Air Force looking at a new close air support plane to replace A-10

The battle tested A-10 has seen combat in Iraq, Afghanistan and most recently in Syria where it was able to target enemy forces up close without risking friendly fire casualties because the pilots are flying slow enough to visually distinguish between enemy and friendly forces.

Rep. Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican lauded the Air Force's decision to reevaluate its plans, calling it "a big victory."

McSally, a retired Air Force colonel and former A-10 pilot who flew missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, told CNN she was "glad to see the (Obama) administration recognize the flaws in seeking to eliminate the A-10 before we have a tested, proven replacement."

"As a result of our advocacy, the Air Force will begin consideration of the follow-on platform to the A-10, including upgrading our current fleet to extend its service life. This is the exact approach for which I have advocated," said McSally, a member of the Armed Services Committee.

The A-10 can carry up to 16,000 pounds of bombs and missiles and is armed with a powerful 30 mm, seven-barrel Gatling gun, which can fire depleted uranium bullets at 3,900 rounds per minute.
Retired naval aviator Cmdr. Chris Harmer told CNN in March that using an F-35 to fly close air support against insurgents would be akin to "buying a brand new Rolls Royce to take the garbage to the dump."

Harmer estimated the cost of flying a jet like the F-35 to be about $45,000 per hour of flight, while the A-10 costs about one-third as much to operate.
I would hope that the new close air support plane would have a Marine Corps version that could be flown from ships.  The Marines have always heavily relied on close air support for amphibious operations and something akin to the A-10 would be a good fit.  It is also good to see the Air Force come around on the necessity of having a dedicated close air support plane rather than try to do that with a platform designed for air superiority work.


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