My question is two fold in regards to potentially replacing the A-10:
- What is the loiter on an F-35? How much time on station can ground troops actually expect out of an aircraft with a “F” prefix. Speaking from personal experience, the A-10 hung out all damn day if we needed it to, with very little loss in coverage for refuel or hand off to another flight. Furthermore, on average, the A-10 flies from in theatre more often -the F-16 support I had in Afghanistan flew from as far away as Qatar at times. Significantly reducing that system’s ability to provide desired support. A key role was as a dynamic and responsive ISR platform. As an Army fella, however, I expected little out of anything that wasn’t the (now retired) OH58.
- Why were they boasting about GBU12s, when it’s the -38 that gets so much more play on the battlefield. Again, speaking from personal experience, the GPS guided munitions (31, 32, 38) seemed more common for use in CAS missions. The 12 is great if you have a good team in the air (one plane lasing for the other), but expecting safe, or even effective laser guidance in a CAS scenario is almost a joke. While there are plenty of applications in specified warfare (e.g., anyone who has been issued a SOFLAM probablypoints the deployment of laser guided munitions valuable), your ordinary platoon sized element, pinned down or engaged in a very active firefight does not have the time or ability to work laser safety cone, much less paint a target for the duration of flight after release? Have you ever used a LLDR? It is about as practically deployable on a patrol as an M2, and the latter doesn’t need to be calibrated prior to use.