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Air Power 

Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game 


By Stew Magnuson 

The A-10 Thunderbolt II — better known as the Warthog — was the darling of the first Gulf War, destroying some 4,000 military vehicles and artillery pieces in that conflict.

Today, it remains one of the most requested aircraft by ground commanders in Afghanistan, according to one Air National Guard representative.

But its day may be coming to an end. 

The Air Force attempted to reduce the A-10’s numbers in its 2013 budget request by disbanding five active duty, Guard and reserve units. That would have cut the inventory by 103 aircraft — almost 30 percent — and left the Air Force with 246 Warthogs.

That plan was put on hold after it received some pushback from the states that host some of these wings and their congressional delegations. Congress created a National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, which is currently looking at that proposal and others.

 The A-10 “has obviously done a tremendous job in Iraq and Afghanistan and lots of other places, but the Air Force has been looking to retire them for quite some time. Retiring the A-10 is not a new idea,” said Rebecca Grant, director of the Washington Security Forum.

“Fighters today really have to be multi-role and cover a lot more area, and have a wider mission set,” she said.

The A-10 was developed in the 1970s to provide close-air support for ground troops. It was intended to destroy tanks on the plains of Europe if the Cold War ever escalated to a full-blown conflict with the Eastern bloc.

It has been described as a “flying cannon.” Its 30-mm Gatling-style gun can spit out up to 4,100 rounds per minute, or 50 rounds per second.

Its relatively low flying speed allows pilots to see targets better, and its titanium-reinforced cockpit gives them protection from surface-to-air guns.

The Air Force wants to replace both the A-10 and the F-16 with the new F-35. Armed, remotely piloted aircraft such as the Reaper are another option for destroying vehicles on the battlefield and providing close-air support.

“I think we all appreciate the ruggedness of the A-10 and its ability to take ground fire,” said Grant. “It is great at what it was built for — to be an airborne cannon — but the fighters today and going forward need to have that multi-role ability and all the modern sensors that really can’t be retrofitted onto the A-10,” she said.

The A-10 community has been vocal in defending the aircraft, though.

“The A-10 is the premier close-air support aircraft that all the ground commanders and combatant commanders want and ask for by name,” said Brian Davis, who has flown A-10s in Afghanistan and now volunteers as president of the National Guard Association of Michigan.

Statistics provided by Air Combat Command said A-10s have provided 32 percent of combat sorties in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.  The sorties ranged from 27,800 to 34,500 annually between 2009 and 2012. In 2013, they have reached 11,189 as of June 30.

One lesser-known mission the A-10 and its pilots perform is combat search and rescue, Davis pointed out.

When soldiers or airmen find themselves behind enemy lines or in high-risk areas, A-10 pilots coordinate the rescue and escort helicopters in and out of the danger zones.

Air Combat Command officials, responding to a series of email questions in a statement, said the pilots have to respond to these situations at a moment’s notice.

“The aircraft, and equally as important, the pilots continue to rise to the challenge despite funding challenges for rescue training opportunities at home station,” the statement said.

Davis said: “We get on the radio and talk the survivor through how to get picked up, while getting shot at, in bad weather in bad guy land.”

He doesn’t think the F-35 — currently priced at up to $169 million per copy — can duplicate this low-altitude, long-loiter time task without the risk of being shot down. “I would rather have an armored aircraft that can take a few shots as opposed to … one of our fifth-generation jets that we can’t afford to replace getting shot down,” he said.

Further, the 30 mm cannon is immune to electronic warfare. Future adversaries are going to try to jam communications and try to prevent fighters from deploying their bombs. The U.S. military does not have superiority in space and cyberspace, which leaves communication links vulnerable on battlefields, Davis said.

“You can’t electronically jam a gun,” he said.

An A-10 can take out about 14 vehicles and other targets per mission. It only takes one of the 30 mm rounds, which are about the size of a Coke bottle, to destroy a vehicle.

As for the F-35, he wasn’t at liberty to say, but it isn’t 14, he said.

Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan was at risk of losing its Warthogs in the 2013 budget proposal, but was spared when Congress decided to set up the commission. Other Guard units have already lost their A-10s. At some Guard bases, Warthog pilots are being given the choice of becoming Reaper pilots if they want to continue to serve.

