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Low and Slow for the RAF

January 23, 2010

RAF Short Tucano T1 trainer. (c) Les Chatfield

Like the old bomber generals use to insist, the fighter jocks of the Air Force say only their super-capable supersonic jets can win today’s wars. This is an interesting statement since Al Qaeda and the Taliban possess no such high tech, hundred million dollar (pound) equipment but seem to have been holding their own against the world’s most powerful air fleets. This is not to say the day of jet airpower is over, just that it can’t be everywhere, doing every mission considering their cost and special abilities.

So the jets need backup, and British Army Chief Sir David Richards, who understands best what kind of air support his troops in the field require, has an answer. In a recent speech before the IISS he stated:

Whilst, as you will hear, I am emphatically not advocating getting rid of all such equipment, one can buy a lot of UAVs or Tucano aircraft for the cost of a few JSF and heavy tanks.

British Typhoon ground attack plane. The "original" in Canadian service.

Winning wars has never been about having the most advanced equipment, just the right type and especially lots of it. Modern military thought left over from the Cold War involves quick strikes in Big Wars, which are over fairly quickly. This type of philosophy has gone into the design of stealthy super-cruise jets like the F-22 Raptor and the British Typhoon fighter. While these are very important defending their host country from air assault where there are plentiful, well developed air strips, they have little place in the rough and wild Middle East.

For the troop support role, “low and slow” is the rule which is heresy to a hot-jet fight pilot. Even in the rare, peer conventional conflict, planes with slow stall speeds able to fly near the deck have been essential in the anti-tank role. The A-10 Warthog is one of the busiest planes in all America’s wars of the past several decades, and also the most unwanted plane in the inventory, which shows you where the air generals priorities really are.

It’s not just the General who is praising cheap but useful prop fighters like the Tucano. Listen to this debate from 2007 in the British Parliament:

The military seem to be obsessed with fast jets, yet history has proved that small and slow is far superior for close air support. For the price of one Eurofighter we could have a squadron of Super Tucanos. They can carry the same ordnance as a Harrier, with its loud bang, but unlike the Harrier, which can be over the battlefield for no more than 20 minutes, Tucanos can loiter overhead for hours on end, ready for use in a ground attack at a moment’s notice. We also tend to go in for expensive and complicated helicopters, which soak up manpower, like all complicated equipment. There appears to be little understanding of how light helicopters can be used effectively for ground attack.

The pilots would likely benefit the most from building more planes, even of the less capable variety.Today, flying is mostly done by the jets themselves, with computers doing most of the work, even able to land the plane in some cases. Of the old Spitfires and Hurricanes, it was said you “strapped them on” and were a joy to fly. They could operate from very sparse landings strips, as in the North African Deserts, or the jungles of the Pacific.

RAF Kittyhawk Mk III in Tunisia 1943.

Increased numbers of planes would also end the death-spiral air forces have found themselves in the post Cold War era. As we often note, back during the last World War, thousands of new fighters were pouring out of British and American factories every month! Today, only a few hundred are purchased ever decade, and these are expected to serve for 20-30 years throughout their lifetime. Such output couldn’t stand up to any type of attrition in combat, such as American endured as recent as the Vietnam War, then against a low tech Third World power. So instead of keeping us safer, over-dependence on fast jets alone have put us at risk and in decline.

42 Comments leave one →
  1. January 23, 2011 12:57 am

    I feel so lucky to find out this great blog. Thank you very much for posting this helpful topic.I really appreciate your work

  2. March 10, 2010 1:10 pm

    I was disgusted that the MoD has – reportedly – now flatly dismissed any ideas that the RAF will be following the USAF in utilizing turbo-props for COIN operations…Despite their obvious suitability for the role.

    What annoys me even more is that for once in a equipment procurement situation the purchase of turbo-props would be a ‘win, win’ scenario – being both the right choice for the job AND affordable!

    But having stewed on the obvious stupidity of this decision I have now come to terms with WHY the MoD mandarins have refused to explore this option…

    Quite frankly this ‘cheap’ but ideal choice of turbo props over fast jets would bring into question the whole strategy of huge budget gobblers like the Typhoon and the F35… And we can’t have that can we?

  3. January 29, 2010 6:33 am

    Thanks CBD

    Perhaps a reworked A10 would be a good choice, as long as it had more powerful engines and absolutely no carbon fibre!

