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Gun Tactic Question - GAU-8A


DrDetroit
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So, question regarding proper approach and technique for low altitude GUA-8 gun run...or pop up bomb run I suppose falls into this as well; what is the proper and acceptable USAF tactic and procedure (A-10 related)? I'm trying to get a handle on how a A-10 pilot is taught to enter, execute and exit this particular situation.

 

Let me know if I have the procedure down with the following example, or what I got wrong/missed - this is what I gathered from the few A-10 cockpit footage of gun runs I could find:

 

- I'm rolling in on the target at say 500ft, coming in on a sam or aaa target.

- I have to keep the target off nose about 30-degrees while coming in low alt (to help keep any sensors from locking me).

- When about 2.5 to 3-miles out from target, start quickly pulling up to about 1000'-1500', level off and turn into the target to line up gun pipper. (hard part for me)

-two or three short burst with the gat and roll off target 90-degrees and hit the deck again.

 

So if I miss the target on the first run, or need to make a 2nd/3rd pass, what is the procedure for rolling back in on a target you just nailed. Do I just gain some distance and 180 back in or more to it?

 

I'm having a bit a trouble with this type of action...so I ask the experts here. Like I said earlier, not a lot of of this info that I could find in any practical form.

 

Thanks in advance,

 

DrDetroit

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Lots to talk about here but to keep focused I'll only hit on reattacks for now.

 

The short and the sweet of it is it depends.

 

If you're attacking a target with a pop up its probably for a reason. If there's a threat that makes you need to mask then you may very well egress via masking and reattack in similar ways modifying the ingress based on evolving knowledge of the target. However if the target is basically toothless after your first attack or always was then you can simply set up a wheel over the target, flying over it like hawks and swooping in as your orbit in the wheel comes to a point where you can line up a roll in.

 

The USAF teaches the standard 90 degree offset roll in (more than one way to skin a cat though) and you can basically use that as your go to for attacking in just about any situation. Line up the target based on a known canopy reference and roll and pull into it (an art all to itself). Pop up attacks are different than standard box pattern attacks but basically from the wheel whatever you can use to enter the appropriate attack type works.

 

The unsatisfying answer is that there's no rule or method to working a target that lets you circle it. You do what works. You look for it, you swoop down, you kill it, you climb back up to altitude and keep looking or reattack. If nothing is shooting back its just a gallery and you're free to do what you want. The only proviso is that airspace is like a minefield when in bad guy country. Where you've been is generally safer than where you haven't, so try not to circle into unfamiliar areas. Work up visual references and work the target. Air space may close down though as the mission maker might be clever and have manpads spawn when you start killing stuff, so always keep an eye out.

 

Two aircraft working a wheel will still provide mutual support and cover each other's attacks. The benefit is that watching the attack builds SA on where stuff is and makes it easy for the guy watching to roll in immediately to hit the same spot or stuff right near it. Whether to hang around and work a wheel or egress by masking and do another pop up is entirely situational though.

 

You could write a whole book on this stuff and I'm no expert. The short of it though is that this is the kind of stuff that makes being a real pilot a tough job. Experience, judgment, tactics, intel, situation at hand, limitations of the load out, the front, etc etc etc. Its no easy thing to answer. One easy answer though is you never have to return to the IP every single time. Some people think attacks have to be regimented strict affairs. There are lists of things to always concern yourself with and real pilots have contracts they have to follow to ensure everything is covered, but following those contracts is not nearly as strict as one might think.

 

Do what works, and some of what works is circling the target. In general though you never have to go further away when reattacking than you have to. How far you have to go is a lot of judgment and experience though.

 

This is a good place to start with some fundamentals, but it goes way deeper than this: http://www.476vfightergroup.com/showthread.php?3131-Air-to-Surface-Weapon-Delivery-Methods

 

There are also people who are much much more knowledgeable and experienced than myself. Maybe they'll drop by and help out. Who knows. I speak anything about this stuff with great reservation and assume that at any point someone might contradict me.


Edited by P*Funk

Warning: Nothing I say is automatically correct, even if I think it is.

