Fark: “Despite the Air Force’s best efforts to euthanize it in favor of the perpetually unready F-35A, the A-10 Warthog did what it was built to: survive.”
The Air Force said Monday that it has finished installing new wings on the last of 173 A-10 Thunderbolt IIs.
The re-winging of the venerable attack aircraft, popularly known as the Warthog, is expected to allow it to keep flying until the late 2030s, Air Force Materiel Command said in a release.
The upgraded wings should last for up to 10,000 flight hours without requiring a depot inspection, AFMC said. And they have an improved, newly designed wire harness to make the wings easier to remove, and lessen the chance of damaging the wing during the removal process.
So, hey: no flying cars, but we get to keep the flying tanks. …I’ll allow it.
Oddly enough, there’s still a use for them: “An undisclosed number of Warthogs, part of the “Blacksnakes” 163rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron based at Fort Wayne, Indiana, have been deployed to Middle Eastern airbases to provide air cover to troops fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.” This is not the same as saying that the Warthog is ‘back:’ merely that objective reality itself is pushing back on any and all attempts to retire the airplane. …And this should not shock anyone. People have been trying to kill the A-10 since it rolled off of the production line: if it’s anything, it’s tough. Tougher than the career of, say, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
This is not to say that the plane should not be eventually replaced, because it is forty years old. But the real problem here is that the Air Force faces what it appears to consider to be an unpalatable choice: they don’t want to fly fixed-wing airplanes that specialize in Close Air Support (it’s not sexy), but they don’t want the Army to fly fixed-wing airplanes at all*. Until that particular moral dilemma is resolved, I think that we should keep the Warthog around for a bit longer.
Which is certainly more than could be said about Chuck Hagel, huh?
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*I would like to say that the Army would happily take over those duties if it meant keeping the A-10, but I have had it gently pointed out to me that just maintenance and resupplying them would be a stretch on the Army’s resources and skill pool. But the ground troops do like the flying tanks, because they’re tanks. That fly. And then shoot depleted uranium rounds at bad people (ie, people who are shooting at American ground troops). This is appealing to them.
Translation: expect more US troops to be deployed to the Middle East.
The Pentagon is deploying 300 airmen and 12 A-10 combat jets to the Middle East in early October, according to the Indiana Air National Guard.
The six-month deployment from the 122nd Fighter Wing is not specifically part of President Obama’s fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but the airmen and jets could provide air support to troops battling ISIS on the ground.
“I don’t know of a time in Blacksnake history we have taken this kind of aviation footprint forward,” said Col. Patrick R. Renwick, 122nd Fighter Wing commander, in a statement. “The A-10 ‘Warthog’ is uniquely suited for the Combatant Commander’s needs, and the Blacksnakes are the right team to bring that capability to combat.”
A-10s are essentially flying tanks: that ‘air support’ thing is typically ‘close air support.’ Warthogs are aboust as subtle as a depleted-uranium round in the face, so wherever they’re going, it’s going to be somewhere where you want that. That means supporting ground troops.
This is just a thing that is.
PS: I suppose that we could be putting the Warthogs at the service of somebody else’s ground troops. …Whose? The Kurds? Because if we’re sending the ANG units there, that’s just more American troop buildup in Iraq anyway.
(Via Instapundit) Why not? After all, it’s only the single most useful all-around plane in our arsenal.
The New York Times reported late Sunday that Hagel’s proposal, which will be released to lawmakers and the public on Monday, will call for a reduction in size of the military that will leave it capable of waging war, but unable to carry out protracted occupations of foreign territory, as in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Under Hagel’s plan, the number of troops in the Army will drop to between 440,000 and 450,000, a reduction of at least 120,000 soldiers from its post-Sept.11 peak.
Officials told the Times that Hagel’s plan has been endorsed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and protects funding for Special Operations forces and cyberwarfare. It also calls for the Navy to maintain all eleven of its aircraft carriers currently in operation. However, the budget proposal mandates the elimination of the entire fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft, as well as the retiring of the U-2 spy plane, a stalwart of Cold War operations.
Continue reading Chuck Hagel wants to kill the Warthog, once and for all.