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Somehow the valid prototype winner argument went from YF-22/23 to X-32!?

Ok, getting basic education on page 333 of a thread is just a bit lazy.

Also, before Waco jumps on a dangling participle (I think, I'm an engineer not an English major), I did not mean to imply the F-22 was a 7g airframe. It can do full load and be a 9g airframe.

Final fact, speed does not exactly equate to gs. It is in maneuver terms more related to centripedal acceleration, so a really violent maneuver at low speed can result in high gs. Think Dr.1 or Sopwith Camel.

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Any aircraft is capable of fratricide:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/inexperience-cited-in-canadian-friendly-fire-death-u-s-report-1.836783

Taking hits and making it back to base is good for keeping the pilot alive, it's not so great when your plane never flies again. I believe this was well covered by Trigger's post up yonder ^

Alvis 3.1

Of course any aircraft is capable, that wasn't my point. I have seen situations where the only weapon we could employ was 30mm cannon, due to distance between enemy and friendly forces. We couldn't employ a bomb because of fratricide concerns, but we could use the A-10 gun.

But like I said, I'm just an Army guy that has worked CAS for almost everything we have.

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Not true. A-10s got chewed up by anti-air in the Gulf War and we've been spoiled by enjoying 14 years of uncontested airspace because there was little to nothing that the Taliban had in Afghanistan. But ISIS does have anti-air capabilities and A-10s are no longer being sent into Syria for this very reason. A-10s were delayed from operating in Libya until day 8/9 of operations there due to the ground fire threat. Only six A-10s were deployed and they flow sorties on only 4 days out of 12 of Odyssey Dawn. The bulk of the workload was performed by F-16s, F-15Es, B-1B, F/A-18s, Harriers, Mirage 2000, Tornado and a ****load of tankers

Libya and Syria are not examples of close air support. There is little the A-10 can do in those environments that a B-1 can't do. The game changes when there is a ground fight and you have to support friendly troops. The F-16s, F-15s, F/A-18s, B-1s, etc can all do CAS with PGMs if you have a perfect picture of where everyone is, but when it gets really nasty you want that A-10 gun. After watching Mirages drop bombs on fixed targets I wouldn't trust it for CAS at all.

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IIRC, LITENING's still being used on F/A-18s and Harriers. IDK what the Navy/Marine Corps plans are for LITENING or any follow on pods. A-10s were still using it in OEF, so there's a mix of Sniper and LITENING out there.

Back in 2011(?) the FL ANG mounted some Sniper pods on the centerline of some of their F-15s to test it out as a "poor man's IRST." It didn't go fleet wide and now LM is pushing a larger, self contained IRST pod for F-15s and F-16s.

Thanks Trigger. Could have sworn I read somewhere that one of these pods had an A2A mode (or maybe not a dedicated A2A mode but could be used to lock onto some airborne targets. Maybe it was something that wasn't supposed to be discussed in prime time?

With regard to the pod-mounted IRST, Boeing is doing the same for the SH, using the awkward solution of mounting the gear in the nose of a centerline fuel tank. These solutions seem to be a poor compromise. Not sure about LM's pod but I'd be certain that the one BA is pushing for the Hornet will have a significant impact on performance (unless of course, the pilot opts to jettison a million dollars worth of electronics along with the fuel tank). It's too bad they can't find room to install this gear internally put I'm sure available interior space is probably non-existent on these jets

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Fascinating forum on this controversial aircraft (F-35). There is stuff all over the internet as to how good or not so good F-35 is or may be. But looking at the RCAF and our needs to replace our CF-18's leads me to worry and think.

I have read that RCAF/DnD says our CF-18'swill be operational until 2025. But what does that mean? I've read how many of our CF-18's have now been G limited to reduce any higher G maneuvering and as result for example the CF-18s we sent as a political move to the Baltic states last year to fly Combat Air Patrols to save the Baltic states from the evils of Putin (not and was just idiot talk by world leaders) have been withdrawn because of the limited G ratings on them. I have no idea if and or how much of this info about our CF-18s is currently true. But I do know this, they are and have been great combat aircraft, not just for RCAF but the USN/USMC and other air forces. But they are geriatrics now and I worry that our CF-18 fleet will be mostly nonoperational before 2025. I guess the RCAF may be able to keep what 5-10-15 that can then still fly by then, up to shadow Russian Bear's up north just outside our air space and as such will be fine. It won't take much maneuvering to keep a gun sight on a Bear. But after that our RCAF will no longer be a combat ready air force and since most conflict which uses air power are today mostly political and stupidly political at that, Canada will then have even a lesser voice in said affairs than we have today and ours is that of a mouse. Currently one crying "LOOK AT ME ROAR!"

We can fly them to 2025 with little problem: we have our own airframe regeneration capability, so there isn't really an air safety issue. Past that gets dicey. Selecting the F-35 in the next year will allow us to convert fully by 2025, if not earlier if we desire it.

So how long will our government and DnD take to make a choice for our next fighter? What should we go with? How soon may such a new steed fill the RCAF's airbases?

Well, we should probably chose the aircraft that the Government has selected twice through detailed analysis: the same aircraft that was seen to be lowest cost, most capable and with the highest industrial benefit. I suspect the choice for the F-35 will be made fairly quickly after the election, due to contractual considerations with DoD's three year block buy.

I fear if we go F-35 we won't see our first one until well after 2020, and we only plan to buy 65 or IMO with our silly politics I bet we buy even fewer oh maybe 35-40. I have grown to have ZERO faith in any government in Ottawa, regardless of party making the right and most appropriate choice to keep the RCAF combat capable for the next 40+ years. Now I feel that the RCAF could probably get F-18E/F Super Hornets in latest blocks painted in our markings, and ready to serve our needs probably within 2-3 years and I feel that the RACF could build a CF-18E/F force structure of more than 65 Super Hornet air frames. I can picture (and look I'm no expert but just a military aircraft buff) Canada buying of say 48 CF-18E, 16 CF-18F and to round out operational abilities add 16 ECF-18G, plus add 6-8 spares. This force structure will give us more than enough air frames for our basic NORAD needs and an ability to send aircraft for expeditionary/NATO needs.

And the cost of that would probably be in the 11~12 billion dollar range: approximately 90 million to 110 million for growlers: significantly more than what we would pay for the F-35 at 85 million. We would also incur additional operational cost: we would need to fly more training flights than with the F-35, while being responsible for much of its survivability upgrades after 2030 when the USN starts withdrawing the type from operational service, only a decade after we put it into service.

As for stealth, well lets look at how Canada will likely use these aircraft. Canada is not likely to send combat aircraft to conflict without US forces. So our detachment to any order of battle will be only a minor addition, but a political one that will give our government of the day a voice in the situation at hand. By mixing CF-18E with F's and ECF-18G will give our pilots a strong force protection, a full combat air v. air and air v. ground ability and to inter-operate fully with US and other Nato forces. The need for stealthiness for the RCAF is not as high as it may be for USAF/USN/USMC. As for our NORAD role stealth is not needed as any potential adversary will not likely be using front line or even 5th. gen. fighters to invade our air space. Our Norad role will be to intercept and shadow Russian bombers on the edge of our air space and not likely any other nations. You really don't need an F-35 to intercept a bomber nor to shoot it down if need be.

Except that we participated in what amounted to 21st century gunboat diplomacy on the border of Russia just last year in the deployment to Romania and the Baltic air policing mission. From what I've heard, the pilots were made quite aware of the threat they faced. The Syrian government has advanced AD that requires the use of the F-22 in a number of cases. The reality however is that stealth isn't what makes the F-35 valuable: its the sensor fusion capability, which draws together information from onboard and off-board sensors and provides a comprehensive view of the battlefield. ITs the way that we in the west want to fight future wars, and no other aircraft available offers that capability. Those sensors are also extremely valuable for operating in the north: one aircraft can cover a far wider territory with their sensors. We may also have to face advanced Russian warships in the north, and that will require the F-35's capabilities as well.

The F-35 may or may not be a better aircraft, who knows with all the stuff pro and con on it. But from how I feel about Canada's government and it matters not what party is in power, we will probably go cheaper than need be and may need to be required. Again IMO 65 F-35 are too few for 40+ years of RCAF service. Again I bet if we go F-35 we don't by more than 36-40 F-35 when its all done as such and then why bother? We can buy more Super Hornets,and start to get them in service if we don't wait much longer probably before 2018-2019, then phase out our older CF-18's more quickly or keep a few better conditioned ones in reserve squadron status for Norad roles.

No no, its pretty clear that the F-35 is a much much superior aircraft. Here's a video by a current F-35 pilot with 2000 hours of experience on the F/A-18 and time on the F-22. Just watch the first 20 minutes of it, and you'll start to understand the disparity in capabilities between the F/A-18E and other options.

There is little commonality between the CF-18s (basically upgraded A versions) and Block II or III F/A-18E/Fs. The transition would take just as much time.

The RCAF will be fully combat capable for Norad and Nato needs for 40 or more years then.

On the contrary, we'd be stuck with an aircraft that will be increasingly be relegated to a secondary role in the 2025s. Both Australia the USN will have large fleets of F-35s to provide their main capability.

Plus the RCAF will have commonality with legacy CF-18's. Costs of maintenance will probably be lower than F-35. Twin seaters for training first and for combat roles that will require the back seater is a benefit over the F-35. BTW Super Hornet have air to air refueling to use our drogue fueling of our CC-150 and CC-130 tankers as well as can employ F-18E/F as a buddy tankers. Going F-35 means IMO that Canada will probably be out of the tanking of our own combat aircraft. RCAF will then use USAF/USN tankers for most of our Norad plus all of Nato/expeditionary roles.

Drogue is less valuable for us than boom, especially for NORAD missions. USAF is our primary tanking provider and they use boom. Moreover the F-35 has better range than all of the options, which diminishes the need for tanking assets in the north.

But my most pessimistic feeling and I hope it's wrong, is that our government will drag the crap out of all of this next fighter stuff and run out of time on our CF-18's. That, as well as knowing Canadian politics and IMO add a dose of Canadian society ignorance, remember all too many of us Canucks believe we are only peace keepers to ploy us out of having a combat aircraft role. Funnily or more so sadly seeing us then have to pay the USAF to detach a sqd. of USAF fighters to CFB Cold Lake and another to CFB Baggotville to do our air space protection. Oh but, but, our government will say that these USAF fighters will be under our command. They will say costs will be cheaper and that these USAF sqds will be like having our own RCAF ones. BUT NO, IT WOULD NOT! They will still be USAF assets first and we will have less of a political voice. Does what I say sound strange? YES! but with this nation's politics, it would not surprise me.

Please don't take this personally, but there are a lot of good intentioned people who write posts similar to yours that pushes alternatives using (what seems) to be reasonable views. However they really don't bear up to scrutiny. Our government made the right choice right from the beginning. The process was slightly unconventional, but it they got it right, while arguments like this only serve to muddy the waters. The best option, bar none, is the F-35, yet our politics have basically demonized that choice for political reasons, partly because it plays to a latent anti-americanism and militarism that exists within our society.

Edited by -Neu-
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A couple of things that I forgot to mention earlier were systems such as ROVER. Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER) is a system which allows ground forces, such as JTACs, to see what an aircraft or UAV is seeing in real time by receiving images acquired by the aircraft's sensors on a laptop on the ground. There's little time delay and usage of ROVER has greatly improved the JTACs effectiveness in spotting targets and coordinating attacks. Both the LITENING II and Sniper pods are ROVER compatible. With ROVER, the aircraft doesn't have to be down low to spot the targets; the JTACs does that. ROVER first came about in 2002 and has evolved ever since then. And since any aircraft that carries a LITENING II or Sniper pod can interface with ROVER, that makes those aircraft a potential CAS-provider, be it an flight of four A-10Cs making gun passes or a single B-1B loitering over an area for hours, dropping JDAMs on demand.

And more recently, the Marines and DARPA have been working on Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS). During a test in March, Marines and engineers married the air and ground components, testing a tablet’s application used by a ground-based joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) who could directly link to a test missile in an aircraft. The JTAC digitally passed the nine-line grid coordinate, and it went from his tablet when he hit send, straight to the missile. The demonstration marked the first successful integration of the automated, digital, real-time coordination capability from a ground controller to a weapons safety officer sitting in the back of an MV-22 Osprey and simultaneously transmitted to a missile system. The JTAC communicated the position of a target to the PCAS-Air module inside the MV-22, which fired a nonexplosive, specially mounted Griffin missile—a tube-launched, precision-guided munition—from 4.5 miles away and hit its target. The total lapsed time was four minutes. Don't be surprised to see something like it go DoD-wide like ROVER did.

