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Operation Pitch Black: Here's What Marine Raids Could Look Like Soon

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Our newest battlefield advantage could be a throwback to the ‘prop planes’ of World War 2.

The light attack aircraft role, being competed for by the A-29 Super Tucano and the AT-6 Wolverine, puts propeller planes back on the battlefield in support of ground troops. And we just got our first look at what this concept looks like in action.

These pictures were taken during Operation Pitch Black, held in Australia. The Royal Australian Air Force describes it as a ‘three week multi-national large force employment exercise conducted from RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal.’

They show an Osprey, used for the transport of Marines among other things, being escorted by attack planes.

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Thanks to a participating aircraft roster, we know these are PC-9s. While not the aircraft being considered by the United States, it fills the role in training.

The Australian Air Force YouTube channel uploaded a 360 video of a PC-9 taking off during Operation Pitch Black. It’s easily one of the coolest things I’ve seen all day.

If you have a phone or VR headset capable of playing 360 video, please use it. You won’t regret it on this one.

Do you think these planes will help reduce friendly casualties?

So why the propeller?

Simply put, today’s battlefield is changing.

Attack planes are cheap workhorses that are able to fit a variety of missions. Escorting an Osprey in the Pitch Black photos, they look perfectly capable.

The planes are also cheap and easy to train on, opening up a potential pool of aircraft that can handle a wide range of battlefield tasks.

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While an F-16 is much, much faster, a light attack plane can go places and support missions that the fighter jet never could.

For a close air support role, the low operating speed and maneuverability of attack planes gives them the deadly ability to react to a fluid battlefield.

The hope is that a fully realized close air support role would support ground troops, further reducing friendly casualties.

Testing is still in the early stages for this concept.

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Jared has written more than 200 articles and assigned hundreds more since he joined The Western Journal in February 2017. He was an infantryman in the Arkansas and Georgia National Guard and is a husband, dad and aspiring farmer.
Jared has written more than 200 articles and assigned hundreds more since he joined The Western Journal in February 2017. He is a husband, dad, and aspiring farmer. He was an infantryman in the Arkansas and Georgia National Guard. If he's not with his wife and son, then he's either shooting guns or working on his motorcycle.
Location
Arkansas
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Military, firearms, history




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