    Old fashioned aluminium construction and mechanical flight controls would keep manufacturing and maintenance costs down

  4. CBD permalink
    January 27, 2010 2:41 pm

    BTW, I liked the recent articles on the Super Tucano for the RAF and Haiti and D-Day.

    Drawn following the Skyraider as an air-to-ground aircraft, designed to take on personnel and vehicles and to do it all while survivable and tough. They also, compared to other aircraft, cost next to nothing.

    NB, the A-10C was first deployed to Iraq in 2007, not Afghanistan. And the USAF is still trying to kill it off, planning to replace it with the F-35A. That’s right, an aircraft that could cost 5-10 times as much at the sticker and likely at a similar ratio to maintain…for how much less carried per sortie?

    Analysts seem to like its abilities (Link).

    My question is why the debate over CAS aircraft is obsessed with the excellent prop aircraft (Super Tucano, Bronco, P-48 etc.) and ignores the only slightly higher-up in cost A-10C. The benefit in payload, targeting and reaction speed without a loss of slow-strafing ability or survivability would seem ideal. SOCOM likes the Tucano because it’s smaller, cheaper (less oversight), nondescript and has a payload appropriate to its more limited mission profiles…but what about the rest of the infantry?

    The prop aircraft are cheaper to purchase and operate (about half as much as the A-10C, maybe, and thus 1/4-1/6 as much as the F-16s), but they carry less and (as the opponents of dedicated CAS often point out) may not have a “big war” role. The Warthogs have proven their utility in a few bigger wars (accounting for so many of the enemy armored losses in Iraq).

    The point is that while industry has done everything it can to keep old, but cheap and successful designs (B-52 and A-10 are examples of such), from be started up again (destroying machinery and plans)…it doesn’t make sense nor does it matter.

    The USAF and ANG have had to figure out how to re-design, re-make and re-construct so many parts of these venerable aircraft that production of new units is almost more of a matter of bringing together the various (re)manufacturing efforts than it is a development program…and since the DOD has all of those details, no industry partners could benefit. Who says we can’t reverse engineer our own designs?

    I’m sure that industry could even benefit by managing the re-development program and by getting some good PR by producing a “new,” cheaper (than F-35) high-quality products after so many meltdowns and failures. Of course, some generals could benefit by showing how responsive they are to the needs of the ‘current war’.

    The recent doubts about the F-35 should open up this possibility, which was denied for so long in order to boost the orders for that difficult program.

    In addition to the above paragraph of general ranting, the Warthog has been repeatedly upgraded and modified (including the recent manufacture of new wing sections), at least enough to provide the necessary plans and ability to build more if it were so desired.

    I’ve long since liked the idea of a modified commercial jet as a long range bomber, replacing much of the cabin space with several of the Common Strategic Rotary Launchers from the B-52 (8 ALCM-sized missiles or 32 SDBs per launcher, with (IIRC) about 2-4 launchers per plane).

    The problem, however, is that the B-52 already does this, does it well, and is designed and built for the loads. The problem is that the B-52 carries more, faster, farther/longer, cheaper and higher than the P-8A (based on the Boeing 737-800 series) ever will. The existing B-52H can carry 20 ALCM-sized missiles or bombs (6 on each wing and 8 on the CSRL), the P-8A can carry about 11 lighter pieces of ordinance (IF it qualifies in the on-going trials). The P-8 is simply not a heavy bomber.

    Boeing would do better to build one B-52I prototype (with modern controls and engines) with their own funds and then sell it around as a cheap, long-range bomber (given the absence of ANY competition on the low-end) than to try to push the P-8 for the heavy bomber role. Rolling over commercial tech and engines from the 737/747/787 lines should simplify their supply chains while improving the product. They could even call it something entirely different (to make it ‘new’), and sell it as a replacement for the B-52H fleet.

  5. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 27, 2010 6:45 am

    elgatoso-I like the idea of these VLR aircraft with missiles, or for attacking subs, patrol ect. Even thinking about UAV motherships which could do launch, control, refuel, recover.

    Surprised Campbell hasn’t weighed in here with his airships, also an option.

  6. elgatoso permalink
    January 27, 2010 12:05 am

    As long as the subject is there, what about new build B-52s?
    I believe that the factories and the tools too make the B-52 were gone long ago,That happens with the tools to make the warthog.If this is correct ,is easier to make a bomber from something like the P-8 that Make a new B-52.But if you are talking about refurbished that is another history.