Thanks Trigger. Could have sworn I read somewhere that one of these pods had an A2A mode (or maybe not a dedicated A2A mode but could be used to lock onto some airborne targets. Maybe it was something that wasn't supposed to be discussed in prime time?

With regard to the pod-mounted IRST, Boeing is doing the same for the SH, using the awkward solution of mounting the gear in the nose of a centerline fuel tank. These solutions seem to be a poor compromise. Not sure about LM's pod but I'd be certain that the one BA is pushing for the Hornet will have a significant impact on performance (unless of course, the pilot opts to jettison a million dollars worth of electronics along with the fuel tank). It's too bad they can't find room to install this gear internally put I'm sure available interior space is probably non-existent on these jets

IDK how much testing was done with Sniper outside of the FL ANG, or how effective it was. Northrop-Grumman announced this past June the "OpenPod™ IRST and OpenPod™ Targeting" pod based on LITENING that they're trying to market:

hero_openpod.jpg

Opening a world of mission flexibility

Transformational system to offer affordable sensor swaps and infrared search and track capability (IRST)

The OpenPod™ system consists of line-replaceable units and a set of interchangeable sensors that can be swapped out in minutes. Enabled by open architecture principles, the OpenPod™ is the first of its kind to accommodate a range of sensors with one pod.

IRST and targeting capabilities

OpenPod™ will be available with targeting and infrared search and track (IRST) packages at launch, followed by communications, LIDAR, 5th-to-4th generation communications and other options in in the future. Because the pod allows for sensor changes without modifications to the aircraft or mission computer, OpenPod™ can always be upgraded independent of the aircraft. That allows for more rapid and affordable upgrades and integration of new technologies.

OpenPod™ is the next step in sensor evolution for users of the AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING family of advanced targeting systems. Any LITENING pod can be converted to an OpenPod™, so operators can take full advantage of their existing investments, training and operational experience.

I've seen the Boeing IRST-in-a-tank and had a similar reaction. Earlier I pointed out that an F-16 with intake pods was g-limited and couldn't jettison said pods. I'm sure an intake mounted IRST pod from either LM or NG would have similar performance penalties.

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Of course any aircraft is capable, that wasn't my point. I have seen situations where the only weapon we could employ was 30mm cannon, due to distance between enemy and friendly forces. We couldn't employ a bomb because of fratricide concerns, but we could use the A-10 gun.

But like I said, I'm just an Army guy that has worked CAS for almost everything we have.

And only the 30MM from the A-10 can be used when the enemy is too close for bombs? There can't be other cannon equipped aircraft that can do this?

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Thanks for your thorough reply Neu.

In response I guess I just have little faith in Canada's government and no it's not political as it matters not to me which party may be in power they are all known for going way too bureaucratic and initially cheap on any such decisions for our military. If DnD/RCAF goes F-35 for a multi-role combat aircraft to replace CF-18's, to serve for 40+ years to be able to be ready to cover the airspace of the 2nd largest physical nation on Earth as well as provide assets for any future expeditionary/NATO roll will 65 be enough? I don't think 65 aircraft are enough. Yeah, I'm sure bureaucrats and upper decision makers in Ottawa and at DnD will state they see 65 as being enough. But IMO 65 was chosen more to fit inside a budget cap that the politicians hoped most Canadian will swallow. However given the boondoggle of the 2012 decision process that then stalled our programme to replace the CF-18, my gut tells me and it's only my gut so don't flame me if anyone disagrees with me that the next government will slip an F-35 purchase by with them agreeing to buy fewer, and oh what maybe 40 air frames.

Call me jaded but if the RCAF is to have a fully functional and for Canadian airspace a fully independent (by which RCAF combat aircraft do the covering) ability to cover it from coast to coast to coast as well as to be able to offer sufficient air power to make our involvement in any future conflict relevant, that 65 aircraft are to just few especially for 40+ years of service and in a world that seems pock marked in proxy conflicts and fear of such all over the place. I worry Canada will only buy fewer as a political decision.

75 or so CF-18s with all they have to do, with down time for servicing and such IMO are already too few to allow Canada to be able to not just provide air space cover for our NORAD roll but to be able to be available in any credible numbers that we need for any expeditionary rolls and as such our voice in said rolls politically and diplomatically will be even more muted. I say credible as in reality we will only deploy with the US/NATO and really the US does not need the handful of RCAF combat aircraft (though I'm sure they appreciate the diplomatic, political and moral support having Canada on board may be). But if Canada's government wants a more credible roll diplomatically and politically in any hot zones and/or conflicts in the future we will have more if we can truly commit to anything militarily. Of course this is all only my 2 cents as a sideline coach. But as a fan of our military and its history as well as a buff on Canada's political history, I just feel this way.

I just think that even for the 65 F-35 if we go that way, we need more, at least 80 as a 1:1 replacement to the 80 CF-18's that we MLU'd over the last decade. 40+ years is a longtime and lots of world events can happen, given our airspace size as such, attrition, servicing down time, possible losses in possible future conflicts, 65 F-35's if we go that way just does not add up to me. Hell, even going 80 is a stretch for my gut. If we cheap out more and go fewer than 65 then we basically sell out the RCAF as a true credible air combat platform for NORAD and NATO needs. Meh who knows? I sound like a whiner LOL! I'll keep watching as our political decision comes forth.

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And only the 30MM from the A-10 can be used when the enemy is too close for bombs? There can't be other cannon equipped aircraft that can do this?

Sure another cannon equipped aircraft could, big difference between A-10 30mm and F-16 or F-15 20mm though. Certainly not the F-35 with a whole 180 rounds. I've seen A-10s expend nearly all their ammo in a fight, how effective would the F-35 be in the same role?

Then there is still pilot experience, how often do F-16, F-15, or in a few years F-35 pilots train on engaging ground targets with their cannon.

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Thanks for your thorough reply Neu.

