Irregular Decisions

An analysis of alternatives comparing various aircraft will be performed in the coming months, looking at platforms that could apply to the irregular warfare mission, according to Robert Day, director of IW requirements on the Air Staff. The AOA was ordered as a result of discussions during last week’s Corona meeting of top USAF officials (see above). The AOA will look at aircraft for three different roles: a rotary platform for vertical transportation, a fixed-wing aircraft, and an “armed overwatch” counterinsurgency (COIN) aircraft. The AOA is not intended to select a short list from which the Air Force will choose, but to develop a “Chinese menu” of aircraft that the US and allies engaged in IW might operate together, Day said in an interview June 9. Cost information is to be pulled together by July in time for Fiscal 2011 budget deliberations, and the overall AOA is to be done in October. The fixed-wing aircraft will be of a class smaller than the C-27J, which USAF considers a “medium” transport, Day said. It will be a challenge because some IW partner countries may wish to buy non-US makes, and there are restrictions about spending defense dollars on foreign aircraft. The COIN aircraft to be considered are generally propeller-driven, with the endurance and slow-speed qualities ideal for adversaries with no air defense capability. Day said he is aware of more than 60 potential aircraft that have either been proposed or identified as candidates.