F-18 AND C-130 down off Japan

Lawman

Well-Known Member
Buddy of mine in my old A-10 squadron long ago got his next assignment to EA-6Bs up at Whidbey in the (then) 4 expeditionary VMAQs they had. 2000ish. He was one of the last USAF guys to get carrier qualed (day only) before the expeditionary squadrons were no longer going to have to be boat qualed.

Speaking of C models, I had heard that the 4 or so USMC C model Hornet boat squadrons, were no longer going to be doing boat deployments to the Air Wings anymore.
The Marines made a big deal about putting C models on the boat as part of regular carrier deployments.

Problem with the Rhino is they lose the protection of only having a limited population for the big Navy to screw with. D models don’t go to the boat due to the bring back limits for trap. So that left the Marines with a good size chunk of their Hornet community they could use independent of Navy good ideas. Rhinos would “solve that problem” and suddenly the Marines would be pulling a bigger chunk of the weight with the Navy calling it an “opportunity.”
 

USMCmech

Well-Known Member
Curiously, are they going G models to replace the EA-6Bs?
If I was running the pentagon, USMC would have gotten out of that mission a long time ago. Electronic warfare is pretty far away from CAS which is supposed to be Marine aviation's mission.

Furthermore, the EA-6B airframes are closer in age to a DC-3 than the EA-18. A LOT of the USMC budget is going to life support for a tactical carrier capable airframe that in reality spends 100% of its mission life orbiting on autopilot in a zero threat environment and is never flown off the boat. You could have stuffed all those radios and bolted the jamming pods to a C-130 and been able to fly the same mission.

I do understand why the Navy needs the Growler, and the /F chassis was the only viable airframe to replace the stretched Intruder even if they lost a EMCO seat.
 

Flyinthrew

Well-Known Member
If I was running the pentagon, USMC would have gotten out of that mission a long time ago. Electronic warfare is pretty far away from CAS which is supposed to be Marine aviation's mission.

Furthermore, the EA-6B airframes are closer in age to a DC-3 than the EA-18. A LOT of the USMC budget is going to life support for a tactical carrier capable airframe that in reality spends 100% of its mission life orbiting on autopilot in a zero threat environment and is never flown off the boat. You could have stuffed all those radios and bolted the jamming pods to a C-130 and been able to fly the same mission.

I do understand why the Navy needs the Growler, and the /F chassis was the only viable airframe to replace the stretched Intruder even if they lost a EMCO seat.
I was really digging your knowledge of Marine Tacair lore. You fell off a cliff with this one.


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Lawman

Well-Known Member
I was really digging your knowledge of Marine Tacair lore. You fell off a cliff with this one.


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Honestly... when you’re a National Command Asset it really doesn’t matter what service has their name painted on the side of the aircraft.

That’s been the story on Jammers and other stuff forever.

He has a point though on the permissive usage and requirements needed. There is arguably no reason (other than money and protection for the upgrades it buys) the ELINT and jamming capabilities of the Prowler/Growler could not be transplanted into a permissive use platform much the same as the light attack A-29 flavor of CAS.


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Lawman

Well-Known Member
What's wrong with his analysis?
It’s a common perspective using current status quo of normal to predict future needs and requirements but it’s woefully hopeful that we will continue to only do what we are doing now. No you don’t “need” a platform like the Growler for 99% of the stuff going on in Afghanistan, though there are operations you absolutely will not do without them. The problem with the Jammer game has been no sense of ownership over the last 30 years so nobody wants to be on the hook for everybody else with it. Air Force with the exception of a couple specialty C-130s and a community of SEAD F-16s basically wholesale walked away from the mission with the agreement that when needed the Navy would reapportion assets as part of the joint fight.

The idea that you won’t need one for CAS ignores a bunch of factors not the least of which is the greater distribution and availability at far more capable tactical air defense platforms that are proliferating at a startling pace. Jammers are also crucial for the total operation not just getting Jet A to location B. With them you can perform all sorts of supporting maneuver such as diverting a foes attention and capabilities into an area with a feint. Stuff like Jamming are key indicators of intent because they mark the presence of key combat enablers that any intel analysis would use to predict our actions and defend. That makes them also very good for doing what we did in Desert Storm where the noise and lights and sounds just convinced the Iraqis there was no way that Marines weren’t coming ashore when they were actually driving up the highway from Saudi Arabia.