  7. January 26, 2010 4:27 pm

    I hadn’t really given the A10 much thought for the UK but it is the logical development of the Skyraider and draws on all the lessons learned from Vietnam, a lot of thought went into the design and its effect cannot be doubted. The only problem is it is a bit wheezy so when compared to the faster jets is a little less responsive. Cost arguments of adding another airframe would still apply though

    The show of force seems to be common now, with the well publicized ROE changes but I can’t help thinking the Taleban are going to get wise to this, if they aren’t already, and simply ignore the fast jet SOF because they know its all we have in the tool bag these days.

    DAS takes a long time to properly integrate onto an airframe, its not something you can bolt on. Who actually knows what the MANPADS threat is now, perhaps those expensive DAS systems fitted to anything that flies are actually doing there job. Even if it is low how long do you think it would take Iran to get their advanced ones into theatre in response to some wider Middle East event, crisis or escalation

  8. January 26, 2010 3:04 pm

    “but MANPADS are still a real threat, speed, smart flying and defensive aids mitigates this risk.”

    Before Christmas I wrote a paper on SALW proliferation. I will admit that I virtually ignored MANPADS. The reason being is if the Teleban had access to these weapons to deny allies the use of airspace they would be already be doing so. And taking a toll of fast air as much as helicopters (or hypothetical turboprops.) I think any of this class weapon held by the Taliban would be used as totems; “Look what we could!” Even modern MANPADS are delicate items. Any left over from Afghan-USSR conflict will be well passed their sell by dates; I believe the access to batteries being one of the primary issues.

    I see you point on loses. But the real difference is that we as a society seem unwilling to take casualties. Where the enemy we fight has no regard for life.

  9. cbd permalink
    January 26, 2010 11:11 am

    A few notes,

    Re: show of force passes and ac sounds.
    A jet passing overhead may be terrifying, but have we forgotten about the psychological effects of the famous jericho sirens on similar prop CAS craft? Or about the terrifying sound of an A-10 opening up overhead?

    Although the Super Tucano, rebooted P51s or the like could certainly work, why not go for a simpler solution? How many old USAF A-10 airframes are in storage? How difficult would it be for the UK to take some to the A-10C standard (or higher, with upgraded engines) and throw those into the field?

    They go fast and long and high enough to get there safe and certainly inspire fear…large, modern payload, ROVER and the ability to make high precision (slow, low) passes

    I know that the US manufacturers with appropriate design records won’t want to sell an upgraded, new A-10’D’ because the adjusted cost would come in (based on the costs of the latest F-16s and F-15s) for barely more than a handful of Blackhawk helicopters and would not involve a prolonged, profit-filled development period (required for even these smaller turboprops to ‘adapt’ them for usaf service). Due to remanufacturing and upgrade programs, many of the tricky parts of the airframes have already been upgraded or recently built for those programs.

    Fly-by-wire was recently adapted into the H-60, why not bring those weight and control benefits to the venerable warthog?

    Does this seem reasonable, or is there a significant other reason to not produce new A-10s? As long as the subject is there, what about new build B-52s?

  10. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 25, 2010 6:16 pm

    I think the bottom line will come down to “what can you afford”. Maybe we can get by with an all fast jet force, or even mostly exquisite multi-mission platforms which can perform many functions, none of them well. Going this route I see increasing prices and falling inventories. We see older planes like Harriers and Tornado’s, F-16s and F-15s over here, soldiering on because the multimission platforms just aren’t living up to the promises. The tyranny of numbers still holds in the Information Age. We are holding our own until the Cold War boom in spending runs out. Soon we will have to buy the “cheap but nasty” weapons, or start giving up roles, withdrawing the troops, closing down overseas bases. Its started already in many Western countries.

  11. January 25, 2010 4:26 pm

    @ X
    Support Helicopter (SH) will try as much as possible to land in secured areas, they are iconic targets and losses are highly newsworthy so they don’t go guns blazing into landing sites if at all possible. Even so, the UK has lost a couple, one to ground fires.

    Your point about Allied aircraft in WWII is fair enough but the real difference is that we simply cannot tolerate shootdowns like we did 60 years ago. All allied aircraft are highly valuable and their loss would be very visible, providing enemy forces with a significant publicity advantage. Quantities and costs are somewhat different as well!