Davis said the squadron’s loss would have cost Michigan 400 to 500 workers, and that’s in a state that already ranks 48th for federally funded jobs.

“If there are budget cuts coming, you don’t necessarily have to cut capability as your answer if you move missions and aircraft into the Guard,” Davis said. The Air Force can keep capabilities such as the A-10 and not pay the same overhead as the active forces.

“Guard maintainers are the best on the planet because they don’t switch jobs every three years like the active component,” he said.

His last deployment had active duty, Guard and reserves all in the same squadron, and “it worked great,” he added.

“We are beyond that issue of not being able to mix and mingle in the same aircraft in combat. It works,” he said.

If sequestration continues, he expects the Michigan Air Guard’s A-10s to be at risk of being terminated again.

“What we need to do is make sure that this discussion happens in the light and that all the facts are on the table so we can see clearly from all perspectives,” he said.

The Air Combat Command statement said, “In the past, the Air Force has made proposals to reduce force structure to a point that will allow us to sustain a smaller but still highly capable combat-ready force while modernizing the fleet to meet future challenges. We continue to work within the Department of Defense and with Congress to determine the right number and types of aircraft required to meet current and future defense needs.” 

Air Force officials have stated publicly that the F-35 isn’t going to be able to precisely duplicate the A-10’s missions. But they have reiterated that they need multi-role aircraft.

Grant said if the F-35 is called to do combat search and rescue, it will do so. And it will have updated sensors such as the 360 degree distributed aperture infrared system to carry out the mission. Most of these new sensors can’t be fitted onto A-10s.

“The sensor and survivability advantages of the F-35 are pretty profound,” she said.

The A-10 will also not have the range of an F-35. The Warthog was designed for short-range missions, she pointed out.

Air Combat Command said, “The question is less about the extent to which newer weapon systems must replicate the exact capabilities of older weapon systems than it is about how many of these systems and what type will address the capabilities of tomorrow’s fight.”

Grant said the National Guard understandably wants to preserve its flying missions. Much of that will depend on the outcome of the commission and the realities of a post-sequester budget, she added.

“I think the Air National Guard should and will keep a robust flying mission, but that may not mean keeping every aircraft. The last thing you want to see is the Guard trying to preserve a very few airframes that are not operated by the active [forces] anymore,” she said.

It would lose its ability to mix and match with the active duty wings, she explained.

“If you stick the Guard with a bunch of aged, expensive, out-of-date A-10s you are doing it no favors,” she added.

Meanwhile, plans call for the Air Force to keep the A-10 C-model in its inventory until 2028, and some upgrades continue.

Pilots began receiving a helmet-mounted integrated targeting system last year. It allows them to look directly at a target day or night, view targeting pod information, and obtain coordinates while maintaining situational awareness of flight parameters and battle-space participants in color, according to Air Combat Command. 

“This is a game-changing capability to the A-10C’s ability to provide close-air support to ground forces,” the ACC statement said.

Davis hopes that the Air Force considers replacing the Warthog with something similar, or perhaps with a light attack aircraft.

“I would suggest replacing it with another armored aircraft with a large gun, or at minimum, replace it with a light attack aircraft so we don’t lose the sheer numbers and mass firepower,” he said.

Grant said a handful of A-10s may survive the budget battles and still be flying in 2028.

Meanwhile, depending on how future budgets and doctrine shape up, she wouldn’t be surprised if a light attack aircraft was developed at some point.

It would have the advantage of being able to integrate the next-generation sensors that the A-10 can’t take on, she said.

“I wouldn’t rule it out,” she added.

Photo Credit: Air Force

Reader Comments

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Our country is hurting. bring back this aircraft. the politicians are killing our military for their own personal benefits. Damn these politicians. We were number one and we MUST remain number one over China and Russia!!!

Michael Fangerow on 11/29/2014 at 23:22

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

We need the Warthog right now to decimate the ISIS fighters. It can stay over the area much longer than the newer aircraft. We should reward our National Pilots to go fight ISIS. they can wipe out small individual targets much better than ant other aircraft in our inventory.