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USMCmech

Well-Known Member
I was really digging your knowledge of Marine Tacair lore. You fell off a cliff with this one.
Please refer to my username for my base of knowledge of military aviation. I'm reasonably knowledgeable about the CH-46 Sea Knight of which there is a fleet size of 0 anymore.

All I know about the EA-6B Prowler is that they were a MX nightmare 20 years ago and I doubt things have improved. As for the implications of tactical electronic jamming and long range USMC budget plans, I know next to nothing.

I do think that the various services should focus their resources where their respective primary missions lie. For the USMC Airwing, that is vertical envelopment and CAS. "Strategic" assets and missions belong with the other branches. You don't see the Eagle Globe and Anchor on many satellites do you?
 
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Pilot Fighter

Well-Known Member
Buddy of mine in my old A-10 squadron long ago got his next assignment to EA-6Bs up at Whidbey in the (then) 4 expeditionary VMAQs they had.
Those were VAQ, as the expeditionary squadrons were all Navy.

I heard the AF initially stacked the deck with some good sticks in the first class. One guy was a prior Navy A-7 guy that ended up in the AF.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
Those were VAQ, as the expeditionary squadrons were all Navy.

I heard the AF initially stacked the deck with some good sticks in the first class. One guy was a prior Navy A-7 guy that ended up in the AF.
Thats right, i don't know why i wrote VMAQ for the USN squadrons. My mess up.

Speaking of the VMAQ squadrons, did they ever go to the boat? In that, were they ever substitutes in a CVW air wing for the resident VAQ squadron, in the same way that you would find a VMFA Hornet squadron substituting for one of the VFA Hornet squadrons?

BL when it comes to ECM: the USAF shouldve never gotten rid of the EF-111A Raven fleet. It was a highly capable and healthy airframe, aside from being somewhat expensive to maintain. Worth the price. Had they not gotten rid of them, that was to be my first assignment. The job of ECM is something the USAF should at a minimum have a large part in.
 

Pilot Fighter

Well-Known Member
I do think that the various services should focus their resources where their respective primary missions lie. For the USMC Airwing, that is vertical envelopment and CAS. "Strategic" assets and missions belong with the other branches. You don't see the Eagle Globe and Anchor on many satellites do you?
The Marines didn't suddenly embrace EW with the arrival of the EA-6B. Prior to the Prowler, the Marines operated EA-6A and EF-10B.

The Marines were on the cutting edge in Vietnam with the EA-6A while the Navy developed the EA-6B to replace the EA-6B.

In terms of doctrine, EW is a traditional role.
 

Pilot Fighter

Well-Known Member
Speaking of the VMAQ squadrons, did they ever go to the boat? In that, were they ever substitutes in a CVW air wing for the resident VAQ squadron, in the same way that you would find a VMFA Hornet squadron substituting for one of the VFA Hornet squadrons?
No, they never displaced a VAQ squadron on the boat, but I think there was a short time when VMAQ-2 dets carqual'd and visited the boat.

Eventually, VMAQ-2 was split up to form the other VMAQ squadrons, and they never visited the boat.
 
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///AMG

Well-Known Member
It gets weirder....

A few years back due to the disparity in deployments to ship the Navy’s newer C models were ragged out.... so they cherry picked the Marines low trap count aircraft and in “trade” gave them newer lot C models. They also funded the Marines taking old A/B models to build to C/D standard.
Ended up being called the A++. It is actually a super nice mod......in all the other legacy jets, you have mostly monochromatic displays up top, and the one between your legs with the (in lot 12+) moving map is the only full color. A++ got 3 full color displays, like the Super Hornet. Also got Litening G4 which is a world better than our crappy ATFLIR. My memory is failing me, but I believe there were also some other cool things. The weird part though was that they had the old "plumbing" (different fuel system in the A/B than C/D), and some carry over weirdness....can't remember for sure, but I think the A++ still had the old mechanical engine/fuel indicator like MikeD had in his -117, versus the digital IFEI in the C/D.....could be wrong on that one though, its been a number of years since I've flown any of them, much less the handful of hours I have in the A++. I want to say the VMFA-115 jets I spent some time flying also had APG-73 and big motors. That's pretty standard for "high lot" C/D, but was new for me as a low lot guy prior to that point. All of it is archaic and extraordinarily dated when compared with a block II Super Hornet however. I think the Corps missed out on that one, but hopefully the F-35B will make things right for them again.

