The discussion on the future of close air support has to move beyond a focus on just an airframe and onto new technologies the service can employ, Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, said Sept. 15 at ASC15. Specifically, the constant focus on what to do with the A-10 Warthog is “ludicrous,” Carlisle said. “We have got to talk about how to do CAS better,” he said, and the Air Force can do it better with improvements in technology. Carlisle focused on the development of a cockpit-selectable fuse on weapons systems, such as small diameter bombs and the advanced precision kill system, which can diversify the payload that aircraft carry and can better attack different sized targets. With a selectable fuse to change the yield of the weapon, an aircraft will be able to carry four to seven different sized weapons on one pylon instead of just one. The Air Force Research Laboratory is also looking at ways to change the flight pattern of weapons after release in a close air support environment. How the Air Force can do technology better in the hands of airmen can improve the way the Air Force supports troops on the ground, Carlisle said.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.