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Yo Air Force: Don’t You Dare Kill Off Our Toughest Warplane

THE AIR FORCE wants to kill off the A-10 Thunderbolt II. You can see why: The plane was designed to fight Russians in the Cold War. It’s old. It’s slow. It’s expensive to maintain. It’s about as sophisticated as a hammer, and it’s the weapon we’ve sent to battle ISIS in Syria and Iraq. ( More...

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The A-10 is like the B-52, the absolute best for the mission at hand. Also, like the B-52, the many all purpose replacements fail at almost all the missions they are asked to conduct. Stealth is not needed in close support, nor is supersonic capability. Don't need V/STAL either. Just a solid, rugged bird that can kick ass on top of the ground forces. The whole argument about expensive maintenance is simply a ploy to lobby for new toys. A properly run program should be much cheaper than paying for the new stuff. I don't support McCain on many things, but this is one of those things.
paul trubits 7
Better to be the hammer than the nail.
jbqwik 5
The AF has always been about bigger, better, faster. You know: Glamour! This branch of armed service grew-up in the days of plenty; fiscal responsibility was never a concern. A bigger problem now is how do you explain the under-performing F-35 to our Allied nations, whom we bullied into sharing the cost of a turd?
744pnf 2
...bigger, better, faster. You know: Glamour!

The F35/F22 are said to be the last of the manned more glamour sitting in a dark room piloting drones.
siriusloon 1
Lots of things are "said to be", but predictions and wild-assed guesses don't necessarily come true over time in the real world.
sharon bias 5
Used to have Warthogs in Sacramento at McClellan. They're ugly and sound weird. But the pilots loved them, and they were very important in Desert Storm. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
joel wiley 1
Used to be an AF base there too. Now it's down to the Coast Guard C-130's. (And I think one of the USFS C-130 air tanker conversions)
preacher1 4
I can remember an Angel Flight from Dover back to FSM a couple of years back. At that time, the 188th TFW had been at FSM for years. 5 of them picked us up over North Arkansas on the way in and as we stabilized for approach, they came over the top of us in missing man formation. Talk about having Church in the cockpit.
canuck44 4
Great article. The Air Force needs to be made an offer...maintain the A-10 or lose the entire program with its funding to the Army and Marines. This aircraft would be much better given to those that appreciate it.
preacher1 4
Yep. Given the fact that the F35 ain't even gonna have a gun until 2020 and then on 600 shots, not even a good fart; what are we gonna do until then. USAF wants rid of the plane but not the $. It would make them squeal like a pig under a gate to see that money go away to another branch.
Bill Bailey 4
The biggest problem with giving the A-10 to the US Army and USMC is they don't want it either.
Or more accurately, the Army doesn't want to fund it (they have their own financial priorities) and it doesn't fit in with the USMC operating parameters (it can't fly from a ships deck) or funding plans.
The USAF has never wanted the A-10 from the get go, it was forced on them to begin with and they've been trying to get rid of it ever since.
The idea of the F-16/F-35/F-15E/B-1 lobbing "Smart Weapons" in the CAS role (from a "safe distance" for the air platform) is fine ..... until one of those weapons lands where it isn't supposed to and kills a bunch of our guys or allies or heavens forbid, civilians.
Then there will be absolute hell to pay.
And it WILL happen, it's happened before on multiple occasions from a lot closer range than the USAF plans on.
Close Air Support means just that CLOSE Air Support, playing down in the weeds, not lobbing stuff from a range that keeps their "Precious" (mostly) out of harms way.
The F-35 will never ever be tasked with getting that close to the troops in contact.
It's too expensive and too fragile (compared to the A-10) for that environment.
joel wiley 1
The A-10 budget should go with the birds. AF wants to kill it, keep the money.
The need it for thinks like the new KC-46 where they replaced the refueler's window with a virtual reality 3-D game console.
The vast majority of us sworn to protect and defend the Constitution and the National Command Authority will do so to our last breath. However, the internecine battles over pork and ideas of legislators and administrations who haven't been "on the ground" sickens many of us.

A pilot with the guts and ability to fly at 100' and take as many G's as the airframe will accommodate garners a lot more respect than the kid flying, who knows how high, or sitting at a console thousands of miles away, each, playing video games with the lives of troopers who actually earn their combat pay.

We are back to my postulation that any elected official who has a child or grandchild of military age should have that offspring in a combat unit actually engaged, and that such engagement would alter such official's outlook on military spending.

