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#3915048 - 02/21/14 08:57 PM Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ?  
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I am a fan of what the A10 stands for. Single role, austere / affordable design focusing on important tactical areas i.e. what will help the grunts on the ground. (Please note in this respect my thinking has been polluted by the writings of Boyd and Sprey.) The fact that it has put the nose out of USAF hierarchy is just a bonus. But....and it's a big BUT I can't see how it could effectively operate until a reliable method for evading low level IR missiles is invented.

How did I come to this conclusion....braces himself for hysterical laughter....DCS A10 A&C. Okay okay it's a game, it's impossible to fly co-operatively with the AI, in the real world I am sure there are all sorts of systems we are unaware of. But if the effectiveness of just one SA 10 is remotely accurate then its' combination of mobility, passive tracking and aiming coupled with IR missiles able to engage almost down to ground level, make employing the A10 almost suicidal.

I read recently that if the balloon had gone up during the Cold War then the attrition rate of A10's in Germany (that would have been Andy Bush and his mates) was predicted to be eerrhhh very high. With modern day double digit SAM's especially short range low level I'd worry it would be total carnage.

Am I being too pessimistic about the role of CAS as typified by the A10 in the modern battlefield against peers. Are people being too sentimental about the hog and the days of low and slow are over? Is there anyway to counter a launched low altitude IR missile ?

TIM

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#3915064 - 02/21/14 09:27 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Originally Posted By: RANSs9
But....and it's a big BUT I can't see how it could effectively operate until a reliable method for evading low level IR missiles is invented.


THat's what the MLWS + CMDS are for.

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How did I come to this conclusion....braces himself for hysterical laughter....DCS A10 A&C. Okay okay it's a game, it's impossible to fly co-operatively with the AI, in the real world I am sure there are all sorts of systems we are unaware of. But if the effectiveness of just one SA 10 is remotely accurate then its' combination of mobility, passive tracking and aiming coupled with IR missiles able to engage almost down to ground level, make employing the A10 almost suicidal.


There's no 'passive tracking' in the SA-10, but that said, there's also no A-10C's flying where there's SA-10's. SEAD goes in first.

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I read recently that if the balloon had gone up during the Cold War then the attrition rate of A10's in Germany (that would have been Andy Bush and his mates) was predicted to be eerrhhh very high. With modern day double digit SAM's especially short range low level I'd worry it would be total carnage.


Yes, it would have been high because the ADA density was high. In that scenario the A-10's weren't there to support grunts, they were there to smash their 6 AGM-65's into the advancing wave of soviet tanks, go back, arm up and come back to do it again.

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Am I being too pessimistic about the role of CAS as typified by the A10 in the modern battlefield against peers. Are people being too sentimental about the hog and the days of low and slow are over? Is there anyway to counter a launched low altitude IR missile ?


You're being too focused on judging based on a game. How many A-10's were brought down due to MANPADS over Iraq, Afganistan, or the balkans?

The game doesn't represent the MLWS/CMDS function well, nor the missile's susceptibility to flares.


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#3915233 - 02/22/14 08:31 AM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Apologies I didn't mean SA10 I meant to say ..SA13.

I am getting my digits mixed up and not for the first time; must be an age thing.

As far as I am aware they can track and launch passively and this appears how they are modelled in game. although I am no authority this doesn't seem to be beyond belief since aircraft have this ability. If this is the case you face a mobile, concealable, low level significant threat which will give you NO indication it's tracking or firing apart from possibly smoke. In this environment MLWS and CMDS won't help, manoeuvring low level to defeat an IR missile most likely acquired late isn't going to fill me with joy either.
True lessons from previous conflicts need careful interpretation . My understanding is that most tanks killed by A10's in Gulf War were by Mavericks not gun; just look at the numbers of alarms fired in the Balkans and number of radars actually hit frightening ; not sure about density of manpads in Iraq/ Afghanistan or Balkans but pretty sure 9K-37M2 is quantum leap ahead in capability.

For sure "Fulga Gap" scenario is extreme. The problem with going back to reload with more Mavs is you need to be able to go back and the analyst suspected that many wouldn't be. Also the density of ADA would have been high but so would the density of defending forces; in a lower intensity peer/peer action there wouldn't be that density of ADA and most likely there wouldn't be that many A10's.

I fully agree with you that e3xtrapolating from entertainment games is verging on the absurd but it makes you think.

#3915275 - 02/22/14 01:33 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Originally Posted By: RANSs9
If this is the case you face a mobile, concealable, low level significant threat which will give you NO indication it's tracking or firing apart from possibly smoke. In this environment MLWS and CMDS won't help,


Yes, they will. It is exactly what they are there for.

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My understanding is that most tanks killed by A10's in Gulf War were by Mavericks not gun; just look at the numbers of alarms fired in the Balkans and number of radars actually hit frightening ; not sure about density of manpads in Iraq/ Afghanistan or Balkans but pretty sure 9K-37M2 is quantum leap ahead in capability.


I don't know what you're trying to say about ALARMs. They're SEAD missiles, their job is to make the other guy shut down the radar or eat the missile, and in that respect they worked as they were supposed to. As for MANPADS, there's no reticle seeker in the world that won't eat flares.

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I fully agree with you that e3xtrapolating from entertainment games is verging on the absurd but it makes you think.


Extrapolating from the game can make you think, but it often leads to wrong conclusions.


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#3915340 - 02/22/14 05:26 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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I stand corrected.
I didn't realise that MLWS (AN/AAR -47) gave indication of IR missile launch irrespective of any radar activity. Should play more A10C than A. That's definately a step in the right direction as using the mark one eyeball smacks of task saturation.

Does the A10C have IRCM or evem directional IRCM. The manual just talks about chaff/ flares and ECM. If just flares I be interested to know if A10 crews felt that manoeuvre/ flare dispensing gave reasonable protection. How does it play out in the game ? I find when I setup a scenario with the A10A , a single SA13, flying with labels so I know exactly where it is and when it shoots (so my equivalent of MLWS); if I survive the first missile the second normally gets me. Perhaps they are over modelled or perhaps their more sophisticated sensors are not so easily spoofed by flares. However directional IRCM may even things up.

I suppose what I was trying to say about HARMs and ALARMs is that SEAD to reduce threat level to point where A10 could deploy maybe easier said than done. In Kosovo 743 Alarms were launched (at a cost of approx $220 million !!!!) which eliminated static air defences but didn't touch the mobile air defences; leaving air operations below 15,000' high risk. CAS from 15,000' is stretching the term "close" and tends to lead to high "toy tank" kills which are not much of a help to people on the ground.

#3915457 - 02/23/14 12:25 AM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Originally Posted By: RANSs9
I stand corrected.
I didn't realise that MLWS (AN/AAR -47) gave indication of IR missile launch irrespective of any radar activity. Should play more A10C than A. That's definately a step in the right direction as using the mark one eyeball smacks of task saturation.


Sorry, I didn't realize that you were referring to the A-10A. The A can also deal with things, but as you know, your head needs to be on a swivel (and can't always be), so the way of dealing with things is pre-emptive flaring. This is not modeled right now, ie. pre-emptive flaring won't help you.

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Does the A10C have IRCM or evem directional IRCM. The manual just talks about chaff/ flares and ECM. If just flares I be interested to know if A10 crews felt that manoeuvre/ flare dispensing gave reasonable protection.


Real crews might not give you a very direct answer, for a couple of reasons: One, details of effectiveness and employment of countermeasures is classified, and two, well, it depends on a lot of things.

What they can and will tell you probably is that you always use CMs + Maneuver. In some cases, the maneuver is absolutely necessary, in others, a good idea.

There's no IR jammer on the A-10.

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How does it play out in the game ? I find when I setup a scenario with the A10A , a single SA13, flying with labels so I know exactly where it is and when it shoots (so my equivalent of MLWS); if I survive the first missile the second normally gets me. Perhaps they are over modelled or perhaps their more sophisticated sensors are not so easily spoofed by flares. However directional IRCM may even things up.


