The air force becomes a LOT more powerful if it stays in the mid air position. However if you issue ground attack orders it will fly low to accomplish the order. This enables pretty much every unit in the game to shoot and kill aircraft, which isn't how these aircraft fight. But that bring up the question of what the soft attack and hard attack values represent. Is it bombs? But if it's bombs then you can already build missles to stock on the aircraft. My guess is that it's suppossed to be guns on the plane. But that doesn't work either, because then the attack value for most aircraft (excluding perhaps the A-10 Warthog) would be a LOT lower. However it would explain why they're considered low flying targets while performing ground assault. What it probably is suppossed to represent is rocket packs, napalm, nose mounted cannons, etc... that would be fitted onto these planes. In this case they would behave similar to the F-4 during Vietnam where they fly in low and paste targets (or so the movies would have me believe, perhaps the OP could elucidate on this).
Work arounds I use:
Load freefall bombs onto planes (also to BG, WTF 50 kph on a free fall bomb!?! pump that to 1000-2000 kph, they work a lot better then! That was actually my first mod in SR2010) make it so they can't attack ground, make sure they have launch authority. Let them loose. If you do this I suggest primarily using interceptor/ Multi-role aircraft so you have the best of both worlds. I ALWAYS make it so my interceptors/multi-role aircraft do not engage ground target to force them to stay in mid-air range, keeps them from getting chewed up.
Or... Take planes with long ranged ground attacks, place them outside the enemy attack range but within their own attack range. Watch the occasional strafe slowly chew the enemy up. Be carefull not to let them circle INTO attack range due to their loitering(To BG: can we just have them turn in a circle on the hex? I assume you make them loiter the way they do to make them continue to use fuel, but would making them spin have the same effect? Yes I know it looks even more stupid.).
Or... TRAIN TRAIN TRAIN. See below for explanation.
I generally use a combination of the two first things I mentioned. Once you get really good XP (250+) on your fighter bombers, you can typically send them against nearly anything and totally shred the target. In a SR2010 WW3 game as Germany I was sending my FB Eurofighters head to head with SAM inf, and AAA and shredding them. But they also had about 300-400 XP. Even then I had to rotate them back for repair fairly frequently, but they weren't outright getting owned by AA.
Please note: All my observations are as a SR2010 player, NOT a 2020 player. I have yet to be able to locate 2020 at any local game store.
Will mod for food!