The Bell Textron Scorpion light-attack jet may be ideal for the low threat counter-insurgency/terrorism missions the US and allies are fighting in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan (Photo/diagram courtesy BBC(dot)com in 2014).
On January 16, 2017, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain, issued a White Paper (about 10 MB, PDF) with a whole range of good looking ideas (eg.
- higher rate Virginia SSN production,
- medium aircraft carriers in addition to the Ford CVNs,
- frigates larger and instead than the Littoral Combat Ships in several years time
all worth discussing in Submarine Matters articles next week.
Meantime the short article below is about McCain's light-attack fighter suggestion:
The White Paper page 13 says:
"while [continued procurement of the F-35 and] sustaining the A-10 fighter fleet for close air support, the Air Force should procure 300 low-cost, light-attack fighters that would require minimal work to develop. These aircraft could conduct counterterrorism operations, perform close air support and other missions in permissive environments, and help to season pilots to mitigate the Air Force’s fighter pilot shortfall. The Air Force could procure the first 200 of these aircraft by Fiscal Year 2022."
One choice that may serve as a light attack (counter-insurgency) fighter is the Bell Textron Scorpion jet.
USAF Chief of Staff General David Goldfein said 300 light-attack would be a good idea and that Scorpion, Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano (propeller) and Beechcraft’s AT-6 (propeller) might all be possibilities. Any others?
Here's a pitch at the Paris Air Show 2015, from Russ Smith, for a competing aircraft, the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine armed variant of the T-6.F-35s won't be ready for years and, in any case, are over-engineered/gold plated and overpriced for the low threat (to aircraft) counter-insurgency missions in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. The A-10 with its heavy armour and anti-tank cannon is also unsuited to most counter-insurgency warfare scenarios.
I see many objections coming from the industry, many pilots and revolving-dooristas of the USAF, USN and Marines. Some objections may be valid, most not.
Is the McCain, Goldfein idea of a light-attack fighter a good one?