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TACAIR Integration Hits the Wall



 
 
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  #1  
Old April 6th 07, 02:38 PM posted to rec.aviation.military,rec.aviation.military.naval,sci.military.naval
Mike[_7_]
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Posts: 111
Default TACAIR Integration Hits the Wall

Air Force Magazine
April 2007 , Vol. 90, No. 4
Big plans to combine Navy and Marine Corps air in a single operational
force have come apart.
TACAIR Integration Hits the Wall
By Otto Kreisher

It was given the official name "naval forces tactical air
integration," and much was expected of it. The idea: The Navy and
Marine Corps, both possessing large air arms, would combine their
tactical fighter units to the benefit of both.

Creation of a single operational force, said proponents, would reduce
the overall size of tactical air forces in the Navy Department and, in
turn, save billions and increase combat power. In a controversial
move, some Defense Department aides began portraying the plan as but
the first step in a push to amalgamate the air assets of all services,
Air Force included.

That was then, however, and this is now. The sea services' airpower
project has been delayed and possibly derailed, done in by Global War
on Terror operational demands and competing modernization priorities.
The all-service integration idea seems dead, too, though it could at
some point rise from the grave.

The naval services have had to scale back the goals of tacair
integration, principally because of the Marine Corps' new and heavy
operational commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"OIF is probably the biggest challenge, the rotation of squadrons they
have there," said Navy Capt. Andrew Whitson, operations and readiness
officer for the commander of Naval Air Forces, in San Diego. The war
has "effectively taken three or four [Marine Corps] squadrons out of
the hunt for air wing integration."

Because of its commitments to Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Marine
Corps has actually removed squadrons from carrier air wings, instead
of adding more, said Whitson, and Marine Corps fighter requirements
have increased by a third because of OIF. "We have to work through
this," he said.

Whitson said the Marine Corps has contributed only three fighter
squadrons to carrier service. The Navy has contributed only two
fighter squadrons to regular unit rotation to Japan.

"Perhaps when the Joint Strike Fighter comes on line and OIF settles
down and some of these other worldwide commitments that we have get on
perhaps a more steady state, maybe then we'll get ourselves back on
track" to the original integration goals, Whitson said.


Where It Started
The recent campaign for tacair integration started in 2002 with the
signing of a formal agreement between what were then the three top
officials in the Navy Department-Gordon England, the Secretary of the
Navy; Adm. Vern E.
Clark, Chief of Naval Operations; and Gen. James L. Jones, Commandant
of the US Marine Corps. (See "Air Wings Built for Two," December 2002,
p. 68.)

Their agreement required the Marine Corps to contribute an F/A-18
Hornet squadron to each of the Navy's 10 carrier air wings. (This
accord superseded a 1997 Marine Corps commitment to put one strike-
fighter squadron in each of four Navy carrier wings.) The new
integration effort was to be completed by 2012.

In exchange, the Navy would have assigned three of its Hornet
squadrons to augment the six-month Marine Corps deployments to
Iwakuni, Japan. The units deployed to Iwakuni serve as an on-call
tactical aviation asset in the Western Pacific and frequently are
dispatched to other locations for exercises with allies or in response
to contingencies.

To demonstrate the unity of the tacair force, a Marine Corps colonel,
rather than a Navy captain, would command a carrier air wing, and a
Navy captain, rather than a Marine Corps colonel, would command a
Marine Air Group, a similarly sized collection of aircraft.

While operational synergy was a key goal of the integration
initiative, its real driving force was a growing gap between the Navy
Department's budget figure and its two most critical needs-maintenance
of an aged aviation force and procurement of new generation fighters.

Estimates were that integration would slice roughly $35 billion from
procurement costs over 20 years. That would greatly ease the impact of
a projected Navy Department procurement bow wave by reducing the
number of tacair squadrons and aircraft in each squadron. When
completed, the sea services would have 35 percent fewer naval strike
fighters.


Pocketing, Spending
The savings from eliminating existing units were to be used to improve
the readiness of the remaining aircraft, but, as often happens in the
world of defense budgeting, the financial moves were implemented
before the promised efficiencies were actually realized. In other
words, the savings were pocketed and spent before they existed.

The Navy Department slashed nearly 500 F-35s and F/A-18E/F Super
Hornets from its long-term spending plans, and the Pentagon
commissioned studies to determine whether and to what extent it should
pull the Air Force into the arrangement.

