Posts filed under ‘Washington’

FRIDAY FOTO (September 27, 2019)

Not Your Typical Gunnery Sergeant.

Secretary Esper Hosts German Minister of Defense

U.S. Department of Defense photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

Members of the “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band stand in formation during an honor cordon at the Pentagon, September 23, 2019. The ceremony welcomed German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to the Pentagon.

The stripes on the assistant drum major‘s sleeve indicate she is a gunnery sergeant, a senior non-commissioned officer usually in charge of the weaponry and weapons training of a company or platoon, although many gunnery sergeants become drill instructors (DIs), the sergeanst charged with training civilian recruits to become Marines.

Things are a little different in the Marine Band.  Assistant Drum Major Gunnery Sergeant Monica Preston leads the band in ceremonial commitments and, as the company gunnery sergeant, she is responsible for unit and new member training.

On parade, she also gets to wear that cool hat and an ornate sash called a baldric. It is embroidered with the Marine Band’s crest and the Marine Corps’ battle colors. That big brass thing she is holding is a mace, embossed with the battles and campaigns of the Marine Corps. Drum majors use the mace to signal commands to the musicians.

Gunnery Sergeant Stacie Crowther was the first female Assistant Drum Major for “The President’s Own” in its 221-year history. She reported for duty with the band in March 2017. Earlier in September, Crowther, now a master sergeant, moved on to a new role as Bandmaster for the Quantico Marine Band.

September 27, 2019 at 1:34 am Leave a comment

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The National Security Threat in the Digital Revolution

NSA official says technology could upend U.S. national security infrastructure

 

170719-N-YG104-022An opinion piece on the New York Times website this week (September 10, 2019) sounds an alarm over the cyber threats posed by the digital revolution sweeping through all aspects of U.S. society.

Glenn S. Gerstell, general counsel of the National Security Agency (NSA), says it is “almost impossible to overstate the challenges” and “profound implications for our federal security agencies” that the general onrush of technology presents. The NSA leads the U.S. Government in cryptology, the study of codes — both creating and breaking them — which encompasses both signals intelligence (SIGINT) and information assurance (or cybersecurity) products and services. The agency also enables computer network operations for the United States and its allies.

Unlike previous transformational technologies like railroads, electricity, radio and airplanes — which took decades to reach widespread use — cell phones, the Internet and social media have spread and shaped society in a time frame without precedent, Gerstell writes in his lengthy article.

Air Traffic Control for Food for Thought

(U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Crysta Gonzalez)

One example of the many challenges he cites is understanding how adversaries might use artificial intelligence (AI) in the future, including data poisoning — feeding misinformation to AI systems to corrupt or defeat them, such as causing a driverless vehicle to ignore a stop sign.  What are the implications for future autonomous weapons such as drones or armed robots? What are the protocols by which they will be controlled?

The sheer amount of data generated by individual and commercial activities will require enormous investments by the United States and its allies to upgrade national security and surveillance systems — perhaps much more than the roughly $60 billion the United States already spends annually on the intelligence community, which includes the FBI, CIA and a dozen other civilian and military agencies.

But it will take more than money to cope with unprecedented technological change, adapt to a world of continuous cyber conflict, navigate concepts of privacy and power that comes with access to big data, and to counter the effects of malign use of the Internet, according to Gerstell.

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Top photo: Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Sarah Villegas, U.S. Navy.

 

 

 

 

 

September 13, 2019 at 1:03 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (August 30, 2019)

Calm Before the Storm.

FRIFO 8-30-2019 NAVY carrier catapult launch

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Singley)

Seaman Francisco Romero operates a catapult as an EA-18G Growler is launched off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in the Arabian Sea, on August 27, 2019. The Growler is an electronic attack aircraft.  A variant of Boeing’s F-18F Super Hornet jet fighter, the Growler provides tactical communications jamming and suppression of enemy air defenses.

Click here to see a brief video from the pilot’s point of view of an F/A-18 Hornet’s launch from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. This longer video (9 minutes) shows another Hornet launch plus the catapult preparation and launch of an EA-6B Prowler, the Growler’s predecessor. Here’s a CBS piece on the Abraham Lincoln after the flat top completed a four-year, $4 billion makeover in 2017.

Currently, all U.S. aircraft carriers use a steam-powered catapult accelerate planes and some drones (See FRIDAY FOTO August 23, 2019) off the flight deck.  The Navy is replacing steam power with an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS) on the next generation of carriers, known as the Ford class. However, there were problems with EMALS on the first ship of the class, the USS Gerald Ford, prompting President Donald Trump to call for a return to steam power.

August 30, 2019 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 19, 2019)

Charge!

FRIFO 7-19-2019 OLD GUARD Bayonet Charge

(U.S. Army photo by Army Sergeant Jacob Holmes)

Members of the Continental Color Guard and the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, from the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, advance with fixed bayonets during a performance at Virginia’s Shenandoah River State Park on July 10, 2019.

The 3rd Infantry (The Old Guard), is the Army’s oldest active infantry regiment with direct lineage to George Washington’s original Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The officer (or sergeant) at the center of the photo is brandishing either a halberd  or espontoon, variants of a once fearsome, two-handed, pike-like weapon that combined an ax, spear and hook used for slashing, stabbing or unhorsing the enemy.  By the late 18th Century, however, halberds and espontoons were largely just a symbol of rank and a tool for keeping advancing troops in straight lines.

The uniforms worn by the Color Guard and C-in-C’s Guard are replicas of the 1784-style infantry uniforms worn by The Old Guard’s predecessor, the First American Regiment. The pattern of the uniform for wear by all Continental Army infantry units was approved by General Washington in 1782. It consisted of a blue coat faced with a red collar, cuffs and lapels, white buttons and lining, long-fitting overalls, and a black cocked hat with cockade.

A uniform similar to the First American Regiment’s can be seen in the foreground of this painting of the the Continental Line during the 1781 Battle of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina.

With FRIFO 7-19-2019 Guilford Courthouse

Battle of Guilford Courthouse by H. Charles McBarron Jr. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Center of Military History)

The red uniforms in the background of this week’s Friday Foto are not reenactors dressed as British redcoats but the Old Guard’s Fife and Drum Corps. During the Revolutionary War, the fifers and drummers wore the opposite colors of the regiment to which they belonged, according to Kim Holien, the historian at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, an Army-Marine Corps facility — next to Arlington National Cemetery — that is home to the Old Guard’s ceremonial units.

By wearing the reversed colors, the fifers and drummers’ uniforms would stand out on a battlefield obscured by the gunsmoke of 18th Century musketry. Hopefully the musicians wouldn’t be shot deliberately by the opposing side — since they were in effect unarmed — and “during the battle would often act as medical personnel to take care of the wounded,” said Holien.

July 19, 2019 at 3:37 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Women’s History Month 2019, Part IV

Women in the Army.

This is the fourth and last installment of 4GWAR’s tribute to Women’s History Month featuring  photos illustrating the contributions of women in the four armed services. With the exception of one historic first or trailblazer for each service, these pictures focus on women doing their jobs — some dirty, difficult or dangerous — but all essential to keeping the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps ready to defend the United States of America. This week we look at women Soldiers.

WOMEN ARMY NO ID2

(Army photo by Timothy Hale)

Army officers and non-coms — male and female — participated in a combat fitness test at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on March 15, 2019, to familiarize themselves with the new age- and gender-neutral  Combat Fitness Test.  Army senior leaders approved the new six-event fitness test to better prepare soldiers for combat tasks and reduce injuries across the three Army components (active, Reserve and National Guard) beginning in October 2020.

