Earlier we posted on a proposal by Eric Palmer to substitute some Joint Strike Fighter missions for the South Korean T-50 Light Attack Trainer pictured below. Well, there is some interest in the T-50 by Israel, as an A-4 Skyhawk replacement, according to China View:
A delegation of three Israeli Air Force (IAF) officers will leave for South Korea this week to examine the T-50 Golden Eagle, a candidate to replace the IAF’s veteran Skyhawk jets, local daily Ha’aretz reported Sunday…
The T-50, produced by Korean Airspace in partnership with the U.S. company Lockheed Martin, took its maiden flight in 2002 and is used in the South Korean air force as a light attack jet and for training purposes, according to Ha’aretz…The Skyhawk, set to be replaced by the new purchase, first arrived in Israel in 1968, marking the beginning of the American era for IAF, which used mostly French jets at the time. Currently, several dozen Skyhawks still serve in the 102 squadron and in the pilot training school.
We like the idea of these light-weight snub fighters, the Italian/Brazil AMX is another of the type as well as the British Hawk family, which can perform many roles and carry many of the same weapons as the higher performance jets. If it wasn’t for the increasing capabilities of the UAV, we would be a prime advocate for such jets for the USA.
The use of such short range, low cost light fighters and UAVs in warfare might answer some questions that’s been puzzling yours truly in recent years. Concerning modern airpower:
- Why do we need long range fighters and tankers?
- Why deploy jets with very expensive radar such as AESA, and AWACS and Hawkeye command and control planes which serve the same purpose, only better?
- Why have large planes with heavy payloads and vastly more accurate new smart bombs, which promise “one bomb, one hit”?
- Why have high performance, high maneuverability jets, and high performance, highly maneuverable missiles?
We see then in modern air strategies over-engineering on a grand scale. With so many planes duplicating each other’s functions, we are assured of drastically shrinking force structures coinciding with prices rising astronomically. Such an attitude endangers us in future wars by limiting the numbers of planes available for combat, as we see by the USAF’s F-22 Raptor, so sophisticated we can’t even sell it to our allies. Replacing these super-jets with lower cost, common light fighters and unmanned aerial vehicles, backing them up with “aerial motherships” like AWACS and tanker planes would save billions. It would also restore numbers (and youth!) to our air fleets, with planes that are easy to replace, and ready to support the troops when we need them, not for some future obscure conflict down the road.