The lack of a significant number of light attack aircraft in the USAF is a fact. For some, including me, it is a problem but for others it isn’t.
Much smarter people then me who highlight this issue since yeas aren’t sitting at the right tables so the problem still persists. Why it’s a problem? Well when you send a fast jet like F-16 or F-15 to destroy a small facility made out of mud and it cost’s you a ton of money just to get the platform airborne I consider it a problem.
For sure the F-16 and F-15 can handle those tasks but are those targets really that valuable to decrease the remaining life of such advanced platforms? Especially when it’s successor isn’t combat ready yet? There is the cost of fuel, the cost of maintenance, pilot training, refueling etc. We live in a world in which we have to cut costs all the time and sometimes spending a little money in the first place will save a lot in the future. Even the A-10 would be sometimes to expensive to use against attacks in remote countries.
Why not use a combo of light attack, A-10, F-16, F-15 etc. and use them according to situation? If the lightest platform can’t handle, we send something bigger until we reach the B-52. They can handle everything. Well fast everything. But you get the picture.
The fighter force is aging fast and needs an overhaul. Many years of constant fighting had to left a footprint on those air-frames. Today we can be smarter thanks to many years and history and say that light aircraft should be deployed much sooner. It’s easy to judge when you have all the data but at some point there was enough data to see that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t going as smooth as anticipated and that sometimes the army was hitting an ant with a much to heavy weapon.
Fighters, today multi-role fighters, can be used for support and ground attack. That is why they are called multi-role aircraft but at some point this doesn’t make sens anymore. Many armies around the world were prepared for a conflict with nations on the same technical level. Today’s reality showed us that more war are fought in contained areas, with enemies without a country or nationality, fighting a guerrilla war. South American countries have proven that in such cases light attack aircraft are more than enough to keep the region in stability and under control.
Maybe it’s time that USA will also buy a big batch of such propeller driven aircraft and allow the fighter force to catch a breath?
Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Sgt Johnson