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Pentagon to test F-35 against A-10 for Close Air Support

Already an alarmingly poor dogfighter, we may now find out just how good the JSF is at CAS. Reads like the Air Force is prepared for it to lose against the 40-year-old A-10 but use it anyway. ( More...

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Torsten Hoff 6
The Air Force is just going to make Supercruise a requirement for CAS and declare the F-35 the winner.
canuck44 5
Congress needs to appoint someone to provide independent assessment for them because you know the Air Force suits will keep a finger on the scale to get the desired outcome.
joel wiley 2
They're just as likely to select LM's chief lobbyist to oversee the independent assessment.
canuck44 1
Not in this many warriors (and warriesses) on both House and Senate Committee to cave on this one...they are totally Pro-Grunt and will continue to shred the suits.
joel wiley 1
As long as we keep their feet to the fire, or make or wishes known on the back of $2,4000 campaign checks.
bbabis 5
Its the getting shot at that won't be tested. The A-10 can sustain tremendous battle damage and stay in the fight. Stealth doesn't help much in CAS and all the complicated systems make the F-35 pretty fragile.
Ray Dahl 2
Single engine!
patrick baker 3
I spoke with a a-10 pilot from whiteman aft , Missouri, and was told that they would be willing to transfer to the army or marine corps to keep on flying this aircraft ,
joel wiley 3
It will be a good thing to ascertain how much is hat and how much is cattle.
flypilot12 3
You want to move dirt? Call a B-1 or B-52. You want CAS? You better damn well call in an A-10 if want the troops to stay alive. Nothing in the air can do better what the Hog does. 30 mike mike? Check. Wide spaced engines for damage and IR reduction? Check. Titanium bathtub to protect the pilot's nads? Check. Loiter time better than any other attack or fighter in the world? Check. Stealth? Ok, not so much but guess what? It doesn't need it. F-35 can't pull off the fighter mission, and isn't needed in the CAS role so what is the real point behind this pig? Money for the big military business machine, that's what. The F-16, F-15E can both beat the F-35 in both CAS and dogfighting, not sure on the F/A-18 but, I'd wager it too can whip the F-35 in the CAS and maybe the dogfighting too. Time to cut this thing out like the cancer it is. Upgrade the A-10 past the 'C' model, adding new engines, more hardpoints, and a HIDS with some off boresight A-G weapons and *Blamo* no more Chinese laundry.
preacher1 3
Totally agree, but as I said below, this competition won't take place until 2018. Gives them time to stack the deck more. You gotta convince the suits that they have a dog and that our war concentration over the next few years will be against guys riding camels rather than high tech air forces. The last thing that came out against us in earnest was Migs over N. Vietnam that shot down some older stuff until Robin Olds dummied in some F4's in place of the 105's and blew hell out of a few of them. Iraq ran off at the start of Desert Storm and we have kinda supplied all the allies. Most of that would be pilot skill anyway and we taught most of them. A missile at 30000' is not the same as a row of 30mm coming in low and slow on your flank.
I agree. Hey, Preacher1, have you ever heard the 30 mike mike on the A-10? It will scare the $h*t out of you!!!!!
preacher1 1
Just on film. They say it is a bear though, that just the sound sends cold chills.
Cal Keegan 3
Multiservice fighters have historically been dogs. Consider the F-4 Phantom and the F-111. The Wikipedia page has a lot of information, much of it disturbing. Trying to build them in parallel while still designing them, like some nuclear power plant projects back in the day, a well known way to waste gigantic amount of money.
joel wiley 5
"Waste" depends upon whether you are on the paying or receiving end.
patrick baker 3
bad news coming for the f-35. have each aircraft make several passes at identical targets and then lets see what is left. add in some loiter time and then tell the truth. Really, we could give the f35 several passes, then let the warthog clean up and wipe up. Once and for all we can stop the fiction that the f35 is a for real substitute for the warthog. Exactly, what does the f35 have to drop or shot at any close air support target, or succession of them?
preacher1 2
I think truth will be the problem, and Congress or somebody is going to have to provide an accurate and honest assessment, if there is such a thing. The one problem I do see here is that trials are set for 2018, 2-3 years down the line. No upgrading at all on the A10 and 2-3 more years of money spending on the F35.
preacher1 5
"Can [the F-35] do close air support? Sure," Aboulafia said. "But there's nothing like an A-10 in a world where nothing shoots back." This out of the story. One of the a10's assets it to take a licking and keep on ticking. They also say that their intent was never to replace the A10 with theA35. I call BS as that is all they did until Congress rebelled on the.
Bill Harris 3
[Full disclosure - satire follows]