There are things that the AI does that you might consider cheating ... however ... that SAM is there to shoot you down. It's designed for it. Part of not getting shot down by these things are avoidance tactics.

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I suppose what I was trying to say about HARMs and ALARMs is that SEAD to reduce threat level to point where A10 could deploy maybe easier said than done.


That won't do anything for MANPADS or any IR SHORAD.

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In Kosovo 743 Alarms were launched (at a cost of approx $220 million !!!!) which eliminated static air defences but didn't touch the mobile air defences; leaving air operations below 15,000' high risk. CAS from 15,000' is stretching the term "close" and tends to lead to high "toy tank" kills which are not much of a help to people on the ground.


I don't think anyone goes hunting after man-portable stuff in RL. You simply can't find'em, but they see you. Sure, you can blow up the area the smoke trail points to after they launch. You operate based on your acceptance of risk, and in Kosovo the USAF did not accept the risk of their A-10's being engaged by MANPADS.


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#3915545 - 02/23/14 06:46 AM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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So out of interest how do you cope in game with SA13's ?. I have a practice scenario with a single SA13 parked on the edge of a village with our boys requesting CAS on the other side of the village in relatively flat featureless plain.

#3915622 - 02/23/14 02:55 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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If you are in the A-10A then pick it out with the Maverick video view and fire. If you have to fly low then stay over friendly troops as much as poss.


'Crashing and Burning since 1987'
#3915654 - 02/23/14 04:25 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Yep, take it out, or stay above its effective altitude - don't dive below 10000'. The gun will still deliver against infantry.

Other possibilities: The ground troops can mark it for you (you'd have to program that into the game, or at least add a JTAC) so it's easy to find.

Seeker behavior and AI behavior is always being looked at, so changes will come, even if slowly.


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#3915665 - 02/23/14 05:22 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Thanks for the info guys.

#3916207 - 02/24/14 09:09 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Originally Posted By: RANSs9
I stand correctedI suppose what I was trying to say about HARMs and ALARMs is that SEAD to reduce threat level to point where A10 could deploy maybe easier said than done. In Kosovo 743 Alarms were launched (at a cost of approx $220 million !!!!) which eliminated static air defences but didn't touch the mobile air defences; leaving air operations below 15,000' high risk. CAS from 15,000' is stretching the term "close" and tends to lead to high "toy tank" kills which are not much of a help to people on the ground.


Where have you found this info about the number of missiles fired? Is very interesting as I'm reading about Balkans operations.


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-To the Graveyard!!

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#3916712 - 02/25/14 10:00 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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I stumbled across these facts while reading articles and seeing videos of discussions with a Pierre Sprey. He presents a viewpoint about western military procurement especially combat aircraft which is interesting.
An outspoken critic of;
F22 and F35
US and and by default western military procurement
the military-industrial complex
the obsession with high tech
the effectiveness of stealth
the effectiveness of BVR engagements
the effectiveness of strategic bombing

the list goes on!

Whether you agree or disagree with the views as one intimately involved in the design of 2 of the most iconic modern US military aircraft F16 and A10 he deserve listening to. Part of Boyds' "Fighter Mafia" it comes as no surprise they eventually disowned their creations; A10 having become too big and underpowered F16 for BVR capability necessitating widening of the nose cone to fit the more complex radar leading to high AOA lateral instability and the necessity to restrict max alpha (and therefore max manoeuvre) to 27 degrees)I think).

The particular information about harms came out in these discussions. I've seen it reproduced else where. If you want more Bprey like analysis try defenseissues.wordpress.com.

It would help to hear direct counter argument to be able to form a better opinion but the discussions are interesting and lead by people with no seeming financial interest.

It is their blunt/brutal analysis that makes me feel that in a Peer/Peer engagement A10's attempting true close air support would, like Blenheims fighting 109's in the Battle of Britain, not last 24hrs.

As Patton said; "If everbody's thinking the same then nobody's thinking!"

#3916731 - 02/25/14 10:39 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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He can be an outspoken critic of anything he likes. If you want a comparison to his era, it would be like criticizing replacing P-51's with 'big, expensive, underpowered F-86's that can't turn', or perhaps he might complain about replacing the F-4 with F-15's.

He's basically wrong.

As for the HARMs, it's well known and no one is disputing that many were launched and few if anything hit anything of value. But that isn't the point. The point is that you could call 'magnum' over the radio and the SAM operators would shut down their radars. Sure, there were SAMs, and they didn't get destroyed by HARMs. They were also mostly useless, which is the entire point of SEAD.


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#3916975 - 02/26/14 01:43 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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"He can be an outspoken critic of anything he likes. If you want a comparison to his era, it would be like criticizing replacing P-51's with 'big, expensive, underpowered F-86's that can't turn', or perhaps he might complain about replacing the F-4 with F-15's."

Interesting choice of aircraft. Not sure how F86 would cope with P51; maybe in a bounce / snapshot situation possibility but if P51 pilot had visual F86 would have a hard time getting any sort of tracking shot given closure rate and relative poor turining circle. I read a report from one of the F14 pilots in the F14 v Zero scene from the film "The Final Coutdown"; they nearly lost one of the F14s in a low level incipient stall and if you watch the scene closely enough you'll see just when it happens. Given that Boyd was involved in F15 development (although according to him too sophisticated and expensive), and I suspect thought the F4 was ...errrhhh not very good he'd be with you on that one.


"He's basically wrong."

As I said there are different viewpoints. Some people think the world and everything in it was created in 4,000years; others 4 billion years plus through random events and evolutionary mechanisms. Since I am not anthropologist/ geologist / astrophysicist etc in the end for me it comes down to evidence and belief. Generally I put more trust in groups that are actively critical of their own views as well as others. I am used to enviroments with high levels of active criticism...........I have a wife.


"As for the HARMs, it's well known and no one is disputing that many were launched and few if anything hit anything of value. But that isn't the point. The point is that you could call 'magnum' over the radio and the SAM operators would shut down their radars. Sure, there were SAMs, and they didn't get destroyed by HARMs. They were also mostly useless, which is the entire point of SEAD."

I suppose there are a number of ways the Balkans episode could be viewed. An alternative to your view might be that despite $220 milliion's worth missiles, a relatively small mobile IADS system all but prevented air activity below 15,000'. Personally I'd call that a result. Even the fixed IADS which did suffer was able to destroy 2 F117's one in the air the other damaged beyound repair. That may not make you think but it sure has Western and Eastern air forces. Calling Magnum is a sneaky trick; the mistake is to think the bad guy isn't just as sneaky. The CoolShades/ Big Watch/ Brylecream Boys would suggest at the merge you assume the other guy is the Red Baron and manoeuvre accordingly. Then be pleasantly surprised if he turns out not to be. What's stopping the bad boys locking you up, firing a simple modified firework, both of which would be enough to trigger your MLWS / RWR. Jettison all stores and lets call it a "Soft Kill". Maybe go for an active shot as you egress, particularly stragglers, as they did in the Balkans.

#3917026 - 02/26/14 03:27 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Originally Posted By: RANSs9
Interesting choice of aircraft. Not sure how F86 would cope with P51; maybe in a bounce / snapshot situation possibility but if P51 pilot had visual F86 would have a hard time getting any sort of tracking shot given closure rate and relative poor turining circle.


Right, so we should still be flying P-51's.

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As I said there are different viewpoints.


Yep, and his is wrong. Or irrelevant. Whatever you want to call it. If opinions/viewpoints are all equal and there's no right or wrong opinion, then they're not worth anything.

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I suppose there are a number of ways the Balkans episode could be viewed. An alternative to your view might be that despite $220 milliion's worth missiles, a relatively small mobile IADS system all but prevented air activity below 15,000'. Personally I'd call that a result.


