Why India does not have CAS crafts?

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by arnabmit, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. arnabmit

    arnabmit Homo Communis Indus Senior Member

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    We have been having sporadic discussions on this topic on various threads...

    Would like to know the Pro/Con of India having dedicated CAS platforms like:
    • Su-25 variants
    • A-10U variants
    • Any other "low and slow" CAS gunships

    Let us not consider AC-130U... It is a rich-boy-toy only to pound cave dwellers at night without any air defence.

    @Kunal Biswas @Ray @Decklander @sayareakd @p2prada @ersakthivel
     
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  3. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    We do have CAS aircraft. Mig-27 and Jags handle CAS. Jag is specifically equipped with 2 30mm cannons for strafing runs. Today it is equipped with PGMs.
     
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  4. arnabmit

    arnabmit Homo Communis Indus Senior Member

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    But both are almost falling apart from old age like the Bisons, and would be retired soon. What next?

    Anyway, these are not armored enough to be a true "low and slow" CAS craft.

     
  5. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Jaguars are being upgraded. 120 of them will receive new engines, radar etc.

    Jaguars can do everything that the Su-25 can do in most cases. Only armour is missing.
     
  6. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    In the future, CAS duties should be handled by Rafale, possibly LCA and possibly UCAVs.
     
  7. t_co

    t_co Senior Member Senior Member

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    The image of brave troops being able to call down lethal air support 'just in the nick of time' is a myth. Using Rafale/LCA for CAS is a self-defeating proposition. Those aircraft would be much better used for interdiction strikes. Here's why.

    Assume you have 96 Rafale/LCA/UCAV strike craft covering the area for a corps, and they can make a sortie every two hours (including travel time to and back, rearming, refueling, taxiing time). Further assume you have uncontested air superiority - your opponents cannot get anything into the sky, so you only need minimal CAP sorties (or can simply rely on short-range IR missiles on your strike craft for self-defense).

    Assuming your pilots and ground crew don't sleep and you lose nothing on each sortie to SAMs or AAA, over a 24 hour period that's 12x96 = 1152 sorties.

    A corps will have 6 brigades, each of which has between five and ten battalions. Let's assume 8 combat battalions per brigade (@Ray please verify) for simplicity of calculation. That's 48 battalions, of which let's say half are engaged against an enemy formation or objective at any given time. So your 1152 sorties have to be parceled out across 24 battalions = 48 sorties per battalion each day, or 2 per hour.

    Now let's think about the type of sorties your hypothetical air command is taking on in support of the army.

    CAS sorties will be called down by battalion level commanders and below - likely company commanders designating tactical targets. Assume each CAS sortie can disrupt an enemy company, but the Army's targeting data only gets their positions right 1/4th of the time (this is in line with US data from the 2003 Iraq War). Assume further "strike overlap/overkill" of 50% - that means half of all your sorties are used up on enemy units that have already been bombed by another sortie (also in line with USAF estimates from Iraq and Serbia).

    So now your 2 per hour per battalion becomes 0.25 per hour per battalion, divided even further among each of your four companies per battalion. In all likelihood, a given company is lucky if they have air support once per day, and will only call targets at an average of 50% efficiency. Spreading resources out to the front lines like that will only produce mediocre results.

    Airpower is only useful if wielded as a coordinated fist by a centralized authority - preferably division-level officers aboard a constellation of C4ISR aircraft like the Boeing E-3. Then those 1152 sorties you get per day can be used against properly identified concentrated targets (airfields and comms stations, armor formations trying to cross bridges deep behind enemy lines, etc.)

    Sure, your field commanders won't be happy at having less sorties available to them, but your overall results will be much better. Military history has shown that war is exceedingly unkind to command structures that gift lower-level commanders with more assets than they can manage, and only mildly unkind to well-centralized command systems. Even the 'net-centric warfare' of the modern US, Russian, or Chinese armies relies on disrupting your opponent's ability to maintain rapid, centralized, and coordinated action while keeping up your own.
     
  8. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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  9. t_co

    t_co Senior Member Senior Member

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    Every plane put into the air has to have a trained pilot behind it, with at least 300-500 hours of flight time to make him combat effective... while the Super Tucano might look cheap on paper, factoring the human costs into the equation makes it expensive.

    Far better to shift CAS to UAVs/helos with loiter time and large bombers that can hit multiple GPS-designated targets per sortie, while putting your expensive fighter pilots in 5th-gen planes.
     
  10. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Indian Army Aviation Wing
     
  11. t_co

    t_co Senior Member Senior Member

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    I'm confused. Are you implying that the IAAW trains its pilots less than the IAF?
     
  12. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    • Question: Why India does not have CAS crafts?
    • Answer: India does have CAS crafts.

    Once IAF gets all of the Apaches, I think the Hinds should be transferred to IAAW.
     
