General: ‘We Don’t Have a Replacement’ for A-10, U-2

Airpower summary for Sept. 18, 2007The Air Force does not have a suitable replacement for the planned divestiture of the A-10 Warthog aircraft and U-2 spy plane, senior service leaders said Sept. 16 at the Air Force Association Air and Space Conference, National Harbor, Md.

“I don’t want to cut the A-10 and the U-2 – we don’t have a replacement,” said Gen. Michael Hostage III, Commander, Air Force Air Combat Command.

As part of its budget request for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, the service proposed retiring its entire fleets of A-10 attack planes and U-2 spy planes, and partial inventories of other aircraft. The proposed budget cuts to the A-10 and U-2 fleets are described by service officials as budget-driven necessities given current fiscal pressures.

The recommendations were driven in a large part by automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. Sending the close-air-support aircraft to the bone yard would save an estimated $4.2 billion over five years alone, Air Force officials have said.

“The Air Force leadership is seeking to reshape the force despite decreasing budgets. To mitigate risk we must have the ability to project power. My job is to produce as much combat power as possible. We find ourselves in the difficult position where we are forced to make cuts to legitimate priorities,” Hostage added.

Air Force senior leaders have consistently said that the service needs to retire these platforms in order to save money. The overall costs of the program including life cycle management, sustainment and upkeep have made the A-10 and U-2 budget targets for the service, however many lawmakers have pushed back on the plans.

In fact, in June of this year the House of Representatives approved legislation including a provision that would prohibit the Pentagon from spending any money to retire the fleet of Cold War era-aircraft.

Both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees voted to restore funding to keep the planes flying for at least another year.

Air Force acquisition executive William LaPlante told reporters the service’s budget decision to retire the aircraft was due to an examination of the “part of ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) we could divest with the least amount of risk.”

Regarding the U-2, LaPlante added there is an ever-growing, insatiable appetite for ISR and that the service would look to other assets, such as the Global Hawk, and emerging platforms to help.

When it comes to the A-10, LaPlante said that the emerging F-35A will be capable of picking up a large number of close air support missions currently performed by the A-10.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • William_C1

    Nobody can find $4.2 billion in the entire government’s budget to spare?

    • Bernard

      The would if they had just canceled the F-35.

      • William_C1

        Then all of that money has to go towards a program to fill the same roles as the F-35 and replace so much of our fighter fleet. So no money for A-10s and you won’t get this new fighter before you would have gotten F-35s, even factoring in all of the delays.

        So no, that solves nothing.

        • Bernard

          No less of that money would have to go to such programs. They could have instead kept upgrading the current aircraft including the A-10, and focused the rest of the money on long term drone development programs. Cost effectiveness should have been a higher priority. The F-35 was supposed to save money, not cost more than any other weapons program in the entire history of weapons contracts. The thing cost more than the manhattan project in 2014 dollars. That’s absurd, no one weapons program should cost that much unless it is that revolutionary.

          • guest

            Well, reallty though, hahahaha, when have you seen a defense department program honor its goal of REDUCiNG COSTS when all is said and done….:-) NEVER!! hahahahaha It is really arrogant to even put that in the program goals any more..:-)

    • Scotti

      Yea – in the wasted global warming initiatives. And, imagine that our entire corn crops are worth $1.4b…

      • d. kellogg

        As actual food source agriculture with the bulk capacity to eliminate hunger across many nations, or is there more money in the growing areas of bio-renewable fuels, driving food prices up even higher as less is grown for food?

        The sad part is, the farmer isn’t the one seeing the high profits for all the labor they’re actually investing in actual agricultural activity.
        Can only pray for the era when farmers are multi-millionaires and the world’s Wall Streets are nothing more than broke parkbench bums reminiscing of past power and glory they never really deserved in the first place.
        Artifically inflating prices on products for the sake of those middle men satiating their financial hunger is no way to stabilize an economy.

        • blight_qwerty

          Then the parasites will become farm-owners and control our food. Parasite behavior is pretty predictable.

          • tiger

            Swords we have plenty of, A few plowshears would be nice. You can not eat a U2.

          • retired462

            But they will help keep your country free!

          • blight_qwerty

            We have plenty of farmers and industrial corporations that generate food. Not worried about starving to death…only that when the tables are turned, the silos will be for the haves and not the have nots.

