A LETTER REPORT
14560 Madison Run Road
Gordonsville, VA 22942
24 October 2000
To: Principle Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (A&T)
Subject: RECOVERING TACAIR's LOST BATTLESPACE--BNOC
Enclosures: (1) Description of the Task
(a) Samples of Mission Relevant Views collected via email
(b) History of OV-10 Bronco Mission
(c) Joint Air Attack Team (JAAT) Document
(d) Surrogate Aircraft Candidates for Experiments
(e) ARES Prototype .
(f) Unducted Fan/Turbo-prop Designs
(g) Massive Standoff Jamming Airship
(h) BNOC Briefing Slides from Workshop
(i) Glossary of Terms
Out of the matrix of concern over the loss of tactical aviation's battlespace beneath the overcast has come an expression of ground forces' critical needs and a possible path to satisfying them. Popular visions of futuristic three dimensional maneuver warfare portray light brigades or smaller-sized units being inserted into hostile territory to attack critical nodes of an enemy war machine. If such forces are at risk, it is axiomatic that they have assurance of immediate fire support as well as instantaneous access to real time information about their surrounding environment, especially with regard to the presence and movements of nearby enemy elements.
Ground combat elements (GCE) performing three dimensional maneuver, STOM or JSF operations need all the external help they can get without incurring additional logistical or manpower burdens. Interviews with scores of combat veterans (retired and active) reveals the need for a continuous overhead "presence" of perceptive air crews working as a integral part of the GCE. The expressed need is for a virtually organic airborne partner who understands the commanders intent, and can provide the following functions with minimum interruption to ground maneuver:
* Local surveillance and reconnaissance
* Communications assistance
* Immediate light fires applied to trouble spots as they occur. Perimeter reconnaissance by fire
* Control of CAS and coordination with artillery and naval fires
In this report, the desired package of services is named Maneuver Air Support (MAS). MAS is provided by combinations of aircraft (manned and unmanned) flown by specially trained crews executing new variations of Joint Air Attack Team (JAAT) tactics tailored to exploit the very low altitude region that has been virtually vacated for missions such as close air support and battlefield air interdiction.
Fortunately, it appears that catering to the stated needs of the grunt community can possibly lead to recovery of TACAIR's lost battlespace beneath the overcast. Toward that goal, this report proposes experiments and other MAS mission related actions conceived to create (revive) tactical aviation capabilities which would truly enhance advertised maneuver warfare concepts.
During the spring of 1999, conversations with then Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Ralston and other senior JCS/USAF officers confirmed that providing combat air support for ground forces in a "Bosnia like" environment would be especially difficult considering the . virtual prohibition against flying beneath an overcast. The situation was further discussed with the PDUS(A&T) who directed a study effort to explore, theorize and postulate possible action~ which could lead to recovering the lost air battlespace (see encl. 1 for description of the Task).
This Letter Report presents the findings and recommendations from six
months of study activity directed toward Recovering TacAir's Lost Battlespace Beneath the Overcast (BNOC).
A combination of rough terrain, a high clutter environment and anticipated air defenses aggravates the problem of supporting ground combat elements which may engage enemy forces beneath an overcast sky. The inherent difficulty of providing air support in adverse weather with high performance aircraft is further complicated by a compulsion to conduct air combat operations without losses.1 These factors have led to restrictive rules of engagement and a virtual prohibition against flying low enough over hostile terrain to actually see friendly forces and discover, identify and directly attack enemy forces and equipment; the result is a loss of important air battlespace.
Less than two decades ago, this low altitude zone was dominated by tactical aircraft. For instance, in the NATO environment where overcast skies are commonplace, all fixed-wing airforces operated well below a thousand feet and many pilots were "qualified" to operate at only a 100 feet, above the ground while preparing for war against the WARSAW PACT which exhibited a formidable low altitude air defense capability. NATO domination of this low altitude air battlespace was viewed as essential to slowing a PACT attack which was expected to occur during periods of adverse weather. Therefore, appropriate tactics and flight techniques were practiced to prepare NATO pilots to cope with the air defense threat they would face BNOC. Justification for such training activity stems from long experience which has taught that the art of conducting very low altitude operations is quite perishable and not easily restored once lost. Loss of this low altitude air battlespace has serious ramifications relative to execution of proposed combined-arms maneuver warfare concepts involving employment of light forces deep in enemy territory where the military objective is to collapse enemy centers of gravity/cohesion. Forces thus employed would be uncomfortably exposed and often dependant upon timely application of external fires for mission accomplishment and survival.
1. There is a legitimate concern regarding the political leverage and opportunity for negotiation which accrues to enemy leadership if a downed pilot survives and is captured. Such concerns can be viewed as one of the by-products of "Military-Political-Gymnastics" vice "War".
Knowledge that the visible presence of supporting tactical aircraft will be curtailed by the mere existence of overcast skies above the battlefield is good news to enemy commanders who can be expected to exploit this factor to their advantage. Additionally, the possibility for overcast skies might constrain plans for bold action by our ground commanders, thinking that they can not count on a full measure of close air support (CAS) should they need it.