Arthur Bowen on 11/07/2014 at 16:17

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

I think they should modify a newer version of the A-10 so that it can keep up in these times that it's need ! " from the ground on up" why wait money on s aircraft that may not live up too the A-10 !

Jason on 11/06/2014 at 00:57

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game


BOB GUTKOWSKI on 10/08/2014 at 22:46

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Ask the A-10 pilots and ask all the veterans that were saved by these flying cannons what they think we should do. Reading today, the Air Force is sending A-10's to fight ISIS. After a few days in combat they enemy will know the sound of these warplanes and what destruction they are capable of and like a AK-17 they have a very distinctive sound and when ISIS hears them coming stuff will be running down both of their legs.

don on 10/02/2014 at 23:59

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Watching the video of ISIS on television, I cannot imagine why the US political and military leaders don't have the uniquely talented and terror-inducing Warthog following ISIS flags around the desert and raking them into degradation.

Dennis Speetzen on 09/14/2014 at 18:55

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Re: Fight to Keep A10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Although I may not be a U.S citizen I do agree that retiring this aircraft would leave a big gap in your militaries effectiveness, it is sad that the USAF wants to replace this aircraft with the F35 which already costs too much, a suggestion I could give is if the USAF retires the aircraft why not give them to us up here in Canada as our military is not at all large enough in comparison to our population and can barely keep it`s commitments to NATO as it is.

David on 07/18/2014 at 15:43

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

I think people often forget what the A-10 was designed to do. It wasn't designed to shoot terrorists in the mountains of Afghanistan, who have almost no ability to shoot back; it was designed to provide close air support in the face of dense tactical air defenses. In the Gulf War, the A-10 was effective, but got hit all the time, and took more losses than any other type of U.S. aircraft. It proved that the most survivable aircraft is not the toughest one; it's the one that avoids getting hit altogether. Keep in mind that this was 23 years ago, and since then, air defenses have advanced dramatically. A stray round in 1991 is likely to be a 90 round burst of 30mm fire today; no amount of aircraft armor will save the plane from that. As a conventional war CAS platform, the A-10's ability to survive long enough to provide effective support is already in question. I doubt many Air Force generals want to test the A-10's survivability against modern tactical air defenses. Let's let the plane retire with the reputation of awesome CAS platform, not flying death trap.

On the other hand, what Iraq and Afghanistan have proven is that we need a COIN/CT-focused CAS/armed recon platform. Gunships are awesome, but they're pricey and require a lot of support, which limits their availability. MQ-1s and MQ-9s have great endurance and are cheaper, but are just not flexible enough for a dynamic CAS scenario, with their pilots thousands of miles away. We need something like the OV-10, or the EMB 314, which can be fitted with sensor balls and stay on station a long time, but can provide serious and quick fire support when the mission calls for it.

Joel on 05/30/2014 at 01:45

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

The A10 is getting old. That means it will cost more to maintain. Like all aircraft their lifespan comes to an end and they need to be retired. The Air Force needs to get out of the ground attack business and give that back to the Army. The army needs a fleet of light turboprop attack aircraft that can be used off of unimproved air strips where jets cannot and have longer endurance that jets currently lack. The Air Force is only interested in high tech very expensive aircraft like the F-35 which will be proven to be the biggest, most costly mistake this country has ever made. I like the idea of dedicated high tech fighter aircraft but I also feel we would be better off with a mixed fleet of aircraft that included light fighters and a lot of simple attack aircraft.

Big Toad on 05/08/2014 at 14:30

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

But with the new design and blueprints of the SM-27J shows that there will be a new version of the A-10. I would say retire the plane, but only if there is a replacemnt plane worthy and capable of surpassing the A-10s functions.

Brennen Hunter on 05/08/2014 at 12:40

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Rocks are not obsolete and they fly low and slow. USAF should de-inventory by selling Thunderbolt II to US Army. Weaponized Sun Light, UCAV's, and Infantry are all vulnerable to Nukes and yet they remain viable.

