A-10 Warthogs Could Serve Until 2040

So it might be 2040 before the Air Force’s fleet of A-10 Warthog attack jets is replaced by the F-35 and whatever drones emerge in the coming years.

Check out this solicitation for tooling necessary to keep the jets flying until 2040.

Here are the basics:

The Government is contemplating to contract for engineering services on behalf of the A-10 Systems Program Officer (SPO).  The services contemplated include the following:

1 - Develop plan to identify available A-10 Tooling that will be needed to support and sustain the A-10 Aircraft until 2040.
2 - Prioritize tooling based on need and critical nature of tool.
3 - Develop Teamcenter product structure and workflows to properly link and manage the engineering data, scanned data and physical tools with the Air Force Global Logistics Support Center and A-10 production facilities.
4 - Digitally scan the tools according to the priority list and validate prior to linking to engineering data in the A-10 Teamcenter Database.
5 - Develop CAD/CAM interface data by reverse engineering (scanned data) where needed.

This would put the invaluable Hog up there with workhorse jets like the B-52 Stratofortress and KC-135 Stratotanker as planes that will serve until 2040.

This may be due to the fact that the A-10 is such a unique and cost effective weapon. It’s a relatively simple plane that’s tough as nails and can do everything from kill tanks to loiter low and slow over a battlefield dispatching enemy insurgents.

While it’s pretty easy to see the F-35 performing the ground attack and fighter missions of jets like the fast-moving F-16s, it’s harder to see the JSF rolling in slow and unleashing a torrent cannon fire on a beehive of enemies. Do you really want to risk getting a stealth jet all shot up on CAS runs?

Furthermore, could this be a sign that the service is considering slowing of reducing its F-35 buy in favor of keeping more Hogs in service and while focusing on using the JSF to replace F-15s and F-16s, (at least initially)? This last one may be a stretch, but who knows?

Thanks to tipster Brandon for spotting this.

  • jamesb

    Good look for the military that wanted to get rid of the old ugly airplanes that the grunts probabaly love to see……

    How about giving the Army a CHEAP loaded to the gill’s propellered a/c to compiliment the A-10?

    Did is say give it to the ARMY???

  • bigRick

    The air forces can’t stand flying low and slow anyway and they even hate the idea of owning a ground attack aircraft (they truly think that the F-16 can do the job)

    just give the whole “support the troops on the ground” mission to the Army, give them 3/4 of the fleet and 1/4 to the Marines. The Army and Marines will do a better job of supporting the troops on the ground anyway since it’s their butts on the line.

    the air force country club boys just want to zoom past in their F-16 spitting out a few 20mm and get back to the base so they don’t miss their tee time

  • Alex

    Just a thought: I wonder if it even came up in the meetings that they could redesign the A-10 from the ground up using modern tech. Instead of just refurbishing/modernizing it as it gets old and systems wear down. And if they kept it simple and didn’t try to attatch all the EMW tech to it like the F-35 and just went for a tough as nails plane built for close air support (for the K.I.S.S. and tough as nails they could take a page from the venerable P-40), instead of trying to qualify it for multiple roles. Having a multy mission aircraft is nice but sometimes it really pays to have a weapon that can do one thing really well. And if they do want some anti-air there are aircraft out there with hard points mounted on top of the wings for Sparrows or some such. But with the budget the way it is now… probably not.

    • Will

      The AF is not going to sacrifice F-35s for a dedicated CAS aircraft, even for larger numbers that will justify more pilot jobs. The Army might prefer a fixed wing STOL attack plane over a new helo as an AH-64 replacement IF it was allowed to operate fixed wing attack planes. Most likely, though, is that the CAS mission will be turned over to UAVs.
      Sparrows? Where have you been? AMRAAM

      • Alex

        I don’t really keep up on current missles as you found out from my post, ergo the reason I added “or some such”.

    • Tyler

      The A-10 doesn’t need to be redesigned. the whole point is it focuses on WW2 type tech in it’s flight controls and what not to make it tough as nails. The “redesign” would pretty much just be more electronics for radar and comms, maybe even a bit more for targeting. The A-10 is a good plane for the job it is in and doesn’t need much changed.

      • tiger

        It’s for killing tanks. For the duty we want it for, it’s too much. There are few targets worthy of a 30mm DU shell.


      The A-10 is already able to carry air to air missiles.

  • John Moore

    Makes sence to me, I never understood how a Jet like the f-35 could fill a role the a-10 is perfectly suited for.

