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Subject: USAF planning new COIN wing -- with turboprop strike fighters
Phaid    7/3/2007 4:45:57 PM
From Flight Global: "US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) planners have called for the stand-up of a new "irregular warfare" wing dedicated to fighting insurgents and terrorists with an aircraft fleet numbering 44 airlifters, 20 helicopters and 20 turboprop strike fighters." The article isn't all that great, in particular the author seems to misunderstand the mission of the 6th SOS with "only two helicopters", but obviously the interesting thing is the idea of the AF resurrecting turboprop COIN aircraft. Not that such an idea doesn't get thrown around all the time -- there are tons of "white papers" out there about everything up to and including turboprop P-51s, but this is actually a serious proposal by the AFSOC.
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Phaid       7/3/2007 4:46:43 PM
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YelliChink       7/3/2007 5:56:25 PM
Are there still Skyraider and Invader airframes available?
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doggtag    woo hoo! let the speculations begin!   7/3/2007 6:09:33 PM
...quoting from the article you posted up...
"One possible candidate for the light strike role is the air-to-ground modified [Beechcraft] AT-6B. Other candidate aircraft include the [Embraer] Tucano or Super Tucano," the AFSOC paper states. The authors add that a Cessna Caravan "might be useful as a light mobility, strike, or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft depending on its configuration".
Perhaps more important than the light strike component, the new wing should operate four Lockheed Martin C-130s in a "heavy mobility" role, as well as 20 medium lift and 20 light mobility aircraft. The latter can be comprised of Cessnas or EADS Casa C-212s, while the former might be the Alenia Aeronautica C-27J Spartan Joint Cargo Aircraft."
I could see the AT-6 moreso than either of the Brazilian aircraft (it's already a USAF trainer, so the transition to weapons applications should be minimal).
Be interesting to see if just such a platform would feature pylon s-only armament, or would someone suggest installing guns in the wings (perhaps single 12.7mm M3Ps, the 1000rpm models used in the Humvee Avenger ADA system, or single 30mm M230 Bushmasters like the Apache uses- we have to watch it though: wing guns and their ammo cut into our fuel supply).
The US used to use Fairchild AU-23 turboprops, some sporting the 3-barrel  20mm M197 mount (Cobra's chin turret) sticking out one side on a pivot mounting)." width=400 align=left border=0>And then there's the ever-popular OV-10 (seen here in NOS form, with a chin FLIR/LLL EO TV and M197 20mm turret), which unofficially surfaced fairly recently in some Marine circles, suggesting they could be outstanding FAC/close support types in Iraq.
As for the various assault transports (turboprops, not helos), I would expect the V-22 to be in the running in some form, but I also wonder (and I'm sure a few other SP posters do also) if someone in the AFSOC would suggest a mini-Spectre built into the C-27J airframe (similar then to the AC-123 or AC-119 I'd suspect).
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gf0012-aust       7/3/2007 6:21:10 PM
USG already has an airwing of turboprop COIN aircraft - the only difference is that its run by various agencies and is therefore "uncoordinated."  There are in excess of 50 turboprop aircraft already undertaking COIN missions
I'm guessing that USAF is not that keen on ATF/DEA/CIA taking these anti-drug (primarily) missions and want to recover their piloted missions.  (as bit like who owns and mananages UAV missions at various levels)
Its a variation on the "service" struggle.
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DarthAmerica       7/3/2007 6:39:52 PM

USG already has an airwing of turboprop COIN aircraft - the only difference is that its run by various agencies and is therefore "uncoordinated."  There are in excess of 50 turboprop aircraft already undertaking COIN missions


I'm guessing that USAF is not that keen on ATF/DEA/CIA taking these anti-drug (primarily) missions and want to recover their piloted missions.  (as bit like who owns and mananages UAV missions at various levels)


Its a variation on the "service" struggle.

