Friday, November 06, 2015

Training the Way You Fight

All the Air Force talk of how multi-purpose aircraft can handle the close air support role rather than the A-10 misses the point that only A-10 pilots focus exclusively on training for ground support. How likely is the Air Force to make sure that their pilots train enough to provide ground support when so many other missions compete for flying time?

Strategypage writes about the survival of the plane that Air Force brass oddly seems to hate:

If there is another major war in someplace like Korea, Eastern Europe or Iran, the A-10s would once more be one of the most popular warplane with the ground troops, unless the air force manages to get rid of it.

Read it all, as the expression goes.

I won't bother to try to link to all my posts on the A-10 controversy--but here's a shotgun link.

But I will admit that the A-10 and their pilots have had a special place in my heart since basic training (and my vehicle in my Guard unit was Alpha 10--A-10 on the bumper--so we naturally called ourselves "Warthogs"):

Night firing was pretty cool. The most cool thing about it was the fact that Air Force A-10s exploited the fact that we were shooting in order to practice their own strafing runs with the big 30 mm chain guns they carry. By running parallel to our firing line, they could see what it looks like to support friendly forces shooting down below. Not that the plane was very close to us, but we could hear the continuous sound of the gun firing. It sounded awesome.

That's training the way you fight. I got a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing they were on our side.

That's the kind of dedication to providing close air support that pilots who have no other job bring to the mission. Flying in the dark on strafing runs in front of friendlies so that when the time comes, you put rounds on the enemy and not on the troops you are supporting.

Sure, in an age of GPS it isn't as difficult (if everything works like it should), but that's the kind of focus we still get from the A-10. Focus that has earned the respect of Army troops traditionally wary of our own pilots.

But the Air Force as an institution just doesn't believe that this type of focus is important to maintain.

One day the A-10 will go away. It is an old plane and won't last forever. I'd like to put off that day as long as possible.

UPDATE: ANSWER: Cancel the A-10!

QUESTION: How will the Air Force pay for their new long-range strike bomber?

Because the A-10 is the source of all problems for the Air Force, remember.