    Evern the amount of damage one can take and still make it back to base, I figure it would be hard pressed to find a fighter jet capable of taking the same punishment!

  • George

    Redesigning the A-10 with new engines and stealthy characteristics (low observability from the ground, low IR signature, low RCS from above) would be the single most cost-effective project the Congress could pass.

  • G.B.

    There is nothing that personell on the ground love more than having an A10 giving them support, because it does exactly what it says on the tin, and it does it better than anything else out there.

    I completely support the move to keep these beautifully ugly monsters flying as long as possible!!

  • Joshua

    The A-10’s role is low ground attack’s, so I fail to recognize why stealth would be needed for this role…?

  • jamesb

    It doesn’t…….

  • large

    Maintaining Wart hogs doesn’t get anybody re-elected . . Buying new, expensive (but perhaps useless) F-35s will . .

    The future will demand more “Small War” equipment and less high tech Expensive Levithian armaments . . The only people who fail to understand that are the Politicians and those who profit from them.

    • DauntlessCelt

      Hate to break it to ‘ya, but I don’t think the American people in general follow this enough for it to be even a minor issue to them. Sad truth.

  • Lance

    The USAF isn’t replacing the F-15 with the F-35 originally the F-22 was to replace the F-15 but now with the F-22 cut away the USAF says the F-15C will fly well beyond 2025 and the F-15E well beyond that date as well. The F-35 will replace the F-16 though.

  • chaos0xomega

    So reading this from my engineering background, to me it sounds more like the AF wants to preserve the tooling for the aircraft digitally (#4) in order to develop CAM/CAD data which could be used to produce new aircraft (#5).The second half of that is a bit of a stretch, but you’ll note it says ‘where needed’. The CAD/CAM data most certainly already exists for a large portion of the aircraft, it would be needed for any sort of porduction of spare parts/upgrades to the airframe (like the recently undertaken upgrade to the wings). The ‘where needed’ bit seems to imply collecting the data for the tooling for the rest of the airframe, which you would only really need to produce a complete airframe…

    or maybe its just wishful thinking on my part. <3 A-10.

  • Tribulationtime

    Exactly happens when F-16 was going in USAF. They keep the A-10 and discarded A-16 variant. A bread knive is not swiss knive and is not a skinning knive, not a combat knive, not rescue one, etc etc. One frog is not fish nor it is lizard. Force stay with you

  • Mike Halvorsen

    As far as the CAS prop-job that was suggested earlier (and just as promptly ignored by the USAF…) we would have to re-tool to build it, but the overall design is there in the venerable and beloved (to those who know her) A1 Skyraider…aka the Sandy, the Spad, and the Able Dog. One HELL of a CAS aircraft, even by today’s standards…and much cheaper to build, maintain and operate than any jet! And if there was ever a COIN aircraft that was better, I’d be willing to debate the relative merits…

  • Matt Holzmann

    as far as I know, most of the tooling is gone. The Fairchild plant on Long Island is now a shopping mall.

    But then, it was a fairly low cost program as I recall.

    And remember, the next war will be little like the last war. The A-10 was built to kill Russki tanks. Now it’s doing yeoman’s work in Afghanistan and is well suited to the environment.

    The one truism is that we will always need ground attack aircraft that can pinpoint targets and come in low and slow. More time on target means more ordnance on target.

    The AF types have wanted to kill this project from the beginning. Give it to the Army.

  • anon

    It’d be interesting to see if they try to replace lost tooling by strait copying, or take advantage of some of the advances in fabrication that have occured.


    The A-10 Warthog might remain in US inventory until 2040 because of two reasons, technology and flight hours; the A-10 until the first Gulf War did not see much action as for a time, it was thought that the F-16 could accomplish the program mission of the A-10 and secondly, technology has allowed the A-10 to mature gracefully by being capable of doing more things than when the aircraft was first introduced as in 2030, we might see some of the A-10 aircraft be transformed into the ultimate UCAV for extreme ground support.

  • Allen S.

    Simply put, we need the A-10 regardless of where, or with whom, we find ourselves fighting next. I also cannot see any kind of UCAV taking on this role, having a pilot with Mark I eyeballs able to loiter for a long period of time is far more valuable than someone sitting in front of an air conditioned console room thousands of miles away, it is simply not the same thing. I truly believe we are putting far too much stock in UCAV’s as a be-all do-all future replacement. While there are areas I can see UCAV’s excelling in (recon, one-off precision strikes, perhaps even deep air interdiction against enemy fighters), other roles will always be better suited to human pilots (CAS, Strategic Nuclear Mission, etc.)

