U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft face the threat of Man Portable Air Defense Systems in Iraq.
According to a report by Iraqi News, American A-10 were shot at with four Strela missiles during the recent air strikes carried out by the Warthogs (as the Thunderbolts are referred to by the pilot community) on ISIS positions near Mosul, in Iraq.
Based on reports by unnamed sources who witnessed the attack, the A-10s killed and wounded several terrorists but were also targeted by the ISIS militants who allegedly attempted to shoot down the U.S. planes fling at low altitude using 9K32 Strela-2 (NATO reporting name SA-7 Grail) man-portable, shoulder-fired, low-altitude, IR (infra-red) guided, surface-to-air missile systems.
Even though the Warthogs were not hit by the surface-to-air missiles, the episode seems to confirm that, flying at medium and low altitude and loitering over the battlefield, the A-10s deployed to Kuwait face the threat of MANPADS known to be in possession of Islamic State forces.
Still, the “Hog” is a tough plane, that has already shown its special ability to bring the pilot back to the homebase in spite of heavy damages by ground fire.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force
Well the Strela certainly isn’t an Igla-S or the new Verba which can easily shoot down an A-10
Responding to your two ))
Why set the altitude at 5000ft? Show me a modern fixed wing COMBAT aircraft that cruises at 5000ft with AG payload? By simply stating that you are purposely ( as I am seeing it ) fixing the outcome. Even A-10s do not cruise at that altitude ( as I understand it ).
I will stand by my comment that CAS is a mission and not a platform. I will agree that not all CAS missions are the same as well as a few other points. Yet when people constantly make the comment or argument that ,”Only the A-10 can provide proper CAS”, I feel they are being ignorant of the actual facts. There is a time to fly low and slow and there is a time to fly high. The problem is flying low and slow for fixed wing aircraft like the A-10 ( yes it is design specifically for that. I will leave dedicated attack helicopters out of this one because that is a debate of another type ) is that it exposes itself to more dangers i.e small arms, heavy crew serve weapons, AAA, and a wider array SAMS. We are seeing that just in general flying low against a well armed, motivated, or skilled group can be very dangerous. We are seeing this now in Syria and before that in the Ukraine.
I am not against using your Mk.1 eyeballs. Hell I use them ALL THE TIME. Yet there is the problem in using your Mk.1 eyeballs… its the Mk.1 of sight systems. The Mk.1 eyeball system is very limited. That is why the A-10 was upgraded and modernized to the A-10C. This allowed the A-10 to have ( as I am seeing it ) stand off capabilities to their higher faster flying brethren as well as perform missions at night at which before it never could. Also with the addition of equipping things like the LANTIRN and SNIPER pods its gives the aircraft BETTER targeting and identification then having to solely rely on your Mk.1 eyeballs.
Okay I will agree that there are instances and events where CAS is an utter disaster ( “friendly” fire AKA fratricide ). On the flip side, show me an official recorded instance where CAS ( from any platform at the time of the mission and event ) was utterly absolutely impotent?
First off I will admit that I don’t know what the over all cost is going to be for the F-35. I have read and seen too many numbers out there for me to draw my own conclusions and to pin it down. Though I do believe that the per unit cost of the F-35 is dropping for every production lot.
Availability… that has a few things that we can all look at. For one we know the F-35 is going to be available in terms of numbers . The US military alone plans to have over 2000 F-35s ( USAF, USN, USMC ). What about F-35s on station? Well that is another question I can’t fully answer with a degree of confidence. I will however say that if I do not have any air assets on station I know an F-35 will out run an A-10 and thus get to me faster. There are plenty of variable and situations any of us can toss up or pull out of our ass that can sway to either A or B.
The last part concerning the B-1… you just had to go there. Well here is some food for thought.
If the A-10 was so good at what it does and that flying low and slow was the most accurate and safest way to identify friend from foe, then why is the A-10 have the most friendly fire incidents? Now I am not going to let that piece cloud my judgement or my belief of the A-10. You can’t let one event or one piece of news clippings cloud the issue. You have to look at the broader issue here. The real issue and question that is being so hotly debated by you and I as well as others, do you NEED the A-10 to perform CAS?