Art on 05/07/2014 at 16:35

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Consider the possibility of donating A-10s to the NATO front line countries Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to provide Close Air Support to the NATO troops which are stationed in these countries.

Ilmar Luik on 05/04/2014 at 17:47

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

I would like to propose that we donate A10s to the front line NATO nations comprised of Baltic states and Poland.

Our troops in these countries serve as tripwires.

That makes their eastern boarders into the first line of defense for the United States and we want that line to be strong, in accordance with our implied defense doctrine "The defense of the United States begins on the other side of the ocean"

For this reason our troops deserve the best possible air support that we can provide.

Money is no longer the problem, since front line NATO countries are more than glad to pay the maintenance and operating expenses.

By inviting US troops to serve as tripwires these countries have volunteered to become the first battle grounds of the WWIII for defending their own freedom and the US.

They have no choice, their constitutions prohibit surrender to assure that the shameful appeasements of late 1930's will not happen again.

The US needs that kind of committed allies and delivery of A10's will assure that we will get them at very minimal cost.

Ilmar Luik on 04/29/2014 at 23:02

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Build more Warthogs. Build a thousand of them. We need them on the Eastern front in Europe. Put them in Poland and the Baltic States. Make Ruski tank commanders sweat, and kill them if they invade the Ukraine.

Steelsil on 04/02/2014 at 03:26

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Petition the White House to reverse this:

Me on 03/19/2014 at 14:12

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

The Air Force has always been trying to shoot down the best aircraft in their arsenal, often citing this nonsense about multirole, advanced sensor capabilities. In fact, even the most advanced variants of the F-16 and F/A-18E/F are still flying with semiconductor technologies that were obsolete in the private sector over twenty years ago. I have family who work in computer and electronics engineering who are simply baffled that the technology which goes into your boat's fish finder is more advanced than the ground attack radar in our "modern" attack aircraft.

The fact is, whether or not the A-10 is replaced, the F-35's consistent failures to perform the most rudimentary combat maneuvers equivalent to a third generation fighter and heavy reliance on fly-by-wire means there is no way it could survive in a Push CAS role, let alone a dogfight against anything more advanced than a MiG-21.

Meanwhile, consumer radar, GPS, and computing technologies are shrinking to the point now that we could actually retrofit the A-10 and other aging aircraft with many of the same capabilities the F-16 and F/A-18 have, at far less cost, development time, and power requirements.

I concur with the idea of giving the A-10 to the Marines. While it took a complete retooling of the YF-17 Cobra to make an Air Force bird carrier capable, I'd almost go so far as to suggest we throw beefier landing gear on a testbed Hog, and see what happens. If a P3 can land on the deck, why not a SAR/CAS capable bird that would benefit an expeditionary unit and make low-speed carrier passes in adverse weather conditions possible?

Either way, the A-10, like other phased-out aircraft (the A-4, F-104 and the F-5) show that low cost, simple designs that focus on a handful of specific missions work far better than trying to make a multirole craft with more complexity than is actually needed. While I am all for a high performance fighter, when I need to drive a nail into a piece of wood, I don't want a multi-bit cordless drill that costs my life savings in batteries. I want a simple, efficient hammer that won't break under load.

Chris B. on 03/11/2014 at 21:54

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Interesting to note that the A-10 and F-15 both entered service within a few years of each other in the 1970s and only the A-10 is threatened with decommission by the Obama Administration.

Mach5Motorsport on 03/06/2014 at 12:42

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game


I refer the reader to the attached article by Janet Daley, a columnist for London’s Sunday Telegraph that appeared in the Age newspaper on February 24, 2014 which raises the same concerns that I raise in this article.

Quote from Janet Daley's article: [So tell me, those of you who have demanded for years that America and the West should end their ''domination'' of geopolitics, and their interference in the affairs of far-flung nations: is this what you wanted? A free-for-all for rogue states, lunatic extremists and long-dead imperial powers, in which the lives and freedoms of populations caught up in the murderous power play would count for nothing?]

One of the major failings of progressives, centralists, liberals and the 'left' is to assume that by good deeds and a pure heart that the world will somehow take notice and progress to a better world. This would only be true if all peoples and nations thought the same way but currently many do not and are unlikely to for many more generations unfortunately. The evil and the selfish will always exploit such a vacuum of power and they will try to advance their reprehensible causes.