Also, RIP. I didn't know him, but some of our junior guys knew him in flight school and said he was an outstanding dude. Sorry to hear. Not that it is ever a good time to lose a loved one, but I am sure this time of year is especially hard.
 

USMCmech

Well-Known Member
No, they never displaced a VAQ squadron on the boat,....
Hence my question of why we need a carrier qualified pilot, and carrier rated aircraft to perform a mission that honestly should be in the USAF's lane. If VMAQ squadrons are only ever operated off of land bases, then why are we still using airframes that are nearing AARP age.

Edit, according to wikipedia there are only 20 airframes in 2 squadrons left, all to be retired next year.
 

Pilot Fighter

Well-Known Member
Hence my question of why we need a carrier qualified pilot, and carrier rated aircraft to perform a mission that honestly should be in the USAF's lane. If VMAQ squadrons are only ever operated off of land bases, then why are we still using airframes that are nearing AARP age.

Edit, according to wikipedia there are only 20 airframes in 2 squadrons left, all to be retired next year.
I don't think anybody was campaigning to hang on to the Prowler. The interesting conversation is whether the Marines need dedicated EW support. The folks in DC and Ft. Worth think the F-35B can take care of itself and any additional EW can be provided by the Navy.

I think the Marines would have been better served with a donkey-load of fresh F/18-18E/F's and EF-18G's.

The Marines have a long history of independent EW support so I'm not sure I understand why you place that in the "USAF's lane". Hell, the AF dumped dedicated EW support, so they don't have a problem with lane changing.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
I don't think anybody was campaigning to hang on to the Prowler. The interesting conversation is whether the Marines need dedicated EW support. The folks in DC and Ft. Worth think the F-35B can take care of itself and any additional EW can be provided by the Navy.

I think the Marines would have been better served with a donkey-load of fresh F/18-18E/F's and EF-18G's.

The Marines have a long history of independent EW support so I'm not sure I understand why you place that in the "USAF's lane". Hell, the AF dumped dedicated EW support, so they don't have a problem with lane changing.
I think the AF quietly realizes how much they screwed up in their idiotic decison, though they will never admit it. In a time when everything was being tossed into the trash that potentially took $$$ away from the oncoming F-22.
 

Pilot Fighter

Well-Known Member
I think the AF quietly realizes how much they screwed up in their idiotic decison, though they will never admit it. In a time when everything was being tossed into the trash that potentially took $$$ away from the oncoming F-22.
The EF-111 could have had a lifespan longer than the Buff. G-limited, long runways, no salt spray...
 

Flyinthrew

Well-Known Member
Hence my question of why we need a carrier qualified pilot, and carrier rated aircraft to perform a mission that honestly should be in the USAF's lane. If VMAQ squadrons are only ever operated off of land bases, then why are we still using airframes that are nearing AARP age.

Edit, according to wikipedia there are only 20 airframes in 2 squadrons left, all to be retired next year.
Sorry to leave y'all hanging with that last comment. Real human life was all up in the way. Your assertion that CAS is the Marine Corps's thing is correct, but saying that we don't need EW is a bit like saying that infantrymen don't need artillery. CAS has traditionally occurred in medium threat environments which include RF tactical SAMs. They're highly mobile and also quite capable. Doctrinally, I cannot put my nose into a fight without something to mitigate that threat. Unless high allowable risk is authorized, you don't get that gun run or even that JDAM (which is also likely to be shot out of the sky these days) without mitigation. Mitigation (SEAD) can come in a lot of different and creative forms. The best for an RF guided SAM is direct support, on axis jamming. The best is the Prowler/Growler with ALQ-99s. It has to be responsive, and there have to be squadrons of them. A C-130 with ALQ-99s strapped to the wings does not a tactical jammer make. That's 80% a logistics platform. Let it logistic. People think of Prowlers and Growlers as these extremely high level national assets doing the President's bidding, but that's not really what they're meant for. They're meant to be on a SEAD CAP just behind the fight blasting trons into the objective area. It has to be able to put itself in the right piece of sky at the right time.