In response I guess I just have little faith in Canada's government and no it's not political as it matters not to me which party may be in power they are all known for going way too bureaucratic and initially cheap on any such decisions for our military. If DnD/RCAF goes F-35 for a multi-role combat aircraft to replace CF-18's, to serve for 40+ years to be able to be ready to cover the airspace of the 2nd largest physical nation on Earth as well as provide assets for any future expeditionary/NATO roll will 65 be enough? I don't think 65 aircraft are enough. Yeah, I'm sure bureaucrats and upper decision makers in Ottawa and at DnD will state they see 65 as being enough. But IMO 65 was chosen more to fit inside a budget cap that the politicians hoped most Canadian will swallow. However given the boondoggle of the 2012 decision process that then stalled our programme to replace the CF-18, my gut tells me and it's only my gut so don't flame me if anyone disagrees with me that the next government will slip an F-35 purchase by with them agreeing to buy fewer, and oh what maybe 40 air frames.

Call me jaded but if the RCAF is to have a fully functional and for Canadian airspace a fully independent (by which RCAF combat aircraft do the covering) ability to cover it from coast to coast to coast as well as to be able to offer sufficient air power to make our involvement in any future conflict relevant, that 65 aircraft are to just few especially for 40+ years of service and in a world that seems pock marked in proxy conflicts and fear of such all over the place. I worry Canada will only buy fewer as a political decision.

75 or so CF-18s with all they have to do, with down time for servicing and such IMO are already too few to allow Canada to be able to not just provide air space cover for our NORAD roll but to be able to be available in any credible numbers that we need for any expeditionary rolls and as such our voice in said rolls politically and diplomatically will be even more muted. I say credible as in reality we will only deploy with the US/NATO and really the US does not need the handful of RCAF combat aircraft (though I'm sure they appreciate the diplomatic, political and moral support having Canada on board may be). But if Canada's government wants a more credible roll diplomatically and politically in any hot zones and/or conflicts in the future we will have more if we can truly commit to anything militarily. Of course this is all only my 2 cents as a sideline coach. But as a fan of our military and its history as well as a buff on Canada's political history, I just feel this way.

I just think that even for the 65 F-35 if we go that way, we need more, at least 80 as a 1:1 replacement to the 80 CF-18's that we MLU'd over the last decade. 40+ years is a longtime and lots of world events can happen, given our airspace size as such, attrition, servicing down time, possible losses in possible future conflicts, 65 F-35's if we go that way just does not add up to me. Hell, even going 80 is a stretch for my gut. If we cheap out more and go fewer than 65 then we basically sell out the RCAF as a true credible air combat platform for NORAD and NATO needs. Meh who knows? I sound like a whiner LOL! I'll keep watching as our political decision comes forth.

If you want more aircraft then the F-35 is an even bigger no brained for the RCAF since it will be in production until at least 2037. The super hornet is likely to be OOP in the next few years or less along with the EF typhoon.

I'm not saying canada will buy more than 65, but if you ever want at least a shot at such in 10 or 15 years of buying more, there is only one choice-- F-35

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If you want more aircraft then the F-35 is an even bigger no brained for the RCAF since it will be in production until at least 2037. The super hornet is likely to be OOP in the next few years or less along with the EF typhoon.

I'm not saying canada will buy more than 65, but if you ever want at least a shot at such in 10 or 15 years of buying more, there is only one choice-- F-35

Good point. If Canada goes F-35 and initially cheap out on it as I feel our government may do (regardless of party), if need be Canada could contract for extra air frames as years pass by. I guess if Canada goes with say 65 or I hope a few more, it could be written so that we may be able to replace aircraft lost due to attrition and or possible combat on say a 1:1 basis to keep us at at minimum 65. I doubt we will do this though. :rolleyes:

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1. if its G-loading capability is less than a 4th gen fighter, how does it dogfight

Take a look at what a modern missile combined with helmet cueing can do:

Hits on aircraft to the sides, in the rear quarter, and on a constantly perpendicular course. Comparing modern missile performance to what happened in the 1970's is like comparing modern cell phones to those brick things we had in the 1980's.

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Thanks for your thorough reply Neu.

In response I guess I just have little faith in Canada's government and no it's not political as it matters not to me which party may be in power they are all known for going way too bureaucratic and initially cheap on any such decisions for our military. If DnD/RCAF goes F-35 for a multi-role combat aircraft to replace CF-18's, to serve for 40+ years to be able to be ready to cover the airspace of the 2nd largest physical nation on Earth as well as provide assets for any future expeditionary/NATO roll will 65 be enough? I don't think 65 aircraft are enough. Yeah, I'm sure bureaucrats and upper decision makers in Ottawa and at DnD will state they see 65 as being enough. But IMO 65 was chosen more to fit inside a budget cap that the politicians hoped most Canadian will swallow. However given the boondoggle of the 2012 decision process that then stalled our programme to replace the CF-18, my gut tells me and it's only my gut so don't flame me if anyone disagrees with me that the next government will slip an F-35 purchase by with them agreeing to buy fewer, and oh what maybe 40 air frames.

Yes, 65 was in part decided upon to meet a government funding cap. However, all of the other legitimate options cost more (or significantly more), while the F-35 remains within the 9 billion acquisitions cap. the Opposition leaders are well aware of this: notice the distinct lack of discussion of this topic, despite all the hay it once engendered.

Call me jaded but if the RCAF is to have a fully functional and for Canadian airspace a fully independent (by which RCAF combat aircraft do the covering) ability to cover it from coast to coast to coast as well as to be able to offer sufficient air power to make our involvement in any future conflict relevant, that 65 aircraft are to just few especially for 40+ years of service and in a world that seems pock marked in proxy conflicts and fear of such all over the place. I worry Canada will only buy fewer as a political decision.

75 or so CF-18s with all they have to do, with down time for servicing and such IMO are already too few to allow Canada to be able to not just provide air space cover for our NORAD roll but to be able to be available in any credible numbers that we need for any expeditionary rolls and as such our voice in said rolls politically and diplomatically will be even more muted. I say credible as in reality we will only deploy with the US/NATO and really the US does not need the handful of RCAF combat aircraft (though I'm sure they appreciate the diplomatic, political and moral support having Canada on board may be). But if Canada's government wants a more credible roll diplomatically and politically in any hot zones and/or conflicts in the future we will have more if we can truly commit to anything militarily. Of course this is all only my 2 cents as a sideline coach. But as a fan of our military and its history as well as a buff on Canada's political history, I just feel this way.

