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?
For all my LAS coverage click here: http://aviationintel.com/category/light-air-support-contract-afghanistan/