Joint training strengthens Air Force, Army collaboration

(Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Christopher Hubenthal)

Army Private First Class Diamond Her leads the way in a ground survey during a decontamination training exercise at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar on February 22, 2019. Her is a unit supply specialist with the 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery (ADA) regiment of the Army’s 11th ADA Brigade. Air Force and Army participants from the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron and the 1-43rd ADA, shared Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high yield explosives (CBRNE) best practices, and tested their response proficiency during the training.

Airborne Operation 21 Feb. 2019

(Army photo by Paolo Bovo)

Army 1st Lieutenant Ashley Rae Selfridge, a paratrooper assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, puts the finishing touches on face paint camouflage before airborne operations onto Juliet drop zone in Pordenone, Italy, Feb. 21, 2019.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, capable of projecting ready forces anywhere in the U.S. Europe, Africa or Central Commands’ areas of responsibility.

 

Washington National Guard participates in Exercise Bersama Warrior

(Army photo by Sergeant 1st Class Jason Kriess)

U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Angela Gentry of the Washington Army National Guard, discusses battle drills with her Malaysian army counterpart, Major Nurkhairunisa, during Exercise Bersama Warrior in Malaysia. Bersama Warrior is a joint bilateral exercise between the Malaysian Armed Forces and the United States military. The exercise focuses on planning and conducting joint and coalition peace enforcement operations and was held in Kuala Lumpur from March 7-15, 2019.

Ready to deploy whenever, wherever required

(U.S. Army Reserve photo by Master Sergeant Michel Sauret)

Standing at the front of formation, Army Private First Class Keylin Perez bears the unit guidon during a field training exercise at Fort Meade, Maryland on January 13, 2019. Perez is a reservist assigned to the 200th Military Police Command’s Headquarters Company.

WOMEN ARMY ID12

(Army photo by T. Anthony Bell)

Culinary arts Specialist Adriana Elliot, a member of the Fort Bragg, North Carolina culinary team, plates her main dish in Chef of the Year event March 8 during the Joint Culinary Training Exercise (JCTE) at Fort Lee, Virginia. With teams from every branch of the Armed Forces, the JCTE is the largest military culinary competition in the United States.

Roger Ma’am

(Army photo by Captain Justin Wright)

Army 1st Lieutenant Victoria Oliver,  a platoon leader assigned to Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division‘s 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team addresses her soldiers during a training exercise at Fort Polk, Louisiana on March 21, 2019. Her unit in the Air Assault division was going through a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Louisiana.

WOMEN ARMY ID10

(Courtesy photo)

TRAIL BLAZER: Captain Delana Small is the only woman (so far) to serve as an Army Special Forces chaplain. Between May 2015 and December 2017, Captain Small — a Protestant minister — was deployed with the 5th Special Forces Group to Turkey and Jordan.  That’s not the only milestone the captain achieved. Earlier in March, she was inducted into the Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame for being the first female chaplain to serve in a combat-arms battalion with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). That historic first occurred in June 2012, when she reported to the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 101st at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, as chaplain for the 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery. She graduated from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri just about six months before she reported for duty as an Army chaplain. She was the first of some 10 female chaplains sent to combat units. She deployed with the 4-320th Field Artillery to Afghanistan and later went to Airborne School, which led to her assignment with the Green Berets.

WOMEN ARMY BETTER SAPPER PIC

(Photo by Stephen Standifird, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs)

TRAIL BLAZER: Sergeant Hailey Falk, a combat engineer with 39th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, is the Army’s first female enlisted Soldier to graduate the school and earn the Sapper shoulder tab. Sapper is an ancient term for military engineers. In olden days they designed and dug the trenches, built the forts and figured out how to break into castles. The photo shows her receiving the coveted Sapper tab from Captain Timothy Smith, Sapper Training company commander at the U.S. Army Engineering School in December 2018, where Falk completed the demanding 28-day Sapper Leader Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Brazilian Minister of Defense Fernando Azevedo e Silva Visits Arlington National Cemetery

(Defense Department photo)

A member of the U.S. Army Band takes part in an Armed Forces Full Honors wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia on March 26, 2019. In addition to the U.S. Army Band, there are 29 active duty Army bands around the country and overseas, as well as 18 bands in the Reserves and more than 50 National Guard bands. The U.S. Army School of Music is located at Joint Base Little Creek-Fort Story, in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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SHAKO-West Point cadets

SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

 

 

 

 

March 31, 2019 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

LATIN AMERICA: Mexican Border Mess

Border Brouhaha.

