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High-Low mix airpower for counter insurgency

This is a discussion on High-Low mix airpower for counter insurgency within the Air Force & Aviation forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; i only recelntly discovered this forum, but have had the following idea for quite a while. Counter Insurgency is more ...


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Old January 7th, 2007   #1
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High-Low mix airpower for counter insurgency

i only recelntly discovered this forum, but have had the following idea for quite a while.

Counter Insurgency is more common that pure nation vs nation warfare. A good way to deal with insurgents, usually small bands of infantry is air power. However air power is expensive, especially for a small nation facing a destabilising guerilla war. Thus a cost effective air power would be desirable.

Something that came to me was a hi-low mix. The low mix would be a cessna 170 class aircraft. Maybe a fraction heavier with a bit of armour and carrying a few rockets and machine guns. Importantly it would carry a laser based GPS positioner. Point the laser to the target and get the coordiantes, knowing the vector, angle and position of aircraft using GPS. The exact same method that the americans have shrunk into a pair of binoculars!!

The light aircraft then transmits the coordianates to a heavy aircraft, a bomb truck. The heavy aircraft never has to get low and be exposed to light arms or shoulder launched SAMs. The aircraft that comes to mind is second hand Su 25s, approx 3 million dollars each. Quite good aircraft, good payload, spares available. Equip these aircraft with GPS guided bombs and you have a very powerful, very accurate, very survivable, air power system. Yes the light component can be shot down, on the other hand it only needs to make one pass in order to get the coordinates. Being cheap and simple the light component of the mix is thus 'replacebale'. Bad news for the crew of the low mix it is true.

Anyway that closes my thoughts. The aircraft I have used as examples of the mix are just that, examples. My thinking is based around value for money. Yes sophisticated supersonic fighter bombers are more survivable but they cost a fortune to buy and a fortune to maintain.

feedback appreciated,
regards, n peter evans
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Old January 8th, 2007   #2
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low end remarks

Hi Peter,

interesting remarks, I have been studying vietnam-era counter insurgency vs. modern ideas to this. Currently these ideas are being employed operationally, although often your 'low end' is either a UAV / UCAV for suveillance and/or people on the ground to lase the target.

Remember the B52 bombers dropping Paveway LGBs on targets in western Iraq, guided in by Australian SOFs or tagreting terrorist vehicles in Afghanistan using either on-board hellfires from the UAV or by weapons from an orbiting figher or even B1B bomber...

I have been thinking about your low-end aircraft yourself and I came up with the udea of a refurbished OV10 bronco with uprated engines and fitted with shields and deflectors for engine noise and IR levels. This aircraft would be fitted with an underslung laser designator, linked to GPS and using JTHS (target-handof system) or digital radio's.
Such an aircraft would be flown by experienced crews and able to conduct surveillance, forward air support and targeting. And also be available in numbers with a cheap prce tag, save for the rebuilding. The aircraft could be wired and fitted to carry Hellfire missiles or even 500lb LGBs, as the aircraft was able to carry up to 6 500 lb. unguided bombs in the older versions.

I am curious to your or any reaction!
regards, Petrac
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Old January 8th, 2007   #3
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Why not B-1Bs as the 'hi', and A-10s as the 'lo'?


Oh geez, I crack myself up!

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Old January 8th, 2007   #4
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For the USAF, yes.
But what about other airforces?
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Old January 8th, 2007   #5
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For the USAF, yes.
But what about other airforces?
The A10 is the aircraft I would like supporting me if I was on the ground but I don't know whether the USAF would have any to spare.

A jet trainer such as the Hawk or perhaps the MB339, given the right equipment, also looks a reasonable alternative. Aircraft like these, working in conjunction with a two seat FA18 or similar (to act in the FAC role and co-ordinate the slower, simpler aircraft) would IMO be effective.

The proliferation of effective, portable SAMs has, IMO, made an over reliance on helicopter gunships a dangerous option.

In the future I see unmanned aircraft, working with something like a two seat Super Hornet, as the way to go for close air support.

Cheers
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Old January 8th, 2007   #6
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I will try and be brief.