I just think that even for the 65 F-35 if we go that way, we need more, at least 80 as a 1:1 replacement to the 80 CF-18's that we MLU'd over the last decade. 40+ years is a longtime and lots of world events can happen, given our airspace size as such, attrition, servicing down time, possible losses in possible future conflicts, 65 F-35's if we go that way just does not add up to me. Hell, even going 80 is a stretch for my gut. If we cheap out more and go fewer than 65 then we basically sell out the RCAF as a true credible air combat platform for NORAD and NATO needs. Meh who knows? I sound like a whiner LOL! I'll keep watching as our political decision comes forth.

See, that's the wrong assertion. F-35s are most certainly not 1:1 replacements for CF-18s. They are much more capable on an aircraft to aircraft basis, so you require less aircraft to do the same task as you once did. Another way to look at it is that we would need more F/A-18Es to do the same job as an F-35. I'll break it down in plane numbers, but be aware, that isn't our problem: its personnel.

So you have 75 CF-18s (I think the actual is 78 right now.) 20 or so are in maintenence in some form. Then you have 5~10 used for training. Then most of the aircraft are kept at lower availability, except for the ones that are on alert. F-35 has a much different maintenence system: you specify the level of availability, and go from there. The contractor takes care of the heavy maintenence and helps to coordinate the mid-level stuff. This is much more in line with how MRO is conducted for modern day airliners. So lets say you chose 85% availability of, you'll have 55 available at all times. Then we won't have 410 under the current system, we'll use a lot of simulators for Conversion training, and "operational training" will be done either in cold lake, or organically at the squadrons. So right off the bat, you'll have 55 aircraft available for ops, rather than 25 or so on 72 hours notice to move and less than 20 on "alert."

But airframes are really not the problem: it is a lack of personnel. We can sustain what we have because we have just enough individuals to support our aircraft both in the field and at home. We really only have the ability to deploy one six-pack in the field for an extended period of time: anymore and we quickly reach our manpower limits. IF the funding levels remain where they are, we'll have more personnel available to operate our aircraft, and it will take less personnel to sustain what we have.

Its a much better and smarter way to manage our aircraft capabilities, than the 80s and early 90s era system that we currently employ.

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Big difference between A-10 30mm and F-16 or F-15 20mm though.

Against anything but a tank, how so?

Certainly not the F-35 with a whole 180 rounds. I've seen A-10s expend nearly all their ammo in a fight, how effective would the F-35 be in the same role?

GAU-8-vs-GAU-22-Snapshot.jpg

F-35 optimal attack profile with GAU-22 vs. A-10 Optimal Attack Profile. F-35 rounds per square meter density is approximately double A-10's even at a much longer, safer range.

Sure, the GAU-8 has more rounds; it has to because of how many of them don't hit the target. Remember, the GAU-8 was designed to spray DU rounds at 60s-era Soviet tanks, not to be a surgical tool. So while the GAU-22 doesn't carry as many rounds, the rounds it fires have a higher probability of hitting their target.

Then there is still pilot experience, how often do F-16, F-15, or in a few years F-35 pilots train on engaging ground targets with their cannon.

As for experience; I know that F-15E crews at Seymour Johnson AFB - literally - wrote the book on nocturnal gun attacks with the F-15E and made it part of their training curriculum.

Regarding pilot experience - that's the key takeaway here, more so than the actual aircraft. Sooner or later, one way or another, the A-10 WILL go away. It is as inevitable as death, taxes, gravity or a Moai demanding a Tastykake. Cry all you want, they're not making any more. Right now we've got pilots with combat experience in the A-10. It makes more sense to get as many of those men and women into the training pipeline for the F-35 now, so that they can disseminate that knowledge into the community and training curriculum now, because if you screw around until the A-10s are gone, those pilots will have retired out, taking that experience with them.

Of course, that assumes that the next war will be the last war.

In 2013, Vice-Chairman of the Joint Staff Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld raised the most hackles among the serving and retired officers gathered at the headquarters of the powerful Association of the US Army when he said the nation would probably not need an Army-sized force to do any large-scale, long-duration ground operations. The admiral did not only downplay the possibility of prolonged counterinsurgencies like Afghanistan, Iraq, or Vietnam, although he certainly emphasized the decline of COIN: He raised doubt about long wars of any kind.

“I’m talking about a national commitment on a large scale to a long-term combat operation,” Winnefeld said when a skeptical soldier pressed him on the point during the question-and-answer session. “We just don’t see that happening in the near future. But we do need to hedge that bet by keeping enough capacity in case that’s wrong.”

“Marty (General Martin Dempsey, US Army and current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and I both would say that the nation needs to keep the capacity to defeat another nation on the ground… if nothing more than as a deterrent, but we don’t see that as being a long fight. We can’t afford it,” he went.

“I simply don’t know where the security interests of our nation are threatened enough to cause us to cause us to lead a future major, extended COIN campaign,” he continued, “though we were very well might provide support to a nation fighting its own COIN campaign, as we continue to do today in Colombia.”

“The President himself made it clear in his Defense Strategic Guidance that we will retain some capability for COIN, but only on a limited scale.”

We're really, really good at taking down nation-states. Desert Storm, Noble Anvil, Odyssey Dawn...we've gotten really good at stopping/disabling a nation-state's ability to wage war. What we suck at, what we - as a nation - don't have the tolerance for, are long, drawn out quagmires such as Vietnam or Afghanistan. COINs take years, if not decades to win (if at all; historically the odds favor the insurgents) and airpower has very little to do with the outcome.

Regarding procurement, we buy aircraft based on the threat environment and the National Security Strategy, which is released by the President and serves as the source document for all military and force structure planning reveals the emphasis point: "Advance our rebalance to Asia and the Pacific"] and "Ensure access to the global commons of cyber, space, air, and maritime environs." The Quadrenniel Defense Review, National Defense Strategy, and National Military Strategy all build from the guidance in the National Security Strategy.

From the QDR:

"
Air/Sea

We will continue to invest in combat aircraft, including fighters and long-range strike, survivable persistent surveillance, resilient architectures, and undersea warfare to increase the Joint Force’s ability to counter A2/AD challenges"

That's the guidance the AF has to plan it's force with.

