Saturday, August 06, 2016
The 82nd needs the A400M
If you've been following the blog then you know that I haven't been a fan of the A400M. Its cost over runs, slow development, protracted and painful in service has caused me to view it as the F-35 of tactical air lifters.
But reality is reality and if the US Army is serious about making the 82nd "mech capable" (Mike Sparks you were ahead of your time) then its gonna need a new air lifter.
To get to the point the weakness in the Army's plan for the 82nd is the C-130. Its too small and short ranged to meet the requirements going forward.
Doing air drops of the MRZR won't be a problem. I've seen guys with suspension systems on their rigs that could seemingly survive a drop from height without parachute! No, the problem comes with resupply. The issue becomes getting enough combat power on the drop zone fast enough. Additionally the idea of escorting aircraft/clearing a corridor for the transports points to fewer planes carrying more so that the risk to assets suppressing the enemy (thinking EA-18G, JSTARS, even Burke's launching cruise missiles) is minimized.
Add a new light tank to the mix and your problems increase. I love the idea of the 82nd becoming a hybrid motorized/mech force. My concern is the same for the USMC's Company Landing Team, just on a larger scale.
We could see a brigade of paratroopers on the wrong end of a very long supply line having to worry about not only evacuating wounded, replenishing ammo/food/water but also maintaining/refueling vehicles.
The C-130 is too small to get that job done. The perfect airplane for the mission (except for lacking rough field landing capability) was the C-141 but that plane is long gone. The irony? The Army is locked in a savage battle with the Air Force for funding. If they want to make their 82nd mech dream come true they're gonna have to go to bat to get the USAF another shiny new airplane.