News: USAF rules out international A-10 sales

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/usaf-rules-out-international-a-10-sales-414975/

USAF has decided not to sell the A-10 to its allies.

Why this decision? Because selling the A-10 would run contrary to everything USAF was and is saying. USAF has for years, and against all evidence, maintained that the A-10 is unsurvivable and that fast jets can and will do its job – close air support – just as well if not better. Further, selling the A-10 would reduce – however slightly – prospects for F-35 sales. F-35 is primarily a ground attack aircraft, while A-10 does nothing but ground attack, and thus two are competitors. A-10 can also be easily maintained by countries they get sold to, which means no profits for Lockheed Martin and co. from lucrative maintenance contracts.

As it stands, greed and low selfishness will kill the A-10. USAF has no interest in close air support, and it seems that it will finally manage to get rid of the mission alltogether.

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18 thoughts on “News: USAF rules out international A-10 sales

  1. This should not come as a surprise to anyone.

    I think there may be one other motivation behind this: fear. If the A-10 proves itself in the hands of other nations, then it would draw scrutiny to the viability of CAS and the wisdom of retiring it.

    • Aye, I was about to say the same thing.

      Though part of me doubts if the low and slow philosophy’s advantages in finding and ID-ing targets is worth the reduced survivability. The Germans in WWII retired the Ju-87 Stuka in favor of the FW-190F for ground attack due to the Stuka’s low speed vulnerability.

    • Oh for sure you’ll take more aircraft casualties. But without CAS, you’ll take more ground casualties than you will lose in aircraft.

      A Fw-190 speed aircraft though is very viable (perhaps faster).

      I suppose it is the closest thing there is to a “real multirole” (vs the F-35) aircraft:

      – Air cooled radial engine made it good for survivability vs ground fire
      – Good transient performance
      – Straight wings so it was agile at CAS-speed maneuvers and back in WWII of course, wings were not swept unlike modern aircraft
      – Good visibility from the cockpit

      Still, there were ground and air attack variants of the Fw–190.

  2. Something that always bothered me about the A-10 is that the only gun mounted internally is the GAU-8. Like the early Mk IV tanks, there should be “male” and “female” versions. The female version keeping the GAU-8 with its high rate of fire for destroying light vehicles and infantry, but the male version would carry a larger but slower firing cannon for attacking tanks and busting bunkers.

    The Germans did something like this with the Ju-87 Stuka. They had the 37mm BK 37 gunpods for dealing with tanks…

    and the WB 81 gunpods with 6x 7.92mm MG 81 for light targets.

    I do remember a certain Soviet Tu-2 experimental that took this concept to the extremes…

    A Tu-2 with 88(!) PPSh-41’s in it’s bomb bay.

  3. I’ve been thinking about flight profiles for A2A missiles, and I’ve hit upon an idea.
    Most (if not all) BVR missiles fly a flight profile which leads the target in order for the missile to fly the most efficient route (I’ll call this method ‘tracking’).
    Most WVR missiles (Ex, AIM-9) are programmed to simply point their velocity vector at the target (I’ll call this method ‘homing’).

    Tracking seems like the clear-cut better method to use, however, homing has some important advantages.
    – The missile only needs to know the direction to the target’s position. With tracking, the target’s speed and range need to be calculated, which are much more difficult to obtain.
    – Homing is simpler, so it will probably be more reliable/cheaper/require less equipment.
    – A missile that is tracking will have more difficulty in hitting a target which is maneuvering. A tracking missile needs to account for the target’s maneuvers and its own lead, whereas a homing missile only needs to account for the target’s maneuvers.

    Homing does take a penalty in max range when compared to tracking, but this seems only to be a factor in shots where the target is non maneuvering.

    My conclusion is that extreme range A2A missiles for large targets (AWACS killers and such) should still use tracking, but all missiles used against fighters should use tracking.

    • Against an agile target, homing seems like the way to go.

      Tracking is only going to ever work if you can fire with complete surprise and the target is not aware for the duration of the flight. Either that or the target cannot maneuver well.

      Then there’s the missile rocket motor itself. Smaller = better against an agile target. As noted before, using stages like a rocket is a good idea.

    • “Then there’s the missile rocket motor itself. Smaller = better against an agile target. As noted before, using stages like a rocket is a good idea.”

      The problem with stages is two-fold. First, the missile must be large enough and have a high enough fuel fraction so that making separate stages is worthwhile. Second, the addition of a staging system and additional propulsion system would have a negative effect on reliability. To what degree, however, I don’t know.

    • Although there may be a risk of a second or first stage failure, I think that the agility of having the final stage as light and as agile as possible will more than make up for it against a maneuvering target.

      Much like aircraft, smaller and lighter just means more agile. Less inertia and better transient performance.

  4. Something of a shot in the dark, but I’m going to go on a tangent or two since there isn’t much activity going on here at the moment.

    First off, what do you think of the Hs-129?
    I vaguely remember you saying in some article that it was the stuka’s worthy successor that was cut off due to the Luftwaffe’s disdain for CAS. While the plane did have a great deal of armor, two air-cooled engines, and a powerful gun, it was lacking in other crucial areas.
    First off, the plane had no gunner/observer, not to mention that the pilot was in a cockpit with absolutely terrible visibility. Even flying low and slow, I’d imagine situational awareness would be a major problem.
    Second, the plane had engines that were too weak to lift anything other than a gunpod or 250 kg bomb, and it had very bad acceleration/climb flying clean. The Gnome-Rhone 14M was, however, too tiny to extract any more power than the 520 KW it was putting out (19 L, 419 kg, 950mm diameter, 1251mm length). A new engine would probably be around 1200mm in diameter to get 750 KW.

    Second tangent, anti tank ammunition for aircraft guns.
    The reason the A-10 doesn’t use 30mm APDS is due to the fact that the sabots would be at risk of being sucked into the engines, and APCR rounds would sacrifice a great deal of penetration over range that they are fired at. Thus, the only option is solid 30mm ammunition for AT duty. There is, however, another ammunition type which has been long forgotten: Armor Piercing Composite Non Rigid (APCNR). It is an APCR round which is designed to be fired out of a gun with a tapered barrel. The smaller barrel makes the flanges of the APCNR shell flush with the penetrator after it leaves the barrel, drastically cutting down on drag, and thus penetration dropoff while keeping a subcaliber projectile. The big catch is that the tapered barrel puts a hard diameter limit on shells’ diameter, meaning HE shells would have much reduced effectiveness.
    I suppose something like the littlejohn adaper would be possible which would allow switching between full bore and subcaliber, but it seems like swiching barrels midflight would be difficult. Perhaps a twin barrel rotary cannon, one with a tapered barrel and one full caliber with an ammunition belt mixed 50/50?

    • “First off, the plane had no gunner/observer, not to mention that the pilot was in a cockpit with absolutely terrible visibility.”

      IIRC, Hs-129B-1 fixed the visibility problems. As for lack of gunner-observer, that is a handicap, but not crucial one considering low speeds it operated on (A-10 is still the best CAS aircraft in the West despite being single-seat).

      “Perhaps a twin barrel rotary cannon, one with a tapered barrel and one full caliber with an ammunition belt mixed 50/50?”

      No need for rotary gun, you could have two guns with different ammo feeds, or one gun with selective feed. Revolver gun would be good as well (less space required for the same caliber).

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