Also from the QDR:

"Maintaining an Air Force with global power projection capabilities crucial for this updated defense strategy.
We will modernize next-generation Air Force combat equipment – including fighters and bombers – particularly against advancing modern air defense systems
. To free resources for these programs as well as to preserve investments in critical capabilities, the Air Force will reduce or eliminate capacity in some single-mission aviation platforms. If sequestration-level cuts are imposed in FY2016 and beyond, the Air Force would have to retire 80 more aircraft, slow down purchases of the Joint Strike Fighter, and make other difficult adjustments."

Finally, the NMS outlines this gem:

"
Balancing for a broad spectrum of conflict.

Future conflicts could range from hybrid contingencies against proxy groups using asymmetric approaches, to a high-end conflict against a state power armed with WMD or technologically advanced anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities. Reflecting this diverse range of challenges, the
U.S. military will shift focus in terms of what kinds of conflicts it prepares for in the future, moving toward greater emphasis on the full spectrum of possible operations
"

That's directive guidance from DoD and the JCS, not some bull***t made up by the conspiratorial fighter mafia who "hate the A-10." It is FAR easier to utilize a high-threat capable aircraft for a low threat environment, but you can't enable a low-threat capable aircraft for a high threat environment. And when you're facing a budget sequestration, 40-year old, limited-mission aircraft have a very, very, very difficult time being justified.

Aside from the Pacific Tilt, we're seeing aggression and provocation from Russia again. NATO is conducting more interceptions and we're deploying aircraft close to Russia's borders (more to show our allies that we're there for them than to send a message to Moscow). Even the US Army has even started repainting its vehicles back into the NATO green/black/brown from the desert tan and the 2nd Cavalry Regiment wants 81 of its eight-wheel-drive Stryker infantry carrier vehicles fitted with 30mm automatic cannon, more than twice the caliber of the 12.7mm guns those Strykers currently mount. It’s actually a bigger weapon than the notoriously destructive 25mm chaingun on the much heavier M2 Bradley infantry carrier.

The bigger question: Will the Army stop at upgrading 81 vehicles in Europe, or will it eventually seek funding to install the 30 mm weapons on Strykers in other theaters such as the Pacific? The memo pledges that the powerful Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) will study “potential application… across the broader Stryker force.” With the national strategy emphasizing crisis response and “expeditionary” forces, the Army is increasingly looking for armored vehicles light enough to rapidly deploy by air — but still heavily armed enough to fight on arrival.

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Against anything but a tank, how so?

I think someone earlier in the thread said that 20mm don't have enough explosive/shrapnel effect to hurt humans that the rounds don't directly impact. But that's why the F-35 uses 25mm.

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Right now we've got pilots with combat experience in the A-10. It makes more sense to get as many of those men and women into the training pipeline for the F-35 now, so that they can disseminate that knowledge into the community and training curriculum now, because if you screw around until the A-10s are gone, those pilots will have retired out, taking that experience with them.

And if the Air Force stays with current manning models, they will toss out all the experienced A-10 pilots. Just like they did with the F-15 pilots when they were downsized. The AF believes without exception 3 Lts are cheaper and make up for one Lt Col. Seriously, they won't waste money cross training a mid career guy when they can grow a new one.

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Comparing modern missile performance to what happened in the 1970's is like comparing modern cell phones to those brick things we had in the 1980's.

Don't tell that to Pierre Sprey.

Regards,

Murph

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Another good reply Neu,

I realize F-35 in service would be used differently than the way it was with CF-18 just as the CF-18 was used differently than the combined CF-101, CF-104, CF-5 were back in the day. I just wonder about attrition. I doubt over 40 years with factoring human error crashes, technology/mechanical crashes, tiring of air frames and the possible loss of ferry to and from conflicts as well as possible/probable losses in any real conflict as we have no idea what such conflicts may be over 40 years that the RCAF will still have 65 F-35 on its order of service/battle sheets. I wonder what may be in terms of dealing with attrition? What if in 20 years which will be half of F-35's life cycle the RCAF have lost 10-12-15-20 for all sorts of reasons? How few will it be before the RCAF as an air combat platform would essentially be out of the air combat arena? I ask because I don't know. I mean the CF-18's are 30+ years old now. I believe that when we MLU'd them in early 2000's that at the time we had 102 in original shape and upgraded 80 of our best ones. Since we bought 137 from 1983-1988 that means that we attritioned out 42% of our CF-18's and that is known that the F-18 has proven in US and international service to be an excellent airplane for durability and availability. Lets assume that we lose about 1/3rd at best of our F-35's over 25-30 years if we do not replace this attrition we may only have 40 or so left. How few may too few to matter?

As to personnel, well if Canada wants a fully functional and diversified armed forces (air,sea and land) it MUST budget to have and keep such. Half-assed measures never give one true value to dollars spent.

Edited by Gordon Shumway
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A couple of things that I forgot to mention earlier were systems such as ROVER. Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER) is a system which allows ground forces, such as JTACs, to see what an aircraft or UAV is seeing in real time by receiving images acquired by the aircraft's sensors on a laptop on the ground. There's little time delay and usage of ROVER has greatly improved the JTACs effectiveness in spotting targets and coordinating attacks. Both the LITENING II and Sniper pods are ROVER compatible. With ROVER, the aircraft doesn't have to be down low to spot the targets; the JTACs does that. ROVER first came about in 2002 and has evolved ever since then. And since any aircraft that carries a LITENING II or Sniper pod can interface with ROVER, that makes those aircraft a potential CAS-provider, be it an flight of four A-10Cs making gun passes or a single B-1B loitering over an area for hours, dropping JDAMs on demand.

And more recently, the Marines and DARPA have been working on Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS). During a test in March, Marines and engineers married the air and ground components, testing a tablet’s application used by a ground-based joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) who could directly link to a test missile in an aircraft. The JTAC digitally passed the nine-line grid coordinate, and it went from his tablet when he hit send, straight to the missile. The demonstration marked the first successful integration of the automated, digital, real-time coordination capability from a ground controller to a weapons safety officer sitting in the back of an MV-22 Osprey and simultaneously transmitted to a missile system. The JTAC communicated the position of a target to the PCAS-Air module inside the MV-22, which fired a nonexplosive, specially mounted Griffin missile—a tube-launched, precision-guided munition—from 4.5 miles away and hit its target. The total lapsed time was four minutes. Don't be surprised to see something like it go DoD-wide like ROVER did.