And you would be wrong, because those missiles were never meant to do anything about MANPADS, nor is that the job of SEAD.

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Even the fixed IADS which did suffer was able to destroy 2 F117's one in the air the other damaged beyound repair.


And the one we actually know something about had to fly right over that radar to get shot down. What about all the other F-117 flights, and all the other, thousands of sorties which did not suffer because the IADS was suppressed?

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Jettison all stores and lets call it a "Soft Kill". Maybe go for an active shot as you egress, particularly stragglers, as they did in the Balkans.


They didn't do anything particularly useful in the balkans. They had a constant umbrella of NATO airpower hanging over them. Their best defended emplacements got bombed more than once. I'd call that a result.


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#3917152 - 02/26/14 06:46 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Remember, there are many types of CAS. High threat, low threat, no threat. The threat will drive the tactics.

The A-10 is challenged in high threat scenarios by its lack of speed. As was mentioned previously, maneuver plus countermeasures defeats missiles, countermeasures alone may not. The A-10 though, as well as many other platforms, has addressed the increased low level threat with standoff. Standoff is only possible with increasingly accurate targeting and weapons delivery.

Modern FACs, can provide far more accurate target marking than even ten years ago, and the quality of airborne targeting devices combined with weapons, like the JDAM, that can overcome the traditional limitations of long standoff engagement allows even legacy aircraft a much better opportunity to stay above the MANPAD's most effective altitudes while still allowing for a substantial chance of finding and hitting CAS targets, which are notoriously hard to find.

The big thing that is missing in most sims, including DCS, is the larger overall targeting network that exists in real life. In sims like DCS, much of the benefit of a good FAC is missing, requiring you to find the target yourself. There are also techniques like artillery suppression of enemy air defenses, which we used to practice extensively in the Marines, that are entirely absent in most sims...it's frankly just too hard to simulate I think and the purpose behind such aids like labels, lest you never find the enemy at all.

Now, once you start elevating the threat level and denying the CAS assets access to an altitude sanctuary, you may effectively force the CAS provider to accept the increased (though lower by comparison) risk of going low...or abandoning CAS support until altitude sanctuary can be regained.

Of course, even 20 years or so ago when I was flying, the MANPAD threat was less robust and, while dicey, it was still considered survivable to stay low and engage targets via pop up or ramp up attacks. At least it was considered preferable to getting zapped by a Radar missile if you poked your nose too high.

Deacon

#3918653 - 03/01/14 11:45 AM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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"Right, so we should still be flying P-51's."


Hilarious...would you believe it yes.
It was called the "Enforcer" and was a program in 1979 to develop a cheap Air to ground attack plane based on a modified P51. Slowly working way through "The Revolt of the Majors" by Marshall Michel III (the enforcer is p362) a counter to the Boyd / Sprey / Riccioni view of the wotld. The counter arguement to the "critics" (Boyd and co.) was that South Vietnamese Air Forces propeller attack aircraft had been driven out of the Skies by SA7 manpads according to the author these were useless against jets but not against propeller aircraft (didn't US use Skyraiders to good effect?). Not quite sure about the logic behind that but even so given how vunerable to small arms the Mustang was low level i personally would want a heavly modified P51 (.....i.e. a different airplane). Maybe a Super Tucano / Texan AT6 which seem to be usefully employed by the South Americans.

Dear "Deacon" if your still around and have the time / inclination I'd be interested in your views about modern day CAS. As an ex- menber of what I would view as the epitome of CAS (Marine Corp Aviation).

What does CAS bring to the Force Commander / Grunt on the Ground that artilery mortars etc can't ?

In your opinion can meaningfull CAS be performed at 15,000' ?

Given the need to co-ordinate with the ground forces, possibly search/ identify targets while also flying (possibly low level) is a two seater a high priorty or can these problems be overcome by modern avionics single ship mutual support ?

How much of an issue is loiter time? AIrcraft are always compromises how high on the priorty list would you put it?


Coming from across the pond and thinking about modern IAD; I suspect in this present fiscally tight enviroment we could make sweeping cuts in our own budget. Instead relying on routine total cloud cover, a large number of telephone lines / Power Lines and the fact that "Who in their right mind would want to invade us ?"

#3922839 - 03/10/14 07:33 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Well, my modern CAS experience isn't really all that modern. The last time I FACed was in 2002. But I think I can give you a flavor of the answer in any case. Ill try to keep it short, but I usually fail.

"What does CAS bring to the Force Commander / Grunt on the Ground that artilery mortars etc can't ?"

CAS is generally more accurate than artillery, which is really an area weapon (groovy late era smart rounds aside). IIRC an FO is going to fire for effect once he breaks the 100 meter bracket, blanketing the target area with rounds. This will certainly cover the target area with fire, but may not be of sufficient concentration to destroy reinforced structures, well dug positions, armored vehicles, etc which may require a direct (or at least a nearly direct) hit. Aircraft, on the other hand, can choose to scatter their ordnance for area targets or attempt to put as much steel on a point target itself as possible. Greatly simplified, artillery is shooting where someone told you something was with a shotgun, while air support is shooting at something that you (ideally) see yourself with a rifle. Modern targeting optics only increase this distinction and it is even possible that the CAS pilot may see the target area better than the FAC, since he is looking at it from a higher vantage point. Artillery also tends towards a fairly flat trajectory, which may limit where it can shoot in the worst circumstances. At times aircraft may also be limited by terrain and threat in their delivery angle, but usually have greater flexibility.

CAS is also almost infinitely portable. A CAS aircraft can be diverted from hundreds of miles away to act (or react) to the flow of war. Artillery is largely immobile by comparison and is highly dependent on a logistical trail that, by necessity, needs to remain fairly close to the battle area. As an example, Strike Eagles flew CAS missions from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan. This isnt an example of a particularly efficient use of assets, but it demonstrates the flexibility of air power.

There are a lot of shades and exceptions to the above distinction but, in general, CAS is no less effective than artillery and is, at its best, much better.

Mortars are generally short range, low explosive yield weapons that really cant compete with either aircraft or artillery delivered ordnance, but share many of the same limitations as artillery.



"In your opinion can meaningfull CAS be performed at 15,000' ?"

CAS can be performed at almost any altitude and range as long as you can overcome any inherent obstacles. Remember that the "close" in Close Air Support refers to how close the friendly troops are to the target, not to how close the aircraft is from the target. CAS really requires only four things:

1. The FAC must be able to locate and identify the target to the CAS pilot.

2. The CAS pilot must be able to acquire the target and be reasonably assured that it is the correct one.

3. The FAC must be reasonably assured that the CAS pilot is going to hit the target, not him.

4. The CAS pilot's weapons must be able to reach the target and have effects on it.

So, there are inherent limitations to high altitude CAS, primarily slant range distance from the target area. But you can overcome this limitation partially by increasing the optical or targeting ability of the pilot and/or by increasing the ability of the weapon to correct for targeting errors and mil dispersion errors (basically scattering type errors).

So, lofting or dive tossing an LGB with terminal laser guidance from a FAC? Perfectly effective CAS. JDAM high angle delivery with high accuracy grid coordinate from the FAC and sweetened by a late model targeting pod? Also perfectly effective CAS. Any combination of accurate targeting and guided weapons can be used to provide effective CAS at high altitude. It just requires more technology out of the CAS provider.

In fact, even if there werent an effective low altitude air defense, medium altitude CAS would still be the preferred method of delivery 45 degree dives minimize the foot to mil ratio minimizing range errors and medium altitude provides greater overall SA and (if allowable) a longer tracking run that will allow the pilot more time to stick his sensors in the target area and make last minute corrections.



Given the need to co-ordinate with the ground forces, possibly search/ identify targets while also flying (possibly low level) is a two seater a high priorty or can these problems be overcome by modern avionics single ship mutual support ?