  • Carl

    Since 1947 the U.S. Army has not been allowed to have fixed wing fighter aircraft. How stupid is that. The marines have their own private little air force complete with F-18’s and soon the F-35 JSF. Give the A-10 to the Army.

  • Bronco46

    The A-10 doesn’t need to be messed with. Upgraded yes, but this design works extremely well and it’s one of toughest planes ever flown. If the tooling still exists this line should be restarted; a better close air support airplane doesn’t exist.
    The F-35 will never be able to do the job the A-10 does. Not since the Ilyushin ll-2 (Shturmovick) has a plane been so lethal and protected the pilot so well.

  • terryl6

    Finally something being done right! The A-10 stands for everything the U.S. military is. Its tough, resilient and packs more then enough punch to do a ton of damage. It is one of a very few jet fighters that can lose several critical system and still be able to bring its pilot home. The Marine Corp should invest more of it funding in the A-10s rather then F-35s. The cost of one F-35 can buy the Corp ten A-10s.

    • Tiger

      Until they can launch from a ship, they are no good to the Marines.

    • Riceball

      FYI, it’s Corps not Corp. Corps is a military unit consisting of 2 or more divisions, a corp is an abbreviation for corporation.

      As to your comment, a Navalized A-10 for Marine service would be awesome but that would pretty much require a total redesign of the A-10. It would have to be designed with folding wings, reinforced landing gear, reinforced undercarriarge, landing hook, and corrosion resistance. Nice idea but just not practical.

  • bigRick

    The reason CAS works so well for the Marines is that it always works best when brothers are supporting brothers and everybody is on the same page. Every Marine is an infantry man first, including pilots. So Marine pilots understand what it means to be on the ground, , and everybody seems to know everybody. If you’re a Marine pilot and you’re flying a CAS mission there is a good chance you actually know some of the Marines on the ground. If you screw up a CAS mission you just can’t fly away and “forget” about it because your fellow Marines won’t let you forget about it. If the Air Force pilot screws up a CAS mission he’ll simply fly away and the grunts on the ground will never see or hear from him again, no so with the Marines, if you screw up there’ll be hell to pay when you land.

    • chaos0xomega

      I can tell immediately you have absolutely no idea how things work in the real world…

  • Mad Acolyte

    Rare smart decision in many decades by the blue-suit hierarchy, funny how that wasn’t so a few years back, they openly loathed the WartHog and the role of CAS, now they sing a different tune. The grunts on the ground love the close air support provided by the effective, rugged (gets the pilot home, a priceless stick & rudder asset) and efficient A-10 and that is enough to keep her in the air indefinitely and when called for close to our troops.

  • Kurt Landry

    I totally love the A-10 especially when they do their occasional training fly overs near my home in the western mountains of Maine! I’ve seen them training as well out in the middle of Kanc over in N.H. a couple times too!

  • Anlushac11

    The last I heard some A-10’s are reaching limit of airframe hours. Boeing was contracted to design and build new zero hour wings for A-10 rebuilds. The problem is the A-10 was designed before CAD/CAM and the blueprints are on paper. Part of what Boeing has been doing is disassembling and scanning all the parts to digitize the whole aircraft.

    Boeing was also supposed to have been given a A-10 fuselage for digitizing so Boeing can then build zero hour fuselages used for rebuilds.

  • skink

    Why not just uparmor the a10 some more with the lastest and greatest then as a new show of force cas protocol have them carry the smallest tac nukes we have in inventory and use them in north warizstan so pakistan will go in there.

  • Tribulationtime

    Another point..Im not aerospatial engineer (so…shout up!!..1 minute please). I am interesting in How Weapons work, not only performances. I think Fighters have reach limits of what current engineers can do on aerodimamics features thus Fighters from late seventies keep being offered in the markets all reborn from new electronics F-16 52; F/A-18 E/F (this one was not better than simple Hornet, differences in criteria design only) F-15 Silent Eagle, Mig 29/35, SU-27/30/35 (the airframe is much the same), F-35 is stronghest sold as “Full Awaredness/integrate systems” and try build it so stheal as posible without have to become in a “Flying cinder block”. Put one computer build past 1985 in A-10, and overhauled to Zero hours. If boeing is not capable of reverse engineering…send A-10 to China. Drones no make sense in contested aerospace or more conventional wars….Who can not imagine someone hacking data links and like Science fiction drones being turn off at same time.

