In the 2015 budget, it was suggested that the US Air Force retire its aging A-10 Thunderbolt squadrons to save money. The “Warthog,” as it’s affectionately called by those who know it, has been one of the best close air support delivery platforms the world has ever known, and many questioned why we would want to shut the program down. After some fierce debate on Capitol Hill, it was decided that the aircraft should not be retired after all. In fact, a new order for wings was just placed with Boeing. So the A-10 lives to fight another day. That is bad news for ISIS and the rest of the bad guys in the world today.
The A-10 has been service in since 1970 and has a stellar record of success in eliminating ground-based threats. It has seen action in the Balkans, both Gulf Wars, and has been deployed throughout Afghanistan and Iraq during the wars there. The men who fly it and those it protected on the ground love it, and those it flew against learned to hate and fear it. It turned Saddam Hussein’s highly mechanized army into useless piles of scrap in both Gulf wars.
With a record like this, one would have to ask why the Air Force would be willing to give up on it. But as with most everything that has an expiration date, the A-10s were getting expensive to maintain and that is always a factor when it comes time to make a fiscal year budget. President Obama and his budget makers decided it was time to mothball the A-10.
Fortunately for those that have come to love the aircraft, it met stiff resistance to being scrapped by both the military and some political allies such as Senator John McCain (R-Ariz). One of the benefits that saved the A-10 is that there is not a similar platform in the US Arsenal today. Sure there are several different versions of attack helicopters that could provide close air support, like the Apache, but no helicopter could stand and fight like the Warthog on the battlefield.
Its thick titanium armor makes it extremely hard to shoot down. Instead of “hit and run” like most helicopters have to do to protect the aircraft, the A-10 can slug it out toe to toe. If you don’t believe me, ask someone who was in an elite Republican Guard tank unit during the first Gulf War – that is if you can find one that is alive? It was run or die for the targets on the ground when the A-10 started to spray fire with its GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon; at 30mm it was the largest rotary cannon ever deployed on an aircraft.
So what is next for the A-10? It was decided that it will probably stick around until 2023 after getting a few upgrades and some wing replacements. It has already seen action in Iraq against ISIS and it is believed it is only a matter of time before it will see action against the terrorist organization in Syria. A squadron has been deployed in Eastern Europe because of the tensions there now, too. So the A-10 is once again wreaking havoc on a ground enemy like it was designed for, and that is bad news for all who oppose it.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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