aircraft (project was called Operation Long Bow) and then later in the eighty's they again tried to do the same thing under General Starry's Air Land Battle concept that was embraced by the Army until it was discovered to go back to the principle of Long Bow.

We had a very good aircraft in Vietnam that did a great job at supporting the Army with dedicated close air support. It was the A-37 and had uncanny accuracy (less then 45 feet CEA for the worst bomber in four squadrons), low operating costs, operate at low altitudes, had a high survivability rate (loss of 12 aircraft to combat for over 100,000 sorties flown), and was the only fighter in SEA to be cleared by the Army to use CBU's in a TIC environment. It was small but relatively fast and left no radar signature and could carry any conventional weapons up to 750 pounds with a 200 mile combat range. AND ALL WITHOUT MODERN ELECTRONICS -- extremely handy when everything on board goes in the crapper.

That's the kind of aircraft I would consider a good COIN Bird.

Snake-1

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Unread post16 Sep 2013, 03:08

@Snake

Ok then, not gonna argue about the tweet's utility 40-50 years ago, when platforms like the AH-64 didn't exist... Let's try moving things up a bit more recently, taking technology advances into account along with my personal experience as a modern grunt in the COIN environment.

For starters, there's only one way to sum up COIN ops: It is dull, time-consuming work. The ideal aircraft for supporting this mission (fixed-wing) should feature the following:

-Several hours of loiter time.
-Capacity for a large/diverse load of lightweight PGMs.
-Extensive ISR/comms capability.
-Sufficient crew assets to manage all the above.

This aircraft should also be capable of forward deployment and conducting its missions from an altitude sufficient to give sensors a wide coverage, beyond the range of small-arms fire (perhaps even MANPADS). The platform that fits these requirements best so far is Harvest HAWK; which isn't an aircraft at all but actually a RO-RO system that can be installed on any KC-130, allowing for simple storage when not needed while the airframes remain useful in their intended cargo/tanker roles. IMO, the USAF should start developing a similar system that is compatible with multiple types, eliminating the need for a dedicated fleet of COIN aircraft that are of little use vs peer opponents and a burden to maintain.
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Unread post16 Sep 2013, 20:28

Lookieloo
Mornin!!!
First a personal request - with all respect, please do not refer to the A-37 as the Tweet. They are completely different airplanes with completely different roles. One trains, or did train, student pilots. And the other goes out and kills people in support of Army operations and is considered a real life saver and held in high regard by the Special forces in the base camps and troops in deep crap when we saved their bacon. A-37 or Dragonfly will do nicely -- thanks.

Now on to work!!!
I agree with most all of your starting requirements and those that I have reservations with are only minor. And if you have read my previous inputs on this subject you will remember that I am a student of the old school,i.e.;

Having a aircraft with the full operational capability to support the mission regardless of terrain or elevation.
Getting there as fast as I can.
Staying with the problem for as long as necessary -- or until relieved
Having uninterrupted communications with the ground commander or FAC
Deliver the weapon(s)with exacting accuracy.

Anything else is a load of B.S. In other words back to the grease pencil days.
Now for the why ---- CAUSE IF IT'S MECHANICAL IT"S GOING TO BREAK SOONER OR LATER.
Good case in point was the AIM 7 that only had a 30% success factor when first introduced into the jungle environment. Or the AIM 9 that would confuse high cloud cover, false ground returns or the sun as a target, and so on. And a TIC is no place to realize such a failure of equipment. But eyes on the target, good communications with small hand held radios between ground and air assets, and positive target identification is still going to increase the success factor and lose of lives.

Looking at todays thinking of all precision weapons. First the inherent problems as listed above, second is that they take time to identify, coordinate, program, get authority to launch and then launch. And in a TIC this can be costly. Additionally, If the munitions misses the mark by 500 feet the next one, if needed, has to go through nearly the same cycle as above (reduced somewhat but not entirely) all very time consuming in a dynamic and ever changing TIC environment. With the grease pencil approach the response time between the ground commanders request and the air response is as fast as you can get the point across with weapons needed not what's available on the precision weapons platform.

Now, if your are talking ONLY CAS the envelope broadens and you may have the time and latitude to employ precision weapons. But as that envelope narrows, as it usually does in a hot zone you may have to quickly revert to the above. Or employ something like the A-10 that can accomplish both roles. But right now I don't see anything on the horizon or in the stable that would match the A-10.

Talking about aircraft. In this ever changing world filled with conflicts the aircraft selected has to be able to operate at its peak operating envelope be it at sea level or the mountains in Afghanistan and the Turbo's just against going to hack that. Additionally, and finally, the OV-10 has repeatedly been brought up as a contender for this role but regardless of what improvements they make to it, it still has the same old airframe and a very poor survivability record in previous combat situation and a number of the OV pilots I have talked with don't have that much good to say about it.

More as requested.

Snake-1
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Unread post17 Sep 2013, 00:08

No matter how they re-vamp the aircraft it is still an OV-10 with the same airframe, and lack of survivability that its forefathers had.


