The Warthog is still holding out.

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.

10 thoughts on “The Warthog is still holding out.”

  1. If the Army didn’t want them, the Marines would accept them with open arms. They’ve already got the infrastructure.

    1. And the pilots, and the same love of the warthog, and .. yeah.
      I have *heard* that the main problem is the Marines are part of the Navy, and that the Navy won’t accept the warthog because “it isn’t carrier-capable”.

      1. This. And it is a serious problem. A Warthog may be awesome, but it would never launch from a carrier, and thus it runs into the same force-division issues that keep the Army in easy-to-shot-down helicopters.

        The AF has been trying to make a CWS F-16…now pardon me as I laugh at the thought of a dogfighting air-superiority plane with no low-altitude on-target capability being adapted to…yeah. Linger where it can be shot. That said, as awesome as the venerable Warthog is, it is starting to become vulnerable to ground-based rockets.

        1. Starting to…
          That means, in procurement-speak, “time to look at upgrades”.
          The warthog was a ground-up design. Do another one, starting with the same requirements – keep the pilot safe, stick around over the scene for a while, fast get-away, lower radar profile …

  2. I would like to say that the Army would happily take over those duties …

    I’ve read a serious proposal that the Air Force should be folded back into the Army. Not only would it cut down on inter-service rivalry, there’s a plausible case that the Air Force isn’t constitutional (i.e., that the Constitution authorizes only an Army and a Navy). The constitutionality of the Air Force was the subject of a discussion on the Volokh Conspiracy some years ago; alas, I don’t have a link.

  3. What’s appealing to our troops, and what’s appealing to the politicians that send our troops into battle, is often disparate and sometimes antithetical.

    1. Actually, I think the politicians would love the Warthog, since if it went back into production, it would be a known-quantity requiring zero R&D–and thus none of the typical cost overruns.

      It’s the Air Force brass who never wanted the Warthog, has tried to kill the plane since they 1st saw it, and laments that they can’t find a shiny new toy to put in its place. Preferably one that flies supersonic and stays well away from the battlefield. They really…really hate CWS. Too bad for them Air Superiority is a minor mission on most modern battlefields.

  4. How about we do what is best for the ground pounders… the Warthog is the best ground support aircraft in the world… has been for 40 years and still is. I don’t get what this is a problem when we are still flying the B52 BUFF and it is much older. Improve it, but why change it? If you just want to replace it with a Warthog Drone.. fine… just pray that your satellite links hold up.

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