Archive for the ’Precision Strike’ Category
The Economist has provided this insightful article on the reasons why nations are choosing to go with low cost alternatives to one hundred million dollar fighter aircraft and forty million dollar attack helicopters. The article correctly points to the benefits of low cost turboprop aircraft – first and foremost the ability to provide the same state of the art infrared sensors and laser guided weapons for roughly $400 per flight hour vs. $40,000 per flight hour for an F-15E.
The article is a little off target on the “list prices” however. While a stripped Caravan from the factory might be sold for roughly $2 million, the U.S. government spent $27.8 million for a package of four aircraft for Lebanon (Congressional Research Service), and the Vigilante price seems to be a holdover from the late 1980′s when that single test aircraft flew.
Nonetheless, the article is spot on in its conclusion that high tech supersonic fighters are not the right tool for the job when it comes to counter-insurgency, and a man in the cockpit has distinct advantages over a drone with “a man in Las Vegas” doing the controlling.
Small, slow and inexpensive propeller-driven planes are starting to displace fighter jets
Sep 20th 2010
“JET fighters may be sexy in a Tom Cruise-ish sort of way, but for guerila warfare—in which the enemy rarely has an air force of his own with which to dogfight—they are often not the tool for the job. Pilotless drones can help fill the gap. Sometimes there is no substitute for having a pilot on the scene, however, so modern air forces are starting to turn to a technology from the yesteryear of flying: the turboprop…”
I especially like his closing point, “You can use a loudspeaker to talk to potential targets before deciding whether to attack them. As Winston Churchill so memorably put it: “When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite.”
The Air Tractor comes equipped with a loudspeaker.