John L.
preacher1 3
At least in this case, you do have a couple in Congress and on the oversight committee that have been there, done that, or married to one that did. It is sad that the suits that are procuring probably wouldn't know what one of these birds would look like if they were staring at it.
patrick baker 3
the decisions are made by guys who haven't been in a place where the virtues of the warthog can be clearly seen. The blackbird- the best at what it does, the warthog- the very best at what it does.... We will be shooting at Islamic terrorists in many places for many years to come, and the warthog is ideal and proven and dependable and not expensive like the alternatives are. And it works exactly as advertised. and has worked for many years.
The USAF only wants the Air Superiority role, that's the glamour job. They really don't want the cargo role either, but it is necessary job. OK, where are the future threats that have any kind of air capability? Perhaps the folks with the purse should tell the military, here is the job. Here are the tools that have been proven to work. Now go do what needs to be done. Then the military can come back and explain that additional tools are necessary for this threat and that threat. If they can make their case, the just might get funded. Time for fiscal hardball at the Pentagon. Let's fight the current battles with the right tools, then make a solid assessment on what the future battlefield may look like. After all, cyber space seems to be a growing problem these days and old planes, new planes or tanks, or ships, or missiles don't fight in that space.
preacher1 1
Well, as far as future threats, they definitely missed this one, relying on the F-35. Seems like we hit a technology peak back there somewhere. Maybe not a peak but a point of practicality
fabere 3
Read through pretty much every post here, but must have missed those by prior, real-world A-10 pilots. Pretty quiet from those guys. That said, I was stationed at the first USAFE base to get the A-10 back in 1979-80. We had something like 200 of them between our "sister bases" and FOLs. Every pilot I knew loved them and loved the mission/role the Wathog played at that time. And to be sure, as time went by the Soviets came to fear them, the Iraqis bowed down to them, and every opposing force the Warthog went up against ... ran! They knew they'd feel the Gatling gun's wrath and the Maverick missle's punch before they ever heard or saw the A-10 come rolling in on them. The A-10 kick's A$$ - plane and simple. Who know's we just may be scaring the Shite outta the rooskies and Iwacki's again here fairly soo. So, don't count the Warthog out just yet. Like the B-52, she's got some miles and punches left in her! IMHO of course. Aim High! But watch out below!
Dale Brown 3
I grew up on summer vacations in Myrtle Beach, SC where MBAFB was stationed watching the A-10 Warthogs flying around for many years until the base got closed down. The things I saw those planes do were amazing. They are still one of the best planes we have for close support. The Iraq solders called it "Raining fire from the sky". The sight of an A-10 would send them for cover. Also, our solders I have talked to said when we A-10 arrived they gave a sigh of relief. They wasted enough on the lackluster F-35 to keep the A-10's running for many years to come. Horses are for riding, a mule (A-10) is made to get the job done!
Thomas Clark 3
When it comes to stupid our dept.of defense is #1.
Why in the hell would you kill the best ground support weapon
this country has ever had.
You can bet your ass it's politics, and this will do this country into the toilet.
FlightSeer 2
And if it did get damaged (which took a lot of doing), as I recall, weren't many of the parts ambidextrous, that is, the same (replacement) part could be used on either the right or left side- and often replaced on the spot in the field- further reducing the cost of keeping it flying??
jeff field 2
There used to be a squadron of A-10's at KCEF (Barnes) and I would frequenly see them on training missions. You have to see it to understand what this airplane will do. you have roughly 18,000 lbs of thrust pushing 40,000 lbs +/- of airplane with those high aspect ratio wings. It would be SO cool to see an A-10 aerobatic team.
FlightSeer 2
There is an old axiom in the realty industry: "The cheapest house to buy is the own you already own". I suspect it would apply here as well. And what's a measly little ol' $4.2B over five whole years... that's less than a billion a year, chump change in the current budget that is figuring on a trillion over ten years for healthcare! Let's keep this strategically needed gem flying!
"[A]ccording to one report this week, the trillion dollar superplane gets its ass kicked in dogfights with much older aircraft." - That should tell the brass something. It's time to cut bait and go back to the drawing board. Or not - why not use what's already been proven to be devastatingly effective?
dmanuel 2
The A-10 platform seems pretty straight forward. With proven components and no need for flight testing, has any analysis been done on the per unit cost to do a production run of 50 or 100? How does that cost look against a single F-35?
I do not understand why the USAF would not want to build a new fleet of this A-10 aircraft. I bet the cost would be low "copy exact". Why does the Pentagon want to waste so much money on the F35? This A10 serves a great purpose.
Would the "prohibitive" cost of putting the A-10 back in to production make it cost as much as the F-35? At the least, we should pull every moth-balled A-10 back in to an update program and work them back in to service so that the USA has an effective CAS aircraft going forward.
airscout12 2
No matter how much lobbying the ground troops do in favor of the Warthog, it will sadly go the way of the Army's OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter. We'd heard the rumors for years and brushed them off thinking that there's no way the Army can get rid of its most rugged rotary wing asset. Sure, it's not as sexy as the Apache, but anyone who's around Army aviation knows, the Apache has more than its fair share of grounding issues. The Kiowa is incredibly cheap to maintain and flight hours cost the least. No other aircraft during deployments could fly the hours we did and the ground pounders asked for us every time (most times they didn't even need to because we were already in the air). But alas, the Army and congress decided the Kiowa was too "old and expensive to maintain and upgrade" and decided to give it the boot.
We know this is a purely political decision as we've had everyone lobbying for our little old war birds but unfortunately, these were not the right lobbyists. Now, what was supposed to happen over a period of several years has been hastily planned and poorly executed. About 80% of the Kiowa pilots are not being given the opportunity to transition to another airframe and are being told by the Army that they'll let our careers just fizzle out (and that's if they don't decide to do a cut board to get rid of us more quickly). I'm left, as many of my peers, holding the bag and getting out of the Army, unwillingly, at approximately 17 years of service. I've stayed this long and endured countless year-long plus deployments to able able to retire, and am now told that I'll be out with nothing. No benefits. Nothing to show for my career because didn't do my full 20 (through no choice of my own).
I digress, didn't mean to throw myself a pity party. I only write this because the A-10's demise is inevitable. There are many of us who would love nothing more than to fly the old Warthog but the services, lobbyists, and congress will see to it that this program fails, just as it did to the Kiowa.
joel wiley 2
Thank you for your service. The Kiowa may be dead, but the Hog isn't(yet). Keep bashing at your representatives and maybe there will be enough noise to make the AF back off.
That's because it's a bell 206. Plenty of parts for that, Boeing can't let the govt be able to go to any supplier and get parts for a bell when they have the Apache's parts sitting in Phoenix.
Endure the reserves for 3 more and you will get something. I didn't and I didn't :(