    • Ninjacat

      Cut the salaries of all those useless politicians in DC then we wouldn’t have to cut anything

      • mule

        Right… that’ll save MILLIONS of dollars. Sounds like a lot, but really it isn’t. Might be able to buy a couple of F-35s (without engines) for that.

        • guest

          F35’s???? That do NOT even come close to doing what an A10 can for CAS… why would we want a few of them. A few of them are worth like….20-30 A10’s….:-)

      • Joe

        cut 9 out of ten useless eater flag officers as well.

    • s mostarda

      I believe that the a10’s wings and other structural components were upgraded by boeing over such that the airframes could keep flying until 2025

    • Jay Wilkoff

      As a young Infantry officer with several COMBAT tours in Vietnam the A-1 Skyraider was the aircraft of choice for us for CAS. It entered service in 1950 and was still the best bird flown. The A-10 proved its value in the Gulf and is still the best bird for CAS for those of us with boots on the ground. The Commode-in-Chief gives away more than 4.2 billion a day, between social welfare, open borders, aid to countries that hate us, and now 3000 boots on the ground to be exposed to Ebola in Africa. Give the A-10 to the Army and Marines so we can train together and support ourselves. The Air Force and Navy can handle the tough work from 15,000 ft AGL and up!

    • Jerry

      I bet the USMC would be very happy to have the A-10, esp to support bare feet on the ground.

  • Gm1

    The air force believe that they can win the war without the army now so they have no need for close air support.

    • KnownKnowns

      They’ve believed that since Vietnam and they are just as wrong now as they were then.

    • Yep, watch how Iraq and Syria turn out…

    • PolicyWonk

      The “leadership” of the Chair Force will probably hold back the A-10’s from flying against ISIS until they have no other option. It would horrify everyone, of course, to see the most effective grand support/attack aircraft (perhaps in history) continue to exceed everyone’s expectations.

      • tiger

        Blah blah……. The A-10 cult worship is getting in overdrive.

    • oblatt22

      They don’t claim to be able to win – just lose with fewer casualties and higher contractor profits.

    • tiger

      There are other planes to do the mission.

      • 0369retired

        If your have ever been the recipient of A10 support you would understand why virtually every one is saying no other plane can do what the A10 is capable of accomplishing.

        Additionally, I agree that the A10 will not be used in Syria simply so they don’t actually justify it’s existence and tremendous capabilities.

        An air asset not used for purely political reasons. It’s why politicians should notbe in the decision making process of what the services gets or are allowed to keep.

    • Justin

      Not all Air Force think that way. I drove convoys and know the importance of CAS. The F-35 and other airframes just won’t do.

  • Talosian

    Hmmm… Who to believe? An Air Force general or a civilian acquisition executive?

    I think I’ll pick the general.

    • GM1

      BAE Test pilot Pete Wilson says in his interview that the F 35 was not designed for close air support and that the plane is not even being tested for close air support. His interview is on F

      • ohwilleke

        I trust a pilot much more than a General. The rule of thumb used to be in my father’s day “never trust anyone ranked higher than Major”.

    • Matt

      Check the history… the Air Force did not want the Army to have armed helicopters. Ground support of the grunt was not on their plate – they could win Vietnam by interdiction.

    • Steve

      You would be better off deciding who to believe by understanding the motivations behind each one of them and why they make their decisions. The loss of one F-35 doing a mission that it was never designed to do would negate that whole 4.2 billion dollars. Is that really the kind of thought processes that you want to back?

  • royrdsjr

    Imagine that. Let the “but we have drones” begin. In other news,we don’t have a replacement for our Army,Air Force,Navy,& Marines,but we do have plenty of police with MRAPs.

    • Bernard

      Actually think a new CAS drone may be the solution. Then the army can own it and they won’t have to depend on the air force for their CAS needs. It should have simple interface that’s ground operators designate targets while the air craft engages with missiles and machine guns. The AI to do this is mostly in place already. The unfortunate downside is that it would only work in places with good satellite communications. I’m not sure how that works out in the mountains of Afghanistan.
      I hope we have something like that in development already.

      • Val

        You don’t need a whole new drone to do the CAS job. There is a program called “Consistent close air support” that would have made an unmanned A-10. If the 2015 test successful the A-10 as a drone could be revived. They already have converted old F-4’s and F-16’s into unmanned configurations.
        Making it a good solution until a more advanced CAS drone is developed.

