Vintage American planes are being used against ISIS. Apparently, these throwbacks have a number of advantages that make them ideal for the combat situation in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Two vintage warplanes, used as far back as the Vietnam War, are making a comeback. The U.S.-led coalition is using a pair of OV-10 Broncos, which were last used more 50 years ago. So far, these planes have surprisingly completed about 120 missions in less than three months, making them one of the most actively used aircraft.
The OV-10 Broncos have been brought back from retirement to help U.S. special forces the rising insurgency of ISIS in Iraq. These warplanes are being used to offer cover for troops who were on the ground. In a modern war setting, they serve as a dependable force against an enemy with a lot of scattered troops and strongholds. Central Command confirmed that the vintage planes were part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led operation against the extremists in Syria and Iraq, reported the Daily Mail.
A pair of OV-10 Broncos — small, Vietnam War-era, propeller-driven attack planes — recently spent three months flying top cover for ground troops battling ISIS militants in the Middle East, reported the Daily Beast. While these turboprop jets are certainly no match for the fighter jets that fly faster than the speed of sound, it is their inherent limitations that are proving to be an advantage to the United States and allied forces fighting the ISIS over the war-torn regions of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates, among other countries.
What do these throwbacks offer in comparison to the modern-day fighter jets? The OV-10 Broncos have a very low prep-time requirement and even lesser height requirement. In other words, these planes can take off and land on a very short notice. On the other hand, modern-day jets need a lot of a preparation before they are considered fit to fly on a combat mission.
Unlike these powerful jets, the Broncos are relatively slow and can’t fly at a high altitude. However, these aren’t limitations but are advantages, when one considers the unique terrain, battlefield and the challenges they pose. The OV-10s are typically operated by a two-person crew that used to consist of a naval aviator and a Navy flight officer.
The vintage planes are now being fitted with machine guns carrying 2,000 rounds and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, among other armaments. In all likelihood, the tiny attackers acted as a kind of quick-reacting 9-1-1 force for special operators, taking off quickly at the commandos’ request and flying low to hit elusive militants with guns and rockets, all before the fleet-footed terrorists could slip away, reported MSN.
Speaking about the deployment, Air Force Capt. P. Bryant Davis, a Central Command spokesman said, “The military’s goal was to determine if properly employed turbo-prop driven aircraft… would increase synergy and improve the coordination between the aircrew and ground commander. The military also wanted to know if Broncos or similar planes could take over for jet fighters such as F-15s and F/A-18s, which conduct most of America’s airstrikes in the Middle East but are much more expensive to buy and operate than a propeller-driven plane aircraft as OV-10s.”
It appears these planes are significantly cheaper to operate than modern-day jets. Experts estimate F-15s and F/A-18s can cost as much as $45,000 per hour of flight over enemy terrain. In comparison, the Broncos cost about $1,000 to $5,000. So satisfied is the American force, Lieutenant General Bradley Heithold, the head of the Air Force Special Operations Command, has confirmed these vintage planes will continue to be used.
Flying at just 281 mph, these vintage planes might not be fast, but they work well for special reconnaissance missions before sending in modern-day fighter jets, reported WTVR.
[Photo by USAF/Getty Images]