John L.
Russ Nelson 2
My father was an Army Air Corps pilot in the Pacific. Maybe we need an Army Air Corps again, and let the Air Farce go play with themselves?
While there may be some valid comparisons between the F-35 and the F-111, the F-35 is NO F-111, F-35 flies at a sedate Mach 1.5 (F-111 Mach 2.5), F-35 internal bomb capacity 3,000 lbs (F-111 31,500 lbs). The F-35 may go down in history as the worst military procurement program ever.
preacher1 1
Good Analaogy.
Bill Bailey 1
I wasn't comparing the two airplanes to each other.
I was comparing the success of the F-35 program vs the that of the F-111 program.
The land based F-111A was a capable strike aircraft (with issues) while the F-111B naval version was a total failure.
I think the F-35 program will do better in the long run than the F-111 program.
The two airplanes can't really be compared to each other fairly.
I'm just saying that they came closer to "One Size Fits All" with the F-35 than they did with the F-111.
The F-35 series are only just okay so far, but not fully developed, I don't think they'll ever be all the Military talking heads would have us believe they are.
Will it turn out to be a decent Strike airplane, I don't know, only time will tell.
Will it replace the A-10, never !
It may assume the role, but will never be as good at CAS as the A-10.
Joe Sulkowski 2
That plane needs to stay in operation. Those idiots in Washington haven't a clue what a great plane they have there.
How dare. Replacing this plane will cost billions, nothing in on the drawing board. Also for it was designed, the target has not charge, same enemies troops, tanks, etc. Put new engines, electronic, etc, like they did with the b-52.
Oscar Rodriguez
Tough,hard working bird......what? not pretty?
preacher1 3
Any thing that is heavier than air and flies has it's own beauty.
siriusloon 2
Regardless of how many times people say it, the original idea behind the A-10 was not to fight the hordes of Warsaw Pact tanks flooding westwards across Europe. It began as a CAS aircraft for use in Vietnam. With that war winding down, a new role was needed for it. Look at the losing contender in the A-X competition, Northrop's A-9, and you can see an aircraft designed for CAS in Vietnam and similar conflicts.
preacher1 2
Obviously, most everybody on here is sympathetic to not losing the AC. Sad part is that USAF won't listen to us. We'll be lucky if they pay attention to Congress.
If the DoD budget says "Keep funding the Warthog," the USAF brass don't have much choice. Whoever decided that the F-35 would be good in a CAS role has no idea what the C stands for.
preacher1 1
Like I said, since Desert Storm, war has seemed antiseptic, not down in the dirt. Hog drivers can see enemy run for the hole and blast them before they get there. F35 is standoff and probably can't see that good.
Peter Stuart 1
I guess we should ask the troops on the ground they protect.
From reports the enemy fear the A-10.
You won't get your BANG for your buck with a refitted F-16 or an unproven F-35.
jbqwik 1
There is way too much already invested in the F-35. If we hadn't enlisted our overseas friends to share the burden, then maybe congressional pressure could have been applied. As it is, It would be a political lynching if the US didn't continue to fully support it. No matter what.
A better course of action would be to subsume the AF back into the Army. Ground pounders know how to get things done on a budget.
preacher1 0
As with the F-35, we just need to say "damn the torpedoes" and charge ahead with a rebuild of the A-10, accepting it as necessary and unmatched by anything else. USAF needs to accept it and go on or the could be folded back into the Army, or worse, the Navy.
Bill Bailey 1
Not all of the A-10s in the AMARG are worn out, most in fact have a lot of life left in them.
They're being held in reserve.
The USAF is not going to give up on the F-35, for better or worse it's here to stay.
Some of the latest news stories don't paint it in a very good light, but I've yet to hear a pilot say anything really bad about the airplane and most say it has a lot of potential.
Like a lot of early programs it has a lot of growing to do.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's the be all end all of fighters, in fact it's not a fighter in the truest sense of the word, it's a strike fighter, not a dog fighter, a bomb truck with defensive capabilities in the air to air environment.
Personally I'm not a big fan of the F-35, I think they bit off way more than they can chew, again trying (despite repeated failures in the past) to have a one size fits all airplane.
That approach has never worked in the past and won't do well with this airplane, though it'll be better than the F-111B.
Like any airplane, this one is a series of compromises, but I think some capabilities are going to be more compromised than others.
preacher1 2
You are correct in that one size has never fit all. New wars come along and "mission specific" comes into play. That is the reason for this fight over the A-10. No, I don't think they'll bail on the F-35 but it is nowhere near ready to join others, noting the leaked report by the test pilot a few days ago. They will eventually work out most bugs but I personally think 4-5 years is a good estimate.
Cal Keegan 1
The Air Force has tried to kill the A-10 multiple times over its long, productive career. At one point their plan was to replace it with the A-16, a ground attack version... of the F-16. Yes... replace the A-10 with a non-ruggedized, single engine air-to-air fighter that can't loiter or fly slow or carry much bomb load, although at least it was supposed to have a cannon.