    • Killer Korg

      The current limits on fighters is not the airframe or engines. It’s the human. Unless we come up with some sci-fi type stuff like inertial dampers or find a way for humans to operate in 9+ G’s environment. Sounds like Boeing IS reverse engineering the tooling required to build more A-10’s. If you can built all the parts, you can a complete plane.

  • Max

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!!

  • RLJune

    They tried to use F-16’s with a 30 mm gun pod to replace the A-10 back in the 90’s. It didn’t work in the Gulf War because the F-16 was too fast for proper control of the pod. So here is the A-10 still doing the work it was designed for low,slow and accurate heavy gun support. Even the Army won’t let the Air Force get rid of it. It is one very awsome aircraft!

  • jamesb

    For the guys who say the Air Force is better equiped to fly these a/c logistically…..

    Chop the whole Air Force arm that they need and send it to the Army….
    Offer the AF some new toy to make them happy…

    And the law against Army aviation…
    If the AF has their toys they’ll let go …

  • tiger

    The Super Tucano is a better fit for this mission than the Heavy A-10. Small, easy to fly, low maint., does not need concrete runways. Has the loiter time and firepower for the mission. They could be bought right now!

  • cavtroopermunoz

    I remember when they asked some of our pilots if they wanted to fly the hog. The AF was getting ready to trade them all over to the Army but then for some reason the whole process stopped in its tracks. This was post DS but pre-Somalia. Wasn’t that well informed on the whole process but we were excited to get them. Guess in the end the AF couldn’t see sending fix wing aircraft to be flown by Warrant Officers.

  • William C.

    Love live the A-10!

    Just upgrade the avionics and sensors, maybe improve the engines, and add some new ECM and IRCM gear.

    You need stealth aircraft and advanced cruise missiles to smash an enemies air defense systems, yet once most of those are dealt with the A-10C is the king of close air support. JDAMs are nice but sometimes you just need a run with rockets and 30mm cannon.

  • Jarockse

    I was a Technical Training School Instructor from 1987 - 1994 on this awsome beast. I remember when they were thinking about getting rid of the HOG. The Gulf War came along and the Hog got a chance to prove itself. This is just an awsome plain and simple killing machine. I’m retired AF now but glad to see this baby stay around.

  • Killer Korg

    Everyone is right that the USAF brass doesn’t like the A-10. It’s slow, ugly and everything the Eagle drivers hate. But ask an A-10 pilot his opinion about his ride and you will hear the pride in his voice as he tells you about the things his Warthog can do that no other plane can do. It was designed from the wheels up as the ULTIMATE CAS aircraft. No one has come up with anything better. During my enlistment 35 years ago, I was with the 23rd TAC Fighter Wing at England AFB in Louisiana. THE Flying Tigers.

    When I arrived, they had A-7D Corsairs. Over the next couple of years, the A-7’s were sent to the guard units and we got the A-10’s. Everyone agreed it was far uglier then the slightly ugly A-7. But the pilots loved it. It could turn in a dime, carry twice the ordinance of the A-7 and it had the most powerful cannon ever put in an aircraft (actually the aircraft was added to the cannon!)

    I think the marines would love to have A-10’s, but they also love their AV-8B’s. Another aircraft with special capabilities that should be kept on.

  • Susan

    Invaluable aircraft, just doesn’t look pretty. Never had much respect for A-10 until I got an up close look at it during a squadron event. Pilot made it dance even while on the ground.

    Then came Desert Storm and they really proved themselves. Ask the Army ground troops who they want overhead and the “tank buster” will win every time.

  • Dennis Barrett

    I remember hearing about how the A10 was on the chopping block, then the gulf wars came and proved their worth. Whatever branch of the military gets them, they should stay with us. It’s a tool like no other, and presently nothing can replace it. Upgrade it and with the manned versions also have a UAV model. With today’s manufacturing capabilities making copies of this aircraft should be a problem.

    • J.T. Watson

      Crewed the A-10 in the late 70’s to ’83. Awsome aircraft. Mechanics as well as the pilots loved it. This is an airframe like the B-52 , KC-135, and C-130 that can keep serving with the periodic referb and upgrade. It’s just ignorante to think that the Air Force spend the money and time to perfect this mission to turn it over to the Army.

  • R-R

    If they do think about deploying a UCAV version of the A-10, it would be more practical to employ it as ‘wingmen’ to a piloted A-10, which could control them far more effectively in a tactical sense than someone hundreds of miles away in a control trailer.

