There are a lot of realities that come along with fighting a war on terror. There are the human costs where our own military personnel are in harm’s way and sometimes pay with their lives – not to mention that innocent civilians often get caught up in the fighting too. There are also the monetary costs of fighting and it’s no secret that America spends billions of dollars each year fighting in different areas around the globe. It costs a lot of money to fly aircraft, arm them and do the maintenance on them that keeps them flight ready. That is why the military is experimenting with bringing an old Vietnam-era aircraft into the fight against ISIS.
What is this mystery aircraft? It’s the OV-10 ‘Bronco’ – a turbo-prop propelled light ground attack aircraft that proved very valuable in support of ground troops in the Vietnam War. It is widely assumed that they took on a similar role in Syria and Iraq in support of US Special Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga ground troops when deployed. The idea to try them in the fight against ISIS stemmed largely from the success the Philippine army had using the OV-10 in their country fighting against their own Muslim insurgency.
How can they help cut costs? The Air Force estimates that it can cost as much as $45,000 to keep one of the new state of the art F-35 fighter jets flying for just one single hour. The much smaller and lighter OV-10 can fly for an hour at a cost of around $1000 – $5000. It does not take a genius to see the huge cost difference here if the aircraft can accomplish the same missions. You are also risking an aircraft when the F-35 is used that costs some 150 million dollars to build; if mass produced, the upgraded OV-10 would most likely cost less than 10 million dollars.
The Drawbacks: Surprisingly enough, since these aircraft are not being produced on a large scale at the moment, they are expensive to obtain. It cost 20 million dollars to retrofit with upgrades and deploy the two older OV-10’s that were sent to Syria. Since they fly lower and slower than jets, this makes them more likely to be exposed to enemy fire also.
Although the military would not directly say how effective these aircraft were when deployed, they did say they completed 99% of their missions in the some 82 days spent in theatre; that is not too shabby at all given the aircraft’s age and the type of harsh environment that the weather in Syria and Iraq’s desert regions imposes on aircraft.
What did the Air Force have to say about the future of using these aircraft in the Middle East? Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, the commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, acknowledged that these light attack aircraft have ‘some utility,’ but firmly stated jet fighters will continue to be the backbone of attacks on ISIS as is currently the case. Loosely translated, this means the Air Force has not seen enough to put the aircraft back into production and that supporting a small amount of these aircraft actually defeats the purpose of trying to be cost effective.
It will be interesting to see if anything more develops with the use of these aircraft once all the numbers have been crunched from their deployment in the fight against ISIS.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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