For the democratic world to unilaterally disarm or retreat into isolationism for financial reasons; in a world with so many despots, nations with imperialist ambitions, extreme religious movements, unresolved conflicts such as in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula, where nuclear weapons are held by unstable states like Pakistan and North Korea, where China seeks to be an economic and military superpower, where the relative economic capacity and technical superiority of the democratic world is shrinking, where the world faces increasing stresses from global warming, population growth, shortages of clean water, food shortages, arable land shortages, perverse concentration of economic wealth and so on; is highly irresponsible and counterproductive to the long term goals of world peace and human and environmental advancement.

The forces of good must be strengthened and international institutions such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court must be strengthened. More resources must be devoted to international economic and social development and to resolving areas of conflict and economic and social inequity. Military forces however must not be neglected and democratic nations of good will must always be able to influence and bargain from a position of adequate strength as well as virtue.

A good role model for this approach was Sweden during the cold war where a strong military was retained while the cause for world peace, strict neutrality, justice and human advancement was pushed with great vigour. Sweden was able to do this while still supporting a generous system of social welfare and free education. Sweden has unfortunately decided to almost abandon its military in the modern era and is currently an example of how the democratic world should not proceed in this particular respect. Sweden will lose political power and relevance as well as endangering her own security and lose what was an important part of her economy, that of military production where Sweden was once a world leader. Sweden’s close neighbour Russia is highly unstable and continues to demonstrate imperialist ambitions.

The recent decision by the US Government to phase out the still very capable 350 strong fleet of A10 ground attack aircraft and the large KC-10 aerial refuelling tanker fleet is an example of reckless and short sited decision making by the centre left of US politics. The quoted savings are peanuts compared to the original cost of acquisition and deployment and these platforms have ample remaining service lives. The US national budget deficit should not be used to justify such poor decisions. The US must remain as a military superpower at least until other world players such as Russia and China decide to pursue military moderation. The US should not repeat the mistake of almost total demobilisation after WWII which probably emboldened Stalin and North Korea to invade the South and led to the death of so many in the Korean War.

Andreas Bimba on 03/03/2014 at 15:27

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Apparently Msgt. Mac has stood toe-to-toe with our "ineffective" enemies and matrices his way out of it... after seeing the A-10 take out the hardened structure we were receiving fire from 200m away, set up a fly-off between the A-10 & F-35 under the same scenario and I'll believe it. Until then I agree, let the wing wipers have their space planes give my Marines more "outdated junk" and we'll keep doing the job better, with less.

Semper fi,

Lcpl. Joe on 03/03/2014 at 12:57

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

This is just another example of profits for the military-industrial complex trumping weapon system utility and the safety of military personnel. The Warthog is the premier ground-support aircraft in the US inventory. The F-35 will be a wan shadow, unable to loiter, maneuver, or deliver the same level of precision ordnance. But the F-35 is a LOT more expensive - which appeals to the politicians and military contractors who aren't currently profiting from Warthog usage.

I suspect those who want to retire the Warthog are traitors who should be tried, convicted and hung.

BambiB on 02/28/2014 at 23:32

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

What we know is that the A10 is an extremely low cost, yet highly valued close air support aircraft that has no equal. The untested and unproven F35 will be projected to operate at three times the cost per air/hour than the A10, not to mention the astronomic per unit cost of each F35. The talking points of the Admin are eerily similar to those made over a decade ago and proven wrong. They will again eat those words trying to say the F35 can fill the A10 role.

Mach5Motorsport on 02/26/2014 at 14:12

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

The people that conduct themselves as if they are smarter than everyone that came before them, and that common sense does not mater is growing by leaps and bounds, that's why DC has the reputation it does.

I am a big fan of tech and gadgets; but things(plural) like, (for just one example) getting rid of one of the best combat aircraft ever designed is an act of stupidity on such a scale, it is difficult to find a metric to measure it,how do you get a handle on it, what word would describe it?

It's like, by the grace of God, having the best minds in engineering, building the Hoover Dam and then blowing it up after it's proven itself, over and over again.

