Thursday, April 10, 2008


USAF Col. Gary Crowder:

The armed reconnaissance aircraft is part of a bold plan conceived by Col. Gary Crowder, commander of the Middle East-based Combined Air and Space Operations Center,to upgrade the Air Force’s theater control system, which the service uses for air-to-ground integration ...

“What we have found over here is that the structure, which focuses almost exclusively on providing the Army kinetic ... close air support, is being taxed pretty hard because that’s not what [they’re] asking us to give,” he said in an April 1 telephone interview, referring to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The aircraft conducting combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan drop bombs, strafe targets, or perform a low-level show-of-force only 10 percent of the time. The jets and unmanned drones primarily are used for what the military calls armed reconnaissance, meaning their mission is to pass video and other data gathered through sensors and targeting pods back to an operations center where it can analyzed.

But in a world where irregular warfare is the primary focus -- and appears to be for the foreseeable future -- a balance of fighter jets and armed prop-driven aircraft could prove beneficial, Crowder said ...

An Air Force Academy graduate and former F-111 pilot, Crowder contends that this type of mission could be performed by airmen in a small command and control aircraft, such as the Beechcraft AT-6.

Not like I've suggested this before or anything...What annoys me most about the whole situation is it seems that whenever this is brought up everyone starts making unrealistic proposals about using A-10s, or Skyraiders, or OV-10s. Even the Marines aren't immune. 10-12 airframes? At best these sort of proposals would provide a handful of limited capability aircraft. At worst they are pie in the sky ideas that make it easier for opponents to discredit the entire idea of a low intensity warfare aircraft. There are three basic choices: the A-67, the Super Tucano, or the AT-6 Texan II.

Of course, none of this matters because the idea actually makes sense, which means the Air Force will flee away from it running and screaming while plugging their ears, instead preferring to make their contribution to COIN by avoiding Haditha/Abu Ghraib type PR black eyes by...bombing the crap out of the population. Like I said previously, we've done it before and we've got the people. This needs to have happened 3 years ago.