Posted on Dec 7, 2013
Lt Col Squadron Commander
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MSgt Aaron Brite
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A-10 vs F-35 for CAS? I find it difficult to believe the a jet designed for speed and penetration in air to air combat would be as effective as the A-10. First the A-10 was designed to haul large amounts of ordnance and place it on target from close range. The F-35 does not carry as much nor as much variety. Most A-10 ordnance is dumb and cheap, which is fine from a low and slow platform knocking out many small positions. And it is plentiful with up to 11 hard points holding 11 bombs or rocket pods or other ordnance and sensors. The F-35's is fast and expensive which will cause howls of pain from the bean counters when a lot of it is expended in a small area to eliminate many small targets. But only up to 8 at a time. The F-35's cannon is smaller and carries a 10th the rounds. Armor anyone? The A-10 has it and was designed to take pot shots from the ground. Not so the F-35, who's skin is rated for stealth not rifle rounds.

With only a few aspects compared, the important ones I think, the A-10 wins hands down.

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MSgt Program Analyst   Joint Certification Program
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match up our attack helo's and our A-10's together and you have a close ground support team that will bring a world of hurt to anything harrassing our ground forces - try that with an F-35. They will not last as long supporting our brothers on the ground in the fight or have the needed items on board to finish the job the right way.
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LTC Paul Labrador
LTC Paul Labrador
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We learned and FORGOT this same lesson in Vietnam. Fastmovers, are NOT the optimum CAS platform. What was the most successful CAS aircraft in Nam? The A-1 Skyraider, which was a turboprop aircraft that started life as a torpedo bomber.
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MSgt Program Analyst   Joint Certification Program
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Not sure about that - but you'll never have an aircraft that was better designed for close ground support of the troops then the A-10 tank killers (My unit used to have A-10's), they always reminded me of the old WWII aircraft styling.
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LTC Self Employed
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KE8xXFk9CE scifi likes the A-10 but not the USAF
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LTC Program Manager
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As an Army guy I think the F-35 just shows how the USAF brass does not care about supporting the guy on the ground. Too bad ground support wasn't more "sexy" maybe we could get a slow aircraft that can actually see the guys on the ground and attack the enemy directly.

Love the A-10 by the way.
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Lt Col Squadron Commander
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I totally agree with your point that the F-35 does not fill the same CAS role as the A-10, yet the A-10 only accounts for 10% of CAS in Afghanistan. Could the F-35 not fill the same role as the F-16 and F-15E that play such a vital role in the AOR?


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SFC Robert Trodahl
SFC Robert Trodahl
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It seems for years as the Air Force wanted to remove the A-10 it was decided it was needed and put back into service. It seems as the old quote "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" rule would apply here yet again. The A-10 is specialized to do one thing extremely well, support the ground units. It is not a "Swiss Army Knife" of the skies, designed to do everything but not as well.
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SGT Gary Frank
SGT Gary Frank
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I am former Army, but one of my hobbies has been the study of military history and equipment.

Traditionally, the Air Force [not the Army Air Corps of WWII] wanted to remain autonomous from the Army and focus their assets towards a more strategic roll, Air Superiority and Interdiction of the Enemy. Tactical Aircraft like the A-10 [A great bird] puts the Air Force back in the secondary roll and subordinate to the commander on the ground. By creating an All Mission Capability Aircraft like the F-35 the Air Force does not have to permanently sacrifice assets to the Army.

With the economic situation being the way it is today, all services want to cut back. Multitask Weapons Systems promise to fill the gaps and lighten the financial burden.

Unfortunately we may well find out that deploying these weapons is like prescribing a wide spectrum antibiotic for a hangnail.
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LTC Paul Labrador
LTC Paul Labrador
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I would not base future CAS requirements on Afghanistan. First off, Afghanistan is essentially a "safe" environment for aircraft. We own the air, and the enemy doesn't have anything that can hit more fragile aircraft that fly higher and faster. In a higher threat environment where aircraft WILL get hit, and hit often is where the A-10 really shines. The kind of damage that will utterly destroy an F-35, an A-10 can shrug off.
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