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Army Fixed-Wing Ground Attack Aircraft: A Historical Precedent and Contemporary Rationale

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Technical Report,11 Aug 2014,12 Jun 2015

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US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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Close Air Support CAS depends on close cooperation between ground and air units, predicated on mutual understanding and close proximity. CAS also depends on aviator training and aircraft characteristics. Despite predictions of air powers dominance, air-ground teams are the most effective employment of military power. This thesis demonstrates that the modern Army Combat Aviation Brigade mimics the WWII Tactical Air Commands effective, close working relationship between air and ground units. However, Army Aviation lacks fixed-wing attack aircraft, forcing the Army to rely on the Air Force for fixed-wing CAS. Utilizing non-organic means for critical functions violates unity of command and results in CAS performed by aircraft primarily designed for other missions. This situation is likely to worsen in the coming years. This thesis summarizes Army-Air Force CAS issues since WWII and argues that the Army requires an organic fixed wing attack aircraft to bridge the capability gap between its helicopters and USAF platforms at the tactical level. Fielding such aircraft would free the Air Force to focus on its broader missions while enhancing the capabilities of Army Aviation.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Aircraft Operations
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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