I don't want to be a victim of this mis management.

We pay the boys and girls on the Hill huge sums of money to prevent this sort of mismanagement.

Drones can not take the place of precision combat aviation.

Apparently they (Congress) need to go, and start over again.

J Smith on 02/24/2014 at 18:55

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Give the A-10 to Colombia who is still fighting a guerilla war.

Rafael on 02/24/2014 at 12:05

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

A multi-role plane is designed for too many jobs to be the best at all of them, so replacing the greatest attack aircraft ever with one is a step backwards. Let's also remember that the seventeen A-10's that the F-35 is worth could easily do its job pretty well. Honestly, I really can't see this new plane as being anything more than a repainted F-22, with maybe a couple of new tricks. We don't need to waste money on it. An A-10 isn't just good, it's phenomenal. Not only is it in no need of retirement now, but it probably won't become irrelevant for at least another twenty years, if not fifty, or maybe even a hundred, and even then, there is only one thing that will be able to replace it: A new model, be it named the A-15, the A-20, or something else, for a line like this, an icon, cannot be replaced, only succeeded. The equation is too perfect.

Charles on 01/13/2014 at 00:44

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Now it's my turn to laugh, "MedicBobbz" --Thanks!
Yes. "All but the most benign environments".
From the AFIT Center for Systems Engineering 'A-10 Systems Engineering Case Study':
"The A-X RAD called for fixed, internally mounted guns with a “capability equal to or better than four M-39 20mm guns”20. It also added consideration for a large caliber semiautomatic recoilless rifle. A minimum of six ordnance stations were required capable of delivering all types of conventional ordnance projected for use through 1970-1985. Although the intended operating scenarios stressed a permissive environment, the CFP was to consider the
feasibility of incorporating a limited air-to-air missile capability as a defensive measure."
From Desert Storm 'Air Boss' Chuck Horner:
"The other problem is that the A-10 is vulnerable to hits because its speed is limited. It's a function of thrust, it's not a function of anything else. We had a lot of A-10s take a lot of ground fire hits. Quite frankly, we pulled the A-10s back from going up around the Republican Guard and kept them on Iraq's [less formidable] front-line units. That's line [sic] if you have a force that allows you to do that. In this case, we had F-16s to go after the Republican Guard.

Q: At what point did you do that?

A: I think I had fourteen airplanes sitting on the ramp having battle damage repaired, and I lost two A- 10s in one day [February 15], and I said, "I've had enough of this." ...."

Want more? I've got it. If you're not going to "read and learn" you ought to try at least not argue with someone who was there when the A-X flyoff happened, was part of the team that defined A-10 tactics and operations (TFWC, TASVAL '79), and who's Master's Thesis was on requirements-based aircraft conceptual design methodology.
Remember two things if you remember anything:
1. CAS is a 'mission' not a piece of hardware.
2. We still love you 'Army', but that doesn't mean we should go low and slow for you if it isn't necessary or just because you get a thrill up your leg or get all warm inside seeing the GAU in action.

SMSgt Mac on 10/31/2013 at 20:41

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game
I had to laugh at SMSgt Mac's comment about the A-10's "vulnerability in all but the most benign combat environments" then admonishes the readers to ..."read, learn..." Apparently he hasn't read about the A-10's extreme survivability, flying back with half a wing, missing rudder, and no hydraulics. The stories of its toughness and survivability are abundant, spanning several decades. If you want to talk about expensive, the F-35 is a great case in point. Now if SMSgt Mac would only read, learn....

