If a policeman spends all day, day after day, year after year, helping old ladies cross the street, he eventually tends to forget that his main job is preventing crime, not being a crossing guard.
Similarly, if the military spends all day, day after day, year after year, decade after decade, fighting very low end threats, they eventually tend to forget that their main job is to fight and win high end, high intensity wars. The problem is that part of forgetting what their main job is, is the inevitable drift away from being high end combat capable. They begin purchasing low end equipment, abandoning high end combat tactics and developing low end ones, shedding tanks and artillery in favor of light vehicles, researching non-lethal weapons, incorporating females into combat units out of a misguided emphasis on sociology instead of combat, buying patrol vessels for “presence” missions instead of warships, and so on.
The latest example is the Marine Corps’ move to convert their KC-130J Super Hercules cargo/transport/tankers into poor man’s gunships by adding the Harvest Hawk equipment. As any professional soldier will tell you, there are never enough cargo/transport/tanker aircraft available for what needs to be done. Converting such precious aircraft to second rate gunships is wasting a valuable platform.
Risking such aircraft in a combat scenario is even dumber. And for what? The accuracy of the Harvest Hawk kit is marginal and the weapon load is small (Capability II is 4 Hellfires and 16 70mm rockets). This add-on is not going to turn a KC-130J into an AC-130 Spectre gunship.
“… the lack of pinpoint-accurate, extreme-volume gunfire will be one of the principal differences between SOCOM’s AC-130s, and kit gunships like the KC-130Js or MC-130Ws.” (1)
The Marines envision additional capabilities being added over time. Come on, haven’t we learned our lesson about never ending developmental costs? If the Marines really want a gunship then buy an AC-130 and be done with it.
It’s possible that there may be some utility for a poor copy of a gunship in the low end conflicts we seem mired in but I have to ask, “Why are we wasting valuable time, money, and resources developing questionable low end capabilities when the rest of the world is gearing up for high end combat?” If we had no imminent high end threats (like Russia, China, NKorea, and Iran) flexing their muscles and gearing up for war then, sure, why not waste some time with yet another low end gimmick? However, that’s not the case. We’re in an arms race and possible countdown to war whether we want to acknowledge it or not. We desperately need to develop supersonic cruise missiles, high end anti-ship missiles, intermediate range ballistic missiles, a naval air superiority fighter, a Bradley replacement, a new AAV-ish armored landing vehicle, and the list goes on. What we don’t need is a Harvest Hawk gimmick that is going to tax already scarce aircraft and risk them in unnecessary low end combat.
|Harvest Hawk - Poor Man's Gunship|
Yeah, but, you say, we still have to deal with low end threats year after year and this Harvest Hawk can help us do that. My answer to that is send an armored division to wherever the low end threat is and crush it. Turn the division loose, exercise some serious explosive power, accept some collateral damage, and be done with it.
ISIS, for example, would be a one month live fire exercise for a WWII Gen.
Patton and an armored division and there would be no threat left after a
month. Any collateral damage or civilian
deaths would be far less in the long run than allowing ISIS to continue killing people day after day on a never ending basis.
You deal with low end threats by crushing them, not by allowing the threat to linger and developing gimmicks like Harvest Hawk that just perpetuate the threat.