Personally speaking, its always beneficial to have a second set of eyes in the cockpit. Manipulating targeting controls is extremely work intensive and will always take away from the pilots overall SA no matter how good he is. How much depends on the quality of the cockpit design. Whether the weight and space of a second cockpit and pilot is worth the reduced fuel or reduced agility is always the source of lively debate.

How much of an issue is loiter time? AIrcraft are always compromises how high on the priorty list would you put it?

Well, like the second crewman, there are no free lunches in aircraft design. Loiter time is really only a subset of overall fuel availability since the fuel itself doesnt care whether its being used for travelling or circling. The importance of the issue is largely dictated by external factors. If you get to the target area and you dont have tasking, can you stay or do you need to RTB? Can you keep your bombs or will you need to dump them? How far is your CAS base from the battle area and do you have enough aircraft to keep CAS on station? Etc, etc.

Coming from across the pond and thinking about modern IAD; I suspect in this present fiscally tight enviroment we could make sweeping cuts in our own budget. Instead relying on routine total cloud cover, a large number of telephone lines / Power Lines and the fact that "Who in their right mind would want to invade us ?"

The cost of defense. The dilemma faced by every civilization in history. But it sounds like you are speaking of CAS defense, rather than CAS. CAS is going to help YOUR ground troops, not the enemys. Just because your country abandons CAS, doesnt mean that your adversary will as well.

Long winded as usual.

Deacon




#3922897 - 03/10/14 09:32 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Hi Deacon,

Thanks for the effort/time in replying. Not long winded just interesting.

TIM

(PS the stab at humour was more about the UK's IADS requirement than its' CAS requirement. Our CAS presently supplied by a sweep wing high speed fighter bomber designed to penetrate IADS at low level or a euro-canard designed for high altitude high MACH BVR....go figure!)

#3923118 - 03/11/14 12:25 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Deacon thanks for sharing your point of view on the subject.


-Sir in case of retreat, were we have to retreat??
-To the Graveyard!!

sandbagger.uk.com/stratos.html
#3923231 - 03/11/14 03:32 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: Stratos]  
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Originally Posted By: Stratos
Deacon thanks for sharing your point of view on the subject.


It's harder to get me NOT to share it! biggrin

Deacon

#3926978 - 03/19/14 03:35 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Thanks for sharing, Deacon.
I'm partial to the two-seater concept. Whether you call him RO, GIB, that extra set of eyes and brains saved many a mission. It may go against the "fighter pilot" mentality, but the mutual support of complementary skills of a good one is more than worth his weight in gold.

Last edited by Fittop; 03/19/14 03:37 PM.
#3927022 - 03/19/14 04:47 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Not according to the air forces of the world. Some applications require a two-man crew, but your line fighter/striker does not.

That second set of eyes is sitting in another fighter, so it's not just another pair of eyes, it is another platform. That's what mutual support is about.

Last edited by GrayGhost; 03/19/14 04:48 PM.

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#3927178 - 03/19/14 09:06 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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That's a pretty general statement, GrayGhost.

While advancements in avionics certainly allow modern multi-role fighters to be single seat, task saturation is high even outside of a combat environment. Being able to drop a JDAM at standoff instead of a low level ingress using LANTIRN or radar certainly makes the equation simpler for a single seat, but there is a reason the F-15E and Tornado are two seat aircraft.

While the 3rd generation fighters may have needed a second seat to operate avionics, the advanced avionics of 4th and 5th generation fighters may have replaced the GIB as a RIO for basic intercepts, but two seat strike aircraft use the WSO for more than "a second set of eyes". More bluntly, the pair of eyes in the other fighter on your wing can't share in your workload or alleviate the task saturation. And even with the avionics of today there are still some very labor-intensive tasks on aircrew (exhibit A: the AGM-65). Operationally (albeit 15 years ago) we would employ buddy-lasing using the F-14 as the laser platform and either other Tomcats or Hornets as the LGB droppers. This would allow the RIO to keep the laser on target, the F-14 pilot to keep the bird in the air, and the other aircraft to "launch and leave".


-Home Fries

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay - and claims a halo for his dishonesty."
- Robert A. Heinlein

The average naval aviator, despite the sometimes swaggering exterior, is very much capable of such feelings as love, affection, intimacy, and caring. These feelings just don't involve anyone else.

#3927188 - 03/19/14 09:27 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: HomeFries]  
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Originally Posted By: HomeFries
That's a pretty general statement, GrayGhost.


It isn't and here is why - well, my opinion, anyway:

Quote:
While advancements in avionics certainly allow modern multi-role fighters to be single seat, task saturation is high even outside of a combat environment. Being able to drop a JDAM at standoff instead of a low level ingress using LANTIRN or radar certainly makes the equation simpler for a single seat, but there is a reason the F-15E and Tornado are two seat aircraft.


The Tornado and F-15E are deep-strike/penetration fighters. They are not multi-role fighters no matter how much you might want them to be. The F-15E can take on an air to air role, but in order for it to do so in a competitive manner against high capability threats it would have to strip the A2G stuff off, including the conformal tanks - and then it could deal with air threats on the level of an F-15C. At this point, you don't really need the GIB, though you will have him anyway.

Notice that the RIOs back in the day were all about operating things that today are operated by a single person. The WSOs today operate more complex countermeasures and do other work while letting the pilot do other things (like actually flying the plane instead of trying to figure out the EWAR around him) in an environment that would normally be very task-saturated for a single person. As for cooperation with lower capability machines or launch and leave tactics, yeah, sure. But that's something else, and that sort of action can be done by drones. The guy in the back is used best in the deep strike role.


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#3929870 - 03/25/14 07:51 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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I don't quite agree with that, though you are welcome to the opinion. :-)

In short, the aircraft doesn't care what kind of mission it's on when you are in that seven second tracking run. All the targeting tasks that occur in delivering ordnance to one target set, must occur for the other... and that can be a handful of work. In the pre-litening pod Harrier, you had about three of your seven second tracking time to sweeten your targeting solution. If you switch pigged the box off the tank, or if the contrast locker started running away, your choice was to revert to a lower level bombing solution, or you aborted.

Arguably, CAS is actually much more switch intensive than DAS or even BAI. As likely as not, your DAS target is developed and probably stationary. After all, you aren't going to penetrate 100 miles of IADs to hit a tank. Your going to penetrate 100mi of IADs to hit a tank park, a POL site for the tanks, etc. Even BAI missions are likely to target larger targets: artillery formations, tank columns, mech formations. CAS suffers from the triple limitations of the targets being deployed, of being in an area with lots of stuff blowing up already, and of being close to other, near identical looking things, that you definitely don't want to hit.

So CAS can be an effort of swinging your toilet paper tube FOV around the target area trying to find what the heck the FAC is talking about. In DAS, the target area will be under the diamond. In CAS, it will almost never be.

It's easy to say that your wingman can provide that extra set of eyes that you don't have with a back seater. But once you "action", he's prosecuting his attack and you are prosecuting yours. He may see you throughout the attack. He may not see you again until you meet at the bar if the feces really hits the oscillating unit. The guy in your back seat, on the other hand, has a vested interest in keeping you alive...you're his ride home!

Surely some of this is altered by the latest and greatest of modern avionics. I got to work just a little on the JSF program and some of it looks like magic. But, in reality, it's never as simple as firing and forgetting. Whether a GIB is worth the cost of several hundred pounds of gas, or an increased 20kt/sec bleed rate is ever up for debate. But I still think if I had the option of having a guy to do my targeting, run my countermeasures, and watch my six...

(Incidentally, I once got zapped by a Hornet that passively targeted me while I was on a strike and I never knew he was there until the kill call)

...and the cost in range and maneuverability wasn't too great, I'd take Goose anyday.

