I’m telling you


I understand that the Air Force probably needs some F-22s. But to fight THIS war TODAY, I think the Air Force needs three things:

I’m partial to the B-25 Mitchell, myself. But I understand that many other planes, including the A-20 and the A-1, would also fit the bill.

Armor these things up. Add some JDAMs and guns of various sizes. Loiter.

Like revenge, serve chilled.

This pic is from yesterday’s Frontline Photos. The caption reads:

A B-25 Mitchell bomber flies over Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., during a D-Day re-enactment at the Aviation Nation air show in Las Vegas on Saturday.


  1. The b-25, etc.. are all old piston driven aircraft hence they are much more prone to mechanical failure, which is the reason they are not used. But, I do believe the aircraft the type of aircraft you wish is already in the US inventory, correct me if I am wrong of course: The AC-130, which was destined for retirement, but for the reasons you have outlined, has been kept in service, and also given a much longer future, with many upgrades still destined for it. I shall have a dig through my aero mags, to get more info on this, but as far as I can recall there are possible plans to have precision guided munitions(i think they were reffering to some form of a large rocket) in place of the 105mm howitzer on board at the moment(effectively to have the accuracy a JDAM would give, but with a closer range, and less worry about stable release).

  2. The B767 would be a useful addition to the inventory – cost effective, long range, high capacity and with modern munitions pretty damn lethal. As an aviation buff, I of course love the warthog. But I think that in the medium run – fifteen to twenty-five years from now, and perhaps sooner – we’ll see bombing missions increasingly carried out my unmanned platforms. Boeing and others are working on UCAVs to replace fighters, but I don’t think that they will be truly effective for a while yet. However, bombing missions are much simpler. The command and control mechanisms developed for Global Hawk and other long duration drones would be easily adapted to unmanned JDAM platforms. Having a high capacity unmanned vehicle (carrying plenty of JDAMs, JSOWs, or whatever munition is most useful) loitering over or near the battlespace would be an enormous asset. One or two NCO ‘pilots’ could control several of the semi-autonomous bombers, and easily assign targets to the bomber’s smart weapons. No worries about pilot casualties, the things could stay up for days, and smart/brilliant weapons tied into the militaries fire control systems would be instantly available. Likely the’d be a lot cheaper to build than a comparable bomber, because if it doesn’t have a pilot, the Air Force won’t insist that it have all the sexy technology they like to build into their manned aircraft. Drone bombers would be a lot easier to build than an effective drone fighter, really just an expansion of what we’ve already built. The first step was the hellfire equipped predator drone. A high priority program coiuld have something like this in the skies in a couple years.

  3. Prop planes would be a bad idea because of AA guns and missles from the ground. Enemy fighters would make laps around our prop-fighters, then shoot them down. I agree we should use the A-10, but only for close support. The F/A-22 Raptor would be good for our military because of its stealthness, and also the weapons are carried internally.

  4. I found it!! Air International August 2004 Article named ‘Evolution of Spectre and Spooky’. To fill this gap that all you guys are talking of, the USAF is currently ordering 13 new build AC-130U aircraft, as well as upgrading the existing fleet in many ways. Also there have been tests already.. succesful ones, with the AC-130 equipped with Hellfire missiles, which was tested in 91/92 already, but according to the article testing restarted in 2003 and it may very well become part of the aircrafts weaponary. The precision guided munition mentioned in this article is the Northrop Grumman Viper Strike, which supposedly would be put in downward facing canisters carried internally in the aircraft. Let alone all of this, this aircraft can also launch a UAV off the back ramp, and controlled by personnel on the aircraft itself, thus keeping itself out of the danger zone till the enemy target is acquired. This part is my own view: There is no point in getting an aircraft to carry much more than a hellfire anyway, such as a 500lb JDAM. Reasons being that it is too large a munition, with too much collateral damage, hence the USAF is conducting trials into a 250lb version, and used training rounds in some instances in Iraq. Also for low flying aircraft, when a target is acquired the aircraft path has to be very accurate, and flying nearly over the target till the drop can be made.. which is definitely not preferable. Anyway chances are the targets necessary to kill from now on are likely in my opinion to be Toyota trucks or something light anyway.