Methodology and Approach:
The study methodology emphasized discussions with and reviewing papers from the tactical aviation and ground combat communities of the four services, SERVIAC and the JTCG. Historical review, lessons learned from major wars and other more recent events, were given strong consideration in the deliberations. Participation in nineteen joint service workshops, two Joint CAS Symposiums and extensive conversation via email (appendix a) with scores of experienced ground and air warriors broadened the base of information. The most recent workshop was held in August 2000 at a Booze-Allen-Hamilton facility in Arlington, Va. Participants were a mixture of active and retired officers from all services and specialty communities with strong representation from the infantry. Representatives from the JCAS Test and Evaluation Group at Eglin AFB and the Joint Readiness Training Center, Ft. Polk, Alabama made major contributions. Civilians from the OSD staff and local "think tanks" assisted in illuminating and exploring relevant issues.
Typical questions addressed during the inquiry included:
1. What functional services or forms of assistance do modern ground maneuver force components, especially the infantry, want from aviation?
2. What are the components of the operational problem of providing the services desired by ground maneuver elements, particularly when they are anticipating or are in contact with enemy forces?
3. What level of weather, in terms of ceiling and visibility, are likely to inhibit or restrict modem tactical combat aircraft from providing air support for troops in contact?
4. Are there any forms of aviation which are expected to support ground forces when they are engaged BNOC? Is there evidence
that they can fulfill the needs of ground combat elements engaged in maneuver warfare?
5. Does classical CAS satisfy the mission needs as expressed by the infantry? Is there evidence that CAS can be performed effectively above an undercast?
6. What is the nature of an air mission that has in the past or could in the future satisfy the expressed need of a ground maneuver warfare force?
7. What is the character of equipment, air crews qualifications and tactics which could satisfy the needs as expressed by infantry?
8. What evidence exists to support the view that the air defense threat is too formidable for BNOC operations in a dynamic maneuver warfare scenario?
9. What tactics and air deliverable weapons might be employed to better cope with the projected air defenses associated with maneuver warfare scenarios?
10. What is the operational format, employing manned and unmanned aircraft, which could best serve the ground combat element for evolving maneuver warfare concepts, especially those which employ "light" forces?
11. What would be the character of aircraft, weapons and tactics which might combine to restore tactical air dominance in the terrain flight regime for the purpose of supporting ground maneuver?
12. What is the utility for VA V technology relative to the family of tactical air warfare missions?
Observations and Findings:
The Infantry Ground Force Perspective - What They Want
The view both from three-wars experienced infantry and young officers who have embraced popular combined-arms maneuver warfare concepts expressed the need for an overwatching "presence" of airborne partners who understand the commanders intent and will: (1) help them see and communicate, (2) advise and aid them in attaining their objectives, (3) consult relative to adjusting current plans because of real-time inputs, (4) help avoid ambush and identify newly discovered obstacles (5) by virtue of their presence, erode the confidence of enemy leaders and (6) provide spontaneous suppression fires without interrupting ground maneuver. A
concern expressed by many infantry veterans was that the process of requesting, waiting for and receiving CAS (a service to be delivered by an outside/unknown agent) can result in delay and a loss of momentum.
The nature and breadth of desired functions extracted from the "grunt" community extends so far beyond the traditional products of CAS that a new term was created for this activity. To provide a distinction from CAS in this report, the mission is referred to as Maneuver Air Support (MAS). It became obvious that this mission must be performed beneath the overcast and by special pilots flying a mixture of aircraft selected to produce a virtual "bubble of support" which moves along with the ground maneuver element for the period required to accomplish its objective? 2
The Difference Between CAS and MAS:
Since Vietnam, CAS has evolved as a highly controlled complement to or substitute for artillery and naval ship to shore fires. Its primary utility lies in providing similar supporting fires within the FSCL (Fire Support Coordination Line) in areas which are sometimes beyond the reach of artillery. CAS fires are commonly requested to eliminate obstacles or to freeze the enemy in their current position or to "save the day" when the enemy has unexpectedly gained a dangerous advantage. Characteristically, air delivered fires are brief but massive and can be provided from strategic bombers, tactical fighter-bombers, CAS mission specialized A-10s or even transport aircraft modified as gunships. With the advent of "smart/brilliant" stand-off weapons, the capability to deliver ordnance to the vicinity of a set of coordinates is nearly independent of the character of the airframe from which it is released. For modern CAS, battlefield interdiction and strategic attack, the planning and C2 network and the character of the ordnance have come to assume greater importance than the type of aircraft and flight crew.
The proximity of friendly and enemy troops demands that the application of CAS be tightly controlled and coordinated. It is preferred that the mission be pre-planned, especially when other external fires are to be employed in the same area. Historically, clearance to release ordnance has required on-the-spot approval from an air liaison officer (ALO) or an
2. "The decidedly non-linear nature of the Marine Corps STOM concept and the Army Interim Combat Team and Objective Force Concepts is that they stretch the ability of the FSCL to accommodate maneuver. We may want to go to a moving bubble of battlespace through which these forces can maneuver in a nonlinear fashion". Col. Gary W. Anderson, USMC; Dir. of the Marine Corps Battle Lab, Quantico. 07/10/00
airborne forward air controller (FAC-A) who has both the target area and the delivery airplane in sight. Efforts are underway to alter this traditional rule so as to permit release of ordnance from above an overcast based on "reasonable assurance" that the correct target is being attacked and without danger to friendly troops. Experience with advanced control and guidance technology may someday convince both the airmen and the troops being served that this is a reliable and safe procedure. In this regard, it is worth noting that veteran combat pilots have always worried more about being a party to fratricide among their own troops than they do about their personal safety. Only time and experience will reveal the practicality and value of CAS fires delivered from above an overcast. In any event, unanimous support for CAS through the overcast is yet to come.