Deacon

P.S. Don't tell the damn Navbags I said this...I wouldn't want them to get uppity. wink

Last edited by Deacon211; 03/25/14 08:30 PM. Reason: Damn Autocorrect
#3929876 - 03/25/14 08:10 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: Deacon211]  
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Do you believe that your GIB would have known? smile

Originally Posted By: Deacon211
(Incidentally, I once got zapped by a Hornet that passively targeted me while I was on a strike and I never knew he was there until the kill call)


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#3929886 - 03/25/14 08:32 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: GrayGhost]  
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Originally Posted By: GrayGhost
Do you believe that your GIB would have known? smile

Originally Posted By: Deacon211
(Incidentally, I once got zapped by a Hornet that passively targeted me while I was on a strike and I never knew he was there until the kill call)


Not that time, since he got me with a heater. But he would have prevented him from gunning me, which I just think would add insult to injury. biggrin

#3930849 - 03/27/14 05:00 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: Deacon211]  
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Originally Posted By: Deacon211

P.S. Don't tell the damn Navbags I said this...I wouldn't want them to get uppity. wink


Too late. This 200lb of self-loading baggage already has to walk sideways through a doorway. biggrin


-Home Fries

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay - and claims a halo for his dishonesty."
- Robert A. Heinlein

The average naval aviator, despite the sometimes swaggering exterior, is very much capable of such feelings as love, affection, intimacy, and caring. These feelings just don't involve anyone else.

#3932970 - 04/01/14 10:47 AM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: HomeFries]  
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Originally Posted By: HomeFries
Originally Posted By: Deacon211

P.S. Don't tell the damn Navbags I said this...I wouldn't want them to get uppity. wink


Too late. This 200lb of self-loading baggage already has to walk sideways through a doorway. biggrin


Damn! wink

#3933651 - 04/02/14 10:27 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: Deacon211]  
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Originally Posted By: Deacon211
CAS can be performed at almost any altitude and range as long as you can overcome any inherent obstacles. Remember that the "close" in Close Air Support refers to how close the friendly troops are to the target, not to how close the aircraft is from the target.


This fact seems to elude the hordes of people who claim nothing can replace the A10.

Frankly, if the desired target explodes when the ground element requesting CAS wants it to, mission accomplished. How it is exploded is largely irrelevant.

#3934006 - 04/03/14 05:56 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: Floydii]  
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Originally Posted By: Floydii

This fact seems to elude the hordes of people who claim nothing can replace the A10.

Frankly, if the desired target explodes when the ground element requesting CAS wants it to, mission accomplished. How it is exploded is largely irrelevant.

This is true to some extent, but the primary difference between CAS and Strike is that CAS by its' very definition means dropping ordinance near friendly troops in contact. If you're bagging a unitary target like a tank from 12000ft, a F-16C dropping a GBU-12 works just as well as an A-10C doing the same thing.

Once you start talking about soft targets, though, you're usually dealing with "area targets", or trying to bag multiple soft targets on a single pass. This is especially true when targeting infantry. Area targets usually mean cluster munitions, and even guided cluster bombs only guide the cannister until the bomblets are released, and the bomblets all fall in the standard unguided parabolic arc (exception is the CBU-97/105, which is a specific anti-armor cluster munition, but even then the skeets don't differentiate friend from foe). The only real way to control the pattern of guided cluster bombs is with the burst altitude (higher BA = larger, less saturated pattern). While you can also do this at altitude, it is often easier to make such judgments at lower altitude prior to release. A slower speed at release will also cause a steeper ballistic arc for the bomblets, making the pattern more predictable. Again, not as big of a deal when the enemy in contact is a ways out, but certainly a bigger deal the closer the enemy gets to the friendly line.

Finally, the closer the CAS, the more likely that the cannon will be a factor. Cannon rounds can be placed as precisely as the operator can perform, with minimal drift or fragmentation patterns, thereby making the cannon both a decent precision and area weapon in the right hands. US Marines, the masters of CAS, specifically requested the 20mm cannon to replace the 7.62mm minigun on the AH-1J when they got their own Cobra contract (as a derivative from the AH-1G). When it comes to CAS, it may ultimately come down to the cannon and its delivery platform.

Last edited by HomeFries; 04/03/14 06:06 PM. Reason: grammar

-Home Fries

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay - and claims a halo for his dishonesty."
- Robert A. Heinlein

The average naval aviator, despite the sometimes swaggering exterior, is very much capable of such feelings as love, affection, intimacy, and caring. These feelings just don't involve anyone else.

#3934170 - 04/03/14 10:06 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: Floydii]  
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Originally Posted By: Floydii
Originally Posted By: Deacon211
CAS can be performed at almost any altitude and range as long as you can overcome any inherent obstacles. Remember that the "close" in Close Air Support refers to how close the friendly troops are to the target, not to how close the aircraft is from the target.


This fact seems to elude the hordes of people who claim nothing can replace the A10.

Frankly, if the desired target explodes when the ground element requesting CAS wants it to, mission accomplished. How it is exploded is largely irrelevant.




The Marines are good example of doing all fixed wing CAS with the FA-18 and AV-8.

F-16s got some SOF guys out of a tight spot on a few occasions in 2003 low level at night - the SOF troop were all over the place and running in a firefight. After getting sense from the ground guy they dropped a GBU-12 unguided in an agreed location which did the trick and scared the Iraqi force off.

They risked it by coming below the authorized altitude but kept their speed up to ensure they had a far better survival chance against any MANPADs.


'Crashing and Burning since 1987'
#3934582 - 04/04/14 04:45 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Well, the A-10 has several things going for it in the CAS arena. It carries a crap load of ordnance, a crapload of gas and it has that gun. As long as it can stay away from the threat, it's hard to beat as a CAS platform.

On the other hand, as the threat increases, the A-10 becomes increasingly challenged in surviving. It's not remotely stealthy and it's not fast. Certainly, there are various defense mechanisms that offset these shortcomings. But, by the same token, they would offset them more on a faster, lower signature airplane.

Of course, the A-10 can soak up some serious damage. But airplanes are generally not as well served by surviving hits as they are by avoiding them. Naturally, you don't want a plane that folds like a house of cards when you direct strong language at it either, but "airborne tank" is really more a euphemism than a viable strategy.

As long as you can manage the threat through SEAD of one form or another however, the A-10 can remain a perfectly viable platform, upgrading whatever systems necessary to ensure that its reach always exceeds its adversary's. Note, I'm not saying that the A-10 must always stay outside every threat envelope, just that as threat weapons improve (and they always do) an A-10 pilot's life expectancy is going to get ever shorter if he trolls around in the enemy's WEZ for very long.

Now, this strategy does pose some question as to the long term viability of the gun. The gun, as with all weapons, is restricted by a mil dispersion limitation. The farther the gun is shot, the more dispersed the gun rounds will be. It will also mean that each round will have less energy. You're going to have to talk to an A-10 guy about the max effective slant range of their weapon, but, as the low level air defense threat becomes more robust, the gun becomes less useful as weapon unless you are willing to go down into the threat. For the sake of completeness, this situation also applies to unguided bombs and technically laser guided bombs as well, provided that the aircraft is doing the lasing. The farther the aircraft is from the target, the less effective any weapon system is going to be...as long as it can't correct itself.

This is the virtue of GPS weapons as the weapon is seeking a point in space rather than guiding on a laser spot or relying on the angular accuracy of the firing platform. I'm no JDAM expert, so it's almost certainly more complicated than that, but I think the point is fair enough.

As for area targets, CBUs are great but are not without limitations. CBUs tend to have very high bomblet dud rates, which turn target areas into potential minefields if the friendly troops are in the advance. Also, depending on how far the friendlies are from the enemy, cluster bombs may be a bit less precise than the ground guys are comfortable with. This doesn't mean that a FAC would turn down a section of CAS aircraft if they were to be carrying CBUs. But he might move that target grid just a little bit farther from him, just for mom and the kids.

Much maligned in sims, good old fashioned Mk-82s are still a perfectly good weapon...especially if you are talking about area bombing. A brace of slicks or snakeyes dumped on someone's head are going fill the air with lawnmower blade sized chunks of steel for several hundred meters, which is surely going to annoy the owner of the head...that is providing of course that the person has survived having all his internal organs squirted out his rectum by the overpressure and explosive effects. In this case, the quantity, multiple, and interval will dictate the size of the area affected. Naturally, dumb bombs will be affected most by increased standoff range. But that should be less of a problem if you are planning to mulch a hilltop or trenchline.

Below is a highly censored standard bombing page from an old Tactical Pocket Checklist. Note at the bottom the table used for selecting between various target sizes.








Well the most difficult part of CAS for the CAS pilot is finding the target that the FAC is referring to

#3934635 - 04/04/14 05:49 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: Deacon211]  
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Originally Posted By: Deacon211


Well the most difficult part of CAS for the CAS pilot is finding the target that the FAC is referring to


Nice post - thanks

I expect most CAS has to be directed by the troops themselves - in the above case the SOF guy was holding up a covert night light they could see with NVGs so used that as an initial reference to determine where to drop.

They also had troops lazing for them or passing GPS coords. Its stated the ground troops could pass the F-16s coordinates directly to data link (SADL) so they just appeared on the MFD (I think A-10C has SADL also). You could then just slave the TGP to point directly at the location.

A-10 is proven to be able to get home after MANPAD hits - but some were blown out of the sky after only one hit in 91 - so defo agree that not getting hit in the first place is a better strategy.

The gun should be more accurate due to PAC - although not convinced it was the primary weapon even in the 70s against Soviet Shilka and co.

Have noticed that the Mk-82 airburst has been regularly used for the past decade by allied jets - looks like the modern day version of the fuse extender in Nam - very effective you would think.


Thought some work had gone into ensuring cluster bombs went off - maybe just marketing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKdFCsycYm8


'Crashing and Burning since 1987'
#3934662 - 04/04/14 06:24 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Well, first let me apologize about the last line...meant to get back to it and it got forgotten on the bottom of the reply box!

Yeah, things like SADL are a huge improvement over what we had before. Still the limitations are getting an accurate grid in the first place...which is a bit of guesswork since no one wants to pop their heads up for a good look...and the mil dispersion of the weapons. I don't know what the accuracy of the PAC is, but there will still be some inherent limitation of the weapon system itself; reduced perhaps but always increasing with range.

The big hurdle was going from INS to GPS in the early 90s. When I first arrived in the fleet, even a well maintained INS would drift about 0.5-0.8 miles per hour. So that meant that, even if the coordinate was right on the target, the diamond wasn't. Once we had GPS, that thing was spot on...whatever was at the coordinate. Now, with a auto datalink, you can at least hope to pound the ground under the diamond.

Still, the best case is having a good targeting pod and sweetening up the FAC's coordinate. Even if the FAC can narrow down the corner of the building that he wants to hit or can give a good reference like "100m NW of the crossroad" a good targeting pod might be able to pick up something that looks bomb worthy.

The Harrier ARBS had a magnification of only 6x IIRC and it was difficult to really get a good look at what you were targeting until you were in your run. If you discovered that you had targeted a burned out hulk rather than the camouflaged tank next to it, you could try to revert from Auto (CCRP in other planes) to CCIP or just hope that the bombs were close enough, but it was less than optimum for high altitude target recognition.

#3934764 - 04/04/14 09:51 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: Deacon211]  
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Originally Posted By: Deacon211
This is the virtue of GPS weapons as the weapon is seeking a point in space rather than guiding on a laser spot or relying on the angular accuracy of the firing platform. I'm no JDAM expert, so it's almost certainly more complicated than that, but I think the point is fair enough.

This is a very common misconception about GPS weapons: that they'll hit exactly the coordinates they are given. GPS-guided weapons will guide to the target coordinates as best they can, but will still have a spread hit pattern, based on a number of error factors: GPS measurement errors, navigation errors, control errors, etc. GPS errors alone are 5 meters, so you have a ~15ft radius of error to the intended coordinate even with a perfect weapon otherwise. The much-vaunted JDAM, for example has a CEP50 of about 11-13 m, depending on where you want to get your declassified performance numbers[1][2]. That means that if you dropped 100 GPS-guided JDAMs, only 50 of them would hit within 36 ft of the target! Hardly perfect.

In contrast, publicly available CEP values for a laser-guided Paveway are less than 6m, or about 20ft [3][4][5]. Still not into a pickle barrel, but almost half that of a GPS JDAM.

[1] http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/smart/jdam.htm
[2] http://www.f-16.net/f-16_armament_article9.html
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GBU-12_Paveway_II
[4] http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/app5/paveway-2.html
[5] http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/pavewayIIenhancedlaserguidedtraininground.html

Last edited by EinsteinEP; 04/04/14 09:59 PM.

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#3934788 - 04/04/14 11:06 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: Deacon211]  
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Originally Posted By: Deacon211

The Harrier ARBS had a magnification of only 6x IIRC and it was difficult to really get a good look at what you were targeting until you were in your run. If you discovered that you had targeted a burned out hulk rather than the camouflaged tank next to it, you could try to revert from Auto (CCRP in other planes) to CCIP or just hope that the bombs were close enough, but it was less than optimum for high altitude target recognition.



Ex AV-8B flyer? - always good to have insight from the guys in the know! I would have thought the ARBS was hot stuff in 1991 - I do have a recent book about the AV-8 flyers from that era and it does mention that they think it worked better in the AV-8B over the late A-4Ms.

Although the AAQ-14 was about in limited numbers (for a few types) it was probably not used in the way it is now - then you also had binoculars, or the Seeker video from the AGM-65!

The AV-8s have been doing CAS over Iraq/Astan for years - but haven't looked into any upgrades (possibly carry TGPs) or whether they still do it the same way.


'Crashing and Burning since 1987'
#3934827 - 04/05/14 01:26 AM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: EinsteinEP]  
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Average accuracy last I saw figures that were not on the internets(tm) indicated that GPS guided munitions would happily display an average CEP of less than 5m. That was a while ago though.

Originally Posted By: EinsteinEP
This is a very common misconception about GPS weapons: that they'll hit exactly the coordinates they are given. GPS-guided weapons will guide to the target coordinates as best they can, but will still have a spread hit pattern, based on a number of error factors: GPS measurement errors, navigation errors, control errors, etc. GPS errors alone are 5 meters, so you have a ~15ft radius of error to the intended coordinate even with a perfect weapon otherwise. The much-vaunted JDAM, for example has a CEP50 of about 11-13 m, depending on where you want to get your declassified performance numbers[1][2]. That means that if you dropped 100 GPS-guided JDAMs, only 50 of them would hit within 36 ft of the target! Hardly perfect.

In contrast, publicly available CEP values for a laser-guided Paveway are less than 6m, or about 20ft [3][4][5]. Still not into a pickle barrel, but almost half that of a GPS JDAM.

[1] http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/smart/jdam.htm
[2] http://www.f-16.net/f-16_armament_article9.html
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GBU-12_Paveway_II
[4] http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/app5/paveway-2.html
[5] http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/pavewayIIenhancedlaserguidedtraininground.html

Last edited by GrayGhost; 04/05/14 01:26 AM.

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#3934832 - 04/05/14 01:37 AM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: EinsteinEP]  
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Originally Posted By: EinsteinEP
Originally Posted By: Deacon211
This is the virtue of GPS weapons as the weapon is seeking a point in space rather than guiding on a laser spot or relying on the angular accuracy of the firing platform. I'm no JDAM expert, so it's almost certainly more complicated than that, but I think the point is fair enough.

