Posts Tagged ‘CAS’

A-10 Thunderbolt II

December 2, 2008

The A-10 Thunderbolt II is a ground attack / close air support or CAS aircraft flown by the US Air Force and the US Marine Corps.

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American Patrol

November 30, 2008

America’s finest airpower comes together: F-15 Eagle fighters, the mainstay of US Air Force air superiority, join the 21st century’s super-fighter, the F-22 Raptor. Rounding out the scene is an A-10 Thunderbolt II, USAF’s finest tank-killer and close-air-support CAS aircraft.

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A-10 Warthog Drops First Laser JDAM

November 21, 2008

The veteran A-10 Thunderbolt II — “Warthog” to its friends — is still a powerful Close-Air-Support platform, as countless infantrymen in Afghanistan and Iraq will confirm.

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The A-10 Thunderbolt II, nicknamed the Warthog and known for its close-air support superiority and the ability to carry large and varied ordnance, is now on its way to delivering a new capability to the warfighter.

A pilot from the 40th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., with support from people with the 46th Test Wing, Boeing and a host of other units, flew a quick yet historic mission early in November. For the first time, a guided bomb unit-54, the Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition, or LJDAM, was dropped from an A-10C.

“There is a strong need to destroy moving targets in the AOR,” said Capt. Kirt Cassell, the lead A-10C flight test engineer. “The Laser JDAM has shown to be very effective at destroying moving targets on other (aircraft) and Air Combat Command (officials) wanted to bring that capability to the A-10C for an upcoming deployment.”

Captain Cassell and team members from the 40th FTS began planning this test mission in early October. That’s a short timeline for a test mission, according to Captain Cassell. Plus, the team was challenged with ensuring the LJDAM worked correctly. To do this, the plan was to drop the bomb on a GPS target and then lase the weapon to another target downrange.

“The test was very successful!” Captain Cassell said. “The weapon functioned properly and released successfully, impacting the target almost exactly where the laser spot was located. We were able to demonstrate that the GBU-54 can successfully be integrated and dropped from the A-10C.”

Maj. Matthew Domsalla piloted the historic mission. He’s been flying the A-10 for more than eight years and knows that this added capability will make the A-10C even more lethal and more valuable to warfighters needing some firepower assistance. 

“The LJDAM provides the pilot the ability to update the targeting if the target moves while the weapon is in flight,” he said. 

The A-10C has already demonstrated tremendous capability in supporting the war on terrorism. According to Lt. Col. Evan Dertien, the 40th Flight Test Squadron commander, putting this bomb on the aircraft “will give the A-10 an outstanding precision targeting capability that will help the Air Force continue to provide precision engagement.”

And while making Air Force history is a great feeling for the 40th team, Colonel Dertien says the rewards of a successful test are more far reaching. 

“When the weapons are proven in combat and you get feedback from the deployed flying units that a capability worked as expected and made a difference in the fight, that’s the big payoff,” he said. 

The next step for the A-10C and LJDAM is to undergo operational tests to develop tactics and techniques for employing the weapon. If those tests prove to go as well as the first, Eglin’s test team may have their feedback as early as January. The goal is to have this new precision capability deployed to the area of operations by early 2009. 
Joy Josephson

French Air Force Helps US Army and Air Force Integrate Training

October 9, 2008
Aviation Calendar 2009

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The Army and Air Force have been working hard to improve joint training at the National Training Center (Fort Irwin, CA), according to senior leaders at the combat training center. Army brigade combat teams are training here with other service assets and coalition partners to prepare forces for the challenges they will face once deployed in a high-stress combat environment.

The 3rd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division from Ft. Hood, Texas, has been training here with their Air Force counterparts from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., along with Normandie Niemen, a French Air Force Mirage F1 fighter squadron from Colmar, France.

Helping to support this joint integrated training environment is U.S. Joint Forces Command’s Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team.