In 2004, the Pentagon decommissioned one of the Navy Reserve's three
strike-fighter squadrons and one of the Marine Corps Reserve's four
squadrons. The Navy followed up with elimination of an active duty
Hornet squadron. This spring, it will decommission another Navy
Reserve squadron.
Meanwhile, the Marine Corps has decided to cut two more active duty
and two more Reserve Hornet squadrons, mainly in an effort to make
funds available for more-urgent modernization efforts.

The Marine Corps also has plans to trim the number of fighters in each
squadron. These squadron reductions could occur with the transition to
the
F-35 Lightning II.

Also under review is the Navy Department's declared intent to cancel
procurement of 497 fighters-mostly F-35s. This cut may well be
affected by a comprehensive review of the Navy's future aviation
program, ordered last year by the current CNO, Adm. Michael G. Mullen.

To some extent, the lofty tacair integration plan has been replaced by
a concept called "capabilities-based scheduling," which seeks to use
all naval service strike-fighter assets to meet the global
commitments. Matching the new CBS concept with the agreements between
the Navy and the Marine Corps, Whitson said, "we prioritize what the
global requirements are" and determine "what squadrons will go where,
based on that."

The new scheduling concept allows the Navy and Marine Corps to put
"the most capable squadron in the right place at the right time," he
said. Because of the demands of the war on terrorism, he went on,
there are now no plans to disband any additional Navy squadrons.

From the start, the project was controversial.


The integration process itself attracted loud catcalls from respected
naval authorities. "It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard,"
said Norman Polmar, a military scholar and author of a history of
carrier aviation and many other books on maritime power and
personalities. "If you integrate, what's the need for Marine air?"
Polmar went on, "The reason for Marine air is to support the grunts
[infantry]. If you start to put them together [with the Navy], you
lose the uniqueness of the Marine air."

The planned cuts in procurement and in the total naval tacair force
raised a number of concerns from government analysts and within the
naval services.
Ronald O'Rourke, veteran naval programs analyst at the Congressional
Research Service, suggested Congress should reconsider the impact of
the aircraft reductions on the Navy Department's ability to fulfill
its share of the total Defense Department's operational requirements,
including surge.

Changes in the Navy's squadron reduction schedule indicate that
O'Rourke's concerns were justified.

Analysts also questioned the soundness of an outside contractor's
study, which concluded that the naval services could meet their
obligations with fewer strike fighters because the new airplanes would
be more effective and have higher availability.

Similar arguments are used today to justify cutting the size of the
Air Force's F-22 and F-35 fighter fleets.


Different Forces, Missions
Forecasting difficulties, O'Rourke noted the two services' differences
in pilot training, which reflect the primary purpose each sees for its
strike aircraft. Navy fighter pilots, much like their Air Force
counterparts, often focus on air-to-air tactics. They protect the
carrier and its escorts and, after they have done that, they practice
interdiction and suppression-of-enemy-air-defenses (SEAD) missions.

The Marine Corps traditionally has held that the fighter's key mission
is support of its engaged ground forces. Hornets and Harriers serve as
flying artillery to make up for limited amounts of heavy weapons in
those units.
That is why the Marine Corps organizes its operational units into
Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs), which are combined-arms teams
integrating rotary and fixed-wing aircraft, infantry, and supporting
assets.

Preparing today's specialized Navy pilots and Marine Corps pilots to
perform all Navy Department missions could require much additional
training, O'Rourke suggested. In an article in Naval Aviation News, a
VFA-97 squadron officer described the steep learning curve the unit
faced in preparing for an integrated deployment. It included training
for close air support and force protection on the ground, including
small-arms training.

Despite the cultural differences, Whitson said Marine Corps pilots-
normally shore-based-have performed well on the carriers, and Navy
pilot training for "expeditionary" assignments at foreign bases has
been manageable.

When integration was launched, some officers in the infantry-heavy
Marine Corps worried that their aircraft assigned to carrier air wings
would not be available and on station when the grunts needed them.
Navy Department leaders, however, assured Congress that tacair
integration "retains our culture and reinforces our expeditionary
ethos." The plan also "globally sources all Department of the Navy
tacair assets to ensure support to the nation and MAGTF."

During actual combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Navy and Air
Force aircraft were as likely as Marine Corps types to provide close
air support.
This was made possible by the availability of precision guided
munitions that reduce the need to go low to ensure accuracy.


Economy of Scale
Then there were cost problems. O'Rourke warned that the naval
services'
reduction in F-35 procurement could cause higher unit costs for all
three armed services that are buying them. Currently, the Air Force
plans to buy the conventional takeoff and landing F-35A; the Marine
Corps the short takeoff and vertical landing F-35B; and the Navy the
carrier-based F-35C.
(See "Struggling for Altitude," September 2006, p. 38.)