  5. Vstress: Great find on the new AC-130s! I wasn’t at all familiar with that plan. My first comeback to the ‘but we already have the AC-130’ was going to be ‘yes, but we don’t have ENOUGH of them’. The plan to acquire more is very good indeed. My reasoning for a B-25esque attack aircraft is that with a limited number of AC-130s and their relative expense, a larger fleet of smaller, cheaper, short runway-friendly planes might be called for. As Buckethead rightly points out, UCAVs can fill that role and then some. Maybe. Someday. (And Debbye of BEING AMERICAN IN T.O. and I swap ‘Mmmmmm….Hellfire’ comments whenever a Hellfire Predator makes the news.) Gene correctly points out that any prop plane would be DEAD MEAT in an environment that included enemy fighters, or even sophisticated AA. I certainly agree, but many of the enemies we will be facing in the next decade have no air force and their primary AA weapon is the RPG. These things would be used once air supremacy is achieved. As for the B-25, I didn’t really mean to resurrect the venerable old beast. I’ve thought something along those lines could be whipped up in short order, though. Of course, it would probably end up costing $100 million a copy the way procurement goes these days… Great comments, guys.

  6. You want a prop plane? How about the V-22 Osprey, in which you get a prop plane and a chopper? Arm a special version of it to the hilt, and it could make a bad boy close combat support vehicle. Now, keeping it from crashing might be another matter. Front Line featured an image of Marines repelling from the Osprey and running for safety, which I posted at the ACE site. Oh, and it’s only $89 Mil for the standard version. A gunship version could be had for less than $250 Mil, I’d think. ;-)

  7. Man! What IS IT with you?!? I found that same pic on USMC.mil this afternoon and set it as the desktop background on my work computer. I was going to post it tomorrow morning. GET OUT OF MY HEAD! (Um, was that a ‘Murdock Moment’?)

  8. Getting in other peoples’ heads is a secret weapon I’m testing for the military, but don’t tell anybody. ;-) Speaking of prop planes in support of troops, let’s not forget the AC47, aka Spooky, used in Nam. It could stay over the action for 8 hours at a time, putting out a ‘cone of fire.’ http://www.theaviationzone.com/factsheets/ac47.asp It didn’t have a rear door for sliding out MOABs, but they are already figuring out how to deliver bombs with equivalent destructive power from under the wing, as an ACE post mentioned. Mail Call featured the C47 tonight, as well as the 250lb ‘small diamater bomb.’ It’s a smart bomb which sprouts wings and can travel a number of miles to target after dropped. The B2 can carry 80 of them. An F-16 will be able to carry 16, I believe they said. Like someone mentioned, the direction is toward 250lb bombs which reduce collateral damage — so important in a PC war.

  9. Some very good comments and observations on this topic! Being non-military; my preception of CAS is it is NOT one of the Air Force’s higher priority missions. Rightly or wrongly, the service seems to be dominated by fighter jocks (who understandably push planes like the F22 and A/F35), and then the strategic bomber crowd. Fortunately for our ground troops, we still have a decent cold war legacy force of A10s (thank God for central European war scenarios), and who would have thought precision guided munitions would give CAS flexibility to strategic platforms like the 552, B1, and B2? Those who’ve observed armed unmanned aircraft will be an attractive alternative to a 21st century A10 are likely correct. Low and slow is the deadliest of all aerial missions. Maximm exposure to ground fire, and the most numerous of guided AA systems–very short range guns & missiles. It’s still less expensive to replace the hardware than the software (pilot), and the political cost (civilian casualties) is less too. And the armed drones still have a human in the loop, providing a final ‘shoot, no shoot’ biological CPU. Something an all computerised autonomous armed drone would not have (shades of the SkyNet/Terminator). ACE is correct the trend towards smaller (with ever shrinking CEPs) munitions will continue; swatting point tarets in urban terrain with 500lb or larger munitions is just not a good policy. The Israelis are advertising laser guidance kits for 120mm motor rounds as well as 70mm rockets, adding dimension to both direct and indirect fires. I have to admit I really don’t think a prop driven CAS will fly (bad pun alert!) in today’s non-conventional, urbanised battlefield. They were great aircraft, but they’ve had their day (famous last words OUCH!).

  10. I always thought that the MD-11, with a wide-body and 3 engines, would make a great bomber. Obviously, it would not be flying places where we did not have absolute air-superiority. But it would be a great way to drop guided bombs, or to use lots and lots of dumb bombs to level the next crap-hole like Fallujah.