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"The Taliban hates the A-10. That’s good enough for me." -- Senator Lindsey Graham

In February of 2012, a report surfaced that said the U.S. military was looking to retire single-purpose aircraft in favor of multirole aircraft in large part due to budget cuts. One of the aircraft that was among those to be killed off was the A-10 Warthog. However, it looks as though some lawmakers want the venerable Warthog to fly for many more years.
 
The A-10 is a dedicated ground attack jet that has been providing close air support for decades. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R) has announced that she will push for amendments to be made to legislation that would retire the A-10 fleet.
 
The USAF has proposed the removal of the A-10 from its fleet by 2019 in part due to a 2011 deficit-reduction law. There are lawmakers on both sides of the isle that want to keep the A-10 flying, but they will have to find cuts in the budget elsewhere to make that happen.

 
The USAF maintains that by cutting the A-10 from the fleet it will save $3.5 billion over several years.
 
Senator Lindsey Graham (R) says that he has "been in theater enough to know what the troops say about the A-10." Graham added, "The Taliban hates the A-10. That’s good enough for me."
 
According to reports, many senior Army leaders, special operations troops, and soldiers in the field oppose the retirement of the fleet. Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Oiderno recently stated, "Obviously, we prefer the A-10. [Soldiers] can see it, they can hear it, they have confidence in it."

Source: Defense News



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By danjw1 on 4/14/2014 10:35:56 AM , Rating: 4
The Air Force wants sexy planes, they don't care about the soldiers on the ground. This is the reason the Army has long fought to get fixed wing aircraft, but congress won't let them. The Air Force has long been trying to dump the A-10s, but they are very effective in their role. So far, the Army has managed to keep the A-10s flying, by lobbying congress. I think a block upgrade to the A-10 would make more sense than that what the Air Force proposes. The AC-130 doesn't have the lower stall speeds of the A-10, which makes it less effective in the close support role.

Our soldiers love them, our enemies hate them. There is a reason for that.


By Bad-Karma on 4/14/2014 11:55:27 AM , Rating: 2
The reason the AF has never relished the close support role is a bit older and far darker than just wanting sexy aircraft.

In just about every conflict there have been numerous friendly fire incidents attributed with close support. It is almost unavoidable. The AC is moving at incredible speeds and there is never anything surgical about a 2000lb bomb. Confusion and mistakes are going to happen. That and when it does occur it has a tendency to not only mentally effect the pilot but also tends to make other pilots far more weary of providing the level of close support needed in the future.

Getting "too close" and "not close enough" is just as ineffectual on the battlefield. Both of which tend to breed animosity with the ground troops. Also remember that it took Billy Mitchell and pearl Harbor before the US Navy wised up and started truly seeing how to integrate air power into its mission. Before that the USN's air arm had just as much of a rift at the Army did with Air Corp. The US army and US Air Force have never been very friendly toward each other going all the way back to pre-WWI and the Army Air Corp. WWII pretty much put a permanent fracture between the two when it comes to the perceived role of Air power.

The marines probably do close air support far better than the other services combined. It's what they constantly train for. IMO the Marines ultimate CS aircraft would be an A-10ish AC that would be carrier or STOVL capable, remanence of the A-1 Skyraider. However they are always sucking hind tit when it comes to funding for R&D/technology and weapons procurement. They uusally have to take what the other services throw off and then fit it to its new role. Not many people realize it but the USAF put more funding into the V-22 than the Marines as it was a joint project.

The other side of the argument is that the US Army has always flaunted the ability of its helicopter gunships to adequately fill the role. They've always put out their hand for more and continual funding toward that purpose. However, those helicopter gunships are seldom close enough to reach areas that needs close air support in time.


By Jeffk464 on 4/14/2014 4:04:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not many people realize it but the USAF put more funding into the V-22 than the Marines as it was a joint project.


The Air Force doesn't want to be left out of the special ops game. If not for AC 130's and V-22/helicopter for pick up and drop off they would be left out.


By MrBlastman on 4/14/2014 11:58:05 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure what more they could do to further upgrade the airframe. You could add air-to-ground radar but that kind of defeats the purpose of the A-10. You need to be pretty high up in the air and far away from your target for it to be of any worth and frankly, since the A-10 operates as CAS rather than pre-planned strike (as the F-16 / F-15D/E are far superior in that capacity), it is accumstomed to receiving 9-lines that the pilot can quickly enter into the navigation system and after that, his targeting pod helps him do the rest.

The A-10 is crude and effective. The C update pretty much gives it all it needs without making it a completely new airframe. About the only thing I can think of it using is some sort of helmet-mounted system with 3-dimensional targeting and telemetry to improve situational awareness... that kind of defeats the purpose of the plane, though--adding expensive gizmos into it. It thrives on redundancy and survivability.


By Bad-Karma on 4/14/2014 1:00:29 PM , Rating: 2
9-lines !!! In my B-52 days we always welcomed 9 lines just to help breakup the monotony. You just don't see them much anymore as they've become transparent behind the scenes to the user in more modern systems with JTIDS.


By MrBlastman on 4/14/2014 1:14:12 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. The as I see it, with the tie-ins the C variant gives it + the oldschool manual entry capabilities, it pretty much has evolved as far as it can go without completely replacing the airframe with something new like you suggested above.

Your A-10 operator receives a notification, he presses a couple hats/buttons and bam, he has the target on his moving map that he can SPI to with his pod, get a visual on it, relate it to the HUD and move in for the kill.

And for those missions that require more firepower, well he can do just fine as a forward air controller.

A helmet-sighting system would be really nice. I just don't see it happening. Not with all the money that has been spent doing the same thing on the F-35 (and the problems they have had with it).


By Bad-Karma on 4/14/2014 1:35:49 PM , Rating: 2
The program management office for the A-10 is only 5 doors down from mine here at Wright-Pat. What I can tell you is that some of the stuff on the drawing board for future A-10 Block/mod updates would blow your mind. The same is true for the 15 guys just down the hall.

A lot of us guys here eat sleep and breath aviation. Even lunch can be an aviation geek fest..


By MrBlastman on 4/14/2014 1:56:00 PM , Rating: 2
... you've piqued my interest. :) My imagination is going wild, suddenly.


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