They were wrong then and they're wrong now. It's the silk scarf mentality manifesting at a time when it's clear to everyone else that vast amounts of military piloting trade the cockpit for an air-conditioned trailers.
preacher1 1
Well, you call it silk scarf mentality. We definitely need the sow's ear right now.
Cal Keegan 1
The Air Force always tries to give CAS short shrift. They prefer coolness to pragmatism regardless of the palpable negative impact on warfighting ability.
Brian Deeds 1
Expensive to maintain? Probably the cheapest and most reliable airframe the Air Force has. Costs only increase because they want to phase the plane out and don't procure any new part supplies.
A dream to maintain. The F-15 takes 3 times the man hours to maintain and has higher operating costs. Different airframe and different envelope so not fair to compare, but to say the A-10 is expensive to maintain is a farce.
Will Sutton 1
Well, not a total failure--they bought the entire run of planes planned for the Navy and gave them to AF as SAC's FB-111 to replace B-58, the very expensive to maintain and obsolete before its time "medium" bomber.
When We Need An Aircraft Like This ,It Will Be There. No Other Aircraft Can Replace It For The Missions It Was Design For. Keep It In Service. Sometimes You Need A Mule To Do A Job.
Agree !!! apparently ,they do not.
preacher1 1
I personally think all the automation of Desert Storm changed everybody's thinking, making all the stealth and precision seem clean and antiseptic. It made them forget that war was still a down and dirty affair.
Bill Bailey 0
The cost of putting the A-10 back into production would be prohibitive, since you would have to start from scratch.
All tooling, jigs and dies for the A-10 were destroyed per orders from the USAF at the completion of the last production run.
True, Boeing is building new wings, but those are easy compared to the rest of the airplane.
preacher1 4
It would not be as much as that F35 hunk of junk. Why build new ones. Pull those out of the boneyard and upgrade them all.


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