If you get your defense analysis from Pierre Sprey, punch yourself in the face.

From a piece in the Daily Beast.

The U.S. Air Force’s A-10 is an ugly, low-flying, slow-moving beast of an aircraft known affectionately by the troops as the Warthog. But even as the flying tank gets ready to shred ISIS terrorists to pieces over Iraq and Syria with its massive 30mm cannon—firing depleted uranium shells the size of a Coke bottle—it hides a dark secret: an unrepentant Nazi fighter pilot helped to develop the ungainly warplane.

Engineer Pierre Sprey, a former Pentagon procurement official who helped design the A-10, confirmed to The Daily Beast that none other than legendary Luftwaffe Colonel Hans-Ulrich Rudel was consulted to develop the Warthog.

Aaaaaaaaaaand I’mma stop you right there.

First, by the time Rudel was called in, the plane was being readied for full scale production. You know, that sort of thing that happens after the plane has been developed? How do we know this? Because the very next line in the article tells us so:

“While we were readying the airplane and gun for full scale production, the 30mm gun program manager, Col. Robert Dilger, invited Rudel to lead a symposium in DC attended by several hundred engineers, analysts, tacticians and intel types on all aspects of CAS [close air support] operations in combat,” Sprey told the Daily Beast.

Second… Sprey is not an engineer. His background is in statistics. He’s been riding the coattails of the legendary “Fighter Mafia” for close to forty years now. What he hasn’t been doing is drawing a paycheck to design airplanes. In fact, his real moneymaker these days is royalties from a choir that was sampled by Kanye West.

10 thoughts on “If you get your defense analysis from Pierre Sprey, punch yourself in the face.”

  1. So, first, he tries to smear it by saying it was designing by a Nazi. He cuts-and-pastes from Wikipedia for information on the man’s wartime exploits (he wouldn’t get that past the Wikipedia editors if it had been posted elsewhere). Then, in an era of asymmetric warfare, he complains that it wouldn’t survive in main force actions against the Chinese or Russians.

    The Air Force doesn’t like it because it doesn’t fly high and fast. It’s not sexy. It supports someone else’s missions, not their own. Give me an Army Air Corps again for CAS.

  2. Wait, how can Sprey be “riding the coattails” of something he was an integral part of? He was part of the “coat” itself. I disagree with much that I see coming from him, but it seems silly to try to minimize his role in the fighter mafia or his excellent work on creating the A-10. I also don’t see that his lack of an engineering degree matters in any way – anymore than Boyd’s lack of credentials in psychology or military history take anything away from his seminal work that produced the OODA loop.

    1. Krag, you need to do a little research. Spey at best was involved with writing the project RFP. He performed no actual design work on either the A-10 or the F-16, contrary to popular claims. Similarly, Boyd has gotten a lot of credit for the F-16 from his E-M theory; another over-blown claim. All he did was work on the desired specs.

      USAAF pilots were -in essence- engaging in energy maneuvering while flying P-38s against Japanese Zeros. Claire Chennault developed similar techniques while observing air combat in China.

    2. Hmm, because I don’t accept accounts of bitter Air Force officers and a few industry fellows with axes to grind doesn’t mean I require more research. I simply follow the historical accounts that I’ve read by actual historians.

      Bit of a straw man to claim that boom and zoom in WWII negates Boyd’s work on E-M. It was his study of just such evolutions in combat that drove his research. What was unique was his ability to turn those events into an actual science that allowed for quantitative comparisons of competing designs. Boyd himself never claimed OODA loops didn’t exist prior to his work, he instead gets credit for distilling it out of historical analysis and holding it up as concept for others to work with.

      I have no interest in being a Sprey defender, but I likewise find it repulsive to see historical revisionism at work because of his harsh views on defense programs since the fighter mafia days.

  3. I like the A-10 BETTER now that I know Rudel had something to do with it. =)

    What would the A-10 look like if Rudel had nothing to do with it? Oh, exactly the same. Almost as if the laws of aerodynamics and military tactics don’t give a damn if you’re a Nazi, a Communist, or an American.

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