Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fixed Wing Light Strike is what's missing from the USMC's future air wing.

Thanks to Russell 2878 for the link!

via WarZone
The news that the Pentagon was sending a pair of refurbished and highly-upgraded Vietnam-era OV-10 Broncos to Iraq to take on ISIS raised a lot of eyebrows. It was a new twist in a decade and a half of counter-insurgency warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the United States has never used a light air support and surveillance aircraft. For many, the OV-10’s appearance in Iraq had been very long overdue.
Now, The War Zone reveals details of what the pair of OV-10G+ Broncos were doing in Iraq, and how they went about it with impeccable results.
I had read accounts of the OV-10's in action but this confirms something I've been thinking for a while now.

The USMC needs to truncate its purchase of F-35's and turn to on getting back into the business of Light Fixed Wing Attack.  During the height of the Marine Corps power ( capability/versatility), it operated the F-18, AV-8B, A-6E, A-4F, OV-10, AH-1, UH-1, CH-46 and CH-53.

What's missing today?  The light strike portion of that portfolio.  Even if you accept budget reality that a "neck down" approach to aviation HAD to be done, it makes no sense to save pennies if you lose capability.

I contend that if you're saying that the MV-22 is revolutionizing the way that we conduct operations from the sea (and I find that debatable) then it only makes sense that a fixed wing airplane that is able to keep pace and still operate from LHDs makes nothing but sense.

The OV-10 was not only a potent striker/close air support platform but it also filled the helo escort role!  The last model that the USMC operated, the OV-10D had as part of its portfolio an anti-air mission!

Of course we could always dust off the plans of my personal favorite in the competition that the OV-10 won, the Convair Model 48 Charger!

Either way we go - OV-10, Convair Charger or Super Tucanos - one thing is obvious.  We have a hole in our future air wing.  We will have the super expensive A-6 equivalent F-35 that will be too expensive or impractical for many missions, the relatively long legged MV-22 ferrying Marines and the AH-1Z that is too slow to keep up.

A light strike fixed wing helo escort is what's missing.  Canceling a few dozen F-35s to pay for this plane would be well worth it (and while you're doing it you could also put down a serious down payment on the ACV).

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