Typically, ground commanders prefer to accomplish their objectives utilizing organic firepower. When an obstacle appears which is beyond their capability they can be expected to call for artillery support. Air is regarded as the aid of last resort and their favorite forms are armed helicopters and the C-130 gunships (the helicopters flown by same service pilots assigned to support a unit are viewed as being more organic than the fighters flown by strangers from a distant source). C-130s often worked with a unit for prolonged periods such that they developed valuable report and situational awareness. It is significant that "ninety percent of all the ground clashes in South Vietnam were fought without the benefit of tactical air support.",3 One reason for this is that most contacts lasted less than twenty minutes, which may explains why infantry commanders, anticipating or wishing to avoid contact, desire continuous "air presence". Keep in mind that either side can suffer significant casualties in a brief firefight.
The value of CAS will generally reflect the frequency and quality of training and the mutual experience of the pilots and the ground units receiving it. Among current forces, there is little actual combat experience with CAS. Many combat veteran infantry officers regard CAS as a "last resort" remedy; their preference is to accomplish their objective with their organic weapons. CAS often requires significant planning and communications effort with no assurance as to when the request may be fulfilled. Historically, a significant factor in response time has been the period consumed by the ground commander in making an evaluation and
3. Ref: The War in South Vietnam by John Schlight, ISBN 0-912799-51-X; Air Force History & Museums Program 1999; pp 216
decision as to whether or not to request CAS.4 And, when "air" arrives, additional time is consumed for the FAC to establish communications, brief the pilots and mark targets. Further, there is a concern that CAS, when it arrives, could interrupt maneuver in a way that breaks the momentum or allows the enemy to disengage thus reducing prospects for mission accomplishment. Except for "last ditch, save the day" situations, in the minds of some, the net value is elusive. In summary, the potential benefits from CAS may not justify the risk of sporadically attempting to perform the mission in a hazardous environment beneath an overcast sky.
In contrast, the proposed MAS mission pilots and aircraft would routinely perform as an integral part of a combined-arms maneuver warfare team. These specially trained pilots (all FAC qualified) must be perceptive aerial observers who are fully informed regarding their assigned ground force commander's intent and would be in constant contact with him. Most important, MAS assigned units become virtually organic and satisfy the expressed need for air presence, as emphasized repeatedly by combat experienced infantry officers. Experience with this mode of operation has proven effective as described by various pilots who flew OV -10s in support of both Marine Corps and U.S. Army ground forces during both Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm. Similar favorable experience was accumulated with A-1 Skyraiders and F-4U Corsairs in both South East Asia and Korea.
Also, variations of this mission were popular and effectively flown by pilots of P-47' s in support of Patton's Third Army as it raced across France in 1944 as recounted by David Spires in Patton and Weyland: A Model for Air Ground Cooperation. There, the mission was sometimes referred to as "column cover".
In spite of its obvious enhancement to air-ground cooperation and maneuver warfare efficiency, the mission capability as demonstrated by OV-10 flight crews was eliminated as part of broad cost reduction measures implemented during the mid-nineties. During the preceding decade, the dwindling OV -10 force, from a resource conservation and training perspective, was clearly neglected. Evidence of its value, the saga of its struggle for survival and eventual demise are delineated in appendix (b). A
4. In the fierce battle of Ia Drang which began late on the morning of 14 November 1965, in retrospect, it was clear by 12:15 that help would be needed to survive the NVA attacks being mounted against the "invading" Seventh Cavalry air/ground combat element. The commander, however, did not call for external fires until 13:45. Fortunately, previously alerted A-1s arrived by 14:00. Ref: We Were Soldiers Once ...and Young. Chapter Six: The Battle Begins by Lt. Gen Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway
review of the testimony of OV-10 crews and ground officers who were recipients of their services provides a valuable perspective of the operational potential of MAS.
MAS pilots employing adaptive-cooperative command &control (C2) techniques would provide immediate response to the menu of needs of a ground combat element (GCE). They could also serve as an informed airborne relay to expedite the response and enhance the performance of other units providing CAS whether i! is to be delivered from above or below the overcast. Of major importance is that MAS pilots would be proficient at providing spontaneous light fires to erase small problems which otherwise could escalate to an emergency status requiring artillery and massive CAS fires to save the day. An applicable bit of wisdom here is: "a stitch in time saves nine".
CAS and MAS and the Overcast:
The scene of grunts cheering-on maneuvering air support pilots as they strafe and bomb enemy positions may be a fading anachronism. Standoff or remote CAS, as practiced today from medium to high altitudes, may someday be performed about as well from above an overcast with near equal benefits to ground combat elements.5 In the interim, it appears that overcast skies will continue to inhibit the presence of tactical fighters beneath the overcast. The response of infantry to those aviators who declare: "we'll come down and help you when you are in trouble" is twofold: (1) if we have your continuous presence we are less likely to get into serious trouble and (2) if you work down here only sporadically, you probably won't be very effective and, for sure, you will be more at risk. Although great for "out-of-sight" CAS, even the most optimistic view of emerging technology does not suggest a possibility for performing MAS from above an overcast. Ergo, if the circumstances, which discourage flying combat beneath an overcast, are immutable, the air support functions identified as most desired and needed by ground maneuver elements cannot be provided. The result would be a loss of advantage that full exploitation of low-level airspace could give U.S.
