Readers of this site know that we are big fans of the Air Force’s ugly, tough old A-10 (popularly called the “Warthog”). The A-10 takes a special breed of pilot, and is a particular favorite of ground troops who appreciate the fact that the aircraft can loiter low and slow over the battlefield, delivering thousands of devastating rounds from its gatling gun even while sustaining signifcant damage from small arms fire.
We have previously covered the history of the Air Force’s occasional attempts to get rid of the A-10 (see here).
In her recent visit to Whiteman AFB, the Secretary of the Air Force delivered remarks that should provide some comfort to A-10 fans (from the Daily Star Journal):
“The A-10 has done a lot of great work for the Air Force and for the ground troops that we support. We want them to hear those engines and know that help is on the way, so we’re trying to keep them,” Wilson said.
“Our five-year plan is actually to keep the A-10 in inventory.” The concern is how to fund the A-10s in an era of budget cuts. At some point, Wilson said, the Air Force must replace the aging aircraft, with the F-35 stepping up. Based in Texas, some F-35s will go to other bases, she said.
The fitness of the F-35 for this mission is an issue beyond the scope fo this post. However, what we hope does not get lost in this debate is the issue of professional culture. Those who have worked with them know that A-10 pilots constitute a unique, eccentric sort of community within the Air Force.
Many observers doubt whether pilots of faster, lightly armored multi-role aircraft would approach the job of close air support the same way the A-10 community has until now.
Let us know your thoughts.
Featured image courtesy of dailystarjournal.com