Add on top of that that Marine Tacair isn't just CAS but also EQUALLY Armed Reconnaissance, Aerial Interdiction, Offensive Antiair Warfare, and Active Air Defense all doctrinally templated to be carried out in a fairly restrictive environment. Tactical EW is extremely important to all of these mission sets. Add on top of that that the Marine Corps itself is doctrinally templated to fight in its lane with only its own tactical level assets. Those facts put EW squarely in the Marine Corps's lane. To say that EW is only in the Air Force's lane is to misunderstand what EW is and what it provides.

The ONLY reason the Prowler stayed alive as long as it did (and Hornet and Harrier for that matter) was because we were waiting forever for our 5th Gen fighter to take its place in the fleet. The ONLY reason the Prowler was actually pried from our grip was that our 5th Gen platform is actually starting to come alive quite nicely.

RE carrier qualified aircrew: All Marine Tacair pilots go to the CVN in T-45s (even Harrier guys). After that, only some of the Hornet guys do. A Marine Prowler guy doesn't see the ship, and neither do the planes.

Wikipedia is in fact behind. VMAQ-2 just got home from its last deployment a few weeks ago and last week I taxi'd out behind one of their last jets on its way to the bone yard. I never really liked the beast, but it was still pretty sad.

So no insult meant. You're clearly very well read on the fighter gap and the evolution of the weapons systems. It just needs to be shored up with the knowledge that jamming (and other EW) is integral to the way we are actually equipped to fight right at the pointy end.
 

Flyinthrew

Well-Known Member
I think the AF quietly realizes how much they screwed up in their idiotic decison, though they will never admit it. In a time when everything was being tossed into the trash that potentially took $$$ away from the oncoming F-22.
The F-16s that are outfitted for the task conduct themselves really quite well. It's between them, the A-10, and the E model for what I would want to do if I were in the Air Force.
 

USMCmech

Well-Known Member
The Marines have a long history of independent EW support so I'm not sure I understand why you place that in the "USAF's lane". Hell, the AF dumped dedicated EW support, so they don't have a problem with lane changing.
There is a historic trend in USMC aviation of trying to do everything in house, but like a restaurant that has a menu 20 pages long it loses focus on just cooking good hamburgers AKA supporting the grunts.

In some cases this was warranted. The AV-8B gives a LHA carrier "some" measure of fixed wing air cover so that they can operate outside a CVN's zone (I'll let you argue how well 4 harriers can accomplish that). There is also a crossover in hardware from the Navy because they both operate under the umbrella of Naval Aviation.

However as the Navy's red headed stepchild, there is never enough money to go around and while USMC EW airplanes were supporting USAF bombing raids in Kosovo, CH-46s were literally dropping out of the sky because spare parts were in such short supply. In the late 90s squadrons had to post guards on their aircraft parked on the flight line so that other squadrons wouldn't steal parts. I get that EW is very important, much more so than most civilians understand. I just had close experience with the headaches that keeping those old jalopies in the air were. I always questioned how much time, money and manpower was being diverted from the core missions of the USMC Air Wing.

Using a C-130 as a tanker for Hornets seems to fall into the "just because you can do something doesn't mean you should" area (seriously how much offload fuel can they carry?). How much time and money was spent on the Osprey's revolutionary technology when they could have bought Blackhawks a decade earlier? All this money spent on new airplanes, and the grunts are riding in Amtracks that are over 40. Breaking down in offshore swells in a floating tank doesn't seem fun.

I understand the need for 5th gen fighters, and the services need to advance technology, but the USMC is (or should be IMHO) NASCAR to the other services F1. Keep the old tech working and focus on the core of the mission, putting troops on a hostile beach.

Just an E-4 mechs eye view of things well above my pay grade.
 
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