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Grunts of the Air - the A-10 film the USAF wanted to suppress

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
You'd think they'd have learned from the great dust up they had in SE Asia where there was never enough of these simple yet effective assets to go around.
[IMAGE]
Fits nicely on a carrier too.

Until the dastardly North Vietnamese got hold of SA-7s.

Which had trouble hitting fast jets... but drove the (rightly beloved, and excellent in its day) A-1 Skyraiders from the skies like morning frost on a sunny day.
 
You'd think they'd have learned from the great dust up they had in SE Asia where there was never enough of these simple yet effective assets to go around.

Fits nicely on a carrier too.

That's an excellent analogy Taff.

The A-1 was very effective for the USN, USAF and RVAF in specific roles such as CAS and CSAR RESCORT in Laos, South Vietnam and the lower threat regions of North Vietnam such as Route Package 1. However, it was utterly useless in the more northerly route packages where MiGs, SAM and radar laid AAA were present.



Regards,
MM
 
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jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
Isn't that a case of different job/different risk? Of course lower and slower is more dangerous - but I wouldn't dismiss the experiences and preference of the boots on the ground.

Again, consider the missions. F-16s would be tasked to targets like (not often, but they went) downtown Baghdad, major and well-defended air defences, primary SAM sites (which were often well-sited with interlocking coverage from complementary systems). I've got a harrowing account of a ANG F-16A driver describing his squadron's attack on a group of SAM sites and his disbelief, as they came off target and checked in, that everyone had survived. A-10s weren't sent to anything like the same risky targets, indeed would have been massacred (the F-16s needed their afterburners and agility, most of the pilots had to evade more than one SAM on that raid). Most of their missions were in the "kill boxes" along the border, which the F-16s used to expend any remaining weapons on their way home _as well as_ their primary missions (plus some F-16 units were flying dedicated 'killer bee' missions into the killboxes as well).

A primary reason advanced for keeping the A-10 is its survivability: and against any significant threat, the evidence for it simply isn't there, indeed it's susceptibility to enemy fire is very poor even if its vulnerability is somewhat better against some threats. (Susceptibility - how easy you are to hit. Vulnerability - how much each hit hurts you)


And the experiences and preferences of participants are significant, but critically need to be checked. For airpower in an earlier war, it's become an article of faith that P-47 Thunderbolts could and did kill "Tiger tanks" by strafing the road, so the ricocheting .50" bullets came up through the "thin belly armour" and destroyed the tanks. The aircrew claiming to have done so were probably speaking in good faith: it's easy for a stressed, scared pilot flying through heavy Flak on a strafing run, walking a burst up the road into a "Tiger" and seeing great clouds of smoke belch from the tank before your bullets have even reached him, to honestly claim a kill because "the ricochets must have exploded his engine" even if the tank was actually just a PzKW IV and the "explosion" was a combination of smoke grenades and sudden full throttle as the driver floored it to get out from under the Jabos.

Need it be said that nobody ever found a single tank knocked out by this method? (and the Operational Research teams looked, and looked hard, at the battlefields). At Mortain, aircrew claimed more tanks destroyed than had been in the German ORBAT, but the battlefield survey found only fourteen knocked out by air attack. (Gooderson's "Close Air Support on the Battlefield" is the canonical work on the subject) The experience of participants is necessary... but not sufficient, and sometimes myths take a hold.
 
Until the dastardly North Vietnamese got hold of SA-7s.

Which had trouble hitting fast jets... but drove the (rightly beloved, and excellent in its day) A-1 Skyraiders from the skies like morning frost on a sunny day.
from Wiki so pinch of salt & all that:
"The USAF lost 201 Skyraiders to all causes in Southeast Asia, while the Navy lost 65 to all causes. Of the 266 lost A-1s, five were shot down by surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and three were shot down in air-to-air combat; two by North Vietnamese MiG-17s"
And
" A total of approximately 40–50 kills are attributed to Strela-2/2M hits between 1970 and the fall of Saigon . . . . . US fixed-wing losses are listed in the following table.[29] The internet site Arms-expo.ru[7] states 14 fixed-wing aircraft and 10 helicopters were shot down with 161 missile rounds used between 28 April and 14 July 1972; the difference in fixed-wing losses may be at least partly due to South Vietnamese aircraft shot down by the weapon."

Seems that AAA is the biggest threat (as ever) to slower low level aircraft.
 
It's worth remembering that the US aircraft which destroyed most AFVs in GW1 was the F-111, 66 of which destroyed over 1500. In contrast, a larger number of A-10 destroyed only approximately 900.

from Wiki so pinch of salt & all that:
"The USAF lost 201 Skyraiders to all causes in Southeast Asia, while the Navy lost 65 to all causes. Of the 266 lost A-1s, five were shot down by surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and three were shot down in air-to-air combat; two by North Vietnamese MiG-17s"...

...Seems that AAA is the biggest threat (as ever) to slower low level aircraft.

With respect Taff, you fall into the classic error of misinterpreting statistics.

Only a small number of A-1s were lost to SAM simply because the A-1s were not and could not be committed to the high threat areas as they would not suvive!!!!