Although each variant is optimized for its particular operating
environment, the three have many common parts and subassemblies. This
is critical to achieving low unit costs-an important F-35 selling
point. F-35 program managers insist that the reduced US buys will be
offset by the purchases from foreign allies. That claim has yet to be
substantiated.

Within the naval services themselves, a sharp F-35 dispute threatens
the tacair integration effort.

The Marine Corps, because of its focus on support for their ground
forces, wants to buy only the short takeoff and vertical landing
version of the F-35s. These would replace both their CTOL Hornets and
their Harriers, the current STOVL attack airplane. The "jump jets" can
operate from both the large-deck amphibious assault ships sailing just
off shore and from expeditionary airfields close to the front lines.
That would let the Marine Corps meet its goal of delivering tacair
support within 30 minutes of a request from engaged ground forces.

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, for example, the Marine Corps sent many of
its Harriers to Kuwait and then into Iraq as their ground forces moved
north toward Baghdad. Other AV-8s flying from the nearby amphibious
ships rearmed and refueled at the crude forward operating bases to
make additional strikes before returning to sea.

However, Navy officials argue, STOVL aircraft are not compatible with
carrier operations, which are geared to the rapid cycles of catapult
launchings and arrested landings. The STOVL F-35s also carry less
ordnance and fuel than either the Navy's carrier version or the Air
Force's conventional type, reducing their the strike capability.

The Navy has made no final decision on whether to bring their jump
jets onto the carriers, but it has no strong desire to do so.

The different plans for F-35s are "certainly a challenge," Whitson
reports.
The Navy is conducting "several studies" right now to determine "what
the carrier-VSTOL mix should be," he said. Whitson added, "Clearly
there are pretty big implications not only for tacair integration, but
for overall force structure capabilities."

Marine Corps officials declined to speak on the record about the
various issues involving integration. Marine Corps Headquarters
spokesman Lt. Col.
Scott Fazekas said only that the Corps is "fully committed to tacair
integration."

Despite all the turmoil, there was some progress toward the naval
services'
goal of tacair integration.

Marine Corps Col. Douglas P. Yurovich made history when he took
command of Carrier Air Wing 9 in January 2006 and led it on a
deployment of the carrier USS John C. Stennis. This air wing was one
of those with a dedicated Marine Corps Hornet squadron attached. In a
similar vein, Navy Capt. David B. Emich is now commanding Marine
Aircraft Group 12 during its deployment to Iwakuni.
This is another first.

In September 2004, Strike Fighter Squadron 97 became the first Navy
Hornet squadron to deploy to Japan with marines. A second Navy
squadron has now joined the Marine Corps rotation.


And the Air Force?
England, the former Secretary of the Navy who presided over the
project, is now deputy secretary of defense, the Pentagon's second
highest civilian position. Although England has discussed extending
the tacair integration concept to all of the services' air assets, his
spokesman, Kevin Wensing, said, "There has not been a lot of
significant movement on that."

He noted, however, that the naval services' efforts "could certainly
set up future integration." Wensing also suggested that the F-35
"could lead to integration down the road, not only with our services,
but with allies"
because of widespread international interest. The tilt-rotor V-22
Osprey, which the Marine Corps and the Air Force are buying and which
the Navy may buy, offers another possible vehicle for fuller joint-
service integration, he said.

Air Force representatives declined to discuss whether the Navy-Marine
Corps integration has had any effect on their combat operations or
procurement plans, saying there was nothing to report. But Air Force
and Marine Corps officials plan to meet this month to discuss the
issue, a spokeswoman said.

Ads
  #2  
Old April 13th 07, 11:02 AM posted to rec.aviation.military,rec.aviation.military.naval,sci.military.naval
[email protected]
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Posts: 55
Default TACAIR Integration Hits the Wall

"Now, at the beginning of 2011, U.S. Marine Corps aviation still
exists. Apart from VMFA-121 and VMFA-224, who happily inherited some F/
A-18A+'s from the last deactivated Marine and Navy reserve squadrons,
three other VMFA(AW) units still use their venerable 10 F/A-18Ds each.

Thanks to increased Super Hornet orders by the Navy, the last of four
other VMFA squadrons was withdrawn from CVW-11, to provide more F/A-18A
+/Cs for the prolonged global war on terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, and
Somalia.

