Slide 16 of 65
Rockets & Missiles
GAU-19D 3-barreled Gatling 12.7mm (.50 caliber) heavy machine gun
During the Vietnam War, led by then Major Heinie Aderholdt, the USAF took STOL transports and made them into dual-use attack or utility aircraft using the turboprop Pilatus Turboporter (see the film, "Air America") or the even better Helio Stallion, designations AU-23 and AU-24.
The USAF museum web pages on the AU-23 and AU-24 are very negative complaining, that the aircraft were "not fast enough" to dive away and were unarmored to avoid/withstand enemy fire in Southeast Asia. Then I found an Air Progress first-person account "Helio Stallion: Work Horse" by Gene Smith that says these aircraft were successful contrasting the bureaucracy's third and fourth person conclusions filtered through the USAF agenda and gear-everything-to-fight-another-peer-high-tech nation-state competitor world-view (lies). I trust the first person account author and Aderholdt not the USAF. The Thais operate AU-23s and are happy with them. If the USAF doesn't want them, fine then the U.S. Army will.
The Air Progress author said the Stallion cleans up in flight after STOL configuration and can dive at 250+ mph; my god what more do you want? Helicopters fly slower and they survive on the modern non-linear, battlefield. Put in lightweight crew ceramic armor and self-sealing fuel tanks, a recovery parachute and you are in business! The Helio company is back in business and getting ready to build improved Stallion 2s that would make great "AU-24Bs".
A fixed-wing AU flies at 100 mph faster and much quieter than a helicopter so it might be able to catch the enemy unawares and kill them or report to Quick Reaction Forces (QRFs) to get them. The QRF could also be troops in AU-27s who parachute in Rhodesian FireForce-style or STOL airland Fieseler-Storch style.
A Bird-In-Hand is better than 9-in-the-Bush
I'm an Army Paratrooper, I'm used to doing without. I would rather have dozens of AU-24B Stallion 2s or AU-27 Caravans in U.S. Army service that will be there when we need to insert/extract a small recon team covertly (helicopters are too noisy), a capability we lost when the OV-10 was retired. This is not a nice-to-have. USMC Force Recon used to paradrop 4-man teams all the time by OV-10. I am also a former USMC enlistedman and officer.
In 1982, I was a young PFC in a marine reserve unit on maneuvers at Camp Pendleton, California. From my defensive position we saw out in the distance an OV-10 zoom at us, then pull straight up in the vertical and out popped 4 parachutes with men in broad daylight. We were impressed as the active duty marines were showing off to us. These 4 later scouted out our defensive positions we were digging in.
We did not sit idle, that night I was the radioman for a security patrol to launch a night attack on the cocky active-duty marines. As we snuck in close to the actives, we heard the faint sound of a OV-10 Bronco flying overhead, fortunately at that time--not an OV-10D with night sensors, so we remained undetected. The main body of our infantry company arrived and we routed the active duty marines who were having marshmellows by a fire. Our victory that night led us to scoring enough points to be the first marine reserve unit to ever pass the MCCRESS combat readiness standards.
So my point is that TWO x AU-27s @ $1.6 million each fitted with FLIR, image intensifier/TV sensors plus an ability to insert a 4-6 man recon team AND with wing hardpoints for 2.75" rocket and gun pods would be far better Army money spent than ONE x $3.3 million Stryker thin-skinned deathtrap truck which is fatally blind, cannot fight mounted, immobile and troops have to dismount early to avoid getting caught inside. Two AU-27s per every Stryker truck bought would provide more combat capability for Army SOF team insertion/extraction/fire support in Afghanistan, and Army units in Iraq that need their main supply routes surveilled 24/7/365 to prevent and kill roadside bomb saboteurs. Years ago, Army SF had UV-18 Twin Otters but had these taken away due to BS USAF pressure. AU-24Bs or UA-27s would be smaller and simpler to operate than Twin Otters. Sheesh, civilian sky dive clubs can afford to operate Twim Otters. Do we want to win the "war" on terrorism or not?
An AU might not be the ideal observe/attack platform because it has side-by-side seating which my good friend, Chuck Myers HATES and is not as agile because it has volume in the back for cargo and troops. However, its just like an air version of an M113 Gavin light tracked armored fighting vehicle. While a cut-down M113 hull like the RDF light tank is a smaller target to detect/hit and has a lower CG than mounting weapons on top of the M113's hull with troop volume; the M113 Gavin is more versatile in that if you need troops it does it in a way that its not obnoxiously big like the Stryker or USMC AAAV. As long as your turret isn't too big the Gavin's slightly higher CG isn't a problem. The AU as a "flying M113 Gavin" is exactly what the Army needs for its SF, LRSU units and to help combat units with Maneuver Air Support (MAS) on today's NLBs.
Best of all, AUs are available now!