  • PhantomLover007

    4 all those asking why they don’t make a prop driven version of the a-10, they already have it in the inventory. It’s called a AC-130. While it can’t drop bombs, the gatlings and 20mm and 40mm bofor cannons on it can throw some serious lead and make a left hand turn 4 hours like it was a nascar racer.. Lol

    • blight

      AC-130’s are also very vulnerable in a modern threat environment. Spirit 03 paid for that in GW1 and was lost to a mere Strela. You can send a A-10 into the teeth of a modern opponent. AC-130’s worked against opponents without viable air defense systems.

  • Edman

    Is the military-industrial complex finally getting something right? Anybody who knows anything knows that the F-35 cannot replace what the Thunderbolt II brings to the table (Yes, it is the THUNDERBOLT II, not the Warthog). Even the Army’s vaunted Apache attack helicopters have proven time and again to be death traps, even when faced with low-tech foes such as insurgencies, which is probably a big reason why UAVs are gaining so much traction.

    Hopefully, the military will adapt adaptability, flexibility and practicality as its doctrine, not “out-tech” the enemy.

  • Brandon

    A-10 = best COIN Aircraft

  • SMSgt Mac

    In the not too distant future. CAS should become an ’emergency’ mission only vs. a routine one. Army organic direct and indirect precision fire capability filtering down to the platoon or even squad level may mean that circa 2020, the best way to pop that Talib sitting behind a rock 500 feet above you is to drop a guided HE round down your personal hand-mortar or double click the mouse controller on your all-terrain mule.
    Which is a good thing, because the Army never bi***** in public over the quality of their organic fire support.

  • DauntlessCelt

    I remember as a kid me and my friend used to want to fly A-10’s when we ‘grew up’. My dad laughed and said the US of A wouldn’t be using them by then.

    I’m glad he was wrong on this one.

  • Nick

    I worked on the hog in the Stan in 06. We love that plane and we watch the videos of it in action. The A-10 is a favorite of the USAF. I have heard countless stories of soldiers thanking airmen for their help. Please stop hating, it Is just plain stupid. The troops are the Air Force not the brass, y’all got it backwards.

  • @johnsin

    Uhm, by 2040 this plane Will be a drone!

  • txkboy

    There is no doubting this platform’s effect on the enemy. They go running scared. Supporting the ground pounders is definately this plane’s forte. Hope it does stick around and saves more lives.

  • RedLeg6

    There was a time a few years ago when the AF considered turning the A-10s over to ground pounders cause they thought it beneath their dignity to fly ground support-just wanted to bomb and fight other jets. Gawd I wish that had happened. My suggestion is the AF better start engineering a versatile ground attack follow-on for the A-10. The F-35 POS won’t cut it. If you can’t have an operational prototype in 3 years AF, I’d turn it over to the Army/Marines!

    • SMSgt Mac

      Hard time telling what subject you are most ‘wrong’ about: the F-35, the A-10, the Air Force or CAS? I think it is a tie!

  • bigRick

    Here’s a question for the aeronautical engineers

    Would it be possible to navalize the A-10?

    Since the Army is legally not permitted fixed wings aircraft I say give
    some of the A-10 to the Marines and fly them off of carriers if possible

    I’m not an engineer so I really don’t know what would be involved.

  • marcie feildinn

    hey guys, me from the uk right: A10’s - these beauts used to fly in packs up n down the Amber Valley in Derbyshire back in the 80’s pre any desert use, boy they impressed then and i rate as one of the most impressive hard core ATTACK flights ever seen - dont scrap ’em guys or you’ll miss their design as much as the late lamented F4- PHANTOM with its unique tail end stylee.

  • Boxrocker

    The biggest problem with being a economic superpower (now former) we get the best weapons greed can get. The greed of the client selling the US armed services a bag of crap!. Any replacement for the A10 should be built only when there is a material strong enough and light enough to construct a airborne platform with the equivalent strength of 2 ft of armor, EM shielding, magnetogravitics drive with a service ceiling of 300,000 ft.. This is just the start. not a multi billion dollar piece of expensive crap (just like the f-107cancled for the 105, the phantom and so on..

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  • JarheadHawaiian

    We all know where the Air Force is taking the A10 since this article went to print. Regardless what the Marine Corps & Army Infantry types stated, the need for a single mission capable CAS system has fallen on the deaf & mute elected and USAF leadership. They must have spent countless hours talking in the mirror trying to convince themselves the JSF can memick or replicate the A10’s capability. I hope and pray the senior leadership in the Marine Corps and Army Air Corps will pull the stops to acquire the soon to be pastured USAF warthogs.

  • Matthew Burgnon

    If you could, plese do an updated article on this!! Please :D. Contact boeing or something :D

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