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Bye-Bye to BRRRRT

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Bye-Bye to BRRRRT: Air Force Wants to Retire 44 A-10 Warthogs

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Despite multiple efforts to push the iconic A-10 Warthog's retirement date further into the future, the U.S. Air Force is now slated to shelve dozens of the Cold War-era ground-attack planes in the upcoming fiscal year, according to the service's budget request.

The Air Force will remove 44 Thunderbolt IIs from its total aircraft inventory, the fiscal 2021 Air Force budget documents say.

The service had already marked these A-10s for divestment last year, according to Air Force Maj. Gen. John Pletcher, the deputy assistant secretary for budget at the Air Force's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Management and the Comptroller at the Pentagon.

Pletcher on Monday said the retirement will affect "the oldest and least-ready aircraft" in order to modernize a combat-capable fleet of 218 total A-10s across seven squadrons.

Their removal comes as the Air Force recently awarded a contract worth nearly $1 billion to Boeing Co. to produce new wings for the aircraft in need of the upgrade.

The service -- facing financial pressure driven by congressionally mandated spending caps known as sequestration -- made multiple attempts in recent years to fully retire the aircraft, which officials say would save an estimated $4 billion over five years and free up maintainers for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. 

Known for its iconic Gatling gun designed to shred tanks, and its tough titanium armor designed to take hits and keep flying, the A-10 has proponents including prominent lawmakers who have fiercely opposed the move to get rid of the aircraft.

In 2016, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the A-10 retirement would be delayed until 2022 after lawmakers such as then-Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona, and the late Sen. John McCain, also of Arizona, complained that doing so would rid the military of a "valuable and effective" close-air-support aircraft.

However, fiscal 2017 budget request documents show the Air Force had still planned to remove A-10 squadrons in increments between 2018 and 2022 to make room for F-35A Lightning II squadrons coming online. As a result, McSally included a provision in that bill that would prohibit retirement of the Warthog until the Air Force could prove that the F-35 is able to perform similar missions as effectively on the battlefield.

To date, the Air Force has 281 A-10s in its inventory (two A-10s were destroyed in a collision in 2017), but has repeatedly stressed it can maintain roughly six of its nine A-10 combat squadrons through 2032, which is why officials have not committed to buying new wings for the entire fleet.

The Air Force finished re-winging 173 A-10s in 2019 through the Enhanced Wing Assembly program, which began in 2011. One of the destroyed aircraft had received the upgrade.

Through the next iteration of the effort, the "A-10-Thunderbolt II Advanced-Wing Continuation Kit," or "ATTACK" program, the service will begin re-winging the rest "of the A-10s that remain in the inventory" after 44 planes are cut, a spokeswoman said Monday.

The reduction means only 65 aircraft would need the wing fix, down from 109.

The planes, which entered service in 1976 and have deployed to the Middle East, Europe and the Pacific, have played an outsized role in the air campaign that began in 2014 against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, helping provide close-air support for Iraqi and U.S. partner forces on the ground. The A-10 has also been instrumental in air operations in Afghanistan.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/02/10/bye-bye-brrrrt-air-force-wants-retire-44-10-warthogs.html

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lamoe

Cost each / cost per hour    

A-10  $11 mil orig + 8 million in upgrades  since   $6,000/hr

F-35    $94 mill / $125 mill in low initial quantities $28,500 / $65,000 hr (depends on source)

A senator once said  "I want my son flying the best fighter available" OK,

What about the mechanic's ground pounder son - doesn't he deserve the best also?

Read once that a great fighter plane (F-15 / 18?)  would win every time one on one against lesser aircraft BUT if outnumbered 3 / 4 / 5 to 1 shot down almost every time in Top Gun shoot outs.

The A-4 was much better than the F-4 in supporting ground troops
 

Quote

 

 

Edited by lamoe

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Headshot

My last job before I retired was at Hill AFB, which is the the depot for the A-10. I can think of at least five other times when the Air Force brass wanted to get rid of the A-10, but every time there was too much push back to get rid of the planes. I have seen the A-10's strafing ground targets (mostly armor) out on the Utah Test and Training Range, and I will tell you that no other aircraft in the sky comes even close to its lethality. There is NO substitute for the A-10, if you are on the ground and you need a specific target hit.

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CardiacKid
7 hours ago, lamoe said:

The A-4 was much better than the F-4 in supporting ground troops

And a much simpler aircraft to maintain. 

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lamoe
2 hours ago, CardiacKid said:

And a much simpler aircraft to maintain. 

Yep its was  - VMA 311 1968

The A-10 and A-4 share one very important criteria - they were designed to be great at one specific purpose - "CAS" Close Air Support of ground troops. Bombing, strafing, small target accusation and loiter time (that is a biggie) as well as a refuler for other A-4s :dance2:

They are not multi-pourpose strike fighters. Trying to get a plane to fulfill every military requirement has never worked.

http://theconversation.com/what-went-wrong-with-the-f-35-lockheed-martins-joint-strike-fighter-60905

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_A-4_Skyhawk

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lamoe

"The A-10 is very popular with ground troops"

If AF had ground troops wonder if they'd be so eager to get rid of it for the next new shinny toy?

 

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Soupeod
15 hours ago, lamoe said:

"The A-10 is very popular with ground troops"

If AF had ground troops wonder if they'd be so eager to get rid of it for the next new shinny toy?

 

The AF has ground troops. You’re talking bullshit.

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Salty Dog

Let's face it. Unmanned platforms are the future...

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lamoe
6 hours ago, Soupeod said:

The AF has ground troops. You’re talking bullshit.

Ground troops as in primarily front line combat - my error in assuming "ground troops", meaning front line, would be a given
 

Quote

 

https://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htinf/articles/20080912.aspx

The air force does have ground combat troops. They have 30,000 men and women assigned to this security force duty. The security forces are trained and equipped as light infantry, although their primary job is base protection and police work.

The army also has security forces similar to those of the air force. There are 35,000 army military police (MPs). Because of this similarity, the air force has sent hundreds of their security personnel to Iraq to help out army MPs.

 

Navy also has ground troops same as Coast Guard

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Headshot
2 hours ago, lamoe said:

Ground troops as in primarily front line combat - my error in assuming "ground troops", meaning front line, would be a given
 

Navy also has ground troops same as Coast Guard

I suspect that Souped was talking about the enlisted (non- aircrew) members of Special Operations Command and those serving in EOD. The SOC guys are the ones who go out with (or without) the special forces of other branches to bring down hell from above on the enemy they encounter. The Air Force EOD guys do the majority of the EOD work wherever the other branches want to go (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc.).

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