Promoting the F-35 as close air support fighter and demeaning the true proven combat value of the A-10 is based a combination of falsehoods and wishful thinking in a context of budget cuts and multi-billion dollar cost overruns for the F-35, which still is not ready for prime time. Does the Air Force value the role of providing close air support? It's questionable, considering that they are saying that the F-35, which has clearly been designed as an air superiority fighter—with a mere 180 rounds for their gun—is going to be adequate for that role. Any fighter can fly low and fire rockets and guns if they have them, but that doesn't mean they're suited for CAS, which includes operating from forward airfields, on-site repair capabilities, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to get down and dirty where the fight is, withstand damage, and still be able to fly and fight. Don't be fooled but the combat radius statistic: it's all about fuel and weight, and loiter time uses the same fuel as combat radius. If you can fly from near by forward air fields without sucking junk (FOD) up into your high and aft-mounted mounted engines, that's better than having to fly a long way from your clean but more distant airfields with the low and forward air intakes on the F-35. Since the A-10 also functions as a helicopter escort during rescue operations, another role unsuited for the F-35, it's abundantly clear that the Air Force is abandoning it's much needed role in providing CAS, and it will be to the detriment of troops on the ground. Maybe it IS time to give the A-10 to the Army and/or the Air National Guard and/or the Marines.

MedicBobbz on 10/26/2013 at 19:03

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

The USAF has wanted to get rid of the A-10 since they got it. They are always looking for an excuse to junk it. There were plans to transfer the plane to the Army and the Marines in the 1990's. I am positive the Army, (and maybe the Marines) will take the A-10 from the Air Force if it offerred to them. The F-35 is the F-111 for the 21st Century; "One plane built to try and do almost everything for everyone, and failing at most of the tasks assigned to it, such as the US Navy F-111B". The only aircraft the F-35 should replace is the AV-8 Harrier; difficult to fly and easy to shoot down with a heat seeeking missile. Give the A-10 to the Army, and Marine Corps, and end the Key West Agreement of 1948 and the MOU of 1953 (that prevented the Army from having fixed-wing attack planes). After the lack of good close air support in Korea and Vietnam, just transfer the A-10 to the Army and Marines, and let the USAF waste their funds on the overrated F-35.

Bennett on 10/23/2013 at 13:49

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

The U.S air force and air national guard would be hard pressed to find a suitable replacement for the A-10; there is no other aircraft with its capabilities. The F-35 Lightning II is not suited for CAS or ground attack. Like the article mentioned, you can not jam the GAU-8. Retiring the A-10 would leave a large gap in not only U.S tactical air power but also NATO air power. Retiring this wonderful aircraft would be a mistake that could have consequences of monumental proportions.

Curtis Waters on 10/18/2013 at 14:14

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Just read this dudes blog: Pretty much all you need to know. Very popular amongst flying units. This dude has been ahead of everything, and in great detail.

F15CDriver on 10/11/2013 at 03:36

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Dumping he A-10's would be a repeat of the debacle of retiring the F-14's to make way for the vastly less capable F-18's in many roles. Would our fleet and our country be safer today with the modestly upgraded F-14X , of course from interception of ALCM attackers at vastly greater distances to loitering in the vicinity of troops on the ground the F-14 filled role that remains unfilled. The promises of the F-18 never materialized.

Continued avionics upgrades for the A-10 are an easy, low cost, low risk solution to filling the gap between attack helicopters and the other fixed wing aircraft. If the skies are too dangerous for the A-10 how can we justify sending helos full of troops?

The A-10 has the further advantage of being effective in the high altitude mountains where helos are woefully challenged.

Finally let's not make the mistake of relying on F-35s which may or may not be built in sufficient quantity to be available for ground support.

Note : I have read the House Armed Services report justifying the forced retirement of the F-14. Simply stated, it was not factual as to the capability of the F-14 to carry various weapons and ignored the low cost , low risk of the F14x and the Phoenix upgrade which offered a vastly superior solution.

flyr on 10/02/2013 at 09:30

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

The A-10's days are numbered due to the perfect trifecta of end-of-service-life issues, vulnerability in all but the most benign combat environments, and ridiculous costs involved to keep it any longer. Flying 'low and slow is required' reeks of ancient history. Times have changed, and there is no net benefit in doing a mission a certain way just because the boots on the ground feel loved only if they can watch a good show. CAS is done best when Drama is least.
Search up "Debunking CAS Myths". Read. Learn. Sleep safe.

SMSgt Mac on 09/27/2013 at 23:27

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Good article but it didn't even mention that the A-10 carries up to 1,174 rounds. The F-35? Just 180... And you fly an F-35 into a low to ground CAS mission and you may as well be flying a $200m paper target.

