Seeing the Whole Elephant. Envisioning a Successful Light Attack Program for the US Air Force
AIR AND SPACE POWER JOURNAL MAXWELL AFB AL
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Acquisition of a capable, multirole, light attack capability by the US Air Force USAF is not a foregone conclusion. Faced with budgetary pressures, diminishing resources, institutional resistance, and acquisition-system challenges, advocates of reestablishing a light attack capability have encountered substantial difficulty in encouraging the USAF to start a credible program. Much of the work completed thus far has involved advocating for a capability, determining operational requirements, and defining the costs and timelines for acquiring light attack capabilities exemplified by the notional OA-X aircraft. This article does none of those things. In order to argue the vision effectively, this discussion paints the complete picturean idealized view of a complete OA-X program that the USAF aggressively pursues, rapidly procures, and completes by the end of this decade. Written from a 2018 viewpoint, the article looks back on the success of the program. In this case, idealized does not mean entirely free of resource constraints. Although the total fleet size remains undefined, it is considerably larger than the 15-aircraft buy currently envisioned by Headquarters USAF. Notably, the OA-X remains a complementary capability rather than a replacement for either legacy fighters or the F-35 the increased fleet size reflects the likelihood that the emerging demand for this capability will likely prove far greater than anticipated. In order to present a story of a completed program in a relatively short time, the article imposes minimal constraints on acquisition and basing specifically, it assumes that the USAF can procure off-the-shelf aircraft to meet immediate needs and can base them in locations that make the most sense.
- Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies