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.