The idea above was targeted at small air foreces with limited budgets. My thinking was that a cessna 170 class aircraft to be cheaper than a UAV. Obviously something a bit faster and a bit heavier with a little armour would be better suited.

For the high end something affordable, thus any subsonic aircraft in the inventory. Maybe Hawks, alphajets, whatever is in stock. My thinking was that because the high end does not get close to the target it does not require supersonic speed, does not need to be highly stressed, nor agile. Even a Lear Jet would work, or even a Cessna Caravan, whatever is on offer, whatever is cheap.

Countries in recents times that have batteled guerilla forces armed with MGs and SAMs would include Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Ethipoa vs Eritrea, etc etc. In terms of dollars say a dozen high end = $36 miilion - say 12 second hand Su25s at $3 million each, then say 80 low end at say $0.5 million each = $40 million. Total under $80 million. Add to that running costs, refurbishment, arms, fuel, maintenance, training etc.

My thinking was getting something capable for an affordable price. I have read that the high speeds that jets move at makes it hard for them to define the target accurately and hence often hit civilians.

If money is short even second hand DC3s and ultralights would work. If all the low end has to do is make a pass and get the coordinates.

Now A10s, Broncos, B1s are great but a bit expensive. I have heard that the cessna T37 went quite well in Vietnam. My thinking was that technology can replace high quality well designed airframes by delivering GPS guided bombs from far far away.

regards,
peterAustralia
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Old January 9th, 2007   #7
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Hi Peter,
that was just my idea. of course a cessna 172 could do the job. Just look at what Rhodesia did whit very limited budget (converting cessna O2s in hunters while their Hawker Hunters made the kill). The same was done by South Africa and is still being employed by countries like The Phillipines (2nd hand Bronco's by the way).
There are a good deal of ex-military aircraft available suitable for this job. For the high-end any type of aircraft is good, as long as it is capably of delivering precision ordnance (like LGBs).

I agree on the SAM thing. Ultra-Lights and cessna's are good options but they won't stand a chance against a guerilla force with some heave MGs of even a SA7 or two. In order to make this thing work and have a survivable option for your low-end pilots (who need to be trained after all) you need a 'protected' aircraft.
Rhodesia did that very good. Bent under embargoes they secretly acquired about 8 Cessna O2s and modified them using IR mufflers and additional armour plating. With a couple of modern radio's it was very capable to defend itself and carry out its tasks.
That is why I launched the Bronco idea. The aircraft is highly survivavble given a few modification, is very cost-effective and can be very lethal.
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Old January 9th, 2007   #8
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there are off the shelf airframes availible now like the super tucano and pucara.They are perfect for low level/coin missions,well armed and cheap. No real need to upgrade cessnas etc.
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Old January 9th, 2007   #9
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Yip, Super Tucano with two Hydra pods.
And a UAV like the Hunter for surveillance.
Hands off PGM equipment, gets real expensive real fast.
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Old January 9th, 2007   #10
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I agree on the last two remarks, although a UAV has dome disadvantages over a manned airframe in my opinion. But that is another discussion

However, PGM kits can be a solution, as many targets in a counter-insurgency scenario might not be targetable with area weapons like hydra's. Russia manufacures cheap PGM kits of normal bombs, while the older Paveway series are already available in cheaper price segments.

Many countries are employing the described equipment (hydra-equipped light aircraft), like The Phillipines nowadays and countries like Oman in the seventies (with the Strikemaster).
Using a cheaper PGM-based Hi-low mix based on a PGM shooter and a manned or unmanned surveillance system is a development of this trusted and tried concept
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Old January 9th, 2007   #11
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I agree on the last two remarks, although a UAV has dome disadvantages over a manned airframe in my opinion. But that is another discussion

However, PGM kits can be a solution, as many targets in a counter-insurgency scenario might not be targetable with area weapons like hydra's. Russia manufacures cheap PGM kits of normal bombs, while the older Paveway series are already available in cheaper price segments.

Many countries are employing the described equipment (hydra-equipped light aircraft), like The Phillipines nowadays and countries like Oman in the seventies (with the Strikemaster).
Using a cheaper PGM-based Hi-low mix based on a PGM shooter and a manned or unmanned surveillance system is a development of this trusted and tried concept
Its not only smaller countries using piston aircraft. the US is using them as well, and has lost a few to direct fire.

