A-10's flying half of close air support missions in Afghanistan

War Is Boring:
The RAND Corporation, a California-based think tank closely tied to the U.S. Air Force, recently compiled statistics on A-10s in Afghanistan, with the goal of studying how they performed and how the Air Force could replace them in the future.

It should come as no surprise that as the war continued, the A-10 took on a larger share of missions — comprising “one-half of all the CAS [close air support] missions … despite representing a small fraction of the total aircraft in theater,” according to RAND.

Warthogs also began striking targets across a wider span of the country as the Taliban’s reach expanded.

A-10 air strikes increased sharply as U.S. Marines and soldiers surged into Afghanistan in 2010. But RAND’s data is incomplete, as it doesn’t include statistics on drone strikes and from Army attack helicopters.
RAND noted that regarding other aircraft such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon and B-1 Lancer, a fast-moving jet bomber, “weapon use and enemy killed tended … to be somewhat lower than those for the A-10.”

The Warthog also killed fewer civilians than other manned aircraft, which RAND suggested is due to the accuracy of the A-10’s cannon and its smaller destructive radius than aerial bombs.
The A-10m remains the best close air support plane in the US inventory and the air force is still looking for a replacement vehicle.  It is doubtful that the F-35 will fill that roll on anything other than an emergency basis.


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