    If operating at medium altitude with precision guided munitions then the aircraft would not necessarily be at a very high risk but MANPADS are still a real threat, speed, smart flying and defensive aids mitigates this risk. A turboprop with DAS operating at medium altitude would be a difficult target but the extra speed of a fast jet increases survivability. Helicopters can fly much lower and therefore use terrain masking to improve survivability.

    On maintenance, its probably fair to say that a turboprop is simpler to maintain than a fast jet by the Typhoon is specifically designed to drastically reduce maintenance overhead and you have to look at the total maintenance effort in theatre, yes a single Super Tucano would be less maintenance intensive than a single Typhoon but then this assumes a single Super Tucano can do the job of a single Typhoon, which it can’t. So you end up with lots of turboprops, which would probably require more maintenance ‘overall’ and this would require more personnel and everything that supporting extra personnel in theatre entails.

    Pilot fatigue is an interesting point which I hadn’t really considered but modern aircraft are designed with extensive ergonomic enhancement, Typhoon pilots can even issue voice commands to the aircraft. Workload will have been thoroughly thought through and this enables a single pilot in a Typhoon to do all the multi mission stuff.

    Integrating weapons, comms, avionics and DAS is expensive but would be a one time activity, perhaps I have over egged it a little but only those actually doing it would know, we are merely speculating!

    However, the costs of operating, supporting and maintaining aircraft make the purchase cost look like loose change

  12. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 25, 2010 1:51 pm

    “Hopefully I can redeem myself by saying that I am not anti-Eurofighter.”

    I agree with this. of course I wouldn’t expect a prop fighter to do the role of the Eurofighter, or F-22 Raptor. Neither do i see the reverse. I think modern fighters are wonderfully capable, and because they are, we can get by with fewer of them, allowing the “cheap but nasty” equipment to do the hard work and take the risks.

    But the admirals and generals would have us believe their expensive high tech platforms can do COIN. That is a mistake as the thread-bare warriors of Islam proves to us time and again

  13. January 25, 2010 1:45 pm

    @ ThinkDefence

    Thank you for taking my questions/points in the good nature they were intended.

    A point I forgot to proffer concerns airframe availability. Tornado is getting long in the tooth. And Eurofighter is new tech and a bit complicated. Both aircraft then are stages in their life cycles where maintenance hours to flying hours are quite high.

    Surely a simpler platform like a modern turboprop would spend less time in the garage and more time available to be in the air?

    Further what about pilot fatigue? Which is more arduous on the pilot? An hour in a turbo prop or an hour in jet? And yes I realise it depends what they are doing?

    What if we had two airframes for each pilot? Is pilot availability a big draw on CAS time than airframe availability? Again as you mention in the blog posts there is more to the cost of the aircraft than initial purchase. And you did lay these out. But I am not quite convinced that the cost of the turbo prop would mount so quickly as you think.

    Hopefully I can redeem myself by saying that I am not anti-Eurofighter. I just think precious airframes should be used for their best purposes. And I will finish by saying that the SU-25 is one of my favourite ‘planes.

  14. January 25, 2010 1:34 pm

    “Chinooks have a different usage pattern compared to CAS aircraft. Chinooks fly low and try to avoid the hot areas. CAS aircraft fly higher and have to fly through the hot areas to do their job.”

    All of Helmand is bandit territory. A give you there is a lot of empty space. But the bases and places the helicopters are flying into are hot zones. These helicopters are then potential targets. A Chinook is substantially larger than Tucano too.

    My difficulty is accepting the risk to these aircraft is based on the effectiveness of airpower in the latter stages of WW2 in Western Europe. Look at the weaponry the Germans had to combat CAS, the amount they possessed, their proficiency in its use, and more open (but not to open!) way they could deploy that weaponry. The Tucano in performance compares quite well with Allied CAS aircraft of that period. Now consider the Teliban’s arsenal and their proficiency in its use. If the Germans couldn’t dent Allied CAS what chance the Teliban?

    Of course this is just idle speculation. I am just trying to get my ahead around the problem.

  15. January 24, 2010 6:41 pm

    Yes of course you are right, helicopters use terrain masking where possible, thats what I meant by flying skills.