As I stated earlier I am a former ground pounder US Army, I love the A-10. Before I USED to believe that only the Warthog is the only thing in the USAF inventory that can perform CAS and that by getting rid of the A-10 in favor of the F-35 they were going to stab the Army in the back. After looking at things in much more broader view I learned to look at this issue more differently. As I stated before I can split both ways on this argument… if I have too or if I want too.
So to clear up my jumble and to let you understand where I am coming from.
Is the Warthog the only aircraft that can or has performed CAS mission profiles? No
Do we need to fly low and slow to perform CAS now? No
Do we need a CAS mission specific type fixed wing aircraft? No
Do we need replacement for the A-10 that has similar flight profiles? No
Do we need an aircraft that can operate unimproved run ways for expeditionary forces and is more suitable for COIN type operations? Yes.
“I will stand by my comment that CAS is a mission and not a platform”
I will stand by my disagreement with that statement, because, as usual, the devil is in the details.
“Yet when people constantly make the comment or argument that ,”Only the A-10 can provide proper CAS”, I feel they are being ignorant of the actual facts”
They would be. Its a generalization that, once again, tries to cookie cutter all CAS.
“The problem is flying low and slow for fixed wing aircraft like the A-10 ( yes it is design specifically for that. I will leave dedicated attack helicopters out of this one because that is a debate of another type ) is that it exposes itself to more dangers i.e small arms, heavy crew serve weapons, AAA, and a wider array SAMS.”
From the aspect of maximum effective ranges of those weapon systems, yes. The advantage that I forgot to mention above is the ability to interweave between elevated terrain, say, like in afghanistan or bosnia. Or beneath weather.
“We are seeing that just in general flying low against a well armed, motivated, or skilled group can be very dangerous. We are seeing this now in Syria and before that in the Ukraine. ”
Same with flying high and fast, especially while attempting to provide CAS for friendly forces.
And there are many other variables in Ukraine that we have not encountered on the US side, namely, ill-trained pilots, antiquated aircraft, and the unknown types and quantities of dedicated air defense (arguably, inside Russia proper).
“Also with the addition of equipping things like the LANTIRN and SNIPER pods its gives the aircraft BETTER targeting and identification then having to solely rely on your Mk.1 eyeballs.”
Yes I agree. My argument was being disproportionately reliant on those technologies.
“On the flip side, show me an official recorded instance where CAS ( from any platform at the time of the mission and event ) was utterly absolutely impotent?”
Which time specifically? Recently, there have been a number of instances from Afghanistan, namely with F15s and B1s. Bombs and strafing runs hitting nothing. Even in the case of the A10.
“First off I will admit that I don’t know what the over all cost is going to be for the F-35. ”
Me either. Nailing down a specific or even a ballpark cost is something I wont touch with a 10 foot pole. Lots of estimations with varying degrees of credibility out there.
” For one we know the F-35 is going to be available in terms of numbers .”
Thats an assumption that remains to be seen. The same one was made about the F22.
“The last part concerning the B-1… you just had to go there. Well here is some food for thought.”
There are many glaring holes in that article and I dont view it as credible whatsoever. Just my personal opinion.
“The real issue and question that is being so hotly debated by you and I as well as others, do you NEED the A-10 to perform CAS?”
In some circumstances, currently, yes.
I would take the A-10. It has two high mounted external engines is battle proven and can take a lot of damage. The aircraft you are talking about have only one engine that is contained within the air frame and doesn’t carry near the same amount of flares as the A-10, plus they are not good at CAS. They call F-16s lawn dart for a reason.
What “evidence” is to the contrary?
In fact, the evidence gained through experience proved my assertion true.
“What’s important in CAS is that the *JTAC* have eyes on the target.”
Then we wouldn’t have fratricide, now would we?
You would rather choose an F-35 or F-16 for a CAS mission OVER an A-10 BUILT for CAS missions. You are kidding me.? Hey anything can be shot down. But if I had my choice, I would rather fly the airborne equivalent of a Flying Tank…. the A-10 Warthog.