  13. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    @arnabmit,

    These days the Air forces, especially of developing countries, to maximise on resources are going in for multirole combat aircraft that can perform different roles in combat.

    These MRCA are capable of tactical strike, air reconnaissance, air defence, forward air control (FAC), Interdiction, SEAD, CAS and electronic warfare.




    @t_co,

    Our formations' organisation is different from the Chinese one.

    It is usually in multiples of three.
     
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  14. TrueSpirit

    TrueSpirit Senior Member Senior Member

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    No, he is implying that we have we have a well trained IAAW but we don't have to deploy our fighter pilots for CAS role. Remember what you said ?

    What is so complicated here, for you ?
     
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  15. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    Can someone explain to a layman like me what are the advantages that CAS jet aircraft (like Su-25) have over helicopter gunships (like the Mi-24)? Don't they both perform the same role, in much the same manner, which much of the same armament? Why do militaries insist on having both of them?
     
  16. arnabmit

    arnabmit Homo Communis Indus Senior Member

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    AFAIK, Attack helos work at the tree top level. So they are suited for forest or mountain terrains where they have a place to hide. They are just sitting ducks in plains or deserts where any footsoldier with a half decent MANPADS and 360 degree unhindered view can easily take out the helo. Also, speed, range & service ceiling of attack helos means your helo base needs to be very close to the theater.

    CAS crafts, on the other hand can take off and land from unprepared strips, can stay on air for long outside the range of MANPADS, can swoop in from high altitude, kill and go back up. Plus CAS crafts are armor build to take much more ground fire than any attack helo. Also, a much larger armament means that a CAS craft can take out many more enemy units than 3-4 helos put together.

    I am sure there are many other points that I missed.

     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2013
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  17. datguy79

    datguy79 Regular Member

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    Can't India make a clone of the A-10 Warthog? That is one awesome plane.
     
  18. Keshav Murali

    Keshav Murali Back to studies :( Senior Member

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    This was very well written. :thumb:
     
  19. t_co

    t_co Senior Member Senior Member

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    Another aspect to bear in mind is that a CAS helo cruises at 200 km/h, tops, while a fixed-wing CAS aircraft can cruise at 600 or even 800 km/h. The CAS aircraft can cover a lot more ground, respond faster to developing crises, and generate many more bombloads (since it flies to and fro from a resupplying airfield much quicker). Also, fixed-wing CAS aircraft are generally cheaper to operate, maintain, and acquire for the equivalent amount of bombload.

    The downside is that a CAS aircraft has less ability to "loiter" and remain at the beck and call of ground troops. You sacrifice a certain degree of flexibility if you go with fixed-wing CAS, at the upside of increased "bang for the buck".

    As a sidenote, the Chinese military is deemphasizing CAS as a dedicated mission of the air arm, and fully embracing lightweight standoff PGMs to deliver CAS-like effects from theater assets. Instead of numerous small birds darting to and fro battle zones (and having to weather the full suite of enemy SAMs, AAA, and CAP), China is developing high-payload subsonic stealth bombers (the H-X program New Chinese bomber a flying wing? - The DEW Line). The model will be of numerous J-10s, J-11s, J-16s, and J-31s forming a meatshield around a core of H-Xs and legacy H-6s carrying massive amounts of PGMs that can dismantle enemy mechanized formations from 100km+ ranges (or long-range cruise missiles to hit ships and high-value targets). J-20s, in this model, would be running long-range penetration strikes on deep enemy support platforms, or be held as a central air-to-air reserve. CAS would be provided by attack helos and drones (loads and loads of cheap drones, likely operated by dedicated companies in each battalion.)

    In many respects, this is similar to what the USAF has been working towards.
     
  20. t_co

    t_co Senior Member Senior Member

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    Thank you :)
     
  21. TrueSpirit

    TrueSpirit Senior Member Senior Member

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    CAS jet aircrafts have massive advantages of range, speed, payload, service ceiling (altitude), variety of armament, survivability (even though they have bigger IR signature) & mobility (mostly, acceleration). These days they are cheaper to maintain & more rugged (armour) than helo gunships like Apache. Also, they are much easier to maintain & have higher sortie-rate (mission-availability).

    Helicopter gunships have advantage of being able to operate from anywhere, i.e. Vertical take-off & landing.

    One advantage is forward stationing capability i.e.its responsiveness to ground forces. These assets can move right along with ground forces or wait in holding areas close so they can be stationed wherever they needed immediately.

    One instance: Attack helos, if need aries, can land and receive a face-to-face brief from a ground unit commander. By doing this, the problems in communication between the terminal controller and the aircraft are mostly alleviated.

    No other significant advantage, Another limitation is they cannot go deep beyond enemy lines. These days, it is often used as escort for transport helicopters.

    Having said that, most forces prefer to operate all gunships (fixed as well as rotary wing) in a permissive air environment.
     
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