Most maneuver elements do not have any of what you listed above. Of the units who have used various tacrovers and the full blown r2-d2 backpacks its been a mixed bag. Often times the pods or the rover would get an update making the system a heavy paperweight until the alo could get someone in the xcas stack who had systems that could sync. Of course, this isn't as big of an issue with small military, but big Army and big Marine you don't have those systems or specific personnel attached in sufficient numbers. Kilswitchs have been fielded down to regular maneuver Platoons and Squads...however, I think you're missing why they are used and when.

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Aside from the Pacific Tilt, we're seeing aggression and provocation from Russia again. NATO is conducting more interceptions and we're deploying aircraft close to Russia's borders (more to show our allies that we're there for them than to send a message to Moscow). Even the US Army has even started repainting its vehicles back into the NATO green/black/brown from the desert tan and the 2nd Cavalry Regiment wants 81 of its eight-wheel-drive Stryker infantry carrier vehicles fitted with 30mm automatic cannon, more than twice the caliber of the 12.7mm guns those Strykers currently mount. It’s actually a bigger weapon than the notoriously destructive 25mm chaingun on the much heavier M2 Bradley infantry carrier.

The bigger question: Will the Army stop at upgrading 81 vehicles in Europe, or will it eventually seek funding to install the 30 mm weapons on Strykers in other theaters such as the Pacific? The memo pledges that the powerful Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) will study “potential application… across the broader Stryker force.” With the national strategy emphasizing crisis response and “expeditionary” forces, the Army is increasingly looking for armored vehicles light enough to rapidly deploy by air — but still heavily armed enough to fight on arrival.

2CR has been trying to get that 30mm gun on its Stryker since 2013 right before they deployed to RC-S and the repaint isn't to hide from the Russians, it's peace of mind to our allies who are not so sure. Whoever you pulled this from didn't do their homework.

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2CR has been trying to get that 30mm gun on its Stryker since 2013 right before they deployed to RC-S and the repaint isn't to hide from the Russians, it's peace of mind to our allies who are not so sure. Whoever you pulled this from didn't do their homework.

Maybe it's to reassure our nervous allies but it also seems to be aimed at the Russians as well. From the Army Times:

Lt. Gen. Frederick "Ben" Hodges discussed the return to the woodland camouflage pattern for tanks and other armored vehicles during a Tuesday visit to Coleman Barracks in Manheim, Germany.

Hodges made the decision to repaint the inventory in early 2015, saying that "returning to the traditional European pattern clearly conveys to our NATO allies, our partners in the region, and to the Russians that U.S. Army forces ... are committed to the European Theater and our obligations of assurance and deterrence for the long term," the USAREUR email said.

One can state this this is nothing more than a PR move I suppose but I'd also suggest that given that tensions with Russia are rapidly heating up and we find US ground forces being deployed closer and closer to Russian territory (or what Russia considers to be its' spheres of influence), it would be slightly irresponsible to send troops potentially into harm's way in vehicles painted desert sand.

As far as the Stryker goes, the 30mm upgrade more than likely would have never happened if these vehicles were only being deployed to Afghanistan (despite the fact that they would probably be quite useful). I'd suggest that the only reason the Army is even considering the new gun is due to events occurring in Europe, where members of the military have openly stated that the Strykers were outgunned when compared to Russian infantry fighting vehicles. I believe that the commander of 2nd ACR was one of the people who touched on this:

The 30mm cannon requested for the Stryker is not meant to turn it into a tank or let it take on armored vehicles directly. It would, Meyer said, permit it to "destroy like-type vehicles," and clear the way for infantrymen on foot to use Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles on enemy armored vehicles. So unless the Taliban are now forming mechanized / armored divisions, it sounds like the impetus for the up-gunned Stryker lies in Europe, not in Afghanistan.

Edited by 11bee
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Against anything but a tank, how so?

F-35 optimal attack profile with GAU-22 vs. A-10 Optimal Attack Profile. F-35 rounds per square meter density is approximately double A-10's even at a much longer, safer range.

Sure, the GAU-8 has more rounds; it has to because of how many of them don't hit the target. Remember, the GAU-8 was designed to spray DU rounds at 60s-era Soviet tanks, not to be a surgical tool. So while the GAU-22 doesn't carry as many rounds, the rounds it fires have a higher probability of hitting their target.

As for experience; I know that F-15E crews at Seymour Johnson AFB - literally - wrote the book on nocturnal gun attacks with the F-15E and made it part of their training curriculum.

Regarding pilot experience - that's the key takeaway here, more so than the actual aircraft. Sooner or later, one way or another, the A-10 WILL go away. It is as inevitable as death, taxes, gravity or a Moai demanding a Tastykake. Cry all you want, they're not making any more. Right now we've got pilots with combat experience in the A-10. It makes more sense to get as many of those men and women into the training pipeline for the F-35 now, so that they can disseminate that knowledge into the community and training curriculum now, because if you screw around until the A-10s are gone, those pilots will have retired out, taking that experience with them.

Of course, that assumes that the next war will be the last war.

In 2013, Vice-Chairman of the Joint Staff Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld raised the most hackles among the serving and retired officers gathered at the headquarters of the powerful Association of the US Army when he said the nation would probably not need an Army-sized force to do any large-scale, long-duration ground operations. The admiral did not only downplay the possibility of prolonged counterinsurgencies like Afghanistan, Iraq, or Vietnam, although he certainly emphasized the decline of COIN: He raised doubt about long wars of any kind.

“I’m talking about a national commitment on a large scale to a long-term combat operation,” Winnefeld said when a skeptical soldier pressed him on the point during the question-and-answer session. “We just don’t see that happening in the near future. But we do need to hedge that bet by keeping enough capacity in case that’s wrong.”

“Marty (General Martin Dempsey, US Army and current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and I both would say that the nation needs to keep the capacity to defeat another nation on the ground… if nothing more than as a deterrent, but we don’t see that as being a long fight. We can’t afford it,” he went.

“I simply don’t know where the security interests of our nation are threatened enough to cause us to cause us to lead a future major, extended COIN campaign,” he continued, “though we were very well might provide support to a nation fighting its own COIN campaign, as we continue to do today in Colombia.”

