Read this first:

This is so ridiculous. Forest for the trees people, if we do not train and equip Afghans to provide for their own precision close air support and surveillance we will be spending billions in that country for another decade or more to come. The USAF should be ashamed of its TOTAL FAILURE of enacting a key component of us exciting this never ending conflict. Additionally, industry is totally out of control with their whining, lies, appeals and law suits. Why not just turn the whole DoD over to industry and be done with it at this point? Piss poor management and the contractors running the show is the way it is now and it is a threat to national security.

Going forward, the USAF should take proposals and demonstrations at the risk of the suppliers for smaller competitions where hardware does not have to be developed from scratch, whoever wins, wins, regardless of claims of unfair advantages and belly aching about buying foreign instead of American (which is totally BS to begin with). If defense contractors do not like the rules or the risks involved with the process than they can opt not to bid at all. This makes the DoD the customer, what a novel idea right?

Tuboprop precision attack and surveillance aircraft should have been in the fight over Afghanistan almost a decade ago, not with just Afghans at the controls but with US pilots as well. Instead we spent billions fighting an insurgency with F-16s, F-15s, F/A-18s, and B-1 bombers which cost tens of thousands of dollars an hour to operate and need constant refueling, which is incredibly expensive. Meanwhile the Afghans have no form of fixed wing precision fire support or surveillance capability yet we are said to be “doing everything possible” to turn over security operations to them as fast as possible. Heads should role over the fumbling of this critical program as it will cost the US tax payer millions, if not billions, in opportunity cost compared to just picking an aircraft at deploying it as fast as possible. In the meantime our aging combat aircraft fleet remains in that country flying day in and day out, many of which are flying missions where they are so mismatched and uneconomical for the tasks at hand that it is almost laughable.

If you believe it when “they” say that the US will be “leaving Afghanistan” in 2014, and that a total turnover will take place, the never ending delays with the LAS program alone tells you that the powers that be are lying to you on a daily basis and that we will indeed be there subsidizing Afghanistan’s national security for years, if not decades to come. Precision air-power got us into that country in a blitzkrieg fashion over a decade ago, without it the Afghan security forces will be battered to the point of dissolution against the battle hardened Taliban.

This is a much better writeup on the situation than the one above, please read through it as I am sick of repeating myself over and over. This relatively simple program is a poster child for why many of the Pentagon’s brass need to be sent home with pink slips. For all our technological power and wealth, years go by and we CANNOT EVEN FIELD 20 TURBOPROP CLOSE AIR SUPPORT AIRPLANES?


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  1. Dainon says:

    “Tuboprop precision attack and surveillance aircraft should have been in the fight over Afghanistan almost a decade ago,”

    I might have missed it, but I think you could have included the word “only” in this sentence. Do any P-40s still fly?

    At there own risk. That might be most important concept from this post.

  2. Nicky says:

    Well if the US and Afghans want a COIN/CAS/Manned ISR bird, they should simply stick with the A-29. At least with the A-29, they can get a Proven CAS/COIN bird that the Brazilians make. At the same time, it would it would give the US air national guard and the Afghan’s a COIN/CAS/Manned ISR bird

  3. Mitchell Fuller says:

    Ahh Afghanistan, where empires are bleed

    Last I read you have to be able to read to learn to fly and DOD was finding it difficult to find literate recruits for A-Stan air……. not sure you can call it a force. Folly

    Since post WW 2 Air Force has found it difficult to provide CAS aircraft due to culture of fast jets, still trying to kill the A-10

    Army needs to be given back CAS role and in theatre fixed wing tactical cargo transport

    Army could service CAS mission with A-10s and a much needed turboprop platform, a modern A-1, lotsa loiter, lotsa ordinance, cannons, massively over engineered / overbuilt wing structure / spars to handle the load stresses. Take AT-6 and make it 25% bigger a la Hornet to Super Hornet and load it up

    Army has to use Chinook on many unit supply drops when C 27J could perform job more economically and safely. Give Army these aircraft

    Air Force still has air dominance role / strike role which it likes and designs it’s aircraft for plus MAC for strategic airlift

    Defense acquisition, yes Ty what a mess, F-35 anyone????? The air force is acquisitioning itself out of the air part in air force…….. Maybe some day over the rainbow it will fly and only double estimated cost and half of promised performance and a quarter of numbers needed

    Well, we can always fall back on CAA, I hear they have some proven platforms. Smile

  4. skyshadow says:

    What they actually need ( not to mention US army) is a new kind of A-37 Dragonfly. Just magine a Dragonfly equipped with modern FLIR, a compact AESA and SDBs and Brimstone missiles and missile self protection systems. The A-37 was basically a mini A-10 or Su-25. As for the afghans as a stop gap they can use a few dozens second hand Su-25 with some night attack capability , the israelis had a good upgrade package for the Su-25.

