Gonna wade in and argue this one.
Not true. MANPADS made a big difference against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and are currently giving the Syrian Airforce fits today. Even light AAA, HMGs, 23mm, up to 57mm cannon is practical by insurgents and has stung governments and invaders flying.
Originally Posted by Doggzilla
The NVA and Viet Cong put up a serious air defense threat along the trail. Just because the US could operate light aircraft (not low level BTW the floor was 10K AGL) over the area does not mean there was no effective resistance. We took a steady stream of aircraft loses and never succeeded in their mission.
Even the Ho Chi Min trail did not allow the insurgents to have an effective resistance against small aircraft. Dont forget that in Vietnam, almost 2 million northerners were killed, for the loss of 58,000 Americans, and at no time did small aircraft become obsolete, even against the most well supplied insurgency in history.
Or the losses aren't reported by the DoD and media...
On a slightly different note, drones seem to be doing fine without taking too many casualties. In fact, they just dont take casualties against insurgents.
An unmanned A/C will have higher performance, less signature, and be otherwise more survivable than an equivalent manned platform. The only advantage a manned aircraft has over a drone is that it is relatively invulnerable to electronic attack/countermeasures (unjam/spoof able).
They have to do stupid things, like fly into defended airspace, before they start being lost. If a drone can provide close support in an insurgency, and not be lost, so can a GA aircraft.
UAV/UCAVs have crews, they just do not ride in the airplane.
A lot of people would prefer a manned aircraft as well, as if someone wants to kill someone else, they should at least require that someone be willing to risk their life. If they cant get a single living person to risk themselves to kill someone else, than its unlikely the target really needs to be killed. If all the pilots turn down a mission, its probably not a good idea in the first place.
Lots of "innocents" have been killed by weapons released from manned aircraft. There is absolutely no difference from a "liability" perspective.
A drone cant refuse a mission, and therefore drones are statistically more likely to kill innocents. Pilots arent going to willingly drop a bomb on innocents, when they have their name on the side of the cockpit.
UAVs/UCAVs are rapidly gaining 12hr. to multi-day flight endurance capability (some already have it). This is a capability highly useful in COIN warfare where "on station" time is more important than just about anything else. Sorry but manned aircraft just aren't competitive compared to unmanned.
But back to cost, the budget for one squadron could keep 72 high end GA aircraft airborne 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for the same cost. If the pilots fly 3 hours a day, the required personnel is still far less. Even if you had one crewman dedicated to every aircraft, which we know is not required with GA aircraft, it would still require less support, less funding, and give vastly larger cover against an insurgency.
On the flip side, insurgencies are getting more sophisticated and access to more capable weapons. Hezbollah during their war (offensive?) against Israel in '08 had MANPADs, ATGMs, and even anti-ship missiles which dealt greater losses against the Israelis than their numbers and notional capabilities would predict. They were able to hack and track the IDF based upon cell phone usage by simply employing COTS equipment and software. Likewise in Syria. The only reason why the civil war is still going on is the advanced equipment being supplied by the West and Sunni sponsors. Mil-radios, night-vision, anti-tank and air weapons etc. In the future this will accellerate as technology spreads and political factors change. Imagine the mischief China could cause if they felt like supplying someone liberation army with arms and technology. Point being, that just because a force does not control a territory or isn't a recognized state does not mean they can not be a credible technical threat. Don't be lulled into complacency based upon the experience of Iraq and Afghanistan, least you (we) suffer rude surprises.