Author Topic: USAF weighs cutting all KC10 Extenders, A10 Warthogs, etc. as part of deep cuts  (Read 1353 times)

MCentaur

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No more A10 Warthogs and KC10 Extenders in the future??   :shock:

Defense News link

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USAF Weighs Scrapping KC-10, A-10 Fleets
 
Sep. 15, 2013 - 01:01PM 


WASHINGTON — Faced with steep budget cuts and the desire to keep existing procurement initiatives on track, the US Air Force is considering scrapping its entire fleet of KC-10 tankers and A-10 attack jets, according to multiple military and defense sources.

Also on the chopping block are F-15C fighter jets and a planned $6.8 billion purchase of new combat search-and-rescue helicopters, these sources say.


While these proposals are far from final, the options show the magnitude of the decisions facing Air Force leadership as the service wrestles with the prospect of cutting billions of dollars in planned spending over the next decade.

“You only gain major savings if you cut an entire fleet,” Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, told sister publication Air Force Times last week. “You can cut aircraft from a fleet, but you save a lot more money if you cut all the infrastructure that supports the fleet.”

When directly asked about phasing out the A-10 fleet, Welsh declined to comment on specific aircraft.

“We are looking at every platform we have, every one of those five core missions and trying to decide where must we recapitalize versus where can we modernize,” Welsh said.

The Air Force’s 2015 spending plan is due to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) by Sept. 23.

Each US military service is developing two budgets for 2015 — one that includes sequestration spending cuts and another that builds on the Pentagon’s 2014 budget proposal, which is $52 billion above the sequestration cap.

OSD must approve the services’ budget proposals during a series of back-and-forth deliberations in the coming months before a final spending plan is sent to lawmakers in February.

In an emailed statement, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said no decisions have been finalized.

“As the Air Force plans for a future with sequestration, we are looking at all options to accomplish our mission within available resources,” Stefanek said. “At this time, all options being considered are pre-decisional.”

Deep Cuts
The four-month-long Strategic Choices and Management Review — a DoD effort that looked at ways the Pentagon might have to modify its military strategy due to budget cuts — found the Air Force could cut up to five tactical aircraft squadrons, DoD announced in July.

The proposed aircraft cuts, particularly the 340-aircraft A-10 fleet, are sure to face scrutiny in Congress. About half of the A-10 fleet resides in the Air National Guard. An Air Force proposal to cut five A-10 squadrons last year faced stiff opposition in Congress and from state governors.

The Air Force Reserve also operates A-10s, which were heavily used to provide support to ground troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. A-10s also are based in South Korea.

Sources say the Army is interested in obtaining A-10s should the Air Force decide to retire the twin-engine jets, which have been flying since the 1970s.

The Air Force operates 59 KC-10s, according to a service fact sheet. The tri-jet, which is based on the commercial McDonnell Douglas DC-10 jetliner, is the workhorse of the Air Force aerial refueling fleet.

The tankers — equipped with both boom and hose-and-drogue refueling systems — can refuel Air Force, Navy and international military aircraft on a single sortie.

Also on the table is an unspecified number of cuts to the Boeing F-15C Eagle fleet. The Air Force has about 250 of the fighter jets, which, along with the F-22 Raptor, make up the service’s air-to-air fighter arsenal.

Pentagon leaders for several years have said they would like to get rid of single-mission platforms.

An Air Force plan to cut the A-10 doesn’t come as a surprise, said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Virginia-based Teal Group. He said the active service has been trying to kill off the platform for years. But while congressional pressure has saved the planes in the past, budget realities may make cuts realistic for the first time.

“These are strange and dangerous times budgetarily, which means the Air Force might finally get their way,” Aboulafia said. He pointed out that the A-10 is not particularly useful for either counterinsurgency actions or for the so-called pivot to Asia, leaving the platform strategically on the outside looking in.

“If there were any plans to fight a land war, this would not be good news. But everything about the budget implies they have stepped away from land wars,” he said. “It’s a good way for the Air Force to save cash and declare victory in a turf war.”

Conversely, Aboulafia calls the potential KC-10 cuts “a baffler,” citing the relatively young age of the aircraft and its importance for movement across the Pacific. He speculated that including the KC-10 may be the Air Force attempting to drive home the impact of sequestration and budget cuts, as the program still provides a number of jobs that members of Congress would want to protect.

Retiring the F-15C would save maintenance and upgrade costs, Rebecca Grant, president of IRIS Research and a former USAF official, said. The service could then use those funds to speed procurement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“It’s a gutsy move assuming a lot of risk, but there’s risk to all these scenarios,” Grant said. “It may be there is less risk retiring the F-15C right now than there is in getting the fleet we need some years down the road.”

Air Force leaders are still locked in a passionate debate over whether to move aircraft and personnel into the Guard and reserve. Advocates for this move say the savings achieved could allow the Air Force to keep aircraft in the inventory.


(...)
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Tora^2

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I can understand the cutbacks with A10s. For CAS in a conventional war environment, they can be replaced with F16s, F15Es or F35As. A prop platform like the Super Tucano or AT-6B can fill COIN CAS roles more cost-efficiently.

Putting KC-10s up for retirement is a puzzle. Wouldn't it make sense if they instead retire older KC-135s? However, here's what I noticed. KC10s may be younger but the USAF is only using them as tankers. Compare that to the KC-135 which also has RC-135, E3 and E8 Joint STARs relatives in service.

