*Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown said he’d like to see reduced to zero in the near future. *
Fighters need to be able to fulfill multiple mission sets, Brown said, which the Warthog cannot achieve.*
“The A-10 is a great airplane. It’s a great airplane in an uncontested environment,” he said. “The challenge is we’re going to be in more contested environments in the future.”
Previously, a statutory mandate required the service to finish out initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) for the F-35 before A-10 divestments could proceed, which cannot yet be completed due to issues for the fighter’s long-troubled Joint Simulation Environment that have frozen the program in low-rate initial production.
Now Air Force leaders are using the current China narrative as cover for their traditional antipathy for the close air support mission. They claim the combat-proven A-10 cannot survive in a fight with a sophisticated adversary like Russia or China. People making this claim have yet to back them with actual testing results. Instead it is simply repeatedly regurgitated as a talking point that furthers the Air Force’s institutional agenda: to focus their mission, and budget, on programs such as air superiority and strategic fires that don’t require participation from the other services.
The claim also calls into question the Air Force’s own effectiveness. According to their force design, the Air Force would quickly gain control of the skies before ground troops kick off a campaign, so unless the Air Force had failed at gaining air superiority over the enemy’s territory, why would A-10s be in danger in a contested air environment? Does the Air Force propose that we send these aircraft in alone over Chinese or Russian territory? Because that would be crazy.
The Air Force conducted a head-to-head close air support fly-off test between the A-10 and the F-35 in 2018. A major aspect of the test was to see how well the A-10 would fare in heavily defended airspace, but very little about the results have been released publicly. If the F-35 had crushed the A-10 in testing, there can be little doubt that Air Force officials would have been trumpeting that fact in every Tactical Air Land Forces hearing and F-35 press release over the past five years.
Instead, we have heard nothing about its results and they have never been made public.
We, the public, have no need to know. Bullcrap!
We should trust a DOD that is unable to audit itself successfully? Trust an organization that has been proven its inability to bring cost effective, military effective weapon platforms out successfully?
It is long time past to bring fiscal responsibility to DOD.
I believe there is a law forbidding the Army to have fixed wing aircraft. So, that’s one hurdle. The Marines will never agree to “working for the Army.” There’s also the larger discussion about their missions being different, and the Marines would never have the numbers to support large Army ground operations without enbiggening the Marines a lot.
I worked in CAS 40 yrs ago. Red Flag. The F-16 was supposed to be the A-10 replacement. The thinking was "it flies faster and therefor it is better. Let’s just say “it lacked.”
The mystery to me in all this is why does the Army buy off on this? The article says “All services agree” that the F-35 can do the job. Apparently it can’t and all the other planes they’ve been throwing at it for 40 yrs haven’t. It’s the Army’s tush on the line when the guns begin to shoot. If they’re cool with it I can’t see why anybody would get in the way. Congress just wants a factory, needed or not, in that district.
The A-10 probably did fairly well. It has massive firepower and can concentrate that on targets moving at any speed. Avoiding that firepower would be a problem for opposing aircraft. Plus, the A-10 has an armored cockpit–which other aircraft do not have.
The A-10 is unsuited for air-to-air combat. Modern aircraft can fire air-to-air missiles undetected at their targets from dozens of miles away. The A-10 doesn’t have that capability. The other factor is the A-10 flying low and slow in its CAS role is venerable to modern surface-to-air missiles, which are easily transported and man operable.
These weren’t factors in Iraq and Syria, but presumably would be in some future conflict with say, China or her surrogates. And as the article points out, CAS is the only thing the A-10 can do. Which is fine, until you need it for something else.
Maybe what I should of said is, What can a pilot in the A-10 do that a drone modified A10 do with a drone pilot.
In other words, we already have a weapons system for Close Air Support that costs 1 tenth the cost of an F 35. Why hasn’t the plane been upgraded to drone status. Oh, wait. We have a drone for close air support. It costs 15 million a little more than an A-10.
However the Reaper cannot carry the payload that an A-10 can, on the other hand it has a much longer range and loiter for a very long time.
The idea of any piloted aircraft providing close air support today is silly. The Warthog cannot operate without air superiority, neither can a drone or an attack helicopter. For that matter, the Air force providing close air support with its 100 million dollar vapor ware aircraft is also ludicrous. The placing of that requirement on the aircraft is so stupid it sounds like someone with the intelligence of a congressman dreamed it up.
