JB Proposes the ‘Infinite Wing’

Johnny Bombmaker: Ok. Suppose the US Air Force flips out and buys some counter-insurgency aircraft? What do you think they’re going to do with it?

The DEW Line: Er, counter some insurgents, I guess.

JB: There happens to be a good reason for a counter-insurgency fleet, but it’s not what you’re thinking. It isn’t just about squadrons of networked Warbirds roaming the earth in search of combined arms engagements against lightly armed opponents.

TDL: Ok, go on.

JB: Have you heard of the 1,000-ship Navy? It’s the idea that the US Navy should muster the combined might of the allied navies into a relatively seamless operational force. Partly, that means their navies have to step up to play at the level of our navy. And, partly, it means that our navy has to step down to play at the level of some of their navies, which in reality are often coast guards and river patrols by another name. This is why the USN is suddenly buying high-performance fishing boats and converting them into "riverine vessels" for a new "riverine command".

TDL: So if the USN can buy fishing boats to play with less sophisticated foreign navies, the air force should buy single-engine turboprops to engage with the less sophisticated foreign air forces?

JB: Well, it’s an idea anyway. Buy turbo-props so the air force can not only engage with the air forces that fly fighters, but also the air forces in some of the so-called "gap countries" that you keep hearing about these days. It at least gives the counter-insurgency fleet a reason to exist in peacetime. It’s a little clumsy to call it the "1,000-aircraft air force", but maybe brand it the "Infinite Wing".

TDL: I kind of like that.


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5 Responses to JB Proposes the ‘Infinite Wing’

  1. HerkEng 30 May, 2007 at 7:01 pm #

    Interesting idea…
    That just about what they are doing. This is not uncommon to what they did in Viet Nam. Groups like the modern 6th SOS go out and train foreign forces on how to interact with our forces and how to complete missions with and without our help. We need help in the COIN area and it is better to train the Iraqi AF to do it than to do it ourselves…The request for trainers is for good cause… they need a shitload of training (their AF has not flown much since 1991)

    The 1000-ship navy is about like this… it is cheaper to get them on their feet with simple aircraft then it is for us to be zooming around in F-22 trying to make it bomb well…

    Fly on

  2. Nicholas Weaver 31 May, 2007 at 10:32 am #

    The other observation is:

    The USAF is all about “owning the skies”….

    Once you do own the skies, having a whole lotta cheap platforms hauling a ton of guided bombs around would be really useful.

    (As for the hot-exhaust issue, turboprops produce a LOT less waste heat than a jet (they are much more fuel efficient -> much less waste heat), so combined with some shrowding and ducting, you could probably get a really REALLY nice and low IR signature.)

  3. HerkEng 31 May, 2007 at 12:38 pm #

    Yeah, the IR thing will not be that bad…
    We used IR tubs on our gunships and the only reason why they cost so much was the fact that they did not need that many…so each was like buying custom work. I tell you, those work so well. The IR sig for these things will not be the major issue. Pop shots from small arms and the lack of armor will be the downfall of these aircraft… so make them nimble, make them small and that in a way will counter that problem.

  4. Nicholas Weaver 31 May, 2007 at 5:07 pm #

    Also, with the precision bombs, just using them as recon/bomb trucks from 15K feet means you can go “what small-arms fire”?

  5. HerkEng 31 May, 2007 at 5:43 pm #

    I do not see 15K with these… I see little killer bees at <1K, using rockets, snake eyes, and Hellfire type missiles.
    15K will make these things way too vulnerable.

    It is much harder to shoot a MANPAD at an object down low then it does up high…and remember the batteries on MANPADS suck, so if you bob and weave then it is harder for them to kill you… up high they hardly have to move the target receptacle and thus they have you in target the whole time.

    Low is where to be.


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