“NTC and Green Flag West are great examples of how we can link traditional service-level exercises into one well-synchronized training event that benefits all participants and services,” said Army Maj. Thomas Hansbarger, JFIIT lead at NTC.

Army Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard, Commanding General, Ft. Irwin and NTC, explained the NTC mission.

“We are the National Training Center,” he said. “We train here just as we fight in theater – joint, multinational, interagency. We are an ever evolving training center and work hard to integrate all members of the team…we want everyone to come here and train.”

NTC provides services with a realistic and rigorous training venue, preparing them to fight as a joint and coalition team.

“It’s not about us – it’s about creating one seamless team. We’re drawing from so many assets – joint, special operation forces, multinational, interagency including the FBI and CIA, and we’re partnering with the other combat training centers,” said Pittard. “We don’t want our men and women in uniform having to do something for the first time in combat…we’ve got to get it right here.”

During this training rotation, the French Air Force partnered with Green Flag West at Nellis Air Force Base and NTC to provide a detachment of Mirage F1 aircraft, support personnel, and joint terminal air controllers to improve close air support training for both militaries. French Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Oudot, commander of the French detachment at Green Flag West, explained the importance of his country’s participation.

“We came here to train with the American military because we know when we work together as a close team, as brothers, we can defeat any adversary,” Oudot said. “We must train together just like we fight, as a close team of professionals with a common purpose and goal in mind – Green Flag West and NTC provide us that opportunity.”

Part of JFIIT’s mission during this exercise was to help integrate a variety of joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets with an Army BCT to benefit the training of all services. This training rotation included support from a Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, a RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft, and a MQ-9 Reaper.

“Green Flag West and NTC provides world-class close air support training in a very realistic and demanding environment for the Air Force, Army, and our coalition partners,” said Air Force Maj. Paul Kirmis, director of operations, 549th Combat Training Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base.

“Our mission is to train to the current fight, and this exercise serves as the primary Air Force spin-up for our forces before they deploy to fight against that threat,” Kirmis said. “Our goal here is to create a mini-Iraq or Afghanistan and allow our forces to train together here exactly like they will once deployed in combat.”

“We want a realistic assessment of our JTACs, aircrews, and our entire team,” said Oudot. “The feedback that we’re receiving in this exercise is invaluable and demonstrates the strength of our military partnership. We must continue to train together in order to fight together…nothing can split our team.”

According to NTC leadership, organizations like JFIIT and others enhance integration of joint assets and provide vital resources at these training venues, educating units about how to leverage available capabilities of the entire team.

Fusion of joint, interagency, and multinational assets to enhance service, joint, and coalition training at NTC will continue for the foreseeable future, added Pittard.

“What we’re creating here is the most realistic operational training environment that prepares the entire team for what they will experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re growing our future leaders here – joint leaders that will understand how to fight full spectrum operations,” he said. “We’re doing this the right way and that’s joint.”

A-10 / OA-10 Thunderbolt II (a.k.a. “Warthog”)

August 26, 2008

A-10/OA-10 Thunderbolt IIs have excellent maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude, and are highly accurate weapons-delivery platforms. They can loiter near battle areas for extended periods of time and operate under 1,000-foot ceilings (303.3 meters) with 1.5-mile (2.4 kilometers) visibility. Their wide combat radius and short takeoff and landing capability permit operations in and out of locations near front lines. Using night vision goggles, A-10/OA-10 pilots can conduct their missions during darkness.

Thunderbolt IIs have Night Vision Imaging Systems, or NVIS, goggle compatible single-seat cockpits forward of their wings and a large bubble canopy which provides pilots all-around vision. The pilots are protected by titanium armor that also protects parts of the flight-control system. The redundant primary structural sections allow the aircraft to enjoy better survivability during close air support than did previous aircraft.

The aircraft can survive direct hits from armor-piercing and high explosive projectiles up to 23mm. Their self-sealing fuel cells are protected by internal and external foam. Manual systems back up their redundant hydraulic flight-control systems. This permits pilots to fly and land when hydraulic power is lost.