5. "Leveraging technology can relieve pilots from having to venture below cloud level thus putting them in greater danger from anti-aircraft and small caliber gunfire. The United States is capable of producing the technologies to see through the clouds and there are lots of techniques you can use to do that. Pilots should not have to venture below the clouds unless our troops are in jeopardy --- when our troops are in jeopardy, we will ..." General John Jumper, USAF, Commander ACC as quoted by Defense Week 17 April 2000 following a presentation on Capital Hill regarding the need for the F-22.
forces vis-a-vis their enemies. At the same time, directing pilots to try to perform the MAS mission employing current and/or programmed aircraft, weapons, tactics and C2 doctrine would yield, at best, marginal effectiveness with very high risk.6 The potential benefit to evolving light ground forces pleads for restoration and enhancement of an abandoned tactical air mission wrapped in new technology~
Dealing with the "specter" of Enemy Low Altitude Air Defense
The popular perspective of the air defense apparition as a "death dot" which an enemy soldier can easily superimpose upon any airplane with catastrophic consequence for the pilot has its roots in the latter phase of the war against North Vietnam. During the NVA Easter Offensive of 1972, USAF and South Vietnamese A-1, A-37 and OV-10 pilots were providing effective CAS beneath the low ceilings covering General Giap' s attacking forces. Air losses from anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) were relatively light as pilots were pressing attacks below overcasts of less than 500 feet. Suddenly, and without warning, there appeared the shoulder fired Russian Grail IR missile. Lacking counter-measures or SEAD tactics the reaction to increased losses was, quite naturally, to retreat to higher altitudes (a loss of battlespace BNOC). That "significant" aircraft attrition which caused such concern was on the order of 0.5% (or five losses/thousand sorties) which, in retrospect, is about equal to the average overall loss rate for total air action against North Vietnam between 1962-1973. It is interesting to consider that loss rates of ten times that level seldom caused a change in air attack plans during WWII where the loss rate for the entire conflict was nearly twenty five times the loss rate for SEA? Such observations leave the analyst with nagging questions as to the relevance of losses and what might be considered tolerable for a wide range of possible future political-military circumstances.
Should the advertised specter of future air defenses be permitted to eliminate a valuable military capability? Might it be worth reviewing what
6. It is pertinent that aircraft losses from operational causes, such as impacting trees, hills or other aircraft during sporadic low altitude combat flying, has on occasion, exceeded losses from enemy air defenses.
Source: Personal testimony by a number of combat veteran aviators during workshops.
7. Perspective of three major conflicts: SEA (5.2 million sorties/2257 ac lost) Loss Rate= 0.4%, Korea (711,000 sorties/1466 ac lost) Loss Rate=2.0%, WWII (2.36 million sorties 123,000 ac lost) Loss Rate= 9.7% (9.7/thousand sorties). Source: SEADAB USAF Statistical Digest, ref: page 219 The War in South Vietnam by John Schlight
measures were planned to deal with the advertised low altitude air defenses of the WARSAW PACT? Cannot similar measures (SEAD/DEAD tactics), enhanced by new technology, yield a tolerable flight environment for pursuing the MAS mission? What is the reaction of air defense units when faced with aggressive aerial counterforce attacks? Does it seem reasonable to abandon the valuable BNOC flight regime without trying to neutralize the projected low altitude air defense systems and erase the "death dot"? Is it time to become realistic about the illusion of "zero attrition" warfare? Is there a quantifiable difference in the value of lives of MAS pilots and the ground soldiers they are supporting? Should an aircraft hit by ground fire or a MANPADS missile necessarily equate to an aircraft lost? It was not so in Desert Storm. Should an aircraft downed equate to a pilot lost? Usually it has not. What is so different that helicopter pilots believe they can operate BNOC whereas fixed wing cannot? Can available technology, design innovation and JAAT tactics alter the balance in favor of the presence of manned aircraft? These questions and related considerations were thrashed about during the workshops and email discussions with the conclusion that the described MAS mission may be feasible even in the face of the imagined/proclaimed air defense threat. Philosophically, it is appropriate to remember that the antidote to despair is possibility. Further, the demonstration of MAS mission capability in various air defense environments is a necessary milestone along the path to recovering lost air battlespace BNOC.
The Armed Helicopter
The armed helicopter is a candidate for the MAS mission and various versions have done a creditable job of "filling the gap" but they are clearly not optimum. From a pilot's perspective, the inability to eject from a badly damaged aircraft is an unattractive feature, especially when the mission involves operations at low altitude near and over a hostile force. The advantages of helicopters include the ability to establish a base of operations close to the scene of battle thus affording an opportunity for face to face contact with those being supported. On the other hand, rotary wing aircraft exhibit a higher maintenance burden and lower reliability than fixed wing aircraft. Also, they are not as easily deployed. The low transit speed of the helicopter is not a problem unless you have a need to hurry. Fixed wing aircraft, properly designed, should exhibit a lower vulnerability to ground fire. At the same time, helicopters and fixed wing can operate as an effective team (JAAT) to the advantage of both.