Besides the cannon the a-10 and carry an assortment of other armament. Armament: One 30mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun; up to 16,000 pounds (7,200 kilograms) of mixed ordnance on eight under-wing and three under-fuselage pylon stations, including 500 pound (225 kilograms) Mk-82 and 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms) Mk-84 series low/high drag bombs, incendiary cluster bombs, combined effects munitions, mine dispensing munitions, AGM-65 Maverick missiles, laser-/GPS-guided bombs, unguided and laser-guided 2.75-inch (6.99 centimeters) rockets; infrared countermeasure flares; electronic countermeasure chaff; jammer pods; illumination flares and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.
That’s why you have an arsenal of different things, not try to make one thing fit every situation. That’s how you get the airplane like the F-35 which is supposed to do many things and doesn’t do any of them particularly well.
The A-10 has been an exceptional platform for several decades, and used in the right situations is an phenominal weapon. There seems to be a philosophy taking hold in the Pentagon now to have weapons that do everything, instead of weapons that do one thing particularly well. I think it’s a mistake, big time.
Agreed. In order to win the battle, physical troops on the ground is mandatory to actually “TAKE” physical control of that area. The A-10 supports that mandatory activity of winning a war very specifically.
I just want to throw this out for a sec, since I was in the business myself. I see some “GP” sounding terms being used without being defined and just what the A-10 was built to do hasn’t really been addressed. The word is TANK. I ran a “Find in page” and didn’t find it. The A-10 was on paper before it was actually on paper as a tank killer. Yes, that’s CAS (Close air support) but it is a really narrow alley. Yes, those behind the lines (maybe way way behind) other pieces of gear e.g. the rocket launchers and such would be taken out, in all likelihood by other types of craft. Strike fighters like F-16’s, F15-E’s, F-35’s or maybe drones or cruise missiles. An A-10 can’t make than run. But on the actual field where everything is up close and personal you can’t drone it in or have B-52’s dump iron on it and even the F-35/F-16 types have trouble with tanks. At least thus far.
So, you can root for or against the F-35 et al subsuming the A-10 but it’s tank bustin’ that’s really at issue. And that’s where those other type of A/C’s seem to have the problem.
The “tank killers” today are the Javelin and similar weapons. The real problem is simple: The US does not have enough Javelins (etc) and they are far behind on restarting serious–and ongoing–production capability.
An A-10 is an ongoing asset that can be re-used over and over again. Sure, maintenance and so on–but it is not “one and done”. Thus, the A-10 is a multi-front weapon that can be adapted to fit the situation.
Even better. I think that’s why the Army is cool with no A-10 and whatever along those lines the F-35 will provide. The Javelin missile practically walks with the infantry. So it’s under the control of those who need it most. Shortfalls might be a “management” issue. If the shooting starts in earnest and the Army really needs them they will appear. I can’t believe even “The Brass” would be that parochial and ignorant. In the end they still want to win and firepower wins.
“The Brass” isn’t what is behind the Javelin supply problem or the artillery round shortage. It is congress and US defense industry. Congress was slow to fund new javelin production. No money. No javelin production.
US defense industry has limited factories for the production of javelins and 105 artillery round. Yes they can add shifts and produce 24/7. But there is a limit to amount of weaponry & munitions they can produce. Building new factories of course would require a significant amount of time.
2 articles on how the US will spend $7.2 billion to produce javelins. You will note the article are dated May 4, 2023; more than a year after Russia crossed the border of Ukraine.
The United States is running low on ammunition amid the war in Ukraine, James Stavridis, a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former supreme allied commander of NATO, wrote in an April 30 opinion piece for Bloomberg.
the Lockheed-Raytheon joint venture has produced more than 50,000 Javelin missiles and 12,000 reusable command launch units to date, which is pushing to increase production from 2,100 to 3,960 missiles annually by late 2026, according to Breaking Defense.
Is 3,960 annually an adequate number? Remember US & NATO stores need to be replenished.
The 4000 javelin news is old news.
Lockheed Martin aims to nearly double production for Javelin anti-tank missiles from 2,100 to 4,000 per year, but it needs the supply chain to “crank up,” according to its chief executive.
The above statement was made over a year ago. One might wonders what the is the holdup is. I believe congressional slow funding request and production bottlenecks due limited production facilities is the reason.