The wrangling in Washington over funding President Donald Trump’s planned wall along the U.S. Southwest border is over — for now.

BP SUV watches the border along Mexico. A mobile surveillance to

Border Patrol surveillance along the Mexican border in Arizona. (Customs and Border Protection photo by Josh Denmark)

Congress passed a compromise spending bill Thursday (February 14) that will prevent a second government shutdown — which Trump threatened if he did not get sufficient funding to extend a wall along the border with Mexico. The legislation, passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives, allocates just $1.375 billion to build 55 miles of barrier in the Rio Grande Valley, according to The Hill newspaper. Trump had sought $5.7 billion for hundreds of miles of concrete wall and fencing.

Trump is expected to sign the bill, however, he announced plans to use executive action declare a national state of emergency on the border to finance the wall by-passing congressional restrictions, CNN and other news outlets reported.  

Meanwhile, two Western states’ governors are pulling their National Guard troops out of a military buildup on the border begun last October. Trump’s decision to order forces to the border before the midterm elections was controversial, according to POLITICO. Both Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush sent troops to the border during their presidencies.

However, on February 3, the Pentagon announced that Trump had ordered 3,750 troops to the border to join the estimated 4,350 service men and women already deployed.  In a sign of continuing skepticism of that move, POLITICO noted, California Governor  Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said he would halt the deployment of his state’s National Guard.

Marines string razor wire

Marines string concertina wire at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in California in 2018.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sergeant Rubin J. Tan)

A week earlier, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she was withdrawing about 100 New Mexico National Guard troops from the border buildup, declaring there isn’t a security crisis at the state’s border.

An online petition to impeach Lujan Grisham for treason has garnered more than 30,000 signatures. But Brian Egolf, the speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives says there is no way he would initiate impeachment proceedings against the governor for withdrawing all but about dozen National Guard soldiers from the border. Egolf, a Democrat like Lujan Grisham, holds the authority to initiate House investigations, CBS News reported.

February 14, 2019 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Why Elections Matter in 1 Picture and 4 Maps.

Make Sure You Vote … They Did.

soldiers-voting

PENNSYLVANIA SOLDIERS VOTING 1864 .-SKETCHED BY WILLIAM WAUD. (From Harper’s Weekly, October 29, 1864 via  Son of the South website)

The Civil War was the first time the United States had large numbers of soldiers deployed during a presidential election. Politicians of both parties were convinced that the army would vote for the commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln, a Republican. As a result, most states with Republican governors and legislatures passed laws enabling soldiers to vote, while most states led by Democrats did not.

 

825x550

A political map of the United States (circa 1856) showing free states in red, slave states in gray and territories in green. (From the Library of Congress)

The Dred Scott decision of 1857, in which the U.S. Supreme Court voided the Missouri Compromise (1820) and made slavery legal in all U.S. territories, exacerbated sectional differences between thos e who wanted to abolish slavery and those who sought to protect the institution. That volatile political climate set the stage for the presidential election of 1860.

 

1200px-ElectoralCollege1860.svg

Presidential Election 1860. Red shows states won by Lincoln/Hamlin, green by Breckinridge/Lane, orange by Bell/Everett, and blue by Douglas/Johnson
Numbers are Electoral College votes in each state by the 1850 Census. (via Wikipedia)

In the election of 1860, Southern and Northern Democrats split their support among Vice President John Breckinridge of Kentucky and Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas, while others, seeking to ignore the slavery issue, backed former Tennessee Senator John Bell of the Constitutional Union Party. Those divisions put the Republican, Abraham Lincoln, in the White House with less than 40 percent of the popular vote, and put the slave-holding states of the South on the road to disunion and civil war.

