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The Iraq thread 4

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That's right, our troops get air support from a wide variety of sources and that's why they can see the difference between them.

They might not have the choice of who responds to their requests, but they certainly have first hand experience of what level of support each different airforce is able to provide them.

They are in an ideal position to distinguish between them and identify any shortfalls.

And most certainly if multiple air units are available on station, they will call up which ever one is best suited for the strike. Be that F16, Tornado or Sopwith Camel.

The F16 is a fighter. The Dutch and the American's both use them. It has a bigger payload than the Harrier and a longer range. It can stay on station for longer and carry a wider variety of armaments.

Like you I don't see the F16 as any particular improvement on the Tornado for CAS, in fact I think it is inferior due to it's smaller payload and range and only having one pair of eyes onboard.

I'm not attempting to suggest to you that fast jets are unable to provide CAS, only that they are not the first choice of airframe for the role.

Essentially they are being used as multi-role aircraft and consequently suffer compromises. The USAF has dedicated, purposed designed close air-support at it's disposal and the RAF (and the Dutch) do not.

Superior numbers is part of the USAF's capability advantage, but it is not the whole story.

The F-16 is hardly able to provide the level of close air support provided by an AC-130 for example. It's just not in the same capability league.

Pretty much as you say, the troops make the best of what is available and doubtless greatly appreciate any help they can get.

But this does not in anyway change the fact that the USAF is better equiped to provide close air support than either the Dutch or the British or that this is an area of capability that has been the RAF's primary combat role for decades now, but that it still has no dedicated airframes for.

The Hawk and the Typhoon maybe an effective answer to that shortfall, but ultimately they are cost cutters.

Symbolic of underfunding. A make do solution rather than an prefered one.

I hold to my opinion that the RAF has a capability gap for CAS, one that neither the Typhoon nor the Hawk is able to provide.

In my opinion solutions like the AC 130 are highly cost effective ways of plugging this gap.

An aircraft comparable to the Argentine Pucara is a great way of addressing both the capability gap and the cost of providing greater numbers of available aircraft in theatre.

Instead, we are suggesting to reduce our effective national air defence by diverting very expensive Typhoons from a role they are best suited for at a time when the Russians have resumed the very bomber patrols that they were procured to intercept.

I might even suggest to you that this is false economy, that the running costs of a Typhoon are likely to be higher than than the procurement costs and running costs of a Pucara combined.

It is true to say that the USAF have more airpower available to them to answer the call of U.K. ground troops, but it is not true that this is an agreeable scenario.

The U.K. should be able to protect it's own troops.

This reliance on foreign air support greatly undermines the ability of British forces to act independantly and as such reduces our national capability. It is a shortfall.

Our troops are dependant on foreign CAS. They should not be.

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