This is a very common misconception about GPS weapons: that they'll hit exactly the coordinates they are given. GPS-guided weapons will guide to the target coordinates as best they can, but will still have a spread hit pattern, based on a number of error factors: GPS measurement errors, navigation errors, control errors, etc. GPS errors alone are 5 meters, so you have a ~15ft radius of error to the intended coordinate even with a perfect weapon otherwise. The much-vaunted JDAM, for example has a CEP50 of about 11-13 m, depending on where you want to get your declassified performance numbers[1][2]. That means that if you dropped 100 GPS-guided JDAMs, only 50 of them would hit within 36 ft of the target! Hardly perfect.

In contrast, publicly available CEP values for a laser-guided Paveway are less than 6m, or about 20ft [3][4][5]. Still not into a pickle barrel, but almost half that of a GPS JDAM.



Interesting. Actually I consider that pretty decent accuracy compared to dropping a Mk-82 at 10k. Correct me if I'm wrong also, but that accuracy is largely range independent providing you are giving that weapon enough energy to make the corrections it needs to? Is that LGB number self-lased or ground lased? An LGB can be very accurate, provided that the laser spot is small, but I have lost an LMAV to laser spot spillover from the 18D who was lasing for me and my buddy lost an LGB and we didn't get to fire very many of them, compared to the number of dumb bombs we dropped

I wouldn't know without doing some research, but I wonder how the accuracy drop-offs compare between the two PGMs over increased slant range with self-lasing assumed.

As for the ARBS, I can't say how well it worked over the A-4 model, but it actually gave us a tighter bombing system than the radar...it sounds like it was actually better than the JDAM. The problem with the ARBS was that it was either a laser spot tracker (with the associated considerations involved) or a contrast tracker. So, a target with good contrast would give you a good lock and a great bomb solution. A low contrast target or one obscured by haze or smoke on the other hand, might not accept a lock (or the lock might run away) and you were left reverting to some lower order mode.

Also, as I said the magnification wasn't great by itself, so it wasn't the best for recce; although it would probably give you one decent look shortly before release altitude.

After I left the fleet, the Harrier got the Litening pod, which really revolutionized CAS for us. Now not only could you see the target way out at the CP. you could also self-lase.

My buddies who got to use it said it was a game changer, the kind that could keep you in the CAS game if you needed to bump up your release altitude to the teens.

#3935133 - 04/06/14 02:13 AM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: Deacon211]  
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Originally Posted By: Deacon211
Correct me if I'm wrong also, but that accuracy is largely range independent providing you are giving that weapon enough energy to make the corrections it needs to?


GPS-aided systems like the GPS JDAM blend inputs in from a GPS receiver and onboard inertial navigation system (if you've worked in "the business" you've heard the term GAINS before). These systems can have some time-history errors, but, in a good system, these are corrected by the GPS signals, so the GPS errors of 5m will be the theoretical best. Guidance errors, control system errors, etc. will only add on top of that. Weapon performance numbers (e.g., CEP) are usually given for a specific release condition or envelope, which, of course, assumes that there is enough "smash" at release for the weapon to do it's little dance on the way to the target.

Originally Posted By: Deacon211
Is that LGB number self-lased or ground lased? An LGB can be very accurate, provided that the laser spot is small...

The publicly-available sources don't caveat how the target is designated to get that performance. Once would assume worst-case, but can't confirm...

Just like GPS-aided weapons, even if the laser spot was held perfectly still on the target, the weapon itself will contribute some error. It just can't possibly do any better than the accuracy of its sensor inputs.


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#3935306 - 04/06/14 06:27 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Thanks Einstein.

I understand what you are saying, but I'm actually asking a more specific question. Let's put it in context of the original question.

If I am an A-10 pilot and I drop a Mk-82 in a 45 degree dive from 10,000 ft and the threat drives me up to releasing at 15,000 ft, all other things being equal, my bomb accuracy will be decreased because of the advertised mil dispersion of the entire bombing system.

If I do the same with an LGB, I would assume the same will happen to a lesser degree, provided I'm lasing the target myself due to the increasing dispersion of the laser spot. If I have a FAC designate for me, on the other hand, the error will remain more or less constant with the increased altitude, because the bomb will guide itself to the target bounded by the available accuracy of the weapon.

(Actually, I would assume that the advertised numbers for the LGB are BEST case, but that may be too many years working with defense contractors in DC talking wink )

Now, if I performed the same experiment with the JDAM, I would actually expect that the error would remain largely constant, since the weapon isn't affected by the limitations of the designator.

This is all disregarding any effects from smoke, cloud, or haze and disregarding any increased difficulties that the launching aircraft might have in acquiring the target as the slant range increases. We're just talking about the limitations of the weapon itself as the fight gets driven higher by threat.

Is there anything I'm missing in my interpretation?

Of course this is all mostly notional. If the threat was preventing CAS aircraft from employing their favored ranges, the aircraft would still attempt to utilize a higher (or lower if there was a capable mid-high altitude threat) attack and just have to deal with the consequences.

But it does relate to the original question of whether CAS is dead in the modern threat environment. I still think that CAS is viable in many circumstances...subject to some limitations depending on the threat and how effectively the CAS provider can neutralize or circumvent it.


Deacon

#3935367 - 04/06/14 10:32 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Deacon,

What you say is very true, though the degradation of laser precision is minimal due to slant range. Other things (like the things you suggested) have much more of an effect on laser accuracy and precision, and any degradation due to slant range is still well within the CEP of the LGB when dropped within parameters.

GPS guided munitions have a fairly consistent CEP because it's based on something independent of the weather or the platform, although you can get degraded GPS if you're dropping in fairly steep valleys where you can't get that 4-5 satellite fix. In that case, a laser may be better, all things being equal.

The other big consideration is the Nav accuracy of the platform. Once you put in a lat/long and drop the JDAM, that's where it goes. And that position is only as good as your data source. If you get PTW coordinates prior to launch and the target is still there, you can be confident of the aimpoint accuracy within inches. However, a target of opportunity or a target that has relocated requires an updated position that is at best as accurate as the launch platform, and even then the offset from the platform's position may add additional error to the GPS aimpoint. Take the example of the DCS A-10C, where you see guys lock up a target with the TGP, set it as SPI, and drop a JDAM. The JDAM will often land long or short (usually long), especially if the target isn't locked at its base. This is because the elevation of the target becomes a factor, and given the lat/long of where the TGP is aimed the DTED elevation is assumed. Likewise, if the TGP locks onto a higher point on the target, slant range will dictate a lat/long behind the target. This is why it pays to lase the target to solidify the position before dropping JDAM. Even if the target is a radar contact, there is often some offset depending on the type of target that is being lit up. Point is that this is all in addition to the JDAM CEP. In contrast, lasing a target will get the actual slant range, and as long as you keep a good fix on the target and have good conditions, the CEP of the LGB will be the only variable in the accuracy equation.



-Home Fries

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#3935379 - 04/06/14 10:56 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Interesting. Most of my laser designator experience was either with the MULE as a FAC or on the receiving end with the laser spot tracker in the ARBS. I did have those few experiences of losing lock or getting some spillover, but I don't really know the geometry of those circumstances since the Hornet was "somewhere" lasing and that's about all I saw of him.

So, it sounds like that confirms that CAS can be restricted to some fairly high altitudes and still be effective. The ability to acquire the target becomes the biggest challenge, that offset by capable targeting pods and GPS equipped airplanes somewhat.

#3935675 - 04/07/14 03:50 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Deacon211, you might be interested in this: http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2006psa_psts/kuz.pdf

I suspect that self-lasing depends heavily on the type of target in terms of spillover (think attacking a bridge support), but is not an issue if attacking a tank on the ground for example. That's if you're doing a relatively high-altitude attack, so the lasing angle will be very steep.


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#3935710 - 04/07/14 04:26 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Multi-mode bombs would be great for the Navy and Marine Corps, where you wouldn't have to store as many different kinds of munitions in limited shipboard space.