  5. Mitchell Fuller says:

    Su 25 another fine option re Sky, designed to be serviced by a conscript force and can handle abuse both by the enemy and it’s maintainers

    Hire some Russian pilots to fly them for A-Stan, for local sensitivities better make that Iraqi pilots

  6. Sky Shadow says:

    What the current afgnan air force would need is something more of this :
    A simple piston prop without any electronics in it.

  7. Nicky says:

    I think for the afgnan air force, they could use the A-29 Super Tucano for their COIN/CAS/ISR bird. For their fast jets, they can use either the Mig-29,JF-17, YAK-130 or the T/A-50 & the F/A-50. For their attack helo, stick with the Mil Mi-24, Mil MI-35 Hind or the Mil Mi-28.

    As for the USAF, the A-29 Super Tucano is perfect for a LAS/CAS/COIN/ISR bird as well. It would give the USAF and the Air National Guard a platform for LAS/CAS/COIN/ISR Missions that would not require expensive birds to operate.

  8. says:

    Dainon- Right, even for low end development opportunities the USAF lets the contractors run the show apparently. The Pentagon is full of folks who have no skin in the game and have never ran their own business so this is what you get. Because you can fly the hell out of an F-16 or organize a ship full of 18 year olds with great success does not mean you understand hardline contract negotiations or even understand the idea of a “bid” apparently. Yes, I know the Pentagon is full of civilian bureaucrats and lawyers too, but where are they on these issues? Need hardcore leadership to revamp and streamline acquisition processes or we are doomed. I am talking about a total random mutation here to fix this insanity.

    Tucano is the winner here, its proven, built to run in a very austere environment and has better wing loading, internal guns, and more room for crap/range. The AT-6 would be a decent choice if this was a USAF program alone, but it is aimed at arming the AFGHANS not the National Guard. Here the T-6 commonality is worthless, as well as the common A-10C PEP cockpit. Note- I have said time and time again, just give them A-10s.

    Mike- agree with a ton of your thoughts. “Take AT-6 and make it 25% bigger a la Hornet to Super Hornet and load it up” -it is called a Super Tucano. On literacy, this is over hyped when it comes to prime pilot slots. There are good recruits in Afghanistan for this mission, more of an issue with the ground based security forces.

    Skyshadow- Why not just buy a tubroprop instead? Frogfoots is a decent choice but do they need that performance instead of loiter time range? Also, this needs to be a very precise platform that can inter-operate with US/NATO forces. A-37, long gone (production etc) but interesting…

    Mitchell- Or the L159 right? They still have flying L-39s. I have gone on and one about this.

    Sky Shadow- Totally disagree. Precision fire support is key to potentially keeping the tide from turning in the Taliban’s favor. If the Afghans start flying and hit civilians constantly with dumb weapons, or their own troops, its over. That country has gotten very accustomed to precision bombing, and they still hate it as it is not precise enough/perfect. The more accurate the platform the better chance of social as well as tactical success.

    Nicky- Why does Afghanistan need an Mig-29? Potentially the fast trainers. The L-139 with a modular radar could do much of the basic air sovereignty + CAS.

    As far as the A-29 for the USAF, there is NO DEMAND within the force for this role, in fact they are throwing good A-10s into the desert wind as they see it as a elastic mission set (CAS). I may recommend the AT-6 over the A-29 for the USAF directly for conversion ease and synergy with the A-10 community and common avionics etc.

  9. Nicky says:
    The only reason why I believe the Mig-29, Yak 130, T/A-50, F/A-50 or CAC/PAC JF-17 Thunder is perfect for Afghanistan Air force is because it’s low cost, easy to operate and they would have a platform that can protect their Airspace and provide Air sovereignty patrols.

    Also the A-29 Super Tucano would be a perfect fit for not only the Afghan’s but for the US Air National Guard as well. It would give a CAS/Manned ISR/LAS/COIN aircraft. Since the A-29 Super Tucano has a proven combat record than the AT-6, I think the A-29 Super Tucano would be perfect for the Afghans and the Air National Guard as well.

  10. Sky Shadow says:

    “‘Why not just buy a tubroprop instead”
    Because it has one engine and its a turboprop, what happens when MANPADS snow up and im not talking SA-7 but SA-18/24 or QW-1.
    US NATO forces for a decade enjoyed the luxury that the Taliban have no modern MANPADS systems, just remember what effect the stinger had in Afghanistan during the 80ties on soviet tactical aviiation. Well my crystal ball tells me that the probability that after 2014 they might get some is real.

    ‘ Precision fire support is key to potentially keeping the tide from turning in the Taliban’s favor’
    The tide has probably already turned after 2014 it will be like after 89 when the soviets left a few years of peace and maybe a civil war.

  11. Amicus Curiae says:

    I think I should mention that this project is not a weapons procurement. It is a diplomatic effort to establish a loyal professional military service by bribing them with miltary hardware. It needs to be too big to fail to succeed in this day and age.

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