With USN and USMC air components merged at the new artificial-reef
airfield off MCAS Iwakuni, some USN Hornets from deactivated CVW-17
switched to UDP, remaining four 12-plane AV-8B Harrier squadrons, and
Marines receiving all EA-6B ICAP IIIs retired from the Navy service,
the Marine TACAIR deployments went on..."

Might it come true some day?;-)

Best regards,
Jacek
(superhornet at o2 dot pl)

  #3  
Old April 14th 07, 07:41 AM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
fudog50[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 21
Default TACAIR Integration Hits the Wall

On 13 Apr 2007 03:02:29 -0700, wrote:

Dream on!

There is no way anybody could afford the logistical nightmare of
supporting only 2-3 Marine Corps Prowler squadrons.

Unless the Marine Corps leverages real fast and leverages off the Navy
Growlers to demand at least 20 jets, they are dead in the water for
jamming after 2011.

"Now, at the beginning of 2011, U.S. Marine Corps aviation still
exists. Apart from VMFA-121 and VMFA-224, who happily inherited some F/
A-18A+'s from the last deactivated Marine and Navy reserve squadrons,
three other VMFA(AW) units still use their venerable 10 F/A-18Ds each.

Thanks to increased Super Hornet orders by the Navy, the last of four
other VMFA squadrons was withdrawn from CVW-11, to provide more F/A-18A
+/Cs for the prolonged global war on terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, and
Somalia.

With USN and USMC air components merged at the new artificial-reef
airfield off MCAS Iwakuni, some USN Hornets from deactivated CVW-17
switched to UDP, remaining four 12-plane AV-8B Harrier squadrons, and
Marines receiving all EA-6B ICAP IIIs retired from the Navy service,
the Marine TACAIR deployments went on..."

Might it come true some day?;-)

Best regards,
Jacek
(superhornet at o2 dot pl)


  #4  
Old April 14th 07, 08:34 AM posted to rec.aviation.military,rec.aviation.military.naval,sci.military.naval
Mike Weeks
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Posts: 61
Default TACAIR Integration Hits the Wall

On Apr 6, 6:38?am, "Mike" wrote:
Air Force Magazine
April 2007 , Vol. 90, No. 4
Big plans to combine Navy and Marine Corps air in a single operational
force have come apart.
TACAIR Integration Hits the Wall
By Otto Kreisher


Marine Corps Col. Douglas P. Yurovich made history when he took
command of Carrier Air Wing 9 in January 2006 and led it on a
deployment of the carrier USS John C. Stennis. This air wing was one
of those with a dedicated Marine Corps Hornet squadron attached.


In fact, it was LCOL Charles H. Ludden, USMC who made history in Sept.
1965 when he assumed command of CVW-16 following the loss of CDR Jim
Stockdale as a POW. Ludden was the senior squadron skipper
(VMF(AW)-212) w/in the air wing.

As for COL Yurovich, he was gone by June 2006 and CVW-9/Stennis did
not deploy until Jan. of this year -- under CAPT S. G. Gilliam, USN as
CAG-9.

MW

  #5  
Old April 14th 07, 07:00 PM posted to rec.aviation.military,rec.aviation.military.naval,sci.military.naval
[email protected]
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Posts: 11
Default TACAIR Integration Hits the Wall

On Apr 6, 9:38 am, "Mike" wrote:

"Perhaps when the Joint Strike Fighter comes on line and OIF settles
down and some of these other worldwide commitments that we have get on
perhaps a more steady state, maybe then we'll get ourselves back on
track" to the original integration goals, Whitson said.

SNIP

Supposed quote from a British Army general officer after the Great War
had ended, "Thank God! Now we can get back to real soldiering".

BTW, the USMC claims are somewhat bogus. Under the USAF doctrine that
control of air assets should be centralized, USAF, USN and USMC fast
movers are almost always under theater command these days, their
missions assigned by the Air Tasking Order from that HQ and are pretty
much viewed as interchangable.

  #6  
Old April 14th 07, 09:13 PM posted to rec.aviation.military,rec.aviation.military.naval,sci.military.naval
[email protected]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 55
Default TACAIR Integration Hits the Wall

You've got the point here! Only one large Air Force, as Douhet would
say;-)

And USMC aviation is already getting into the shade of USN's one
failing to acquire new birds in time...


On 14 Kwi, 20:00, " wrote:

BTW, the USMC claims are somewhat bogus. Under the USAF doctrine that
control of air assets should be centralized, USAF, USN and USMC fast
movers are almost always under theater command these days, their
missions assigned by the Air Tasking Order from that HQ and are pretty
much viewed as interchangable.



 




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