During the past decade, we have witnessed a surge of interest in the utility of UAVs for a wide array of missions. In fact, there is a virtual mania to promote the UAVs a substitute for every mission imaginable. A suggested criteria for screening UAV applications begins by listing all the tactical and strategic combat and support missions and then asking for which missions does man seem most and least essential for mission success. It seems obvious that man is least essential for missions that are methodical and predictable and easily simulated such as strategic attack or "going downtown" where the targets are prominent and fixed and the route has been carefully established. Much of battlefield interdiction, especially well beyond the FSCL, is compatible with emerging UAV technology. The most natural missions for UAVs are surveillance and reconnaissance and early warning. In some cases, area and point air defense might be better accomplished by UAVs and SAMs than manned interceptors. Man-on-the scene appears to be most essential when the end game of the mission and the combat situation are undergoing constant change. Two such missions which come to mind are (1) air-to-air combat over the contested zone, especially when the action involves many-on-many and (2) the MAS mission as described in this report. In any event, it may be that UAVs can make an important contribution as a part of a JAAT conceived to perform MAS.
Hypothesis and Interrogatory:
It is obvious that we are witnessing a transition in perceived functions and form of ground combat elements for accomplishing a wide spectrum of military objectives. It is not surprising that a concise format for future GCEs and the wherewithal for supporting them do not yet exist. Designing an effective and viable arrangement invites application of the Architect's Creed which states: Form Shall Follow Function. How to provide future ground commanders pertinent real-time information and serve their other stated needs conjures a plethora of possible solutions. The situation is ripe for experimentation to clarify and sort out the possibilities and in the process, to discover what we don't know we don't know.
Recommendations for Actions Outside the Sphere of Existing Plans:
1. Concept Utility Experiment (CUE) of the MAS mission using surrogate aircraft (manned and unmanned) beneath overcast skies with variations in terrain, air defense deployments and enemy/friendly situations. Precede exercises with extensive pilot/ground element team training and refinement of adaptive C2 doctrine/techniques. Employ former OV-1O and Cobra crews and current A-10 pilots to assist in developing doctrine and flight techniques. Consult with JCAS Office and JRTC training personnel re procedures and ALO/F AC training. Strive for synergistic employment of manned and unmanned aircraft, extracting the best use of each for SEAD and "reconnaissance-by-fire" applications of Joint Air Attack Team (JAAT) techniques. Aircraft with capabilities to serve as mission capable surrogates (appendix d) for MAS experiments include the retired OV-10 Bronco, the Argentine Pucara, the A-37 and the T-6 Texan II (JPATS). A unique prototype, the ARES, see Fig. 1 , was flown by Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites in the Mojave Desert circa 1989. The agility and reduced signature (IR, RCS and visual) of ARES make it useful for exploring the possibilities for countering air defenses at very low altitude (appendix e).
2. ATLAS Development: The primary product of the CUE will be MAS mission relevant data. If the results suggest high military utility, the DoD should consider funding a design and development effort leading to procurement of a tactically significant batch of manned and unmanned aircraft to demonstrate the ability tq execute MAS in the face of enemy air defenses. Characteristics for a MAS mission capable aircraft which can exploit the Terrain Flight Environment (an Army term for the region between the mud and 300 feet), to be called the ATLAS (Air/Terrain Light Attack System), see Fig.2, would include:
. High agility (accel or decel quickly as well as generating desired turning "g")
* Can attack in a nearly vertical flight path (large speed brakes or neutralizing/reversing thrust to create instant high drag)
* STOL under 1500 feet dirt strips (UDF/Turbo Prop possibilities (see appendix f)
* Exceptional cockpit visibility with TV cameras for relaying imagery to ground
* Low "A" kill vulnerability to ground fire through 23mm (emphasis on projectile entry from forward and below)
* Turbo-prop or UDF pusher configuration (explore both one and two engines)
* Minimum IR and Visual signatures (size & power source considerations)
* Camouflage paint scheme to blend into sky/foliage. Redundant flight controls like A-10/AH-64
* Recovery Parachute for entire plane (option for both manned and unmanned)
* Tree Top Altitude Snatch Escape for Crew
* Message Drop Capability ala OV-10
* EO/IRCM with SEAD/DEAD and smokescreen capability
* 30 or 25mm cannon/.50 caliber guns, quick rockets and low-alt sub- munitions . Fixed-wing: long loiter/high reliability/minimum maintenance/crew escape
* Low-cost (goal < $15M ea. for 500 units in FYOO dollars); explore "throwaway" concepts
* Manned and unmanned versions and dual tandem crew options
* Supportable under austere conditions via five ton trucks
* Self Start Capability
* Fuelable and Maintainable from ground standing position
* Enlisted pilot/technicians for operating unmanned versions
* WO/Officer pilots from AH-1/UH-1/A-10 communities for manned versions
* Self-deploy from CONUS using external fuel tanks (3,000 mile range)
* USAF C-17 can internally carry a half dozen per load . Option of operating from a CV without arresting gear/catapult (thrust reverse)
Fig.2 A Sample ATLAS Design
3. Operational Mission Exploration (OME): While CUE is underway, form a "Cactus Air Force" (CAF) capable of operating from forward austere bases with experimental adaptive C2 techniques in support of an Army Brigade tailored for maneuver warfare. The unit might be formed about 8 to 12 OA-10s staffed with selected pilots to receive appropriate training to include becoming FAC (A) qualified and expert at flying within the Terrain Flight Environment (between the Mud and 300 feet). Co-locate with a dozen Army Apache and newly remanufactured Marine Cobra
helicopters and a "Spooky" AC-130U gunship. This composite unit will expand/refine JAAT (Joint Air Attack Team) tactics with emphasis on SEAD/DEAD exploiting the synergistic capabilities of armed helicopters when linked with the OA-10s and visiting F-16/F-18 tactical fighters.