Can you expand on this? I've heard the aircraft is vulnerable to MANPADS due to its lack of speed and suppressed exhaust. Well, other aircraft have had the same vulnerabilities, however modifications and improvements in aircraft survivability systems have helped out greatly. This doesn't even account for advances in IR masking, turboshaft technology and blade design. The differences in avionics are night and day compared to the 70s. I think most of the discussions in this realm have ignored the targeted special operations application of such a plane. This isn't for Big Army or Big Marine Corps. This is for SOCOM. Give this aircraft common avionics and weapons systems taken from the Apache and Cobra attack helicopters and it would serve well with the 160th SOAR or Naval/Marine Special Warfare. In the Army, there are many attack helicopter pilots who have done tours as fixed wing pilots on planes like the C-12 (Beechcraft Super King Air) so the fixed wing experience and CAS experience is there already. According to this article, it looks like there is still a need for a COIN bird and I'm still trying to think of an aircraft that can do the job better. Special operations use would imply versatility and flexibility. Lets take a look at an example, the MH-60 Blackhawk. It started out as a medium utility helicopter and once the 160th SOAR got a hold of it, it quickly absorbed weapons systems from attack helicopters and the ability to refuel in flight. They can do the same thing with the OV-10 Bronco. Your A-37 Dragonfly may have the ordinance and staying power to do well and I'm sure it could be easily upgraded with the latest OTS avionics and weapons systems. Something like this worked out well for the A-10C. However, you'll still have to make strafing runs. You won't be able to para-drop operators or supplies. Forget about evacuating the wounded in an A-37 as it can't carry anymore than two people and cannot land on a dime like the Bronco. Put a 20mm or 30mm gun turret on a Bronco and you'll have orbiting firepower akin to a tiny AC-130 gunship (a plane that sadly showed its vulnerability during DS - Spirit 03 - yet is still around). Again I must emphasize the conventional military has NO BUSINESS operating and maintaining such a plane as the OV-10G because the A-10C is still around. SOCOM, however, sometimes has to do the impossible and that's not going to happen with an AT-6, A-37+, Super Tucano, or some crop duster on steroids. My wish is to keep the clowns in the USAF completely out of this. Those goobers just now approved A-10C CAS operations with a centerline fuel tank. Obviously the guys lives on the ground aren't as important as chairforce's ego, budget or congressional sway. The USAF is so whack right now they would retire their freshly upgraded A-10s to have more F-35s, yet pitch a bitch fit if the Army or Marines wanted to operate them. I will thank McCain for his service and sacrifice all day long, however at the end of the day he is a politician. Me and most of my fellow warriors like politicians about as much as burning, explosive diarrhea. He is still a Republicrat socialist like all the rest. Most of those generals are damn politicians as well, but when it comes to writing requirements for fulfilling the specops COIN missions I would go with ground commanders over a bunch of zoomies anyday. Better yet, let a SF NCO or MARSOC NCO, who dropped out of high school at 17, help select an aircraft. They'll be better educated than the flag ossifers with their fancy academy degrees and book knowledge of the so-called real world. I hope SOCOM gets what it needs this time.
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Unread post17 Sep 2013, 01:00

Snake-1 wrote:...Now on to work!!!
I agree with most all of your starting requirements and those that I have reservations with are only minor. And if you have read my previous inputs on this subject you will remember that I am a student of the old school,i.e.;

Having a aircraft with the full operational capability to support the mission regardless of terrain or elevation.
Getting there as fast as I can.
Staying with the problem for as long as necessary -- or until relieved
Having uninterrupted communications with the ground commander or FAC
Deliver the weapon(s)with exacting accuracy.
Old school indeed. The thing is, what you've described is actually more of a light-CAS mission today. The modern COIN operation seldom involves delivering ordnance and is much more complicated. What's needed on the ground is an air-asset that can stick with a unit on the ground for long periods (contact or no contact) while providing ISR coverage, constant coms (with both the ground and command), navigational assistance, and on occasion... precise weapons delivery. This purpose would be best served by an aircraft with several crewmembers, long endurance, and high load capacity. As for getting somewhere quickly, that's a good thing, but not so good as being there already.
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Unread post17 Sep 2013, 01:11

discofishing wrote:I hope SOCOM gets what it needs this time.
Why exactly does SOCOM need it's own turboprop airforce and what advantage does the Bronco have over platforms to which they already have on-demand access?
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Unread post17 Sep 2013, 01:58

Why exactly does SOCOM need it's own turboprop airforce and what advantage does the Bronco have over platforms to which they already have on-demand access?


READ THE DAMN ARTICLE!!!!!!!!!!
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Unread post17 Sep 2013, 02:48

discofishing wrote:
Why exactly does SOCOM need it's own turboprop airforce and what advantage does the Bronco have over platforms to which they already have on-demand access?
READ THE DAMN ARTICLE!!!!!!!!!!
Yeah, this seems more about operational turf than improving upon existing systems.
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Unread post17 Sep 2013, 02:49

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Unread post17 Sep 2013, 03:08

Lookieloo
There is a lot to absorb in your latest reply but here's a shot at it.
In your reply you give a broad brush definition of what SOCOM needs and then determine from that what weapons systems are, or could be available to meet those needs. You also include ancillary mission requirements such as medevac, para- drops of men and material, and constant air cover, three of which don't seem to fall within the COIN role. So I can see the rationale for Disco request for a more definitive mission requirement for the asset under consideration. Its a reasonable request that could lead to a better evaluation of weapons systems.
AS far as advances in electronic devices and modern communication systems that is great as long as they meet the mission requirement and don't impact the operating envelope of the aircraft involved. The more you put on a bird the less its going to perform.
Then there is the question of constant air coverage for COIN operations. Am I reading you right that your mission requires 24 hours a day coverage in the battle area?? What is the mission requirement for that?
While I agree that the Air Force leadership today is lacking the defense act of 1947 making the Air Force a individual service is going to be in charge of whatever air assets are designated forte COIN role. From what I'm reading and hearing in the media The Army Generals ain't doing that great either and the politicians on both side of the aisle are completely useless unless it serves their purpose.

And I agree that the guys doing the job define what they need to get the job done.
Once we get answers to the above we can stat on the asset needed.

Snake
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