  16. B.Smitty permalink
    January 24, 2010 6:33 pm

    Chinooks have a different usage pattern compared to CAS aircraft. Chinooks fly low and try to avoid the hot areas. CAS aircraft fly higher and have to fly through the hot areas to do their job.

  17. January 24, 2010 5:11 pm

    Thanks for the compliment X

    I like it when blogs can use one post to generate interest on another, Mike has an excellent site at New Wars, it is a must read, even though we sometimes disagree.

    Your point about speed and helicopters is a fair one, Apache and Chinook have suffered low casualty rates because of superlative flying skills and very expensive defensive aids equipment, plus a bit of luck. However, they have not been completely immune, both the UK and US have suffered helicopter losses exactly because they are low and slow in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq where the threat level was probably slightly higher again losses were suffered and the resultant deployment and tactics changed. So yes, helicopters are vulnerable and so would a Super Tucano but the ST would operate at a higher altitude which would preclude a low altitude high speed show of force. I am not predicted that a ST would be shot out of the sky by the Taleban but would be at a greater risk, why take that risk, we use helicopters and therefore accept the risk because there is no other option

    Your points about the FAA and AAC manning levels are correct and maybe something for another discussion but I would say that the RAF with their flight crew and engineering manning levels/structure are the world leaders in Chinook operations, getting much much higher availability rates than other nations so maybe they are doing something right.

    It’s funny you mention the air war over Kosovo and the use of decoys, I cover this in another post

  18. January 24, 2010 4:43 pm

    “They are, and they often know to wrap things up in 10-15 minutes before CAS arrives. ”

    I am aware of the timings of Terry’s attacks and how long before they disengage on average. Even if the attack lasts 10 minutes they are still attacking in daylight. The threat of CAS isn’t stopping them making their attacks. By disengaging they are sensibly mitigating risk.


    Those links were interesting reading. I always appreciate a cogent argument as it helps to improve my understanding.

    As you are the expert I do have some sincere questions. A Chinook cruises about 130kts an hour. A Tucano cruises about 180kts an hour (max speed 320kts.) If the risk from anti-air craft to say a Tucano is so great why aren’t the helicopters being knocked out of the air on a daily basis? And do a lot of your projected costs (which you correctly identify are personal driven) come from manning at RAF levels? The RN and Army Air Corps have traditionally been a lot more efficient in manning their squadrons. The AAC especially as it uses SNCOs instead of officers as pilots.

    One last thing I think the results of the air campaigns in the Balkans can be read both ways as to assessing the effectiveness of air power. I think the Serbia use of dummy tanks in Kosovo wasted an awful lot of air time.

  19. January 24, 2010 3:45 pm

    We have covered this issue a couple of times

    Our position diverges from the accepted norm that Super Tucano’s can be used be used to provide cost effective CAS, in fact it would cost more

    However, in the armed ISR role a cheaper turboprop might be a sensible move to relieve pressure on Attack Helicopter and Fast Jets, with something that the UK armed forces already have in service i.e. an armed King Air 350

  20. Graham Strouse permalink
    January 24, 2010 2:45 pm

    It’s worth noting at this point that thr AC-130 H/U is been a VERY busy little bee in Afghanistan. The combination of endurance, maneuverability, loitering ability wedded to advanced avionics & a murderous weapons suits has left the Spectres/Spooky fleet very much in demand.

    Too much in demand, one could argue. Airframes are suffering from premature wear & stress. Having some lighter prop-driven CAS available would cost relatively little & give the Big Birds a little more down time.

  21. B.Smitty permalink
    January 24, 2010 2:38 pm

    x said, ” It is not as if the Taliban are restricted to operations at night for fear of CAS; they continue to be quite brazen. ”

    They are, and they often know to wrap things up in 10-15 minutes before CAS arrives.

    Personally I’m more a fan of arming business jets than buying lots of small, slow prop planes. A crew operating in a shirt-sleeve work environment with a real toilet, bunks and a galley can stay airborne a lot longer than one or two guys strapped into ejection seats, especially if it can AAR.

    Plus, the greater speed, range and payload of a bizjet will allow fewer to cover the same area, and let you centralize logistics and security.

    Take the USAF C-37A, for example. It has an unrefueled range of 6,500 nm at Mach 0.8. The smaller C-20H can fly 4,800 nm. Either could fly from distant bases with AARs, easing the logistics of maintaining aircraft in country.