Richard de Silva on 09/06/2013 at 09:19

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

If the Air Force doesn't want the ground support mission, Give it back to the Army, A-10 Ah-64 combined capabilities would be awesome, Especially when everyone is talking the same mission language, Let the Airdales have their electric jets, The real missions today are close air, In support of Troops in contact, Not Dog Fighting at Mach Zoomie.

Sgt. Cav on 08/31/2013 at 20:07

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

The A-10 is the most effective close air support aircraft in the inventory, but it's not sexy and doesn't promote careers. The argument that it can't be upgraded with current sensors is bogus, we're still flying B-52's with upgrades like Lightning pod, and the A-10 has been upgraded to the A-10C with new avionics architecture. I say keep them flying, they are the best value and most effective for the mission.

John on 08/26/2013 at 10:15

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Let's think about this...The A-10 has more redundancy built into it than NORAD. Compared to modern fighters like the F22, F35, it's durable. How many people have seen the pictures of the A-10 that was hit by anti-aircraft fire, completed its mission and flew back to the base with 3/4 of a wing missing? And then 1994, the A-10 was about $13 million to build. The F-35 is $170 million. You could build 13 A-10s for the price of 1 F-35. No sense...

Sean on 08/22/2013 at 13:03

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Getting rid of the A-10 is not advisable as its the only aircraft in inventory that really turns a full 180 degrees within a 2 nm radius. This means that the A-10 can look for targets at very low altitude and sustain light ground fire while staying in mission. The F-35 can't pull stunts like these, nor can it destroy tanks.

Mike Purcell on 08/21/2013 at 18:25

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

It does not surprise me the USAF wants to get rid of the Warthog. They've wanted to for years. The men that fly them are on a dead end track, as the men flying the Dragonfly in Vietnam were. CAS is not something the AF wants to do, and they have repeatedly proven since 1947.

So, give the Warthog to the Army. They'd love to have it. While they USAF is at it, give all TacAir to the Army, then they can go do the stuff they want to do and not be bothered by the Army.

Quartermaster on 08/14/2013 at 21:12

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Why is the Air Force trying to replace a "Proven" battlefield system, that with proper upgrades can provide the proper support for our ground troops? They seem to have forgotten who their primary customer is. The Ground Force Elements. Not Generals ambitions of future promotion and a place on the board of directors of the manufacturer of an expensive sub-standard piece of garbage.

Mark on 08/14/2013 at 20:16

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

Do these USAF officers who want this read magazines or surf the internet for past histories on this, or were they just not born during these program developments back then?

There is some 'fighter history" to all of this...

The F-16 was supposed to replace the A-10...never happened as the centerline gun pod could not aim accurately compared to the A-10's gun.

The F-15E sure didn't replace the A-10.

The F-16XL never went into production.

Burt Rutan's ARES "Mudfighter" with an engine on one side of the fuselage and a 25mm gatling gun on the other was developed to replace the A-10 and prevent gun exhaust gasses from entering the engine like an A-10. It was developed by Scale Composites---so there's your "light attack aircraft" A-10 replacement...already built and flew in 1990-1991...1991...TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO! 25...YEARS...AGO!

Geez, USAF, trying again 25 years later for a "light fighter replacement" to the A-10? Maybe if the USAF bought Burt Rutan's ARES 25 years ago, it wouldn't have to rethink such things 25 years ARES again. And "Composites" mean there could be some degree of stealth involved if made from composites (1990).

I guess the USAF could go knocking on Scale Composite's door 25 years later and see if ARES survived its mothball crate. (Or redesign ARES to accommodate the 30mm). Wow, old things are now new

Peter on 08/14/2013 at 13:23

Re: Fight to Keep A-10 Warthog in Air Force Inventory Reaches End Game

The A-10s were saved when Congressmen began asking about an alternative way to save money. Rather than disbanding six fighter squadrons in the USA, why not disband the remaining fighter squadron at the USAF Spangdahlem airbase in Germany and close that expensive base that no longer serves a purpose? Air Force Generals quickly backed down. Details here:

Carlton Meyer on 08/13/2013 at 22:47

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