Secession_Vote_by_CountyA.0

While eleven states voted for secession between December 1860 and June 1861, support for leaving the Union was not unanimous in many Souther counties as the above map shows. (Map via Vox)

Likewise, the Union army’s support for President Lincoln may not have been as widespread as historians have assumed, argues one academic. Lincoln was re-elected as president in 1864. He ran under the National Union banner against his former top Civil War general, the Democratic candidate, George B. McClellan — who had been very popular with the troops of the Army of the Potomac.

USAMAP1864

(Map created by History Central)

*******488px-Shako-p1000580

SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

 

November 6, 2018 at 3:35 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 23, 2018)

Snowfall, Arlington Virginia.

Spring Snow Storm 2018

(U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser)

We had snow in the Washington area this week. Pretty as it fell, there was enough to closes area schools and many Federal government facilities for the day, but not Arlington National Cemetery.

In Virginia, just across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital, soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment’s Caisson Platoon trooped through the snows in a funeral procession on March 21, 2018.

This scene calls to mind the last lines of Irish writer James Joyce’s novel, The Dead.

The snow “lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears   of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

Known as “The Old Guard,” the 3rd Infantry is the oldest, active duty regiment in the U.S. Army. In addition to honor guard duties at Arlington, the White House and elsewhere, the soldiers of the 3rd Infantry guard the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington.

March 23, 2018 at 1:03 am 2 comments

CALENDAR: Unmanned Systems; Veterans’ Healthcare and Close Air Support.

May Events.

Calendar1

Here at 4GWAR we’re reviving our monthly calendar of newsworthy military, aviation, unmanned systems and homeland security events. May is shaping up to be a busy month starting with the annual unmanned systems industry event meeting and trade show in Dallas May 8-11.

New treatment techniques and new technology will be among the topics discussed May 15-18 at VA Healthcare 2017 in Arlington, Virginia.

And from May 22-24 the best ways to support and protect ground troops from the air will be discussed at the Close Air Support Summit in Washington, D.C.

Robots, Drones and Droids.

More than 7,000 industry leaders and professionals from over 55 countries are expected to attend XPONENTIAL 2017, the annual unmanned systems and robotics trade show and conference, at the Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas next week.

AUVSI Atlanta 2015

AUVSI’s 2015 conference and trade show in Atlanta. (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

The exhibit hall will showcase more than 600 companies from around the world, representing more than 20 industries, including energy and construction, defense, automated vehicles and cinematography. Speakers slated to attend include: Intel CEO Brian Krzanich,  FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and executives from Airbus Defence and Space, GE Oil & Gas, and Northrop Grumman.

The event is hosted by Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

VA HEALTHCARE.

Government officials, healthcare executives, medical educators and technology experts and companies will meet at the Sheraton Pentagon City hotel in northern Virginia (May 15-18).

VA Healthcare 2017 comes as the VA health care system copes with a surge of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts seeking physical and mental health services. The number of veterans enrolling for VA healthcare grew from 7.9 million in 2006 to nearly 9 million last year.

Topics will include the VA nursing shortage, training personnel, the effect of combat deployments on women vets and their healthcare needs, advanced medical simulation systems and alternative medical treatments for chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The event is organized by Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA).

CLOSE AIR SUPPORT.

Top Air Force officials from the United States, Germany and other NATO nations will  discuss the future of close air support in an era of unconventional warfare that could see conventional conflicts break out in the Middle East, Eastern Europe or the Korean peninsula.

300px-A-10_Thunderbolt_II_In-flight-2

The A-10 Lightning II, better known as the “Warthog.

