Light-Attack Plane Seeks New Life In Navy

Via War News Updates

The Navy, especially the Naval Special Warfare community, is getting pretty damn tired with the Air Force dragging its feet on the Light Attack Armed Reconnaissance program. And they may go it alone.

Lockheed Martin and Hawker-Beechcraft are considering pitching its AT-6B light-attack counterinsurgency plane for the upcoming Navy-led Combat Dragon II program, according to sources familiar with the effort.

The Navy recently shifted over $17 million into the Combat Dragon II program, designed to prove that a small, turboprop-driven aircraft can be used for “high end/special aviation” missions in Afghanistan.

via Light-Attack Plane Seeks New Life In Navy.

We’ve written about this several times. Is LAARA the ultimate in Close Air Support? No. But it is what former SecDef Gates called an “80% solution at 20% of the cost.”

The LAARA wouldn’t be a replacement for the dedicated strike jets of the services. But it would give a niche capability to provide manned Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Close Air Support (CAS) to troops on the ground at relatively low cost.

7 thoughts on “Light-Attack Plane Seeks New Life In Navy”

  1. Before 9/11 and more specifally the war in Iraq (which I participated in several times), I was kind of live and let live about the USAF. They had a job to do and they seemed to take care of their part pretty nicely. My interactions with them were professional, they seemed to understand their role if and when war broke out and SEEMED to have their s#!t together.

    Then in Iraq I got to see how they really operated. Now let me say that for the most part individual pilots did what they could to support anyone who needed it, but their overall policies, stated goals and priorities were anything but supportive of the overall effort. It took the SECDEF to focus them on UAS operations. When the Army expanded its UAS ops simply because they weren’t getting what they needed from the USAF, the air force fought that at every turn.

    They’ve been fighting this aircraft at every opportunity from the get go. I would say they are way overdue for some attitude adjustment in their upper echelons. It’s beyond pathetic their lack of willingness to adapt. Now I understand the problem of the fleet as a whole aging rapidly and the need for new fighters, but they went all-in on the F-22/35 combo and they refuse to discuss anything else…warfighters be damned.

    1. Definitely concur. Having gotten CAS/NTISR support from both USMC and USAF, the USMC was hands-down more user friendly from scheduling on the ATO end to dropping on the back end. Not just because they live the CAS role, either. Though conversely, working with USMC rotary-wing was a nightmare compared to Army aviation support.

  2. I’ve said many times, here and other places, that the AF is much too distracted trying to be a strategic service to be much tactical good.

    Don’t know anything about USMC rotary wing, but did know a few grunts from ‘nam who said they’d loved to have increased Marine aviation by several wings they could dedicate to the Army CAS mission. Frankly, I’d rather see the Army adopt LARRA, take over the A-10s, and force the AF to disgorge the C-27s they stole from the Army.

    1. QM,
      What the problem with Marine RW is, is that they will not talk to the guys on the ground, except their own ANGLICO elements, which would be a SALT or a FCT (I don’t remember what they stand for, but are esentially the same as USAF JTACs but are all pilots on the ground, with a radio). For example, for my CAV Squadron attached to a Marine Regiment in 2008, we got a SALT at the Squadron, and two FCTs to spread out between three Recon Troops. If my Troop that didn’t have an FCT with them made contact and Marine Cobras checked on, the only way they could talk would be for the Troop to call back to my Squadron TOC and talk to the SALT (a USMC captain), who would then call the Cobra. On the other hand, if an Army Apache checked on station, anyone in that Troop could pick up a radio handset and talk to them and say “See me? See the building I am pointing at? Kill the guy on the roof.” Way more responsive.

  3. Agree quarter A-10’s and CAS belongs to the army anyways the Airforce never liked the duty.

    Also if the F-35B falls threw would something like a large turbo prop or piston aircraft like the old A-1 Spud be a good replacment? Not fast,stealthy, or a fighter BUT it is slow enough has the range and payload as well as the celling to operate as a escort and CAS for the Marines as well as operate off the Amphibs i figure.

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