OV-10s deployed against Daesh

A pair of nearly 50-year-old planes has been brought out of retirement to fight ISIS.

As the article notes, the Air Force likes shiny new – and expensive – things. But there’s nothing wrong with using old technology when you’re not going up against new technology. A Cessna 172 can do things a Gulfstream cannot. Similarly a slow turboprop can do things a supersonic jet cannot. Incidentally, most of the General Aviation fleet is around 40-50 years old. So what’s wrong with pulling old planes out of Davis-Monthan? I believe Honeywell is still building the engines.

Besides, the OV-10 just looks cool. :cool:

Made me think of what an upgraded, Titanium-armored P-51 could do.

When I worked at Eddie’s Air Patch, there were two PA-48 Enforcers on the ramp.

When I was a young Lieutenant, I worked on a program called the YA-7F. It was a stretched version of the A-7D which was a really good weapons platform. They were looking for a replacement for the A-10 (yes, they have been at that for almost 30 years). When it was evident that the A-7F was not he answer, they were looking at other solutions like the A-16–an F-16 with no legs to do that mission. Another was a resurrection of the Mustang. That had real promise in an apocalypse scenario. the idea was a) you’d have a lot of losses due to modern weaponry, but they were so cheap that you could build thousands (we don’t typically throw pilots into the dust bin like that unless its a survival of the nation issue). They have comparable speed, but if you armor a P-51 like an A-10 (e.g. titanium bathtub) you have a pig.

Considering that ISIS has burned a captured Jordanian aviator to death before, using nearly-50-year old warplanes as an experiment against ISIS sure sounds like a risky way to experiment something.

This would hardly be the first war in which captured combatants were treated inhumanely.

Considering the Air Force’s main heavy bombers are over 50 years old and expected to stick around for another couple of decades’ service, bringing back on line a proven COIN light armed recon asset from the same age is not so far fetched.

And like **Flyer **said, it’s not like those going up against this bunch of psychos on whatever vehicle don’t know what they face if caught…

that’s what A-10’s and Apaches are for. It’s not like they throw an OV-10 out in the war zone and hope for the best. There’s a whole network of support behind the plane.

“Bogey’s air speed not sufficient for intercept. Suggest we get out and walk.”

Of course I’m not suggesting we send Skyhawks into battle. I was just pointing out that a piston-engine single can do things a business jet cannot and, by extension a single-engine or twin-engine turboprop can do things ‘fast-movers’ can’t do. For example, a Cessna or a Piper can land on and take off from many more places a Gulfstream or Lear can’t. A Cessna is better for sightseeing or for searching, though a Gulfstream is better for getting across the country in a short time.

IMO the A-10 is better for some operations than just about any other aircraft because it was designed specifically to do the task it does. But I think it’s over-designed for the counterinsurgency role. The OV-10 seems better for some operations. It can maneuver in tighter quarters than the A-10 or F-35 (though the A-10 is no slouch in that department). You don’t really need a GAU-8/A to take out personnel or trucks, and the OV-10 has four .50 caliber machine guns that are nicely suited to do the job. The OV-10 is also considerably cheaper to buy (especially since there are several out of the 360 built that still exist) and operate than an A-10 or other less-suitable jet.

I think a turboprop is a very good choice for the type of warfare we find ourselves involved in nowadays. There’s no way the OV-10 is going back into production, but it’s very interesting (to me) to see them deployed 20 years after they were retired. A more likely COIN aircraft – especially since we’ve already purchased some for the Afghan Air Force – is the Embraer Super Tucano. At between $9 million and $14 million each and an operating cost of around $500/hour, they’re much cheaper than any A-10 replacement, and they are better suited to the role.

A really good read about operating OV-10s in Vietnam is A Lonely Kind of War by by Marshall Harrison. Crazy stuff.

I have exactly one ride in the back seat of an OV-10. Tres cool. Noisy as all get out though.

I would imagine the OV-10s are being used for the same role they were designed for: forward air control, not attack.

ISIS is not that different an enemy from the Viet Cong. Lots of infantry & some trucks with little effective air defense. What you need to defeat that is lots of loiter time at a couple thousand feet of altitude, and the ability to hand off targets to real bomb wagons.

The OV-10s machine guns & bomb or rocket load would not be enough to be real useful for US-scale warfare. Other lighter militaries make use of newer aircraft that are more or less equivalent: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embraer_EMB_314_Super_Tucano , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TAI_Hürkuş

See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_Attack/Armed_Reconnaissance for a tale of bureaucratic & political infighting around this mission.

I’ve often thought that if you could mount a few guns to one of those old slow planes, and have each gun individually aimed and controlled remotely, you could really do some damage in this type of warfare.