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CAS -- A Turboprop Solution for the COIN Fight

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Research paper

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Counterinsurgency COIN and asymmetric warfare have become the new norm in modern warfare. As the U.S. military adapts to this ever-evolving fight, a shortfall has developed in Close Air Support CAS delivery. Modern U.S. fighters bring a terrific punch to the battlefield, but their limited on-station time and high attack velocities make them a poor fit for complex CAS delivery in the COIN fight. Attack helicopters are formidable platforms, but their slow speed makes for long transit times to and from the fight. Fixed wing and rotary wing attack aircraft are very expensive machines to fly and maintain. Todays Forward Air Controller PAC is often under fire, on the move, or cannot see the target. Our Information Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft are over-worked and in high demand. A possible solution to this situation is an off-the-shelf turboprop aircraft. Modern turboprop aircraft are fast most of the models discussed in this paper can fly at 300 plus knots. They can deliver ordnance at survivable speeds that still allow for solid target acquisition. These aircraft also are very affordable. Their initial purchase prices are fractions of what a modern jet costs, and turboprops are much cheaper to operate than rotary wing or fixed wing aircraft. They are survivable, too. Many turboprops are built with the latest Aviation Survivability Equipment installed, or at least hardwired for the upgrade. Modern turboprops also have incredible endurance some of the models presented here can loiter for over 5 hours on-station. This allows the pilot to develop a high degree of situational awareness and to direct the airborne fight with precision. And most modern turboprops are hardwired for off-the-shelf sensors, such as the third generation Brite Star from FLIR Systems. Overall, turboprops are very capable aircraft that bridge the performance gap between rotary and fixed wing aircraft in an economical way.

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  • Aircraft
  • Unconventional Warfare

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