The event is sponsored by IDGA, a division of IQPC.

Topics of discussion at the Close Air Support Summit will include future use of the AC-130 gunship, A-10 ground attack jet and F-35 fifth generation fighter/bomber. Also of concern: the U.S. Air Force’s close air support strategy in future operations; the challenge of conflicts in urban environments; training tactical air traffic controllers, developing light attack aircraft to fill the gap between the heavily armored, slow-moving A-10 and the supersonic F-35, which is more lightly armed for ground attack.

The event was organized by IDGA, a division of IQPC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 4, 2017 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

AIRCRAFT: The Close Air Support Debate

Supersonic Swiss Army Knife Vs. Flying Tank.

Here is a photo of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, America’s newest fighter/bomber and the most expensive military acquisition program in U.S. history.

f-35a-lightning-ii_008-ts600

A Fifth Generation Fighter with a host of targeting and surveillance sensors, the Lockheed Martin F-35 was develop[ed with the ability – depending on the variant – to fly off an aircraft carrier or take off and land vertically on an amphibious ship or tiny airstrip. Some have called this multi-role aircraft a flying Swiss Army knife because of its advanced integrated avionics and next generation radar-evading stealth technology. It is also a flying intelligence platform with enormous processing power and sophisticated sensors.

The F-35, officially known as the Lightning II, has a range of capabilities including: air-to-air combat; close air support; ground attack and intelligence gathering for joint and coalition irregular warfare operations, as well as major combat ops.

The next photo is the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II. Sporting the latest 1970s technology, it was built to blow up Soviet tanks in Cold War battles that never happened.  Better known as the “Warthog,” for its homely appearance, punishment-absorbing air frame and ferocious attack capabilities, the hog has won the respect of pilots and the love of ground troops in deployments from Bosnia to Iraq and Afghanistan and currently against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

A-10 Warthog

The single seat, twin engine jet’s sturdy airframe and fearsome armament, including a 30-milimeter, seven-barrel GAU-8/A Gatling gun, have led some to call it a flying tank. But those features made it ideal for delivering close air support to troops on the ground.

Because of congressionally-mandated budget constraints, the U.S. Air Force has been trying, since 2014, to retire the approximately 300 remaining A-10s. The cost of maintaining and upgrading the 40-year-old Warthogs threatened funding for the F-35 and two other top priority Air Force programs: the long range strike bomber and a new aerial refueling tanker. The Pentagon said the Air Force could save $3.5 billion over five years by retiring the A-10 fleet rather than upgrading it. Instead, said then- Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh — himself a former A-10 pilot — the  F-35 could handle the A-10’s single mission of close air support.

But the A-10’s very vocal supporters in Congress, like Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), disputed that claim. They maintained the F-35, flying at Mach 1.6 (approximately 1,200 mph), moved too fast to loiter over a battlefield, while its lighter 25-milimeter canon only carried 182 rounds in the Air Force variant ( 220 rounds in the Navy and Marine Corps versions), compared to the Warthog’s 1,100-round capacity.

General Electric GAU-8/A

A size comparison of the GE GAU-8 Gatling gun, used on A-10 Thunderbolt II, and a Volkswagen Beetle. (U.S. Air Force photo via wikipedia)

Other advocates argued the A-10 could also fly combat search and rescue and surveillance missions. McCain noted in a white paper that funding constraints led the Air Force to slow procurement to a maximum 48 aircraft a year between Fiscal years 2018 and 2022. He has called for buying 300 “low-cost, light-attack fighters” to bridge the gap. The Air Force plans to test light attack aircraft at the OA-X demonstration this summer at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The Air Force also says it will not begin retiring the A-10 fleet before 2021, but Congress put language in the latest defense authorization bill barring the Air Force from parking the A-10s until it proves the F-35 can take over the close air support role.

To learn more, visit the Close Air Support Summit 2017 page on the IDGA website.

April 27, 2017 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

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