  22. January 24, 2010 2:21 pm

    “How many ground engagements never happened because of the sound of arriving air support? ”

    The army’s job is to find the enemy, bring them to battle, fix them in position, and then destroy them (normally by indirect fire and yes airpower.)

    Avoiding ground engagements isn’t the MO.

    (I do know what you are driving at! ;) )

  23. January 24, 2010 2:18 pm

    “Fear factor can be very important. ”

    I know. The physical effects of “jet noise” can be nauseating. But it is very much added value. It does deter but only up to a point. It is not as if the Taliban are restricted to operations at night for fear of CAS; they continue to be quite brazen. But I think I would be a lot of more scared of a lot of turboprops actually dispensing ordnance onto my position than one jet making a quick pass and scooting off back to base as avcat is expended at phenomenal rates.

    The Taliban live in the modern world. They are not savages. This isn’t the Northwest Frontier in the 1930s when the sight of a ‘plane was shocking and new.

    Personally I don’t subscribe to the myth of airpower. If airpower was all the Allies would have been in Berlin by autumn 1944. There would have been no need to go into Kuwait. Airpower is important but it is only one dimension.

  24. Distiller permalink
    January 24, 2010 12:02 pm

    Could it be that developments like the Sikorsky X2 could give helicopters the expanded flight envelope so that they can cover the A-1 Skyraider aka bushwar CAS role? I also say that a OV-10 would provide more utility than a Tucan, which is pretty much single-task. Especially in the expeditionary environment keeping the number of deployed planes low is critical, so single-task planes are undesirable.

  25. Joe permalink
    January 24, 2010 10:09 am

    @ B. Smitty,

    But Mike will tell you that is a form of “conventional deterrence”, of which we don’t have need of nor requirement for ;)

  26. B.Smitty permalink
    January 24, 2010 10:01 am

    X said, “On another forum there is a very vocal RAF pilot. He once wrote a post that basically came down to turboprops aren’t as a scary jets.”

    Fear factor can be very important. How many ground engagements never happened because of the sound of arriving air support? I don’t know but I do know a low altitude, high speed pass by a pair of fighters or a B-1 will get everyone’s attention.

  27. Michael permalink
    January 24, 2010 9:26 am

    I am fully aware that this is Mikes site and of the effort he puts into it, if my remark came across as inapropriate I apologise as this was not my intention.
    It is just that we seem to be getting stuck on one aspect i.e. smaller is better and ignoring the benefits of larger vessels, of which there are many.
    I really don’t think that Mike needs you to defend his right to state his opinion, I’m sure he is more than capable of putting me in my place if needs be.

  28. Chuck Hill permalink
    January 23, 2010 4:45 pm

    DER, I was aware of the naval P-51 and its gas turbine derivatives. If the plane had a reversable pitch prop, it probably would not need arresting gear.

    Some other aircraft in the inventory that might operate off big deck amphibs are the C-27 aka Aeritalia G.222 (also being offered as a Buffalo replacement to Canada).

    and in Coast Guard Service, the C-144 aka CN235.

  29. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 23, 2010 4:28 pm

    Tangosix-maybe with the right aircraft mix they could afford more in theater?

    Mr X-let the pilot say that to those on the receiving end of an old A-1 or Hurribomber! And thanks for your kind words. Divergent views always welcome.

    Michael-I have to stand up an listen when those currently in major combat are speaking. This is what a military is for, as deterrence only goes so far. There is where you get the lessons for peacetime construction, not the other way around. Still refusing to get on the “lets keep encouraging the military equipment death spiral”. We are thinking of the future here.

  30. elgatoso permalink
    January 23, 2010 3:29 pm

    Good one,Mrs. Davis!!!

  31. Mrs. Davis permalink
    January 23, 2010 3:19 pm

    If I go to the Naval Institute blog and tell the admirals their obsession with gold plated ships to fight enemies who don’t exist is starting to be boring ( actually, it’s been boring for the last 20 years), will they put in more reasonable appropriation requests?

  32. January 23, 2010 2:43 pm

    “Perhaps you would like to give space to the last speech by Sir Mark Stanhope 1SL on why the R.N. needs it’s new builds,but that would fly against all that you hold dear.”