Regards,
MM
 
It's worth remembering that the US aircraft which destroyed most AFVs in GW1 was the F-111, 66 of which destroyed over 1500. In contrast, a larger number of A-10 destroyed only approximately 900.



With respect Taff, you fall into the classic error of misinterpreting statistics.

Only a small number of A-1s were lost to SAM simply because the A-1s were not and could not be committed to the high threat areas as they would not suvive!!!!

Regards,
MM
Point taken but my response was aimed at the assertion that they were hacked down in droves by SA-7 missiles.
I'm not trying to turn this into a battle of wits I was just stating that an aircraft perceived as obsolete could & did perform excellently within its limitations. It was as you correctly stated an analogy.
 
Point taken but my response was aimed at the assertion that they were hacked down in droves by SA-7 missiles...

I would certainly agree that the SA-7 was probably less of a threat than SMARMs and small calibre AAA.

Regards,
MM
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
from Wiki so pinch of salt & all that:
<snip>

Sounds about right, but remember that the Skyraider was flying in SEA from the beginning, originally in large numbers and phased out over time (the USN had retired it by 1970) while the SA-7 only appeared for the 1972 festivities.

Don't have exact numbers versus year handy, but by 1972 the Skyraider was not at all numerous in theatre (by then flown by only 1 Special Operations Squadron, based out of Nakom Phanom, as far as their association homepage says): losing five in less than a year just to SA-7 (on top of the small-arms, AAA and general attrition) would have been a very painful bite out of a small force.
 
from Wiki so pinch of salt & all that:
"The USAF lost 201 Skyraiders to all causes in Southeast Asia, while the Navy lost 65 to all causes. Of the 266 lost A-1s, five were shot down by surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and three were shot down in air-to-air combat; two by North Vietnamese MiG-17s"
And
" A total of approximately 40–50 kills are attributed to Strela-2/2M hits between 1970 and the fall of Saigon . . . . . US fixed-wing losses are listed in the following table.[29] The internet site Arms-expo.ru[7] states 14 fixed-wing aircraft and 10 helicopters were shot down with 161 missile rounds used between 28 April and 14 July 1972; the difference in fixed-wing losses may be at least partly due to South Vietnamese aircraft shot down by the weapon."

Seems that AAA is the biggest threat (as ever) to slower low level aircraft.
266 US loses combined USAF and USN.

SpadGuy's Skyraider Blog

Then look at the VNAF, 289 delivered, 217 lost. 75.8% loss rate.

South Viet Nam Air Force - VNAF - Aircraft Deliveries
 
I think the reality is that both the A-1 and A-10 were/are incredibly versatile and robust aircraft which had/has a great many redeeming features. Unfortunately, their reputation includes urban myths and flawed assumptions which do not bear scutiny in modern - let alone future - ops.

Regards,
MM
 
How long is the Sentinel going to keep out of the scrapheap? That seems to continually be up for the chop because it's too 'niche', yet these niches keep turning up.
 
Sentinel was extended to 2025 iirc in SDSR.

I would imagine that it'll be replaced primarily by AAS on P-8. That was another capability which the RAF has quietly - and successfully - manoeuvered to retain. SDSR 10 originally had it slated for withdrawal 8 months ago.

Regards,
MM
 
Sentinel? I don't think Fantassin is a huge fan but they keep asking for more.

However, it's pretty much fully committed to OIR where the Yanks love it.

Regards,
MM
 
Why is it 'round one to the A-10'?

The USAF have never said the aircraft is useless and deployed it to OIR where, although it can't fly where SAMs are a factor, it has good utility (although it's no more 'essential' than any other fast jet).

If anything, it should be 'round one to Congress' who have rejected USAF recommendations to speed up retirement of the A-10 to free up funds for other more versatile fleets.

But, for the umpteenth time, the USAF are only seeking to do that due to sequestration!

Regards,
MM
 
I went to a Warminster firepower demo in the early nineties and the "finale" was the A10's. They came over the hill so low and just obliterated the targets on the hill opposite. It felt like they kept going for hours one overhead blasting away then peeling off to be replaced by the next. Maybe they are outdated but I would imagine that feeling of comfort being supported by them is worth something.
 
...Maybe they are outdated but I would imagine that feeling of comfort being supported by them is worth something.

But that's entirely the point: if they're a long way away, or if there's a half decent SAM threat, you won't be supported by them!!!!!!!!

Regards,
MM
 
It would appear that a decision has been made in favour of not retiring the A-10 early.

http://www.militarytimes.com/story/mili ... /78747114/


It was always scheduled to retire much later anyway, and only comparatively recently that efforts were being made to retire the Hog early. The graphic shows predicted service lives of various aircraft and was in a Pentagon planning document that came out in 2008. In that the Hog was due to carry on until 2026.

 
Official: A-10 kept until 2022:

"We’re also investing to maintain more of our 4th-generation fighter and attack jets than we previously planned – including the A-10, which has been devastating ISIL from the air. The budget defers the A-10’s final retirement until 2022," Carter said. Replacing it with F-35s on a squadron-by-squadron basis so we’ll always have enough aircraft for today’s conflicts."

SECDEF: A-10 will stay until 2022
 

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