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Air Force Continues Attack on the A-10, its Most Capable, Cost Effective Ground Support Plane

Updated: Mar 10, 2023


World's Best and Most Sophisticated Close Air Support Plane - the A-10 "Warthog"


As reported in DefenseOne Magazine, the Air Force is once again making a push to retire its only effective close air support plane. For over a decade the Air Force has been trying to retire what is arguably the most cost-effective and useful plane in its inventory. The two main reasons the Air Force have given for its attack on the A-10 is that it is out of date and no longer relevant on the modern battlefield, and that the F-35 needs the A-10's maintenance personnel to meet its prodigious maintenance needs.


The first reason is flat out wrong, and the second reason is about shifting resources from a useful, reliable and powerful plane to a plane that will never be reliable and whose capabilities have yet to be proven in combat against any real opponent, much less a peer competitor.

However the real reasons for the rush to retire the Warthog is that the Air Force wants to buy more F-35s under the rationale they can be effective close air support planes. Also as long as the A-10s are in service, they will continue to show up just how inferior the F-35 is when attempting to do close air support.


With the A-10 having received $2.85 billion in recent upgrades, including better wings and a complete upgrade of avionics, sensors, targeting systems, and communications, the A-10 now the A-10C, is no longer an "aging platform.” In fact, the A-10C is by far and away the most sophisticated close air support plane in the world, being vastly superior to any other plane in the world, including the F-35, which it has soundly trounced in both competitions the Air Force staged in an effort to show the F-35 could be effective as a close air support plane. This trouncing happened despite attempts by the Air Force to stack the deck in favor of the F-35. Not only did the A-10 blow away the F-35 in both competitions, the competitions showed that the F-35 is not really even a very good ground support plane, its fragility reducing it to firing extremely expensive missiles/guided bombs while flying safely at great distances from the front lines - meaning that the F-35 missiles will take minutes to reach a target in the midst of dynamic battlefield.


Along with the recently completed upgrades to it avionics, sensors and communications, the A-10 has been scheduled for additional upgrades that will allow it to fire the latest in stand-off weapons.

The claim that the A-10C can no longer function on the modern battlefield in contested airspace is also false. The kind of tactics and support necessary to enable the A-10 would take a very long article to explain, but as per conversations with an experienced A-10 pilot, with the proper "Force Package" and coordination with experienced JTACs, A-10's flown by experienced A-10 pilots have demonstrated that they can operate on a modern battlefield filled with MANPADS. Regarding, big sophisticated anti-air defense systems such as S-300s and S-400s in order to avoid being destroyed by artillery they must be located to far behind the actual battle, they are normally of little threat to the low-flying, terrain hugging A-10. Finally, even in contested air space the A-10 can fly in weather conditions fighters cannot and it vastly superior ability to fly low slow terrain hugging routes also provides protection from fast high fliers who will be under threat from the sophisticated anti-air systems designed to engage them as well as allied aircraft.


For a detailed explanation on why the A-10 stands alone as a close air support plane capable of making a difference in today's modern battlefield see my National Review Article "The Case for the Warthog."

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