Only one thing can kill the Warthog A-10 (not Russia)
One word: Congress. The A-10 is clearly not a stealth fighter or a new F-15EX. However, what it can do, it does very well: ground attack missions. But many seem to want to kill the A-10. What happens now? It was only recently that Boeing announced that it had launched the last series of deliveries for the new A-10 Thunderbolt II wings, which had arrived at Hill Air Force Base (AFB), Ogden, Utah. However, it may be premature to continue updating Cold War-era ground-attack aircraft, as the US Air Force may continue efforts to retire the venerable A-10. .
Last month, the Senate Armed Services Committee announced that it had advanced its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2023, which will support the service’s calls to surrender 21 A-10s to Fort Wayne Air National Guard (ANG) Base, Indiana. . The Air Force had previously announced that he would replace these A-10s with an equal number of F-16s.
The the number is actually smaller that the Air Force had sought to retire in previous years, and the service has repeatedly asked lawmakers to allow it to cut the A-10s — but largely without success. Just a year ago, in the 2022 NDAA, Congress authorized all of the aircraft retirements that Air Force officials had requested.except for the 42 A-10s. The Air Force sought to retire Thunderbolt IIs to free up cash that could be used for modern aircraft.
Not up to the task?
The A-10 Thunderbolt II – affectionately nicknamed the Warthog by its pilots – was developed during the Cold War as a close ground support aircraft which could be used to counter Soviet armored columns, and was later put to good use in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. During the Gulf War, the A-10s had a 95.7% mission capability rate and flew 8,100 sorties.
Proponents of the platform claim that the A-10 has proven itself repeatedly in combat and that the service lacks a suitable replacement aircraft capable of doing the job as well as the Warthog.
Still, some Air Force officials warn that the A-10 is an aging platform, with the average aircraft around 40 years old, and that it would not survive a modern conflict against a close adversary. . The A-10 is a relatively slow aircraft, and service officials have expressed concern that it is vulnerable to advanced air defenses, including those employed by China or Russia.
“The A-10 is an excellent platform for a [permissive] environment,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown told lawmakers in April, Defense News reported. “I don’t see much [permissive] environments in which we will operate in the future.
Despite Brown’s assessment, earlier this month the Warthog showed it still has some teeth left in it, as the Maryland Air National Guard deployed its fleet of 10 A-10C Thunderbolt IIs to participate in multinational combat exercises in Eastern Europe, and it was one of the largest training delegations to take place in the region in the last decade.
“The A-10 Thunderbolt II provides a unique, established and enduring close air support capability to the joint force,” said U.S. Air Force Europe spokesman Captain Daniel de La Fé. told the AirForce Times. “Hosting the Warthog in Europe provides those training touchpoints with our allies and partners, which brings value to the NATO coalition.”
During the recent training event which brought together some 9,000 military personnel from 17 nations, the A-10s supported paratrooper air assaults in Scandinavia and the Baltic, Balkan and Black Sea regions.
Today’s editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He writes regularly on military hardware, the history of firearms, cybersecurity and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing author for Forbes.