 
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Shorty_1972

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^ the A10 has never really been popular with the USAF brass.  A top USAF General back in the 90's, whose son was a Hog Driver back then, used to joke that his son died in a motorcycle accident rather than reveal that he's an A10 pilot  :D
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Shrike

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There really is no need for the 30mm gun in a Philippine setting, but the A-10 would be great for COIN work. 

Just had a thought - we might actually need the 30mm if the Chinks try any funny business.  A row of 30mm hits will probably cut a ship in half.  Hans Rudel did sink a Soviet battleship with a cannon-equipped Ju-87G.
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Shorty_1972

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IIRC...Rudel sunk the Marat with bombs in 41....the 37mm equipped Ju 87G appeared in 1943.

BtW....Rudel's book 'Stuka Pilot' was required reading for the A-10 design team.  :D
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charlie_alpha

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hmmn.. on the contrary, 'warthog' is popular among the ground troops in 'stan ...
oohhhh hhh



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MCentaur

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While the rest of you are fixated on the Warthog because of its excellence at CAS...

you're overlooking the importance of the KC10 Extender.

An active Canadian F18 fighter pilot for the RCAF, who works frequently with his USAF counterparts, had this to say at another forum:


The KC-10 is probably the single most useful aircraft in deploying a fighter det.  Bring a 6-pack, the support equipment & most of the crew in a single aircraft.  And do it without enroute stops for most destination...

It would be a mistake, imo, to scrap them....

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Tora^2

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OK, there are more B707-derived jets (KC-135s, RC-135s, E3s & E8 Joint Stars)  in USAF service than DC-10 derived planes (KC-10) but is that enough reason to favor it over the more versatile KC-10?

And to think the KC-135s are due to be replaced by KC-46es
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MCentaur

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More on the aforementioned cuts considered to the KC10 tanker fleet. Note what is also said about the future long-range bomber program.

Defense News link

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USAF Secretary: Single-mission Aircraft Could be Cut

Sep. 17, 2013 - 09:53AM   |   
 By AARON MEHTA

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. — Older, single-mission aircraft fleets could face the chopping block, according to the acting US Air Force secretary.

“Everything is on the table,” Eric Fanning said Monday afternoon. “We’re trying to protect a few of the main programs, but we are looking most closely at single-mission fleets.”

Fanning made his comments at a media briefing at this week’s Air Force Association Air & Space Conference. He was specifically asked about a Defense News report that service is considering cutting the KC-10 tanker and A-10 attack jet fleets.

Cuts, Fanning said, were unavoidable due to the limited options for the Air Force.


“If we go into [fiscal year 2014] with sequestration still in effect, and we need to achieve those savings, you have to look at cuts,” he said. “You can’t get your money out of installations because they won’t support [base realignment and closure]. You can’t get money out of people fast enough. It takes about a year to get savings out of people.

“If you try to fence off some of your priority programs, it puts a lot of pressure on that small part of the wedge,” he added. “You can’t get savings of the magnitude necessary by reducing all of your fleets. You have to take out some fleets entirely in order to get the whole tail that comes with it, in terms of savings.”

Those priority programs include the F-35 joint strike fighter, KC-46 tanker replacement program, and new long-range bomber. Fanning expanded on the importance of those programs later in his speech.

The KC-46 program replaces only a third of the aging KC-135 tanker fleet, with two follow-on programs needed after completion, Fanning pointed out. “That last 135, when it lands, is going to be older than any human being alive. That’s a critical backbone, not just for the Air Force but for the military, so that’s clearly a priority.


“The long-range strike bomber, the interesting thing about that is that the real money goes into the program in the future,” Fanning said. “That won’t give us savings when we’re at our most vulnerable.”

As for the F-35, the most expensive program in Pentagon history, Fanning described the fifth-generation fighter as “the critical warfighting program for the Department of Defense.”

“The Air Force, in any of the budget scenarios, is committed to the joint strike fighter,” he added. However, he did not rule out that a JSF buy could be cut or pushed back as part of a Pentagon budget decision.

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Juramentado

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More on the aforementioned cuts considered to the KC10 tanker fleet. Note what is also said about the future long-range bomber program.

Defense News link

Mixed signals from all levels right now. Here's the USAF CoS (ignore the crazy Avengers Capt America Helmet - wow):

http://breakingdefense.com/2013/09/17/gen-welch-dismisses-talk-of-scrapping-air-force-pledges-to-protect-kc-46-f-35a-long-range-bomber/

And then there's Durbin with hopeful talk of a full spending measure:

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130918/DEFREG02/309180017/Durbin-Full-DoD-Spending-Bill-m-Working-?odyssey=nav|head

What's not implied in any of the service-specific articles, nor the CR talk is "Who's going to take it on the chin in terms of cuts where the money goes to another branch?"

Juramentado

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OK, there are more B707-derived jets (KC-135s, RC-135s, E3s & E8 Joint Stars)  in USAF service than DC-10 derived planes (KC-10) but is that enough reason to favor it over the more versatile KC-10?

And to think the KC-135s are due to be replaced by KC-46es

Commonality. You have more Escorts than Tauruses in your fleet. Therefore you will gain some efficiencies by only having to stock Escort parts. Maintenance and the other operational costs start to add up when you have too much variance in your inventory. Horizontal cuts - where you gain small efficiencies by sourcing cheaper parts, etc. = small savings. Vertical cuts, where you divest whole systems (such as the KC-10) gain you big savings because you just got rid of having to train people on it, having to keep parts for it that you can't use elsewhere, maintenance etc. That's money that goes elsewhere - to the KC-46 and whatever else you're projecting as future needs.