“The President himself made it clear in his Defense Strategic Guidance that we will retain some capability for COIN, but only on a limited scale.”

We're really, really good at taking down nation-states. Desert Storm, Noble Anvil, Odyssey Dawn...we've gotten really good at stopping/disabling a nation-state's ability to wage war. What we suck at, what we - as a nation - don't have the tolerance for, are long, drawn out quagmires such as Vietnam or Afghanistan. COINs take years, if not decades to win (if at all; historically the odds favor the insurgents) and airpower has very little to do with the outcome.

Regarding procurement, we buy aircraft based on the threat environment and the National Security Strategy, which is released by the President and serves as the source document for all military and force structure planning reveals the emphasis point: "Advance our rebalance to Asia and the Pacific"] and "Ensure access to the global commons of cyber, space, air, and maritime environs." The Quadrenniel Defense Review, National Defense Strategy, and National Military Strategy all build from the guidance in the National Security Strategy.

From the QDR:

"
Air/Sea

We will continue to invest in combat aircraft, including fighters and long-range strike, survivable persistent surveillance, resilient architectures, and undersea warfare to increase the Joint Force’s ability to counter A2/AD challenges"

That's the guidance the AF has to plan it's force with.

Also from the QDR:

"Maintaining an Air Force with global power projection capabilities crucial for this updated defense strategy.
We will modernize next-generation Air Force combat equipment – including fighters and bombers – particularly against advancing modern air defense systems
. To free resources for these programs as well as to preserve investments in critical capabilities, the Air Force will reduce or eliminate capacity in some single-mission aviation platforms. If sequestration-level cuts are imposed in FY2016 and beyond, the Air Force would have to retire 80 more aircraft, slow down purchases of the Joint Strike Fighter, and make other difficult adjustments."

Finally, the NMS outlines this gem:

"
Balancing for a broad spectrum of conflict.

Future conflicts could range from hybrid contingencies against proxy groups using asymmetric approaches, to a high-end conflict against a state power armed with WMD or technologically advanced anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities. Reflecting this diverse range of challenges, the
U.S. military will shift focus in terms of what kinds of conflicts it prepares for in the future, moving toward greater emphasis on the full spectrum of possible operations
"

20mm and 30mm are as different as 5.56 and .50 cal. 30mm is 4 times the mass of 20mm and the lethal radius is greater. It takes a near direct hit to kill a person with 20mm, but get 30mm within 10 feet and it is game over.

As far as the next war being the last war I agree, but that leaves out the current war. Giving up a current capability while we are at war for a platform that won't be fully operational for several years is the epitome of stupid.

I am sure the F-35 will be a great airframe, but let's not think it can do everything as well as what it is supposed to replace. That is the risk the DoD and Air Force are taking with retiring the A-10. It is even more premature since the F-35 isn't close to being operational.

Your quote “though we were very well might provide support to a nation fighting its own COIN campaign, as we continue to do today in Colombia.” is from 2013, before ISIS. We aren't the troops out fighting ISIS, but we are here again and I think we certainly have to be prepared to be the ground force. Fighting ISIS isn't COIN as anyone would think of it though.

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GAU-8-vs-GAU-22-Snapshot.jpg

F-35 optimal attack profile with GAU-22 vs. A-10 Optimal Attack Profile. F-35 rounds per square meter density is approximately double A-10's even at a much longer, safer range.

This has nothing to do with the accuracy of the two guns and all to do with the strafing profile. The shallower the angle, the longer the "scatter pattern". If one gun was inherently more accurate than the other, would you not see a tighter lateral "scatter pattern"?

Is it truly the case that the A-10's optimal strafing angle is 30 degrees, while the F-35's is a steeper 45 degree angle? If so, I would say that could also be a disadvantage since I would assume, the F-35 is coming in faster, which gives the pilot less time to line up and take the shot. I also find it interesting that the chart shows the F-35 shooting from 2 kilometers further out than the A-10. Not sure why that is but assuming it is tactically required, would that not make the F-35's visually aimed cannon even less accurate?

Not trying to slag the good ole F-35, just trying to understand the reasons behind the two significantly different strafing modes.

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Maybe it's to reassure our nervous allies but it also seems to be aimed at the Russians as well. From the Army Times:

Russians don't care what color the paint is, they do care about the regions perception of the US and their commitment.

One can state this this is nothing more than a PR move I suppose but I'd also suggest that given that tensions with Russia are rapidly heating up and we find US ground forces being deployed closer and closer to Russian territory (or what Russia considers to be its' spheres of influence), it would be slightly irresponsible to send troops potentially into harm's way in vehicles painted desert sand.

I'd say an accelerated symbolic move that's been in the works for some time. Our focus in that region should be of solidarity. We would have much larger issues than several AR BNs roaming around in desert tan if there were to be an engagement.

As far as the Stryker goes, the 30mm upgrade more than likely would have never happened if these vehicles were only being deployed to Afghanistan (despite the fact that they would probably be quite useful). I'd suggest that the only reason the Army is even considering the new gun is due to events occurring in Europe, where members of the military have openly stated that the Strykers were outgunned when compared to Russian infantry fighting vehicles. I believe that the commander of 2nd ACR was one of the people who touched on this:

The 30mm cannon requested for the Stryker is not meant to turn it into a tank or let it take on armored vehicles directly. It would, Meyer said, permit it to "destroy like-type vehicles," and clear the way for infantrymen on foot to use Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles on enemy armored vehicles. So unless the Taliban are now forming mechanized / armored divisions, it sounds like the impetus for the up-gunned Stryker lies in Europe, not in Afghanistan.

The 30mm stabilized gun has been in the works for several years as an upgrade path for both the Bradley and Stryker beginning in FY19. It had nothing to do with current events or operations in OEF where the strykers were hardly used in the East and eventually were phased out of the south in favor of matvs/mraps. 2-2 didn't take them nor did 2CR who replaced them on their last deployment. COL Meyer is pushing for it because its a perfect opportunity to get it fast tracked and fielded bringing capability and flexibility lost with the 105. The politics on this are strong and you have to look at what happened several years with 2CR under COL Barclay's watch and big Army's fix by giving Command to COL Simms when 2CR was on the patch chart, and that's just one small side of this push for the new gun.

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