Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Go Warthog Go!

Defensetech reports that the tank-busting A-10 Warthog is not being scrapped & has been upgraded. Now the Army should take them over from the Air Force and scrap its Apache helicopters.

The Warthog has been around for over 25 years, surviving repeated attempts by the Air Force to get rid of it. It's a lovely piece of engineering - low tech, robust & lethal. It can take an enormous amount of damage, and has a rotary cannon that unzips tanks in a trice - in the Gulf war it destroyed about 900. Right now in Iraq its inadvisable to attempt to plant an IED if there's a Warthog snuffling around.

Iraqi Freedom demonstrated the weakness of the Apache helicopter. It was developed for a ground war to defend the Germans (remember when we were allies?). It hovers out of sight, detecting the enemy using sensors mounted above its rotor & attacks by popping up & firing off anti-tank weapons.

Unfortunately, helicopters are impossible to armor & the Soviets learned in Vietnam how to ambush them by luring them on top of a swarm of RPG shooters. Think Black Hawk Down. Saddam's troops did this in Iraqi Freedom & effectively took the Apaches out of the war by damaging every one of a flight of 32 Apaches. Warthogs would have made easy meat of this ambush.

Equipment procurement has been a common feature of inter-service turf wars since time began. Don Rumsfeld can solve this one by letting the Army have is own Warthogs.

Here's a (possibly) true Warthog story. One evening back in the Cold War, heavy fog unexpectedly materialized across the whole of Scotland & anything airborne had to head for the nearest airport. Two RAF Tornados dropped in to Prestwick, a civil airport, where the the crews were delighted to find the attractive flight attendants from a stranded BA flight. They were making good progress when another plane came into land. A few minutes later the door flew open to reveal an enormous sinister-looking airman. He walked slowly and wordlessly to the bar, ordered a coke & sat quietly sipping it. The prettiest flight attendant approached him and asked "So what do you do?". He turned to her, removed his shades and replied with a strong Southern accent: "Ma'am, I Fuck Tanks". Guess what he flew...