Air power on the cheap

Discussion in 'Military Aviation' started by Kunal Biswas, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Air power on the cheap

    Small, slow and inexpensive propeller-driven planes are starting to displace fighter jets


    JET fighters may be sexy in a Tom Cruise-ish sort of way, but for guerilla warefare—in which the enemy rarely has an air force of his own with which to dogfight—they are often not the tool for the job. Pilotless drones can help fill the gap. Sometimes there is no substitute for having a pilot on the scene, however, so modern air forces are starting to turn to a technology from the yesteryear of flying: the turboprop.

    So-called light-attack turboprops are cheap both to build and to fly. A fighter jet can cost $80m. By contrast the 208B Caravan, a light-attack turboprop made by Cessna, costs barely $2m. It also costs as little as $500 a hour to run when it is in the air, compared with $10,000 or more for a fighter jet. And, unlike jets, turboprops can use roads and fields for takeoff and landing.

    Nor is it only jets that light-attack turboprops can outperform. Armed drones have drawbacks, too. The Reaper, made by General Atomics, can cost $10m or more, depending on its bells and whistles. On top of that, a single drone can require a team of more than 20 people on the ground to support it, plus satellite communications. A manned turboprop can bomb an insurgent for a third of the cost of using a drone, according to Pat Sullivan, the head of government sales at Cessna. And there are strategic considerations, too. Many countries’ armed forces rely on allies such as America for the expertise and satellite networks needed to run drones. Such allies can let you down in a pinch. :happy_2:Piloted light-attack planes offer complete operational independence—and, being lower-tech than many drones, are less subject to restrictions on exports in the first place.

    They are also better, in many ways, than helicopters. To land a chopper safely in the dirt requires sophisticated laser scanners to detect obstacles hidden by dust thrown up by the downdraught of the rotors. On top of this, such dust makes helicopter maintenance even more difficult than it is already. Maintaining turboprops, by contrast, is easy. According to Robyn Read, an air-power strategist at the Air Force Research Institute near Montgomery, Alabama, they can be “flown and maintained by plumbers”.

    Turboprops are also hard to shoot down. Air Tractor, another firm that makes cropdusters, branched out into warplanes last year. One reason was that a fleet of 16 unarmed versions of its aircraft had been used by America’s State Department to dust South American drug plantations with herbicide—an activity that tends to provoke a hostile response from the ground. Despite the planes’ having been hit by more than 200 rounds, though, neither an aircraft nor a pilot has been lost.


    In part, this is because of the robust mechanics of turboprops and in part because Air Tractor’s fuel tanks have rubber membranes which close around bullet holes to slow leaks. Add extra fuel tanks, which let the plane stay aloft for ten hours, six 225kg precision-guided bombs and more than 2,000kg of missiles, rockets and ammunition for two 50-calibre machineguns, and you have the AT-802U, a formidable yet reasonably cheap (at $5m) warplane.

    Light-attack aircraft also now sport much of the electronics used by fighter jets. The MX-15, an imaging device made by L-3 WESCAM, a Canadian company, allows a pilot to read a vehicle’s license plate from a distance of 10km. It is carried by both the AT-802U and the AT-6, a top-of-the-range light-attack plane made by Hawker Beechcraft.

    Not surprisingly, then, many countries with small defence budgets are investing in turboprops. Places that now fly them, or are expected to do so, include Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco and Venezuela. And the United States. For the biggest military establishment in the world, too, recognises the value of this new old technology. The American air force plans to buy more than 100 turboprops and the navy is now evaluating the Super Tucano, made by Embraer, a Brazilian firm.

    In aerial combat, then, low tech may be the new high tech. And there is one other advantage that the turboprop has over the jet, at least according to Mr Read—who flew turboprops on combat missions in Cambodia during the 1970s. It is that you can use a loudspeaker to talk to potential targets before deciding whether to attack them.

    http://www.economist.com/node/17079443
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010
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  3. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Super Tucano

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  4. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    FMA IA 58 Pucará

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  5. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Cessna AC-208B Combat Raven

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  6. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    KA-1

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  7. pankaj nema

    pankaj nema Senior Member Senior Member

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    Does our Hawk trainer qualify as a cheap attack air craft. It carries a decent pay load. Once air superiority has been established it can be used for ground attack roles.

    So may be this is one of the reasons we have bought many more recently in a repeat order.
     
  8. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Get the Spitfires and Mustangs back as well!!!
     
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  9. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Hawk is a jet and yes it can be use for CAS..
    But my argument is to have Turbo-props in good no in squadrons strength in Indian Army Aviation, This propeller driven aircraft are very cheap to maintain and operational cost is less than 25% than a T-72, And offers gr8 capabilities..


    Well i love Spitfires..
    But i really wish for those Super Tacanos..
     
