QDR Signals JSF and Counterinsurgency Planes Live

Giving the DoD’s latest Quadrennial Defense Review a close look, it seems as if the Pentagon poobahs hashed out a juxtaposed message for the Boys in (sky) Blue. 

On page 10 of the executive summary of the 2010 QDR, it says that the US air force will be able to take advantage of F-22s and JSFs for air dominance and still buzz around in retro planes like the Super Tucano or Air Tractor when “training” counterinsurgency forces. 

U.S. air forces will become more survivable as large numbers of fifth-generation fighters join the force. Land-based and carrier-based aircraft will need greater average range, flexibility, and multimission versatility in order to deter and defeat adversaries that are fielding more potent anti-access capabilities. We will also enhance our air forces’ contributions to security force assistance operations by fielding within our broader inventory aircraft that are well-suited to training and advising partner air forces

That seems like a big victory for the COIN Air Force Wing advocates, but we’ll see what the details are when the services give their breakouts today (Colin and Greg are on the case). 

The QDR lays out more COIN-related aviation moves, including fielding two new Navy helicopter squadrons dedicated solely for special operations missions. One has to wonder whether those aviation assets will help answer the mail for those worried about a lack of dedicated aviation elements for MarSOF troops. And the fearsom Spectre will get a makeover as well, with the Air Force buying converting 16 C-130Js and phasing out older AC-130s for a net of 35 aircraft from 25. 

And, last but not least, my former Navy Times compadre will be glad to know the QDR calls for the Navy to add a fourth riverine squadron to the force. “PBR Streetgang this is Almighty do you copy, over…” 

— Christian

  • ohwilleke

    Seems to me that a COIN air fleet and a CAS air fleet could be one and the same, even though the former is “irregular warfare” while the latter is the decidedly old school conventional warfare like the kind of anti-tank missions that the A-10 ran in Iraq.

    Two other missions for the Air Force also seem underexplored.

    One is the notion that the homeland defense air security could use a plane that is far cheaper and less capable than the F-35 for missions like protecting NYC and DC airspace. These planes wouldn’t overlap with COIN/CAS much at all. They would be all air-to-air, but without the need for the stealth, extreme speed, super-agility and missile load size of an F-22.

    The other is increased use of aircraft to deploy cruise missiles in lieu of warships, for the same missions. Military aircraft look expensive until you compare them to ships.

    Take these missions off the F-35s plate and you don’t need nearly so many of them.

  • pedestrian

    Where is our AC-27J!?

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