FINALLY, Someone Realizes That A High-Low Combat Aircraft Mix Is Not Only Logical But May Be Absolutely Necessary

NATO seems to be realizing that a one size fits all, high-end only, fast jet inventory makes air campaigns that last months VERY EXPENSIVE. The dollars add up not just in operational costs but also when it comes to the flight time that gets racked up on such valuable fast jet airframes.

Why do you need a super high-tech fighter, optimized to battling other advanced fighters in the air as well as attacking highly defended key targets on the ground, to fly around for hours looking for a $5,000 rocket launcher or a group of enemy fighters? Sure UAVs can fill in with some of these duties but their soda straw view of the world cannot replace a pilot in a cockpit. For the US, a high-low mix (minus the F-35) looks something like the AT-6B at the bottom along with Reaper drones, then A-10s and F-16s in the middle, leaving the F-22 at the top. So it’s a 3 tier, very low, medium, high mix. But there are other exciting options looming on the horizon for smaller air arms that simply cannot afford prolonged high-end only attack operations.

New advanced jet trainers like the KAI FA-50 Golden Eagle or Aeromacci M346 Master would be able to not only operate as an advanced fast jet trainers during normal operations, but could also be used as an attack fighter optimized for low intensity conflicts, or any conflict once the greatest enemy air defense threats have been eleminated. Basically they could accomplish 90% of same missions  that the Rafale or Typhoon can do once these aircraft have “kicked down the door,” all at a fraction of the cost. Further, these advanced fighter training aircraft seat two people, which is ideal for SCAR (Strike Coordination Attack and Recon) and related missions. They also possess an effective air to air capability and could defend themselves against a low density fighter threat without having to rely on fighter CAPs for protection. By procuring a weaponized M346 to FA-50 advanced jet trainers European nations could kill two birds with one stone and would allow them to preserve their $75,000,000 advanced fighters for the missions where they are needed most. Manpower wise this makes sense as well. Large training squadrons could have “associate” front line squadrons that share the aircraft between one another in a similar fashion as the American F-22 Air National Guard associate squadrons share active duty unit’s F-22s. Europe, or even the US should look at this option in great detail as these same aircraft could also provide adversary and target training during peacetime. You DO NOT need a EF2000 or Rafale to fight an insurgency war in Afghanistan or to search the Libyan deserts for a few Toyota trucks with rocket launchres welded onto their beds. It’s a gross misuse of highly valued assets and it needs to change if NATO wants to be prepared for future contingency operations. Finally, this capability may be able to be embedded into the collective international training programs which many NATO countries are now a part of.

The business case for deployable, combat capable advanced jet trainers comes down to numbers. If the standard T-50 costs $19,000,000 per copy, and the upgraded and fully combat capable FA-50 with a small AESA radar costs $25,000,000 why would you NOT purchase the latter? The procurement of these jets could also help fill the gap left by falling procurement numbers of F-35s. These aircraft could also be utilized for the alert air sovereignty missions at a fraction of the cost of their much more complex cousins. The other option would be to procure a very light attack turboprop equipped aircraft like the AT-6B, Tucano, or OV-10, but with the distances and reaction times involved in possible future operations this may not make any sense at all.



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One Response to FINALLY, Someone Realizes That A High-Low Combat Aircraft Mix Is Not Only Logical But May Be Absolutely Necessary

  1. Arkitek4 says:

    I agree, but before I didn’t. There was the first offer of the KAI to my country which was the T-50B being the 2nd variant of the company. Then I browsed the spec and told myself were screwed with those jets, I mean we have been flying and defending our country with a bunch of upgraded but still radarless S-211’s, and OV-10 Broncos for such a long time that our neighbors just look at us as they violate our airspace that I was actually betting on 4 TA-50’s and 4 Gripens or any of its variants.

    However as I was a member of I learned the deficiencies and literal back-log in both pilot training and ground crew experience with high precision equipment. Hence the idea of the LIFT (Light-Lift Lead Fighter Traner) a cross between an advance trainer jet and a true MRF (multi-role Fighter) as experienced before when we recieved 3 squads of S-211’s the planes crashed one after another due to limited pre-training to fly and maintain these jets.

    Then came the FA-50’s. Specs alone can handle not only advanced jet training but with combat capabilities at just 30M USD and with the block-1 of the grippen costing a hefty 40M USD it really was something to consider that I am mightily proud of my countries defense agencies to have chosen the FA’s over its competitors which really would have made things more difficult of our country to fight with. I am saying to fight with bacause experience wise after this administration of our beloved President Noynoy A., the next president might have a change of heart, at least should the next president be enticed to change the plans of the new MOD law then will be left with a trainer/fighter than just a mere advanced trainer.

    The problem with my countries politicians is that they most of them has not learned from our history. For those who does not know anything about my country the Philippines, we have been occupied so much that really we are starting to stink. Our politicians and I’m talking about the braggars/copycats/trappos/corrupt, they have a penchant to say the statement; “For national development”. Really no country can push for development without a formidable military. Take East Timor for example, they have a small population, small army, small economy and relatively a decade old. But since its inception they took the pain of upgrading their own military buy buying 2-brandnew patrol boats from China and a host of other purchases meant to solidify their existence.
    For us, We have politicians who’d rather spend money on vacations and sport’s utility vehicles and other perks they can get for free without noticing that their positions is protected by the military and the police with out a sudstantial armed force their days are numbered.

    I am proud of our current president, he is a visionary a real leader who knows what we want, when and how we need it. And if all goes well wed have a missle-armed frigate before 2014. Something to look forward to.

    This FA-50’s is a light fighter on its own, and I remember the F-5’s that the US made and was actually appalled that the F-20 Tigershark no one bought it despite its ease of maintenance and cost that made it look like a over the counter jet. And most countries instead opted for the more expensive to buy and maintain and use F-16’s that really doesn’t made a lot of shit sense.

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