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Why the A-10 Thunderbolt II Is Staying in the Fight



“Secretary Carter’s announcement today that the Air Force will not prematurely retire the A-10 is a credit to the brave airmen from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base [Arizona] and military installations across the country who are providing unmatched close-air support in critical missions throughout the world,” he said. “Not only has the Air Force decided to keep the A-10 flying through at least 2022, but it has also pledged to replace it on a squadron-by-squadron basis – ensuring we won’t be left with a capability gap as we confront a complex array of conflicts and crises.”

“The Warthog is anything but a ‘single mission aircraft’ and there is simply no other asset that can match its lethality, loiter time, and survivability. …”

The Warthog continues to receive praise and support from Capitol Hill even from junior congressional members – and in at least one case a legislator’s backing comes from direct knowledge.

“From my experience as an A-10 pilot and squadron commander, I know firsthand the unique capabilities of the A-10 in close air support, forward air control-airborne, and combat search and rescue missions,” U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama and then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last year urging them to not attempt to retire the aircraft. “The Warthog is anything but a ‘single mission aircraft’ and there is simply no other asset that can match its lethality, loiter time, and survivability. The decision to retire it is reckless and will put American lives at risk.”


The U.S. Air Force deployed 12 A-10C Thunderbolt II attack aircraft from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, support equipment and approximately 300 personnel to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct. 15, 2015. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cory Bush

In today’s reality of terrorist activities, growing tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, and Russia’s posturing in Eastern Europe, Carter predicted U.S. involvement will intensify – both in show of force and in protection of its interests and allies – in the coming years.

“We will be prepared for a high-end enemy. That’s what we call full spectrum. In our budget, our plans, our capabilities, and our actions, we must demonstrate to potential foes, that if they start a war, we have the capability to win. Because a force that can deter conflict must show that it can dominate a conflict,” he said.

Downrange, in the Middle East, American and allied troops need close air support and lethality. The A-10 provides it. Its crews and pilots trust it. Congress likes its capabilities and success against ISIL. This is really why the Warthog is staying in the fight.

In October 2015, the United States sent 12 A-10Cs to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to replace six F-16s that had been flying combat missions against ISIL since August.



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