Yes it is a turf war. There is hardly a need for a "new" COIN wingin the USAF. Between what the USAF has and what US Army and USMC rotorcraft can do we need this about as much as we need a bullet in the head. In fact the best thing would be to put that money    into modern 21st century COIN relevant platforms like UAS systems. They offer the kind of persistence necessary to hunt this particular opponent. They might as well have just admitted what they wanted.
The problem I have with a "new coin prop" is that its going to be great when its around and terrible when its not. And just how many of these things would they supposedly procure? 20?...LOL!!! Again, nice try USAF but I don't think so.
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Lawman       7/7/2007 2:48:00 PM
One thing to note though is that an AT-6 would be able to orbit the battlespace for around five hours before needing to go home, which is better than both helos and fighter jets. More importantly, the hourly operating costs would be a lot lower, and since the unit costs are much lower, it would be possible to actually buy a decent number. Personally, I do agree that UAVs make much more sense, especially if they could add a turreted gun to the Reaper, perhaps the 30mm off the Apache, making it a mini gunship. A few squadrons of Reaper gunships, carrying a mix of guns, Hellfires and SDBs would make a lot of sense!
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doggtag       7/7/2007 3:25:54 PM
Something I've been questioning myself over posting, but thought what the hell anyway.
Just a supposition, mind you:
Some high-up in the DEA chain ( or elsewhere) realizes his air fleet is getting long in the tooth (too maintenance intensive per flight hour), and is trying to find ways to improve his situation.
Since some of these aircraft are intended for more hostile roles than what Homeland Security would approve of (budget wise, on the grounds they aren't being directly used inside the US, or near-enough related to US Homeland Security issues).
So he goes to a few of his former Reagan-era buddies, now star officers in the USAF, and asks if they can come up with some solutions to the current Air America-equivalent deficiency (aircraft rapidly running out of useful life).
Since these USAF generals have enough Washington clout (circles of friends ties run deep),
these generals ponder how they could go about getting armed assets into the hands of the US's mostly-under-the-radar seldom-in-the-news anti-drug and - strike that- paid security forces- operations (who else really needs these COIN aircraft? After all, hasn't the concensus of this thread been that the US has enough CAS type assets?).
The generals come up with the idea to unofficially announce a new program, a new COIN platform for the USAF, something with which they can acquire several (up to a few dozen? only a USAF program could generate that level of funding) brand new, or nearly new, airframes as "test platforms" under the guise of USAF funding.
Two years out after the "test platforms" are acquired, the program's funding is cut, either from lack of more official interest (drug war isn't exactly high-end election-winning news anymore), or outright we-just-can't-afford-it-right-now budget trimming.
But in the end, the DEA or whichever other unofficial ghost department involved in anti-drug ops and whatever is the modern equivalent of prevent-the-commies-from-gaining-a-foothold, they get their new COIN aircraft that can operate pretty much with impunity in their given theater...after all, since they aren't wearing USAF, USN, or USMC tags and tail numbers...
Just speculation, nothing more.
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kensohaski       7/8/2007 9:03:50 AM
I think that there is already a P-51 clone in existence.  It was called the "Cavalier"...  I believe there is one at the USAF museum in Dayton....
It could be a useful concept as long as we do not put 200 billion dollars down a rat hole.
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CaptainC    Fairchild AU-23A COIN   7/21/2007 3:54:30 PM
The new Fairchild AU-23 is a very good canidate for the COIN aircraft. It is currently being used by the Thai Air Force and thier police force. It can carry all of the ordinance and weapons any of these new two seat aircraft can, it is just not as fast but neither are the helicopters. It is very short field capable, it can deliver troops, supplies, recon, act as a  mini gunship with its side door firing gatling gun (for the price of them you could put 4 of them on a target) it has 5 NATO external pads for miniguns, rocket pods or 250# and 500# bombs, it also has all of the same electronis as the other two seat canidates and for the price $1,950,000.00 basic ea. it really does make sence. They have even improved the kevlar armour protection for the pilots and critical components. It also has the flair dispensers. This aircraft is a true STOL and airports are not needed. It has a P&W PT6-27 or -34 and it does need the well trained pilots that are offered. Being a tail wheel airplane with the big turbine it is not for the guys that only trained with nose wheels. Those off airport unimproved rough landing patches are very distructive to nose wheels. Have you ever seen a nose wheel on a crop duster?
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