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Dumb Bomb Revival?

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Dumb Bomb Revival?

Old 10th Sep 2022, 10:59
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Dumb Bomb Revival?

I have heard a few times since Ukraine kicked off how poor our Army’s ammunition state is.
How long could the Air Force employ guided munitions in a Peer- Peer conflict?
Then what?
Should we rebuild a stock of conventional bombs for the second week onwards?
And perhaps occasionally train for this too against an imagined strong Air Defence system.
Lofting dumb bombs for example – while not a ideal answer might be more relevant than high angle strafe after we run out of guided munitions.
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Old 10th Sep 2022, 14:49
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Competence with dumb bombs requires training. Continual training, regardless of whether a conflict is expected or not. It's not a skill that can be kept on the back burner (at least, not if you want to get the things within a vaguely effective distance of a target while under fire). Better to spend the cash equivalent of all the flying hours and airframe fatigue on a bigger stockpile of guided munitions, IMHO. With flying hours a scarce resource, it would be perverse to spend them training for a back-up capability if that came at the expense of primary capabilities.

An alternative question arising from the conflict is whether the likes of HIMARS and ATACMS can supplant combat aircraft in the CAS and BAI roles. Why impose all the fire support coordination measures necessary to avoid blue-on-blue, and expose aircraft to severe risk from short, medium and long range air defences over the front line, when a land force can just employ precision guided weapons of its own from deep in the rear and keep its air defences at weapons free (which is likely to be essential for dealing with pop-up drone and cruise missile attacks)? Sure, guided missiles are expensive, but so is a combat air force with all the training, datalinks, and self-protection systems it needs to be effective in such a difficult operating environment.
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Old 10th Sep 2022, 15:09
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Having done a little bit of offensive counter-air in a hostile environment with dumb bombs, I would have been extremely happy to leave it to long-range smart stuff.

Mog
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Old 10th Sep 2022, 15:12
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I would suggest Mow is quite correct as up close and personal is far more dangerous for those involved.

Overflying....or flying very close to your target is not good for one's health.
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Old 10th Sep 2022, 19:00
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Is the software capable these days?
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Old 10th Sep 2022, 19:50
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
I would suggest Mow is quite correct as up close and personal is far more dangerous for those involved.

Overflying....or flying very close to your target is not good for one's health.
Especially if the munition was a JP233.
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Old 11th Sep 2022, 02:53
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Salute!
Some things to consider:

- Software is not gonna be a problem. We had great accuracy in the A-7D using the first digital computed bombing system in actual combat back in 1972 and 73. Our "score" was done by forward air controllers and not other pilots in our flight (ref several Corona Harvest documents). It was approximately 15 meters CEP. Same as for the A-37, which dropped 150 knots slower and much lower. That little rascal had lowest loss rate until it flew last time in 1972 (USAF units, not VNAF). I flew both and dropped a bit more than 2,000 dumb bombs in combat, mainly MK-82 500 pounders. The algorithms are better now, the system clocks are an order of magnitude faster and more accurate, and sensor inputs to the computers are also in a differrent league than 40 years ago.

- We do not have to fly as many "manual" missions as we did back in the 60's and 70's. A lot of the new stuff can be practiced in a sim. Biggest thing with real bombs is aero and handling, both present with smart bomb or dumb bombs, and the sims do not present the "feel" and such very well. The terminal guidance bombs can easily tolerate a few milliseconds of random lag due to mechanical bomb racks or ejector systems.

- The big advantage of the cosmic, precision bombs and dispensers is that you do not have to go back day after day with many planes to destroy the target. Look up Thanh Hoa Bridge history. When we went up north in 1972 in the A-7D, our Thud veterans told us that with our system they would not have had so many POW's rotting away, and we used dumb bombs not the new LGB's.

My view: We need a good mix of the expensive smart things and the cheap, easy to make dumb stuff delivered by smart planes/pilots. As history has shown time and again, it will be a mix of technology, training and warrior skills that determine the outcome of the battle. Quantity has "quality" of it own, but with an abnormal exchange ratio, the ones losing abnormal numbers of warriors and systems soon back down or become statistics.

