Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Air Force Hits Its Target

Gosh, I wonder who could have leaked this information?

The A-10 can strike fear in an enemy. Its 30mm cannon can fire as many as 3,900 rounds of depleted uranium shells per minute at targets posing a threat to U.S. ground troops, many of them from the Army. Those bursts can shred the armor on a tank. They can also hit unintended targets.

Since 2001, the A-10 has been involved in four friendly fire incidents that killed 10 U.S. troops. The next highest is the B-1B bomber, which killed five soldiers last year in one incident. Friendly fire deaths are exceptionally rare. There have been 45 total friendly fire incidents out of about 140,000 missions flown by the Air Force, Navy and Marines.

Four friendly fire incidents since 2001. Four. That's it.

That's insignificant. And no reason to justify killing the A-10.

And the A-10 can fire precision weapons, in addition to its cannon which was originally designed to go after armored vehicles. In the past that precision capability wasn't the case, so I wonder what weapon the friendly fire incidents involved. Were any caused by missiles fired by the A-10? If so, that is hardly the fault of the plane.

If the A-10 is being blamed for not having the flexibility to use the most appropriate weapon, that's an Air Force problem and not a plane problem.

Further, what are the circumstances? There are so few friendly fire incidents these days that if these incidents happened in missions where the enemy was so close that we could not risk our own troops within the blast radius of bombs and missiles, rather than blaming the plane we should be grateful we had the plane to provide support that otherwise would not be undertaken without even greater risk to friendly troops.

I'd also like to know what the status of the ground controllers was. The Air Force insists that forward air controllers have to be pilots even though Army experience says NCOs can do the job just fine. Did a lack of a forward air controller complicate any of the missions?

So the Air Force got their hit piece data out there. Once again, we see that the Air Force is deeply committed to getting rid of the only plane dedicated to direct support of American soldiers on the ground in contact with the enemy.

I'm biased. I've heard that gun firing overhead. Not in combat, mind you (my last name is Dunn and not Williams). In basic training when we were on a night firing exercise, an A-10 took advantage of our training to practice firing while seeing our "line" from our M-16 fire. The sound of that 30mm chain gun even from a safe distance really is awesome. I was glad to be in a cement-lined fighting position.

But we're to believe that the Air Force will use their F-35 for ground support when we all know that in high intensity warfare they won't easily risk the plane in the face of anti-aircraft fire and will always have higher priority missions stacked up.

The Air Force could make sure that all A-10s can use either precision weapons from high altitude or their gun at low level, making the plane no more prone to friendly fire incidents than any other plane. But that would leave them with a plane only useful to the Army.

As I said, jointness talks but money walks.

UPDATE: The Air Force doctored the data on civilian casualties by excluding a big B-1 oops incident?

I wonder what else was altered?

UPDATE: Good grief. The Air Force has seriously distorted the record, going so far as to choose time frames that allow them to include and exclude strikes that run counter to their narrative; excluding non-US casualties; and neglecting to  adjust the casualties for the number of sorties flown or firing runs--which when done shows the A-10 is safer than all but the high tech and specialized AC-130 gunship optimized to support special forces.

And this is common sense stuff, too. If the A-10 is so bad, rest assured that ground troops who have a long history of complaining that air support is just about as risky to them as the enemy (it wasn't, but you get the point) would be lighting up the Internet with calls to get the plane pulled from the skies over them.

If this isn't criminal behavior by Air Force officials, I don't know what is.

Read the whole thing. You should be as angry as I am about this.

Yeah, the very notion that we might need this plane for its original European anti-tank mission is so outrageous now, eh? Let alone it's track record in counter-insurgency.

As I've said before, this dishonest effort to kill the A-10 is killing trust by the Army that the Air Force has any interest at all in making ground support a priority mission for the Air Force.