One of their COIN aircraft came back recently with 332 hits from small arms fire.

At the moment doctrine is that these aircraft act in pairs - one acts as CAP while the other does the biz.

An instructive lesson in the suitability of smaller piston aircraft can be found in the efforts of Count Carl Gustav Von Rosen. A further lesson is with the Thais. They had F5's imposed upon them when what they wanted and needed (and eventually got) was OV-10 Broncos.

re loadouts - if you look at what the AT6 RLA is railed for - then they certainly have bite.
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Old January 9th, 2007   #12
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An instructive lesson in the suitability of smaller piston aircraft can be found in the efforts of Count Carl Gustav Von Rosen. A further lesson is with the Thais. They had F5's imposed upon them when what they wanted and needed (and eventually got) was OV-10 Broncos.

I am starting to think that petrac's idea of a refurbished OV10 Bronco is a good one.

Are Broncos available on the second hand market and if so what sort of cost would be involved. Also, would there be a market for the OV10 line to be re-opened specifically to produce an aircraft for counter insurgency type operations? If so would this be feasible?
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Old January 9th, 2007   #13
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I am starting to think that petrac's idea of a refurbished OV10 Bronco is a good one.

Are Broncos available on the second hand market and if so what sort of cost would be involved. Also, would there be a market for the OV10 line to be re-opened specifically to produce an aircraft for counter insurgency type operations? If so would this be feasible?
There's merit in looking at the OV-10 Bronco if you can't afford new aircraft - but the new aircraft are getting cheaper.

the 3 main contenders currently available are the
  • Super Tucano
  • AT-6 (looks like a 2 seater mustang)
  • Ayres T-65 Vigilante
The T-65 is in heavy use (and is the aircraft type that got shot up recently). They have a titanium tub, are a converted crop duster (and thus used for anti-drug crop work), are twin seaters, fitted with GPS nav, guns, rockets are some classified unmentionables. They've been operating out of Patrick AFB, Melb in Florida since 1988.

they also act in concert with a specially fitted Cessna Caravan fitted out with multi-spectral digital imaging systems.

So, what you have in effect, is a 3 ship flight:
  • FAC
  • CAP
  • Duster
apparently its a potent combo.
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Old January 9th, 2007   #14
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Thanks tasman,

I know there are dozens of ex USMC and USAF Bronco's baking in the desert, which are for sale. I would not know a price, sorry. I know however that several companies would be willing to invest in upgrade packages.

After all, just installing new avionics, radio's and the latest IR defence systems, together with a GPS laser designator, is all off-the-shelf technology...
Adding uprated engines and low-noise props would be even easier. I do not think a production line would be re-opened, as many think these aircraft are obsolete, something I disagree with
I think upgrading types like Bronco's and Pucara's is the most feasible way for now. It would be interesting to see a new design however...
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Old January 9th, 2007   #15
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There's merit in looking at the OV-10 Bronco if you can't afford new aircraft - but the new aircraft are getting cheaper.

the 3 main contenders currently available are the
  • Super Tucano
  • AT-6 (looks like a 2 seater mustang)
  • Ayres T-65 Vigilante
The T-65 is in heavy use (and is the aircraft type that got shot up recently). They have a titanium tub, are a converted crop duster (and thus used for anti-drug crop work), are twin seaters, fitted with GPS nav, guns, rockets are some classified unmentionables. They've been operating out of Patrick AFB, Melb in Florida since 1988.

they also act in concert with a specially fitted Cessna Caravan fitted out with multi-spectral digital imaging systems.

So, what you have in effect, is a 3 ship flight:
  • FAC
  • CAP
  • Duster
apparently its a potent combo.
The OV-10 was a good concept, but leave it at that.. It had a wicked swing on takeoff and landing if one of the engines failed.

Otherwise I would re-instate it yesterday,

cheers


w

Last edited by Wooki; January 9th, 2007 at 07:57 AM. Reason: spelling...as always
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