Air Force downs its best close air support plane
The Air Force’s A-10 “Warthog,” which provides close air support for ground troops, has survived enemy anti-aircraft fire for decades but is about to be downed by the budget cutter’s pen.
With combat envisioned in the Asia-Pacific region, there is little room for a “tank killer” like the A-10 Thunderbolt — nicknamed “Warthog” because of its look — and other long-treasured weapons systems in a Pentagon budget facing deep reductions, officials say.
The budget cuts also could reduce production of the KC-10 Extender tanker aircraft, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and the Ground Combat Vehicle.
“Do we want a ready force today or a modern force tomorrow? That’s the dilemma. You can’t have both,” Gen. Mark Welsh III, Air Force chief of staff, said last week at the American Enterprise Institute. “If you lose a counterinsurgency action, it’s embarrassing. If you lose a full-spectrum conflict, it will be catastrophic.”
Officials are considering retiring the Air Force fleet of 324 A-10s by 2015, which would save about $3.7 billion a year in operational, maintenance and logistical costs. At least three times as many F-16s would have to be cut to get the same amount of savings, Gen. Welsh said.I would try to find a way to save this plane which has had a unique roll in saving the troops. It is too bad the Marines can't find a way to make the A-10 a carrier based plane because it is ideal at a mission prized by the Marines.