Nothing Can Kill the A-10 Warthog (And We Meaning Nothing)

David Axe

Key point: Congress stopped the A-10's retirement, so it's been upgraded.

The U.S. Air Force has all but given up on retiring the A-10 Warthog close-air-support jet. Instead, the flying branch is upgrading the tough ground-attackers so they can fight and survive in high-intensity combat.

The Air Force had hoped to begin retiring its 281 A-10s starting in 2015. But Congress blocked the effort. Now the A-10 is safe even as the Air Force considers retiring other plane types.

“Acting Air Force Secretary Matt Donovan stoked speculation that the service will retire the A-10 after announcing that its FY21 budget request will include ‘controversial changes’ such as the divestment of legacy aircraft,” Valerie Insinna reported at Defense News.

From Defense News

But speaking at the conference later that day, Lt. Gen. Timothy Fay, deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements, confirmed that the A-10 is not one of the aircraft under consideration for divestment and will stay in service until the 2030s.

“Short answer: No,” Fay said, when asked whether the Warthog is on the cutting block. "I will tell you, I wish the response had been that the Air Force is actually bold enough to get after the threats that we’re facing.”

The Air Force acquired the subsonic, twin-engine planes in the 1970s and 1980s in order to destroy Soviet tanks. The stubby Warthog with its powerful 30-millimeter cannon proved effective as a close-air-support aircraft in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Despite its popularity with ground troops, the Air Force wanted to retire the A-10 early in order to free up around $5 billion for other investments. Now that retirement is off the table, the service is moving ahead with a wide range of upgrades meant to keep the Warthog relevant into the 2030s.

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