Lockheed Upbeat Despite F-35 Losing Dogfight To Red Baron

BETHESDA, Md. — A spokesman for Lockheed Martin today denied that there is any reason to be alarmed about possible shortcomings of the military’s newest and most expensive fighter plane after reports surfaced this weekend that an F-35, piloted by a crack Air Force fighter pilot, lost a mock dogfight with a Fokker Dr.I Triplane similar to the aircraft once piloted by World War I German Ace Manfred von Richtofen, the “Red Baron,” piloted by a World War I reenactor...
joel wiley 2
"Curse you, Red Baron."
Unnamed Beagle
preacher1 2
as accurate as any other reporting that comes out anymore.
jbqwik 3
Real damage to America's integrity after we forced the F-35 turd upon our allies. Colateral damage to the NGB/LRS-B budget. Only thing left to pull a rabbit out of the hat is if they can get the helmet + secure data link fully functional.
I was a young engineer in the 1980s.

When Lockheed Martin acquired the F-16 engineering and production rights/facilities from GD Ft Worth they immediately began pushing the USAF to use the F-16 as a FA-16 ground attack jet. AWST was filled with advertisements by LM stating just how agile/evasive yet effective/deadly the -16 would be in this dedicated role. The USAF relented and allowed a squadron's worth of jets to be modified for the attack role.

Then came the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and Desert Shield and then Desert Storm. During Desert Shield there was a huge push to get these modified FA-16s to the lead the ground attack charge during the inevitable counter-attack [‘Storm]… and there was a subtle attempt to suppress the role of the A-10As.

Within the first week of desert storm, (2 or 3) of these modified FA-16s were shot
down by Iraqi air defenses, and pilots captured… while the A-10s took a similar ass-beating, yet all [except 1?] made it ‘back home’ with severe battle damage.
At this point in the war, it became painfully obvious that the F-16, was simply too vulnerable for this role, regardless of how agile/evasive and effective/deadly it was touted-to-be. The design of the -16 has fuel over the engine/inlet without any armor; and the wings were tough but prone to catastrophic loss of fuel and possible fire. Any avionics bay hit could also cause a loss. Conclusion: ANY serious battle damage [AAA or SAM] ended in a trip on the ejection seat for the crew.

The A-10 on the other-hand took tremendous punishment. In one case ~1/3 of a wing section was blown away, anther jet took a SAM up one engine, another flew home on manual controls [all hydraulics shot-out], etc. There were dozens of photos of A-10s back at base with very serious damage. There were NO photos of FA-16s with any similar damage. The A-10 crews learned to believe in the durability of their acft; the FA-16 folks [and LM] wouldn’t talk about their battle damage experiences. A few A-10s were ABDR’ed and returned to service… while the majority were disassembled and sent home for repair/disposal. Only a few lightly damaged FA-16s were returned to service.

Once the FA-16s got out of the way, the A-10s lead the heavy attack phase when the Bomb/missile-load capacity of the A-10, and its monstrous GAU-8 30-mm gun just wreaked havoc on Iraqi ground-troops and armored forces… I think one or more A-10s downed at least (1) Iraqi helicopter [gun or bomb, unsure].