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  10. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Some More Pics of Korean KA-1T..

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  11. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Kunal these birds can be used in anti armor role too i think. Some of the WWII birds were capable of taking great punishment and can go into a war zone.with modern armor it could easily devastate the enemy. It could work in tandem with the attack choppers it think. may be have it at the brigade level for CAS too. Wonder if anyone is toying with this idea?
     
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  12. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Yusaf these little birds can destroy Armour with good efficiency from medium altitude..
    Putting more Armour on these birds and put bigger engines but again..

    One important thing is its way to cheap compare to a modern Attack helo, Also these turboprops can fulfill our requirement for CAS, Its fast, agile, Cheap and can carry modern payload at safe heights where AAA cannot reach them..

    We cannot have a 100 LCH within a short time also its expensive, But we can have these turbo-props in short time yet it will give us the power of quick CAS..

    In Kargil our soldiers had to wait for 6-12-24 hours for Air-support..
     
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  13. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    USAF Turboprop Strike Fighter?

    US Air Force planners want irreguar warfare wing

    Stephen Trimble at Flight International:

    US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) planners have called for the stand-up of a new “irregular warfare” wing dedicated to fighting insurgents and terrorists with an aircraft fleet numbering 44 airlifters, 20 helicopters and 20 turboprop strike fighters.

    AFSOC’s proposal, which is described in a recent internal White Paper obtained by Flight International, would dramatically increase the air force’s assets dedicated to the counter-insurgency mission, which now includes a single squadron equipped with two Bell Helicopter UH-1N utility helicopters. [emphasis Murdoc's]

    This is something I’ve supported for quite some time. For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t mind large numbers of cheaper close air support planes in the hands of the Army and Marines, but if the only way to get them into the field is with AFSOC, so be it. Maybe this could prove (or disprove once and for all) the utility of light turboprops over today’s battlefields and possibly open the door for more of the same in the regular forces.

    The Air Force wanted for so long to ditch the A-10. Now it’s seeing that getting down and dirty is a new way to get into the game and they suddenly want some turboprops. Should have seen that ten years ago, but better late than never, I guess.

    The article mentions the Beechcraft AT-6B and the Embraer Tucano and Super Tucano. It also notes that the Douglas A-1 Skyraider played a similar role in Vietnam.

    I pointed out that planners were looking at this sort of COIN aircraft for the new Iraqi air force, and I’ve pointed out that such a plane would be handy on our side, as well.

    However, be afraid, be very afraid, of any major modification requirements to these planes. The whole point is to get simple and cheap. A program that finally (maybe) delivers a bazillion dollar turboprop ten years from now is not what we need.

    A pro to the concept: The planes will be so cheap that they won’t interfere with F-22 and F-35 budgets.

    A con to the concept: The planes will make many wonder why we need so many F-22s and F-35s.
    USAF Turboprop Strike Fighter?
     
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  14. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Last edited: Oct 11, 2010
  15. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    Actually, we can use these birds for anti-Naxal operations. To destroy their media towers and satellite-discovered hiding HQs in heavy jungles of east. South America has drug lords, we have Naxalites who're a nuisance in mining sector in India and steal away a lot of wealth for their terrorism. We could load these prop fighters with dumb bombs as well as rockets and unleash hell on Maoists and their supporting tribals. If we don't want to go back to STONE AGE like Khmer Rouge did with Cambodians, we will have to be ruthless. If we keep being politically correct, we will come under the terror of Red flag. And we don't want that.
     
  16. SATISH

    SATISH DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    Been telling this since the site started...and atlast i think our dear leaders might feel okay about it.
     
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  17. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    And I will keep updating it with new Powerful pics of Turbo props!!

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    Twin engines, Single hardpoint with multiple racks lots of opportunity, Pucara is officially for sale from Argentina..
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2010
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  18. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    USAF conducts tests turn Texans into SAR aircrafts :

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  19. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    What you should do is buy turbo-prop trainers that can be converted into CAS aircraft in a pinch. Best value for money is always multi-role.
     
  20. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Those Bird are of IAF, Not Army..

    Turbo Props are Cheap and good when we are talking abt mass purchase of expensive Attack Helos..
     
  21. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN:
    LOW-TECHNOLOGY AIRCRAFT
    AND LITTLE WARS

    Contributor

    Capt George ("Cole") Morris (BA, Glassboro State College; MPA, Troy State University) is an exchange officer with the Canadian National Defence Headquarters, Ottawa, Ontario, where he serves as a life-cycle material manager for CF-18 armament systems. He has served as officer in charge of various aircraft maintenance units and a munitions branch. Captain Morris is a graduate of Squadron Officer School.


    http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/apj/apj91/spr91/5spr91.htm
     
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