Gums sends...
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Old 11th Sep 2022, 08:02
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Originally Posted by Ninthace View Post
Especially if the munition was a JP233.
No losses whilst delivering the JP233.
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Old 11th Sep 2022, 09:32
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Originally Posted by just another jocky View Post
No losses whilst delivering the JP233.
See my comment in relation to the associated quote. It required the ac to fly directly over the target runway at relatively low level in order to deliver it. The absence of losses is not material.
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Old 11th Sep 2022, 10:07
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Dumb bombs, especially lofted ones, seldom hit their target with the impact conditions required to destroy anything hardened. Far better to have a stockpile of weapons that can actually hit and damage the intended target than a large volume of dumb iron. Add to that the issue of getting a launch platform dumb enough to drop said weapons...
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Old 11th Sep 2022, 13:08
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Originally Posted by LateArmLive View Post
Dumb bombs, especially lofted ones, seldom hit their target with the impact conditions required to destroy anything hardened. Far better to have a stockpile of weapons that can actually hit and damage the intended target than a large volume of dumb iron. Add to that the issue of getting a launch platform dumb enough to drop said weapons...
If there is one thing to be learned regarding Equipment it is the fact that unguided stuff is close to useless. You just waste your aircraft and pilots for extremely little benefit. To deliver unguided bombs with the slightest chance to hit anything meaningfull puts the aircraft into MANPAD reach. Which is a sure way to decimate your fleet quickly. Or you try dropping from 20k. Then you have to fly 20+ missions in order to possibly hit one target. Which gives your opponent ample time to prepare for the next attempt. Again a sure way to decimate your fleet.
In summary: No, I wouldn't waste a single dollar on dumb bombs. For the money you need for the delivery systems (aka fighter aircraft) and everything that is needed to make and keep them happy (loooots of people on the ground and some in the air) you can buy a LOT of HIMARS and drones and such stuff. Use the high value assets (fighter aircraft) for the complex and far reaching tasks and for making sure the sky above you is yours.
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Old 11th Sep 2022, 13:09
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Originally Posted by typerated View Post
Should we rebuild a stock of conventional bombs for the second week onwards?
No.
Reason: Please read my answer above.
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Old 11th Sep 2022, 14:17
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Did the JP233 and lofting thing for real back in the day... wouldn't wish that on anyone today...
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Old 11th Sep 2022, 15:37
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Can we look to the Ukraine-Russia War for some enlightenment re tactics, strategy, and technology pertinent to this discussion?
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Old 11th Sep 2022, 18:05
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
Can we look to the Ukraine-Russia War for some enlightenment re tactics, strategy, and technology pertinent to this discussion?
I started doing that in post #2 and others have since joined on the HIMARS theme.

There are big questions for air forces arising out of all this. My take is that modern GBAD has made 4th gen aircraft an irrelevance at and beyond the front lines of a major conflict. By the traditional definitions, both Russia and Ukraine seem to be enjoying air superiority, as neither side seems capable of using air power to any great effect.

Even were NATO to become directly involved, the tactics and true capability of 5th gen aircraft would remain a closely guarded secret because of the need to maintain deterrence on a grand scale (e.g. to China over Taiwan, or to Russia over the Baltics), so I see it as unlikely that the likes of F-35 would ever be used to their full potential in lesser scenarios in case any weaknesses or limitations were exposed. The strategic and operational implications of the vulnerability of the 5th gen technological ‘edge’ to being undermined by intelligence gathering has never been given adequate thought, in my view. It seems the undoubted short-term tactical benefits of the 5th gen approach are as far as any analysis has ever gone.

That means ground forces will become increasingly reliant on organic fires, and with the relatively low cost of systems like HIMARS and ATACMS (compared to the enormous through-life costs of combat aircraft) you’d have to ask yourself: why the hell not?

It has been axiomatic since WW2 that air superiority is a prerequisite for successful land operations, and that axiom has been deployed by air forces to justify a greater share of funds that otherwise would have been spent on armies. If the Ukrainian army succeeds with air superiority provided organically by GBAD, and moreover is able to exploit air superiority through unfettered use of guided artillery (which would otherwise be a prime target for Russian CAS and BAI), then an enormous pillar of the justification for funding combat aircraft fleets is at risk of disappearing.

Last edited by Easy Street; 11th Sep 2022 at 18:17.
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Old 11th Sep 2022, 20:03
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Regarding findings and learnings from current war you may find this twitter thread interesting.


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Old 12th Sep 2022, 04:54
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Salute!

Some intersting takes by folks here on the value of dumb eggs versus golden eggs. Ditto for strategic and tactical employment practice versus demonstrated and hypothetical enemy capabilities, as well as the real deal. And how many times and places have these folks actually been there, shot at and had to repeat to get the job done?

I have to agree that the training required to effectively employ the dumb ord is expensive and must be continuous. I also stipulate that sim training is 90% of what is required for the high-tech smart stuff.

Some thots and actual experience about these matters..........

- I am the last one that would like be forced to employ the F-35 to stop the enemy from crawling over the fence. Hence, some nations have a mix of delivery capabilities of relevant munitions, and that includes ground force arftillery and air platforms that include helos, drones and 3/4 th gen planes.
Plenty of low intensity scenarios can be met with appropriate responses using dumb bombs and fairly recent artillery systems. But! BUT!

We do not want to lose the capability that airpower provides to engage the enemy beyond the range of the arty or short-range drones or whatever ...

- Plenty of low-intensity scenarios require dumb bomb drops help prepare for helo insertions of even extractions. I did both in actual combat, and even had the job of escorting the rescue party back to safety. You do not have to drop below 20,000 thousand feet to hit within 20 or 30 meters of where FAC wants.