The exceptionally high hit-loss ratio of the A-10 is undisputed in GWI and GWII [Afghanistan or Iraq]. What USAF brass is proclaiming is that the A-10 will be lost in great numbers in a conflict with Russia, China or maybe even Iran, due to their extremely sophisticated, cohesive and destructive air defense systems. Which may be true… right up to the point that these systems are eventually neutralized or severely diminished by our concerted attacks against this AD infra structure… which will eventually pry open the battle area to the lowly A-10C… which would then chew-up/spit-out the ground defenses. But then, this still assumes high intensity warfare… not lower intensity warfare we seem to be faced with on a daily basis and need a jet like this.

Regardless, as far as I can tell… the same battle damage vulnerabilities seen in the FA-16… persist in the F-35A/B/C. So, when it comes to the pure/unadulterated role of close-air support for GIs in boots, then the F-35 has to get down/dirty, then even the stray MANPADS or AAA site poses a real threat to this jet; whereas the A-10C would suck-up a high percentage of the ‘lucky hits’ and RTB 'wounded'… but not end-up in a pile of ruble like the F-35 variants would most likely be.

BTW: ever watched any of the videos of troops-in-contact react to A-10 CAS gun or bomb runs… especially the A-10??? They feel the power and fury close-up…and the A-10 is their favorite.
patrick baker 2
this is the premier shit-kicker in the world of ground support, and any group of officers with stars on their shoulderboards that deny that fact whilst being wined and dined by the makers and supplier of the bowwwow-35 ought to be retired en masse. It is not even a worthy opponent for what the Russians have now and are about to have, so why are we spending hundreds of billions for the second-place trophy, when the price of that trophy is many American lives, pilots and grunts. Look up the word treason, and see how this applies.
Hope the A-10 eats the F35 ...goooo get em WARTY......
sparkie624 2
Won't be a challenge... The A10 will be superior
Dale Brown 2
A friend of mine in Desert Storm said he would rather see an A-10 coming then a care package from home. In CAS there is nothing like the A-10. Retrofit some engines and a few new systems and let them keep on doing what they do best, CAS!
preacher1 3
Tis is where I thnik they start stacking the deck. The do minimum maintenance and no upgrading on the A10, yet continue to work on the F35. The test isn't until 2018. They can do a lot in 3 years.
joel wiley 1
A level playing field is a good thing. However, if one side lacks mallets, horses, and access to the rules of polo, it is likely to be a one-sided game.
joel wiley 1
I fear your friend doesn't count. We don't count. Lockheed shareholders and the USAF generals who will go to work for them upon retirement count. JMHO
Bernie20910 1
Then we need to become Lockheed shareholders.
joel wiley 1
Or State Street Corporation and Capitol World Investors. Between them they hold a bit more than a quarter of the stock
Cal Keegan 2
Another way this is completely rigged: The tests won't be held until 2018 (if at all). Even if the A-10 creams the F-35 (which it will), they'll be saying well we've spent so much, blah blah blah, after a few more tens of billions of dollars we'll hold another bakeoff in 2021 and then it'll be competitive by golly.
patrick baker 1
we have not gone toe-to toe with soviet first line fighters lately. In dogfighting, the soviet aircraft have advantages in power, turning, slow-speed, directional reversal, and some excellent missiles . We have wonderful airshow performers, and the soviets have a succession of derivations of tough fighters that we can't counter so essily. The F-35 has so much negative baggage I wonder how it lifts off. Time to flush this f35, keep the numbers already in service, and buy no more of them than we did of the f-22. we have made a epic goof, a sort of Maginot Line purchase of a deficient aircraft. Let's do it again, only correctly this time.
mfbutzin 1
I suppose the public and the media will be left out of this one? I wonder if Fairchild will even be there?
Cal Keegan 1
The Air Force has never liked and never wanted the A-10. The grunts love them. As others have commented the AF pushed the A-16, which was a turd, and now the F-35, which is a turd. It's all fun and games until you actually need to blast some mujahideen who are shooting back.

Once the AF is losing F-35s in the CAS role in considerable numbers, count on them to pull them back, raise the altitudes, cut the sortie rate, etc, cutting their losses but leaving the ground troops dangerously exposed.


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