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Subject: A-10C Thunderbolt for 4 Sqn?
Volkodav    12/27/2009 10:43:43 PM
Just a thought, would the A-10C be a good fit for 4 Sqn? If it where, would the USAF be able to spare, say, 24 of them for the RAAF?
 
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DropBear       12/28/2009 1:31:29 AM
Just a thought, would the A-10C be a good fit for 4 Sqn?

Is 4 SQN not what FACDU and Special Tactics Project Team etc have now become (as of earlier this year)?

Are they not using PC-9 merely to train RAAF Controllers who would ultimately joing ground based SOG teams?

Therefore, the unit is merely a training tool for allowing RAAF folk to understand the FAC role and to be able to use this for directing air strikes via the ground (and not in the air as a separate unit/entity)?

Why would a highly valuble and capable ground attack platform be used in a limited training role?

If it where, would the USAF be able to spare, say, 24 of them for the RAAF?
 
I can't imagine any spare (Davis Monthan?) would be available to us. 24 would be in an order equalling the F-111/SH F-18F force. That would take a bit of working out (politics) wise.
 
 
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Volkodav       12/28/2009 3:43:57 AM
4 Sqn is going well beyond a training organisation and there has been specific mention of obtaining a much more capable platform for FAC, FFAC, CSAR, CAS etc.  The A-10 is a stretch but I have just read an article on how the USAF is using it for just such missions in Afghanistan which got me thinking.  The FAC role is only part of the story with 4 Sqn also intended to provide specialists to SF.
 
 
 
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Aussiegunneragain       1/1/2010 7:33:13 AM
A bunch of 26+ year old maintainance intensive airframes are the last thing that we need in RAAF service. We would be better off to buy 24 brand new Reapers which would do the same job and a lot more. Then we could train a bunch of 
four-eyed gits who are good at computer games to fly them, rather than having to find a bunch of extra fighter pilots at a couple of million dollars a piece.
 
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Volkodav       1/1/2010 10:13:45 AM
FAC, FFAC, CSAR, CAS....is the Predator capable of filling any of these roles?  A AT-6 would be a better option than the Predator.
 
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Aussiegunneragain       1/1/2010 8:16:56 PM

FAC, FFAC, CSAR, CAS....is the Predator capable of filling any of these roles?  A AT-6 would be a better option than the Predator.

FAC - Yup, it is perfectly appropriate for this role in the age of the PGM. Its just a matter of identifying the target using long range sensors and providing the co-ordinates and designation for the launch platform. If a closer look by a less vulnerable/expensive system is needed the smaller UAV's that we operate can do that.
 
FFAC - I don't know that the role is really that relevant in the age of the UAV, but if it was needed a flight of Super Bugs would be perfect for the task.
 
CAS - Yup, it can carry Hellfire and 500lb Laser or GPS guided bombs and can designated for other platforms like the
Bugs, Super Bugs or Lightnings if more firepower is needed.
 
CSAR - Yup, I would suggest that it is perfect for the role due to the same capabilities that it has for FAC and CSAR, noting of course that we also have the Tigers to escort the rescue choppers nowdays. I would personally favour equipping them (and the rest of the chopper fleet) with refuelling probes and getting a few KC-130's to extend their range in this role though.
 
The other close support asset that I think Australia definately should have though is the AC-130, which would be a perfect fit for the types of operations we might expect in our region over the next 20+ years.
 
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LB    Rubbish   1/2/2010 7:10:55 AM
We're nowhere at the point where a UCAV is able to do FAC.  It's much more than simply a cam pointed at a point onf the ground.  A FAC is in direct communication with the boys on the ground and directs CAS aircraft onto the target.  If the mission is merely hit this designated target then one does need a FAQ per we.
 
CAS is not merely dropping a LGB, JDAM, or launching a Hellfire.  There are public source documents all over the web involving fast jets attempting to do CAS in Afghanistan and having various problems and basically coming up short.  If an orbiting aircraft can merely drop a JDAM than certainly a Reaper might very well do the job very well as could any other high endurance aircraft and in fact in many cases a fast jet might be the way to go given it's far higher area coverage.  Consider the best on call aircraft in Afghanistan for many tasks remains the B-1.
 
All this aside for Australia a UCAV  would probably be the way to go; however, I have no knowledge exactly how the FAC role is handled in Australia and if one really wants a FAC aircraft than we're still talking a manner aircraft and preferably not a fast jet.  The situational awareness of a human being in an orbiting aircraft with eyes on the target in direct communication with those being supported on the ground and the supporting aircraft is not yet something we can replace with a UCAV.  This is even more important with CSAR in that one has to also coordinate with the rescue helicopter(s).  We have not replaced the mark one eyeball in all situations as of yet.
 
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Aussiegunneragain    Lt. Gen. Gary L. North thinks the Reaper is a pretty good CAS asset   1/2/2010 8:14:26 AM
"The Reaper, as a close-air-support asset, expands beyond the concept of persistent stare to one of persistent strike. If the ground commander wants us to strike an enemy target, we can do that with precision weapons from the Reaper at the exact point where the ground commander wants a desired effect. It's an incredibly powerful and flexible capability for the warfighting commander."

http://www.air-attack.com/news/article/3279/MQ-9-Reaper-enhances-Air-Force-capabilities-in-Iraq.html
 
As far as the FAC role goes, your argument about UAV/UCAV operators from being in contact with the troops is rubbish, as they have been for years when conducting overwatch missions for ground troops. The FAC role is for all intents and purposes the same as the artillery adjustment role, which UAV's have been doing for decades. The fact that they aren't being used FAC's at the moment undoubtedly has more to do with the fact that air forces don't like the idea of another of their exciting and prestigous jobs going to a bunch of geeks. The Australian government should certainly be looking at the current joke of a FAC capability that we have (PC-9's with smoke grenades) with UAV's.
 
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Volkodav       1/2/2010 10:38:17 PM
It is more an issue of situational awareness, compare looking at something from a position on the ground, vs from the top of a tall tree, a light aircraft flying at a couple of thousand feet, or an airliner flying above the clouds.  The best view and greatest situational awareness comes with the light plane.  Whack a video image, as opposed to a first person view, into the equation and you lose most of your situation awareness and tend to focus of the centre of the video image.
 
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south2       1/3/2010 1:19:17 AM
AG, the reaper is far from "perfect" as you want to believe.  Volkadov is on the money.  I'm sure that the Reaper does a fine job if there is a protracted engagement or if it was in an overwatch role, however with a cruise speed of 150-170kts its far from a quick response asset.  I think that I would prefer the F-15E coming in at 600Kts.  A reaper show of force would be far from impressive.
 
A further problem would occur with CAS where the coordinates of the hostiles are not known.  Trying to find a target through the field of view offered from the targeting pod would be difficult to say the least.  Visual talk-ons do still occur, and in that scenario the greatest advantage is being able to look out the window.
 
 
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south2       1/3/2010 1:41:13 AM
AG, the reaper is far from "perfect" as you want to believe.  Volkadov is on the money.  I'm sure that the Reaper does a fine job if there is a protracted engagement or if it was in an overwatch role, however with a cruise speed of 150-170kts its far from a quick response asset.  I think that I would prefer the F-15E coming in at 600Kts.  A reaper show of force would be far from impressive.
 
A further problem would occur with CAS where the coordinates of the hostiles are not known.  Trying to find a target through the field of view offered from the targeting pod would be difficult to say the least.  Visual talk-ons do still occur, and in that scenario the greatest advantage is being able to look out the window.
 
 
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