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I'm far from an expert and I am not sure what the manuals may say about this. F-16 pilots I have talk to, when asking them about pop up attacks, told me they where mostly done for strike missions. They had only done pop ups on training, but had not used them in combat. They idea was to sneak past defenses and hitting a target and getting out before the defenses could react. No second passes. I do not think any A-10 pilots I talks to ever done pop up attacks for gun runs. When I ask them about attacking with the gun, they always mention the ideal way was to hit the top of the tank or ground vehicle, hard to do if you need to climb specially in an A-10. Keep in mind when I was talking to these A-10 pilots they where assigned to F-117 and I do not know how long they have been away from the A-10.

 

I think they where some books of the A-10 flying over Iraq and Kosovo that might describe their methods better.

 

Reading the Book "Misty" IIRC, there was a chapter where a pilots talks about his experience in Kosovo as a Airborne Forward Air Controller (AFAC) and they where flying over 12k feet, I know different missions.

 

I will look online see if I found anything about the techniques for USAFE A-10 during the 1980, maybe I can find something related to this.

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To whom it may concern,

I am an idiot, unfortunately for the world, I have a internet connection and a fondness for beer....apologies for that.

Thank you for you patience.

 

 

Many people don't want the truth, they want constant reassurance that whatever misconception/fallacies they believe in are true..

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A lot of what individual pilots experience in combat itself depend on the conflict in question. What A-10 pilots trained to do in the 80s is radically different from what they did in the 90s and further still different from what happened in the 00s.

 

Kosovo tactics were heavily restricted by both the ROE and the primary threats, ie. shorad systems. Most of the medium to long range SAMs were suppressed by the SEAD cover and enemy air threats were minimal to non existent most of the way through. Desert Storm, which I know less about, would likely have involved lower altitude stuff but still not nearly as low as 80s A-10s would have trained to do since their threat environment was about persistent enemy air threats in a type of conflict no post WW2 western aviator has actually ever seen unless you count Thuds getting jumped by Migs in Vietnam.

 

The only rule with tactics really is whether they address the situation at hand appropriately or not. Every war's tactics tend to vary, particularly with air wars it seems. If you're doing something and you don't really know why then you're probably doing it wrong. Its however pretty obvious that precision munitions have shifted a lot of the focus of modern tactics for good reason, but also its worth noting that pretty much all of the wars fought in the PGM era are against enemies who're far from parity so the kinds of things that might force pilots to use older tactics might not be present.

 

Considering the way DCS lacks any intelligent SEAD and no EW to speak of most of what allows strikers to stay high in the contemporary conflict seems to be absent in our simulation so when evaluating if any given tactic is obsolete has to be taken in the context of the environment we're employing in. DCS is not the 21st century battlefield so I think its not so easy as to say "A-10s haven't flown in the weeds since the 80s" if someone were to make that assessment.

 

This is all of course musing based on your commentary mvsgas. Its not a direct response since I don't think you've made any conclusions.

 

For a nice overview of how the Kosovo war was fought you can read this, written by A-10 pilots. https://duckduckgo.com/l/?kh=-1&uddg=http%3A%2F%2Faupress.au.af.mil%2Fdigital%2Fpdf%2Fbook%2Fb_0090_haave_haun_a10s_over_kosovo.pdf

 

I seem to share that link about once a week. :D

Warning: Nothing I say is automatically correct, even if I think it is.

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The whole thing is planned back at base in what is known as 'the vault'. From what I read in Viper Pilot, the CeeJay usually in the ballpark of 500 feet or so and i suspect A-10 to be much lower (perhaps 300 ft). Target at 3/9 line in view. Three distinct phases

1- the PUP (pull up point), something about 1-2 nm on 3/9 line to 1000 ft

2- the roll in (3G pull use the HUD top as reference for lagging flight path marker)

3- the rollout and subsequent refinements for wind drift. Put gun pipper on target and PAC-1, then squeeze a short 1 second burst at 6000-3000 ft slant range (3 or 6 o'clock ticks on gun reticle).

4- 0.5 nm break attack with pre-empt chaff / flare combo by turning 90 degrees to attack heading, pulling 4-5 Gs almost 110 degrees of bank to get down back to 300 ft.