Explore the utility of selected UAVs to contribute to the MAS mission as part of Cactus Air Force operations. Detachments from the CAF would be sent to exercise with Army units and with other tactical fighters at JR TC and NTC. Data gathered here to be applied to design/training of eventual MAS mission capable units and companion ground combat elements and for writing preliminary doctrine and tactics manuals. A byproduct of this effort would be a nucleus of combat-ready MAS aircraft/crews of the CAF to accompany any battalion or brigade that might have to be deployed to a contingency operation anywhere the world while ATLAS is being developed. This interim capability would be a boon to overall Joint Forces combat readiness. Not to be overlooked, the effort of orchestrating this operation would constitute a major accomplishment toward evolving a Joint Strike Force with appropriate air support, even on a cloudy day. The OA-10: Suggested changes to the A-10 for the MAS mission would include: Removing at least half of the wing stores racks to improve its T/D ratio, the goal being to improve its acceleration capability (a by-product is an additional 20 kts. of speed). In addition, hang a pair of GECAL .50 Gatling guns (2000 to 8000 spm) to expand the "light fires" capability for suppression and reconnaissance-by-fires. Provide appropriate target marking rockets. Retrieve the CBU low altitude « 100') dispensing capability that was available twenty years ago (the goal is to be able lay down a narrow swath of sub-munitions while flying within the terrain mask).
4. CAAG Experiment: Explore the possibility of CAF OA-1Os, UA Vs, FACs, Army AH-64, OH-58D helicopters and combat engineers formed into Composite AF/ Army Air Group (CAAAG) to support the Fort Lewis Interim Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) as part of the Army's "transformation" initiative underway on the west coast. Another CAAAG formed at Pope AFB to support XVIII Airborne Corps on the east coast. The imagery of the UA Vs and CAP's OA-1Os and Apaches to be piped into ALO's terrain-agile FAC ground vehicles, along with reports from Army Scouts (also in their own terrain-agile ground vehicles) to verify and establish "ground truth" and situational awareness (SA) for the maneuver element commander to employ MAS most effectively. In some situations, MAS pilots perform "recce-by-fire" and are ready to respond to the needs
when the force encounters the enemy in a meeting engagement or aides in avoiding contact when that is the commander's intent. All happening BNOC.
6. ATLAS Employment Experiment: Integrate an operationally tested ATLAS squadron into the U.S. Army to create an organic MAS capability to be combat ready for joint combined arms operations by 2020 thereby fully recovering the lost battlespace BNOC as it pertains to supporting ground maneuver and emerging plans for Joint Strike Force (JSF) or Rapid Decisive Operations (RDO) concepts.
7. Explore Massive Stand-Off Radar Jamming to aid with SEAD/DEAD for selected high threat battle scenarios. Consider exploiting advanced Lighter than Air technology which permits the inclusion of gigantic sized antennas and ultra high power levels not attainable with more limited volume heavier than air vehicles (appendix g). Reference USAF SAB study on SEAD Alternatives (circa 1990).
8. Expand the current inventory of C-130U Gunships (Spooky) from the current force of approximately 20 by at least 50%. Spooky, albeit operating above the overcast, satisfies two of the primary needs expressed by the infantry: PRESENCE and immediate light fires for suppression. These gunships would be a valuable element of a MAS mission JAAT if afforded an opportunity to deploy and practice with the low flying OA-1Os, armed helicopters and higher flying tactical fighters. A JAAT which includes Spooky could be especially valuable for SEAD/DEAD.
9. ALOs & FACs Career Opportunity: Establish an attractive career path for officer, warrant and enlisted ALOs and FACs and provide the training necessary to produce stability in teams which can extract the best from whatever aircraft are available for ground support. Illuminate the need for intensive training exercises when battalions are in garrison --- this offers a high payoff for relatively small investment opportunity.
10.MAS Pilot Career Opportunity: Establish a career opportunity for officer and enlisted personnel to specialize as ground support pilots for extended unbroken periods to raise the level of excellence and unit cohesion of the squadrons. It appears that there are many young enlisted and officer personnel who are eager to be career pilots if given an opportunity to remain
at the trade long enough to attain operational excellence vice being career programmed. This could be a force multiplier!
The author of this report became immersed in the struggle to tailor "air" resources for supporting ground forces when, in 1960, he was invited to fly with Army officers experimenting with armed helicopters (.30 cal. machine guns strapped to skids of OH-13s) at Ft. Rucker, Alabama. That band of characters (infantry, armor and artillery officers) had concluded that they would never get the kind of air support they wanted from the USAF and were determined to create their own, albeit, they were prohibited by law (Key West) to go beyond incorporating rotary wing technology for combat tasks. If they had been offered a few hundred Navy ADs (blue A-1s), they would probably have evolved a propeller driven fixed wing Army Air Corps. Unfortunately their dream of an armed helicopter force dedicated to serving a company commander has faded. According to the "grunts", the Army Aviation Branch, not unlike the USAF, has developed an appetite for more "productive" activities in the mission realm of Deep Attack.
There is a strong desire, within the Army and among marines, for aviation to satisfy the needs as described in the section headed "The Infantry Perspective --- What They Want". Their message is not much different from what was expressed by the troops at Ft. Rucker in 1960 except it is now backed up by experiences in Vietnam 8 and subsequent military events. Also, it repeats the views recorded during the 19 government sponsored workshops on the subject of Fire Support for Troops Engaged that were conducted between 1985 and present. The message from the troops during this forty year period reminds one of the repetitious sound of a "gong" which emits only small variations in its tone and volume, mostly as a function of the direction of the wind.