The Thunderbolt II can be serviced and operated from bases with limited facilities near battle areas. Many of the aircraft’s parts are interchangeable left and right, including the engines, main landing gear and vertical stabilizers.

Avionics equipment includes multi-band communications; Global Positioning System and inertial navigations systems; infrared and electronic countermeasures against air-to-air and air-to-surface threats. And, it has a Pave Penny laser spot tracker system; a heads-up display to display flight and weapons delivery information; and a low altitude safety and targeting enhancement system, which provides constantly computed impact and release points for accurate ordnance delivery. There is also a low-altitude autopilot and a ground collision avoidance system.

The A-10 is currently undergoing the precision engagement modification, which adds upgraded cockpit displays, moving map, hands on throttle and stick, digital stores management, LITENING and Sniper advanced targeting pod integration, situational awareness data link or SADL, GPS-guided weapons, and upgraded DC power. Precision engagement modified aircraft are designated as the A-10C. 

The Thunderbolt II can employ a wide variety of conventional munitions, including general purpose bombs, cluster bomb units, laser guided bombs, joint direct attack munitions or JDAM), wind corrected munitions dispenser or WCMD, AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, rockets, illumination flares, and the GAU-8/A 30mm cannon, capable of firing 3,900 rounds per minute to defeat a wide variety of targets including tanks.

The first production A-10A was delivered to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., in October 1975. It was designed specially for the close air support mission and had the ability to combine large military loads, long loiter and wide combat radius, which proved to be vital assets to the United States and its allies during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Noble Anvil.

The upgraded A-10C reached initial operation capability in September 2007. Specifically designed for close air support, its combination of large and varied ordnance load, long loiter time, accurate weapons delivery, austere field capability, and survivability has proven invaluable to the United States and its allies. The aircraft has participated in operations Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Provide Comfort, Desert Fox, Noble Anvil, Deny Flight, Deliberate Guard, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom..

General Characteristics
Primary Function: A-10 — close air support, OA-10 – airborne forward air control
Contractor: Fairchild Republic Co.
Power Plant: Two General Electric TF34-GE-100 turbofans
Thrust: 9,065 pounds each engine
Wingspan: 57 feet, 6 inches (17.42 meters)
53 feet, 4 inches (16.16 meters)
Height: 14 feet, 8 inches (4.42 meters)
Weight: 29,000 pounds (13,154 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 51,000 pounds (22,950 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: 11,000 pounds (7,257 kilograms)
Payload: 16,000 pounds (7,257 kilograms)
Speed: 420 miles per hour (Mach 0.56)
Range: 800 miles (695 nautical miles)
Ceiling: 45,000 feet (13,636 meters)
Armament: One 30 mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun; up to 16,000 pounds (7,200 kilograms) of mixed ordnance on eight under-wing and three under-fuselage pylon stations, including 500 pound (225 kilograms) Mk-82 and 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms) Mk-84 series low/high drag bombs, incendiary cluster bombs, combined effects munitions, mine dispensing munitions, AGM-65 Maverick missiles and laser-guided/electro-optically guided bombs; infrared countermeasure flares; electronic countermeasure chaff; jammer pods; 2.75-inch (6.99 centimeters) rockets; illumination flares and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.
Crew: One
Unit Cost: Not available
Initial operating capability: A-10A, 1977; A-10C, 2007
Inventory: Active force, A-10, 143 and OA-10, 70; Reserve, A-10, 46 and OA-10, 6; ANG, A-10, 84 and OA-10, 18

RAF Typhoons Qualify for Ground Attack Role — With a Little Help From USAF

July 3, 2008

The Royal Air Force’s Typhoon aircraft marked another milestone in its capability on Tuesday 1 July 2008, as it was declared operational in the air-to-ground role, becoming the Service’s most advanced multi-role aircraft.

The certification followed intensive training and exercises in the US.

Four US Air Force pilots are also assigned to the RAF unit to help with the transition.