 

Few remarks:

 

1- gun usage against SAM/AAA is suicidal tactic, demands quick moves and light loads (preferably only TGP and ALQ with fuel <2500 lbs.

 

2- most Weaseling is done by CBU or K variant of Maverick.

 

3- Weaseling requires at least one wingman as Killer, with you as Hunter dragging fire. In A-10 the slow speed may not help, but in CeeJay, with a spoof pod (walking the dog), it is easier.

 

4- requires speeds at least 280 kts to be able to turn quickly and shouldn't take more than 10 seconds from PUP to strafe and 5 seconds to get back to cover.

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AWAITING ED NEW DAMAGE MODEL IMPLEMENTATION FOR WW2 BIRDS

 

Fat T is above, thin T is below. Long T is faster, Short T is slower. Open triangle is AWACS, closed triangle is your own sensors. Double dash is friendly, Single dash is enemy. Circle is friendly. Strobe is jammer. Strobe to dash is under 35 km. HDD is 7 times range key. Radar to 160 km, IRST to 10 km. Stay low, but never slow.

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4- 0.5 nm break attack with pre-empt chaff / flare combo by turning 90 degrees to attack heading, pulling 4-5 Gs almost 110 degrees of bank to get down back to 300 ft.

 

Be careful about overbanking. You may just end up hitting the ground. SEM TRN is bank 60-85º.

 

Cheers

Hans

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There are a lot of people who will dismiss deep GAU questions with "That's the A-10A variant anyway, the C attacks from high altitude". That's obviously not the case with reported 30MM expenditures being in the millions since the 80s, and only 783,514 of that number during Desert Storm.

 

I'd sure like to know the USAF procedure for GAU popups myself. I hope someone comes back with concrete information. As for figuring out what works, I created a mission called Tank Busting 101 that helped me to refine my personal procedures. The mission contains instruction, but the instruction is for 'my method' not the USAF prescribed method. Check it out, deep procedural analysis and refinement goes a long way.

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It's a good thing that this is Early Access and we've all volunteered to help test and enhance this work in progress... despite the frustrations inherent in the task with even the simplest of software... otherwise people might not understand that this incredibly complex unfinished module is unfinished. /light-hearted sarcasm

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snoops I'm lost to the 3 second rule. you mean that from pull up to roll-out target clamped , 3 seconds?

 

Hans, regarding 110 bank I think you're right, but I swear that Hampton mentions somewhere in his book a complete 180 degrees, just to get low quickly because AAA and MANPADS in progress can be eluded by ground return and G maneuvering in a SA-18 Igla is 2.5 G's. So by the time the missile goes ballistic after sufficient altitude, the plane will be back in cover with speed. However the real downside is spatial disorientation (SD) and that almost requires specific set of skills that comes from higher up training. But I'm optimist about 476th techniques (even though I seldom use them).


Edited by WildBillKelsoe

AWAITING ED NEW DAMAGE MODEL IMPLEMENTATION FOR WW2 BIRDS

 

Fat T is above, thin T is below. Long T is faster, Short T is slower. Open triangle is AWACS, closed triangle is your own sensors. Double dash is friendly, Single dash is enemy. Circle is friendly. Strobe is jammer. Strobe to dash is under 35 km. HDD is 7 times range key. Radar to 160 km, IRST to 10 km. Stay low, but never slow.

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Thanks guys, this is what I was looking for. Will study this stuff after work today.

 

Great posts everyone, should help sort out when and how to do a popup and P*Funk's description of the attack wheel/circle setup.

 

Will prob have more questions once I get a chance to dig into these helpful posts.

 

Good day!

 

DrDetroit

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Something I like to mention, when it comes to working the gun --

 

Get the weapons weight off of the airplane so it will respond to your controls. IMHO, there is no reason to be up close in gun range when there are Mavs or bombs on the wings.

 

WC

Visit the Hollo Pointe DCS World server -- an open server with a variety of COOP & H2H missions including Combined Arms. All released missions are available for free download, modification and public hosting, from my Wrecking Crew Projects site.

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