During the war in Vietnam, both the Army and the Marines benefited from the presence of the OV-10 which for years enhanced the function of their CAS related C2 networks. In the early seventies, a chorus of approval,
8. A reference which will convey a lasting picture of the problems which can occur when air support is not present and an equally impressive view of how it can save the day can be had by merely reading chapter 20, "Death in the Tall Grass" of the book We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young by retired Army General. Hal Moore and Joe Galloway, Harper Perennial 1992.
with some disbelief, came from the Army when the USAF reluctantly embraced the A-10 Then in the mid-nineties the marine OV-10 force fell victim to a budget induced decision to disband that capability which had proved so useful in SEA and Desert Storm. In this same time frame, following an enlightening experience relative to the demonstrated broad utility of the "single purpose" A-10 in Desert Storm, the USAF made an intelligent decision to extend the operational life of the Warthog for at least another decade or so. Meanwhile, there is no visible effort to create an A-10 follow-on although the need seems obvious. At the same time, the Navy and Marine Corps lack aircraft that meet well established criteria for operations BNOC where they are obligated to support STOM operations involving GCEs that need assured external fire support. 9
The need for dedicated air support for ground combat elements which are destined to become lighter, more mobile and trained to execute three dimensional maneuver warfare concepts, compels the DoD to explore possibilities for fielding an appropriate aircraft. In gross terms, such an aircraft (the ATLAS) might be described as a small, very agile and survivable cross between a Bronco and a Warthog that could fly either from a dirt strip or an aircraft carrier without using catapults or arresting gear (as did the Bronco). But of course, to be effective at MAS, selected pilots of these birds must be specially trained and encouraged to practice beneath an overcast with other components of a joint air attack team (JAAT). They, with specialized equipment, may be the keys to taking back and exploiting the lost battlespace.
MAS tactics and flight techniques can be expected to evolve from the exploratory exercises. A sample of possible aerial activity is offered to aid in visualization of a concept of operations. When in support of a battalion sized ground combat element (GCE), an airborne JAAT might consist of three to five ATLAS (OA-Xs) and two or three Apaches/Cobras linked and working in the terrain flight environment (between fifty and two hundred feet) with Spooky in orbit at 12000 feet. Such a group, while flying in mutual support of each other, is simultaneously seeking, gaming, suppressing and killing enemy air defenses while applying light fires against enemy ground forces as desired by the GCE commander. Also, the OA-Xs assist with calls for artillery and control/coordination of CAS, when either is
9. General James L. Jones, Commandant of the Marine Corps. Excerpt from interview by Patricia Hollis on "Fixing Marine Artillery" as published in the DoD Early Bird 13 Oct 2000: "We have atrophied our marine ground fires inventory to a dangerous point. We're out-gunned and out-ranged by just about everyone."
needed and available. During three dimensional operations such as STOM, this group will fly "shotgun" escort for insertion elements employing V -22s or helicopters. Pilots, while hunting and performing local "recce-by-fires" in a high threat area, are advised to avoid rising above the terrain mask for periods in excess of 10 or 12 seconds and abstain from steady heading flight in excess of 5 seconds; such tactics minimize susceptibility to air defenses.
The nature of such flying plus the observation and communications burden may well dictate the need for a second crewman, probably a ground combat officer. Night MAS beneath an overcast can feature Spooky coupled with Apache Longbow and CUAVs (including unmanned as well as manned versions of ATLAS). Of course, both night and day tactics will vary with the terrain, weather, threat and the tactical objectives. As in the past, the definitive forms of the equipment and the techniques for effective application are best determined from exercises which afford opportunities to couple innovative combinations of technology with variations in air-ground team tactics. To quote Socrates: "One must learn by doing the thing, for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try."
The study of how to recover tactical aviation's lost battlespace beneath the overcast has led to the conclusions that:
* Novel though it would be, dedication of a specialized segment of tactical combat air forces to improve the prospects for success of futuristic maneuver warfare concepts must be viewed as a prudent allocation of resources. 10
. Considering the risk, flying ill-suited high-performance tactical fighters beneath an overcast in order to perform the Close Air Support (CAS) mission can seldom be justified.
10. Battle of Ia Drang, 1965: "There were about 250 men of my battalion on the ground and still functioning. Casualties were beginning to pile up. . ... I fleetingly thought of a predecessor of mine in the Seventh Cavalry, LtCol George Armstrong Custer and his final stand in the valley of the Little Bighorn, eighty nine years earlier. I was determined that history would not repeat itself in the valley of the Ia Drang. We had one thing George Custer did not have--fire support." We Were Soldiers Once ...and Young by Moore and Galloway. In this situation, external fires, especially from the A-1s, saved the unit from annihilation. The objective of the MAS concept is to avoid having such situations develop to the point where "save the day" actions are necessary.
* Maneuver Air Support (MAS), a mission to provide functions most valued by the "grunts" and needed for support of "light" forces, may be performed within the terrain flight environment with reasonable risk; the potential benefit warrants the recommended experimentation.
* Exploring the potential for MAS through execution of the recommended set of experiments, design exercises and personnel adjustments is a low risk, modest investment path to attaining a full spectrum three dimensional maneuver warfare capability by 2020.
* A by-product of the presence of MAS capable units operating as components of a JAAT will probably include improvement in the effectiveness of and reduced risk to high performance fighters performing CAS beneath an overcast.
The momentum associated with the investment proposed to modernize US tactical airforces tends to inhibit the kinds of actions prescribed in this report. At the same time, to attain the level of performance required to reach full spectrum dominance by 2020 may demand extraordinary measures. It is suggested that to discover and verify the possibilities for breakthrough performance in air-ground cooperation will require a special task group with the freedom to act parallel to and possibly outside the sphere of current development and procurement activity.
C.E. Myers Jr.
STATEMENT OF WORK Aerocounsel Inc.
Task Number: 00-04
Task Title: Recover Tactical Air (TACAIR) Battle Space Beneath an Overcast Sky (BNOC)
Task Title: Recover Tactical Air (TACAIR) Battle Space Beneath an Overcast Sky (BNOC)
The Air Battle Space Beneath an Overcast Sky (BNOC) is important when a conflict involves ground combat wherein our forces are depending on tactical aviation (TACAIR) to support their offensive or defensive planK It becomes critical when the adversary holds an advantage or has created a situation wherein survivability of Glim ground forces may hang in the balance. In some cases, because of the location of an engagement, fixed wing tactical aviation may be the only choice for applying the extra firepower required to recover from a difficult situation. Also, the very presence of friendly air working as part of a joint attack team can provide the rnargin of advantage such as to avoid development of a critical ground situation.
The following factors combine to restrict modern tactical fighters and attack aircraft from attacking enemy ground forces that are operating BNOC, especially in rolling terrain, "with a high clutter index".
* Improvement in performance and proliferation of enemy EO/IR SAMs.
* Characteristics of many air-to-surface weapons systems which constrain freedom of maneuver and altitude of the attacking aircraft preparatory to weapon launch.
* Limitations on target acquisition/recognition and identification with available sensors
* Observation, Communications and Decision processes that are aggravated by the BNOC environment, line of sight restrictions/reaction time and the "fog of war".
* Survivability of high performance F/A aircraft to small-arms fire.
Note: BNOC refers to marginal VFR weather with typically 800-1500 ft overcast ragged ceiling with 2 to 5 miles visibility and scattered light precipitation. This degree of weather, especially when coupled with rough terrain, precludes effective support from tactical aviation; such was not the case thirty to forty years ago.
8. Clearly define parameters of the situations and problems which preclude TACAIR from providing effective air support for troops engaged under conditions of adverse weather, in particular, for operations beneath an overcast sky.
b. Evolve a set of actions which can lead to marked improvement in the capability of TACAIR to provide direct and timely air support to ground forces engaged in close combat beneath overcast skies; actions which will Recover TACAIR's Lost Battle Space.
3.0 RATIONALE see attached sole source justification
4.0 TECHNICAL REQUIREIVIENTS/TASKS
The subcontractor will execute the following tasks as directed by the Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for (A&T) toward attaining the objectives prescribed above:
Task 1 - Provide a written plan for conducting forums for an unrestricted exchange of information and creation of a data based definition of the operational problems and possible solution paths.
Task 2 - Plans for the forums are to include times, locations, designation of facilities, desired attendees, procedures, agenda etc.
Task 3 - Arrange with the Chairman of the JTCG (AS) and JTCG (ME) and other appropriate technical/operational sources to discuss their possible contributions such as survivability/vulnerability data and wapon effectiveness over a range of weather and terrain conditions.
Task 4 - Arrange contacts with various centers of Tactics Development (MAWTS, Fallon, Nellis, Ft. Rucker, etc.) to reveal their views and plans for employment of tactics, weapons and operational procedures which could afford successful prosecution of air support of troops engaged under a range of threat, weather and terrain conditions. Develop a conversation with combat veteran infantry to develop their view of what they want from TACAIR.
Task 5 - Follow-up with J-S, Joint Staff relative their contribution to assembling appropriate Joint tactical aviation and infantry representatives from JCS and/or outlying commands to participate in the discussions of the problems and solution options.
Task 6 - Make contact with J-9 at JFC relative to their participation with an eye toward possible Joint experiments (planned or proposed) which could reveal the utility of suggested solution options. .
Task 7 - In consultation with the above and the designated OSD staff POC, create the agenda for the first Joint meeting, the target date for which is mid July 2000.
Task 8 - Facilitate, moderate, and conduct discussions and meetings related to restoration of the capability for TACAIR to support ground maneuver under adverse weather. Record the product of the exchanges and present in written and briefing format to the Principle Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (A&T) along with recommendations for follow-on actions.
5.0 ITEMS/ DATA TO BE DELIVERED
The subcontractor shall provide the following during the term of the contract:
Monthly status reports that describe work accomplishments and cost performance for the preceding month as well as future plans and recommendations.
A Technical Report on the Activity with Findings and Proposed Solution Options for Tasks 1 through 8.
A Final written Technical Report for this task shall detail the work performed, objectives of the task, methodology used, data collected, analyses conducted, innovative ideas, cogent thoughts, conclusions and recommendations. Technical Reports shall be delivered to Booz Allen & Hamilton.
6.0 GOVERNMENT FURNISHED EQUIPMENT, PROPERTY AND/OR DATA:
The government will provide the following services:
* Access to government facilities that will be frequently visited
* Visit certification and site coordination for any extended visits to government sites
* Access to all data and technical reports necessary to perform the tasks stated.
7.0 SECURITY REQUIREMENTS:
Access to classified data/information up to and including SECRET will be required in the performance of this SOW.
8.0 Period of Performance:
6 Months after contract award.