    Yes. But the difference between 1SL and the other service chiefs is he speaking for the RN and therefore is naturally to going to be one hundred per cent wholly right. ;)

    I don’t it hold it against him that he is an officer. We can’t all be CPO’s………..

    More seriously this is Mike B’s site and he puts a lot of effort in to producing it. I think therefore he can promote what ever views he wants. I don’t agree with everything he says but I will defend his right to say them.

  33. Michael permalink
    January 23, 2010 1:58 pm

    Your obsession with ‘smaller is better’ is really starting to be boring, this is not the first time you have quoted an army officers view of both the R.N. and the RAF.
    Of course Sir David Richards wouldn’t have his own agenda by any chance given that a crucial Defence Review is imminent after the U.K.s general election in the next few months.
    Perhaps you would like to give space to the last speech by Sir Mark Stanhope 1SL on why the R.N. needs it’s new builds,but that would fly against all that you hold dear.
    The truth is that the ‘fight for survival’ amongst the three services has already started ahead of the review and you can expect lots more of these partisan claims in the months ahead.
    No doubt you will make full use of them to forward your own ideas.

  34. January 23, 2010 1:53 pm

    The aircraft that intrigues me is the Buffalo. There’s a big to-do about Search & Rescue in Canada because only the Buff can go slow enough in the mountains/valleys. That same capability meets the US practise of fitting a mortar to the plane (AC-130) in a simple very much STOL package. Useful for getting into tight places with cargo and things that go bang.

    See also:

  35. January 23, 2010 1:42 pm

    On another forum there is a very vocal RAF pilot. He once wrote a post that basically came down to turboprops aren’t as a scary jets.

  36. D. E. Reddick permalink
    January 23, 2010 1:25 pm


    Don’t forget a navalized version of the P-51 Mustang and its modern variants:

    “On 15 November 1944, a navalized P-51D-5-NA, 414017, started flight tests from the deck of the carrier Shangri-La. This Mustang had been fitted with an arrestor hook, which was attached to a reinforced bulkhead behind the tail wheel opening; the hook was housed in a streamlined position under the rudder fairing and could be released from the cockpit. The tests showed that the Mustang could be flown off the carrier deck without the aid of a catapult, using a flap setting of 20° down and 5° of up elevator. Landings were found to be easy, and, by allowing the tail wheel to contact the deck before the main gear, the aircraft could be stopped in a minimum distance.”

    Piper PA-48 Enforcer

    “The Piper PA-48 Enforcer is a turboprop powered light close air support/ground-attack aircraft built by Piper Aircraft Corp. Lakeland, Florida. It was the ultimate development of the original World War II North American P-51 Mustang.”

  37. January 23, 2010 12:59 pm

    Hello Mike Burleson,

    the Royal Air Force currently has 330 fast jets,only 8 of those are in Afghanistan and they fly only 6 sorties per day between them.
    When only 8 out of 330 combat aircraft are being used in Afghanistan,why would they need “back up” from Tucanos?
    Are you suggesting the air force should spend millions on Tucano squadrons so those 8 Tornados can be sent home to do nothing in particular with the other 322 fast jets which are not needed in Afghanistan?
    In the 64 years since 1945 the Royal Air Force has never deployed more than 15% of its combat aircraft to any combat operation.
    How then can it justify buying even more aircraft?


  38. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 23, 2010 12:32 pm

    And its not unfamiliar to the RAF, since they use the Tucano for training and aerobatics demonstration.

  39. Chuck Hill permalink
    January 23, 2010 12:17 pm

    There is some evidence this sort of idea is being accepted. Both the US Air Force and the Navy are looking at planes like the Tucano and Texan II to provide persistent coverage.

    The MV-22 may be a reason to have them in the Marine Corp. MV-22s need to be escorted to have suppressive fire when they get to an LZ, but the helos are so much slower, the helos have to take off first and get half way there before the Ospreys launch. Effectively the Ospreys are no faster than their escorts, so their speed advantage is negated.

    Planes like the Texan II could probably launch and land off the big deck amphibs.

  40. January 23, 2010 11:21 am

    This is actually a pattern for tech in many Western orgs, and many personal cars, not just the military. Go for the fast shiny new instead of what will do. A cultural toy pattern.

  41. January 23, 2010 10:59 am

    Makes me think of the A-1 Skyraider in Vietnam.


  1. RAF Future: No Fast Jets But Propeller Aircraft | Read NEWS

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