The existing fire control computers and airplanes will deliver a dumb MK-82 within meeting "qualifying" scoring requirements. And they did that over 40 years ago!!

and then there's more, huh?

Gums sends...

P.S. Will try to find folks that had similar real world experience. Meanwhile, I quote, close as possible.... From U.S. Senate testimony of the SecDef ( McNamara). Claims about the new F-111 tactical plane.

Juist what experience in these matters, if any, do you have, sir?



Last edited by gums; 12th Sep 2022 at 05:06. Reason: extend remarks
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 11:09
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Originally Posted by gums View Post
Salute!

Some intersting takes by folks here on the value of dumb eggs versus golden eggs. Ditto for strategic and tactical employment practice versus demonstrated and hypothetical enemy capabilities, as well as the real deal. And how many times and places have these folks actually been there, shot at and had to repeat to get the job done?

I have to agree that the training required to effectively employ the dumb ord is expensive and must be continuous. I also stipulate that sim training is 90% of what is required for the high-tech smart stuff.

Some thots and actual experience about these matters..........

- I am the last one that would like be forced to employ the F-35 to stop the enemy from crawling over the fence. Hence, some nations have a mix of delivery capabilities of relevant munitions, and that includes ground force arftillery and air platforms that include helos, drones and 3/4 th gen planes.
Plenty of low intensity scenarios can be met with appropriate responses using dumb bombs and fairly recent artillery systems. But! BUT!

We do not want to lose the capability that airpower provides to engage the enemy beyond the range of the arty or short-range drones or whatever ...

- Plenty of low-intensity scenarios require dumb bomb drops help prepare for helo insertions of even extractions. I did both in actual combat, and even had the job of escorting the rescue party back to safety. You do not have to drop below 20,000 thousand feet to hit within 20 or 30 meters of where FAC wants.

The existing fire control computers and airplanes will deliver a dumb MK-82 within meeting "qualifying" scoring requirements. And they did that over 40 years ago!!

and then there's more, huh?

Gums sends...

P.S. Will try to find folks that had similar real world experience. Meanwhile, I quote, close as possible.... From U.S. Senate testimony of the SecDef ( McNamara). Claims about the new F-111 tactical plane.
How long ago were you last in a combat theatre? I think you may find a lot has changed in terms of ROE/CDE that preclude the use of dumb bombs. And I say that as someone who has dropped more than a few dumb bombs (rather accurately) in anger.
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 21:40
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Easy,

Perhaps it is my Army background that informs my opinion but as I see it the aim of war is to invade, conquer, and hold the enemy lands.

One cannot do that with Airplanes, Helicopters, artillery, tanks, or ships......it takes ground troops who control what ground is swept by their outstretched rifle and bayonet.

All the rest of the combat arms are support units for the Grunt on the ground with the muddy boots.

Otherwise I agree with all you just said.
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Old 13th Sep 2022, 04:19
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Salute!

I realize I am from a different generation than most here and just about anybody presently serving in the U.S. Congress or military. BFD. Curtis LeMay handed me my diploma back in 1964!

Nevertheless, I am not a dinosaur WRT airpower concepts and doctrine and then the hardware - bombs, missiles, planes, avionics and so forth. I am not like McCain and other Warthog proponents that still thot/think of CAS like many films portrayed VietNam and Korea. Oh yeah, I did drop dumb bombs and nape 50 meters or so from the grunts, maybe less. The basic enemy at the gates scenario. Did it pure manual but very low and maybe 300 knots. Then second tour at 450+ kts and much higher with the super computed bombing system in the A-7D.

My point is to have an effective air force that can carry out their basic missions must have a good mix of weapons, and not go one way or the other as we did in the 60's with A2A missiles and no guns and no dogfight mentality. I was a major critic of having the Warthog replace the A-7D in all missions without a bit of high tech avionics. The damned thing did not get modern navaids or a computer-assisted bombing system until the 90's!

Looking around, I do not see a classic war looming on the horizon with territory gains/losses and such, despite the current fiasco in the Ukraine. I am talking about major powers. I can see some low intensity stuff with a bit of MANPAD and new AAA stuff, but nothing like the major powers could field. So training with what you are gonna use is becoming a financial issue. Having flown cosmic sims and then hundreds of actual bombing sorties in real planes as well as the new sims, we can have a decent mix of munitions and planes and training assets without reverting to what I and many old farts experienced.

For now, I would like to see more super bombing systems on smart planes with dumb bombs or simple guided ones to the extent possible. Practice with real smart weapons is more expensive than many realize, and there are other skills to be refined going to and from the range with BDU-33's or MK-82 inerts.

Gums sends...

Last edited by gums; 13th Sep 2022 at 17:11. Reason: typos
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