-Home Fries

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay - and claims a halo for his dishonesty."
- Robert A. Heinlein

The average naval aviator, despite the sometimes swaggering exterior, is very much capable of such feelings as love, affection, intimacy, and caring. These feelings just don't involve anyone else.

#3936111 - 04/08/14 10:30 AM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: HomeFries]  
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Originally Posted By: GrayGhost
Deacon211, you might be interested in this: http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2006psa_psts/kuz.pdf

I suspect that self-lasing depends heavily on the type of target in terms of spillover (think attacking a bridge support), but is not an issue if attacking a tank on the ground for example. That's if you're doing a relatively high-altitude attack, so the lasing angle will be very steep.


Multi mode bombs would be outstanding!

I think that's very true. But in the two examples that I was thinking of specifically the target was actually a tank in the R-2507 out by Yuma. In one case we had the Laser Spot Tracker up on the tank as well to record the hit. About five seconds before the missile (I think it was) impacted, you could see the LST jump about 100m or so long and that's where the missile hit, although we are talking about two separate seekers jumping off the target.

Like I said, I don't know where the Hornet was, but he was probably farther away with a lower angle than we were when we fired/dropped which may have had something to do with it. Who knows? Back in those days, PGMs were not particularly plentiful, so every squadron got to drop a few of each for familiarization. We had mostly successful results, with a few going off into the rough. Without knowing the details, it's hard to say that it was definitely spillover and not a designator issue, or a bomb/missile that had been sitting in storage too long.

If I was more motivated, I'd go try to find out the beam width of the Hornet's designator. This way, we could figure out the size of the laser spot...from this designator at least.

Originally Posted By: HomeFries
Multi-mode bombs would be great for the Navy and Marine Corps, where you wouldn't have to store as many different kinds of munitions in limited shipboard space.


Absolutely! On the LHDs, I think we had maybe a couple hundred Mk-82s on board and probably less than fifty Mavericks and LGBs. I'm certain, PGMs are more plentiful now, but there is only so much room onboard.

Were/are you Tomcat or Hornet, HF?

#3936273 - 04/08/14 04:01 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: Deacon211]  
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Originally Posted By: Deacon211
Were/are you Tomcat or Hornet, HF?

Believe it or not, P-3! I got into strike as a battle group TLAM officer for my disassociated sea tour, then enjoyed it so much I became a mission planning/weaponeering/targeteering instructor for my shore tour before I got out.


-Home Fries

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay - and claims a halo for his dishonesty."
- Robert A. Heinlein

The average naval aviator, despite the sometimes swaggering exterior, is very much capable of such feelings as love, affection, intimacy, and caring. These feelings just don't involve anyone else.

#3936356 - 04/08/14 05:16 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Cool man!

I had a lot of P-3 buddies when I was instructing in Kingsville. Good bunch of guys.

#3940441 - 04/16/14 10:12 PM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: RANSs9]  
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Originally Posted By: RANSs9
I am a fan of what the A10 stands for. Single role, austere / affordable design focusing on important tactical areas i.e. what will help the grunts on the ground. (Please note in this respect my thinking has been polluted by the writings of Boyd and Sprey.) The fact that it has put the nose out of USAF hierarchy is just a bonus. But....and it's a big BUT I can't see how it could effectively operate until a reliable method for evading low level IR missiles is invented.

How did I come to this conclusion....braces himself for hysterical laughter....DCS A10 A&C. Okay okay it's a game, it's impossible to fly co-operatively with the AI, in the real world I am sure there are all sorts of systems we are unaware of. But if the effectiveness of just one SA 10 is remotely accurate then its' combination of mobility, passive tracking and aiming coupled with IR missiles able to engage almost down to ground level, make employing the A10 almost suicidal.

I read recently that if the balloon had gone up during the Cold War then the attrition rate of A10's in Germany (that would have been Andy Bush and his mates) was predicted to be eerrhhh very high. With modern day double digit SAM's especially short range low level I'd worry it would be total carnage.

Am I being too pessimistic about the role of CAS as typified by the A10 in the modern battlefield against peers. Are people being too sentimental about the hog and the days of low and slow are over? Is there anyway to counter a launched low altitude IR missile ?

TIM


The important thing in CAS is to have really good situation awareness in order to survive. So long as you stay above the SAM/AAA threat you can avoid being hit while still destroying ground targets. Most SAMs/AAA standout in a convoy and can easily be picked off with a maverick from high alt/max range. If the threats are static then in the A-10C you have the advantage of the targeting pod to locate the threats. You can also use the RWR and set countermeasures to automatic and it is a big help since it increases your chances by dispensing chaff/flares quicker than you using the buttons after spotting the missiles. Its been proven by Operation Desert storm that a cold war conflict would have resulted in a NATO victory over soviet era tactics.

For CAS in DCS you can now have people on the ground as JTACs calling in the airstrikes and lasing for GBUs. Another sim which you can fly CAS is ARMA 2 and 3 where people on the ground can ground lase tgts for GBUs. Arma 3 still needs more improvements on the visual distance of which you can see objects in order to make it more practical so as far as sims are concerned DCS is the better sim. BTW I've flown many CAS missions with SA13s as threats and still rtb because I've avoided the SAMs lethal range.

For MP so long as your team has a good briefing and knows the location of the threats or those that spot missile launches/platforms call it in and let everyone know then you stand a better chance of a successful mission and everyone getting back in one piece.



"Trust me I know what I'm doing" Detective Sledge Hammer
#3940563 - 04/17/14 10:34 AM Re: Close Air Support not possible in peer/peer modern conflict ? [Re: SUBS_17]  
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Originally Posted By: RANSs9
I am a fan of what the A10 stands for. Single role, austere / affordable design focusing on important tactical areas i.e. what will help the grunts on the ground. (Please note in this respect my thinking has been polluted by the writings of Boyd and Sprey.) The fact that it has put the nose out of USAF hierarchy is just a bonus. But....and it's a big BUT I can't see how it could effectively operate until a reliable method for evading low level IR missiles is invented.

How did I come to this conclusion....braces himself for hysterical laughter....DCS A10 A&C. Okay okay it's a game, it's impossible to fly co-operatively with the AI, in the real world I am sure there are all sorts of systems we are unaware of. But if the effectiveness of just one SA 10 is remotely accurate then its' combination of mobility, passive tracking and aiming coupled with IR missiles able to engage almost down to ground level, make employing the A10 almost suicidal.

I read recently that if the balloon had gone up during the Cold War then the attrition rate of A10's in Germany (that would have been Andy Bush and his mates) was predicted to be eerrhhh very high. With modern day double digit SAM's especially short range low level I'd worry it would be total carnage.

Am I being too pessimistic about the role of CAS as typified by the A10 in the modern battlefield against peers. Are people being too sentimental about the hog and the days of low and slow are over? Is there anyway to counter a launched low altitude IR missile ?

TIM


Any cold war scenario that didn't go nuclear would be attrition on the ground and in the air - so forget about air superiority or a load of exported crap acting as sitting ducks in a flat desert!

The Soviet tactics combined with sheer numbers of ground and air equipment that Iraq certainly never possessed, and the terrain meant it would be nothing more than a bloody nightmare - however A-10s would still have had to venture in against MiGs etc, and the latest SAMs and take their chances.

Today the A-10C has an IR missile detection system - and the real thing can use IR towed decoys by all accounts but there is no guarantee against modern MANPADs. Flying low and slow is fine until you fly over any half decent AAA like Shilka - (AAA is the most lethal threat to low flying aircraft) or get spotted by an enemy fighter. It can still only operate safely in a permissive environment IMO after the Air and long range SAM threat (SA-20 etc) is dealt with by other assets.
In 1991 A-10As tried to stay above 12,000ft because of the threats, but in OEF they could get away with flying lower due to a totally different environment.


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