Monday, September 21, 2015

The Prop Plane Better Than The F-35

At least for close air support, the A-29 would be vastly more useful:
Political infighting like this led to poor air support in Afghanistan. And by 2006, a group of SEALs in Afghanistan were fed up with it. They asked the Secretary of the Navy personally for his help in getting a better plane overhead.
Not long after the SEALs’ request, the Secretary put together a small team and charged them with finding a better aircraft for this kind of war. Consensus quickly grew around a lightweight turboprop-driven plane. The team took possession of a couple old Vietnam-era OV-10 Broncos that last saw combat in Desert Storm, and started flying them. But they wanted something with more punch. More lethality. They soon found a plane built for exactly this purpose.
The classified Imminent Fury project was born.
In response to the SEALs’ request, the Navy committed Pentagon heresy by going backwards in airplane technology. Instead of jet engines, they found a propellor-driven plane worked better.
Years before, a Brazilian company called Embraer had built a plane specially made for the close-in aerial fighting that the dirty wars South American and African insurgencies required. The Navy immediately leased one of them for testing. (A later phase would have raised the number to four.) This is how Embraer’s EMB-314 Tucano became reborn as the A-29B Super Tucano.
The plane was refitted at the Navy’s test facility in Patuxent River, Maryland, and flown to an out-of-the-way airbase in Nevada so it could be seen how well this “Super T” could fight...
In Nevada, they shot 50-caliber machine guns mounted in the A-29’s wings. They dropped small laser-guided and GPS-guided bombs. They fired thousands of 2.75-inch rockets, some of which had laser-guidance upgrades. These were the types of weapons best suited to the war in Afghanistan. And for self-defense, the A-29 could even fire the same Sidewinder air-to-air missile used in their previous lives as jet pilots.
Multiple Imminent Fury test pilots, including Lt. Col. Mann, tell me that the plane was perfect for fighting guerrillas in Afghanistan. The commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, wanted four of them flying in his skies immediately. But would the Pentagon really fight for this plane? Especially one that, technologically, ran in the complete opposite direction of its stealthy F-35? 
The F-35 is a massive, perfectly politically designed boondoggle which is going to waste taxpayer dollars for a generation.  Meanwhile, ground troops will suffer in whichever ill-conceived wars our idiot politicians send them into.  That is how empires collapse.

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