        • Bernard

          That sounds awesome. I hope they do this, although I’m terrified that it may make too much sense and be too practical to see the light of day.

        • Riceball

          The unmanned F-16s and F-4s you’re referring to are nothing more than flying targets, literally. These QF-4s & 16s are designed to for use as realistic targets for other aircraft or SAMs, they are not designed to be some kind of Super Predator.

  • OreLaker

    What is the F35’s loiter time on a CAS mission?

  • Rod

    General of the Air Combat Command who has been in the service since ’78 says there is no suitable replacement for the A-10.

    Acquisitions Executive from academia since ’85 says the F-35 can do the A-10’s job.

    As the saying goes: BS, MS, PhD = Bull S***, More S***, Piled higher and Deeper.

  • BlackOwl18E

    The USAF is dying right before our eyes. They killed the F-117 to have an excuse for making the F-22 and F-35A. The F-35A is now killing the A-10, many proposed aircraft buys, many proposed aircraft upgrades, and it’s starting to kill F-16s. Not to mention that the F-15C and KC-10 are still being considered as possible cuts to feed the JSF. The only plans the USAF has for tactical aircraft apart from the F-35A out to the late 2020s are: extending the life of 300 F-16s, 219 F-15Es, and 187 F-22As. This is a skeleton force compared to what it used to be.

    The US Navy, on the other hand, has decided to make a gambit on trying to buy the Advanced Super Hornet. FINALLY:

    There is now an argument going on in the halls of congress that will determine if the Navy gets them. Bottom line: they need congressional approval. The Navy has left the F-35C long behind in their vision of the future. The F-35C hasn’t proven it can even land on a carrier. It’s got trials scheduled for this October but odds are that they’re going to be pushed back. The real way to fix the carrier JSF is to lengthen its fuselage, which will kill its commonality with the other variants and cause a major price hike. Even if the F-35C passes trials in October, it’s too late. Its name has long been tarnished and its host of other problems are too expensive to fix.

    The USN has ordered a total of about 558 Super Hornets and 135 Growlers, all young and ready for the long haul. What’s even better is that every Block II Super Hornet is capable of receiving Advanced Super Hornet upgrades to have capability that can defeat any projected future threat. The Navy’s Air Warfare Director also confirmed that the Super Hornet already has fully funded classified upgrades that will keep it formidable out to 2030. It looks like NAVAIR is going to have the only TACAIR arm capable of sustained force projection abroad in our future, assuming the JSF never materializes into a combat ready affordable aircraft.

    • blight_qwerty

      “The real way to fix the carrier JSF is to lengthen its fuselage, which will kill its commonality with the other variants and cause a major price hike.”

      Commonality died some time ago. Only the X-35ABC were truly common. The -B was the first to diverge from the others, and it redesigning the tailhook may only get them so far; alternately they may decide that the -C is too short ranged or whatever and opt for some re-design work…

      • BlackOwl18E

        Apologies. Allow me to correct myself: “…which will kill its remaining* commonality with the other variants…”

        • blight_qwerty

          The internal weapons bays requirement for the actual F-series (which wasn’t designed into the X-series demonstrator) meant that the Marine one couldn’t meet its weight cutoffs…so they made the weapons bays smaller. Then the LiftSystem presumably meant more design changes. The Navy version has a tailhook issue that maybe has been fixed, but we’ll see. The changes probably did not affect the -A version all that much.

          Holistically how much commonality is required?

    • Nadnerbus

      What does it say about the program when they have designed, built and tested the X-47B in both carrier landing and take off, while the F-35 has yet do do either of those things?

      I’m glad NAVAIR didn’t go all in on F-35 and have been hedging their bets. I guess the A-12 fluster cluck is still rattling around in their institutional memory, and someone decided to keep an option or two open.

      • d. kellogg

        And if the A-12 debacle had never happened, there was still considerable growth potential in both the A-7 and A-6 aircraft (or for comparison purposes, consider the vast improvements of the final Singapore Super Skyhawks compared to the original A-4 that Ed Heinemann created).

        Especially with the proposed A-6F with considerable modernized digital enhancements and improved engines, and even conceptual future variants based on the ~stretched~ airframe of the EA-6B, there has been a lot of evolutionary growth potential in still-viable airframe designs that has been swept aside in the name of stealth aircraft; aircraft that have proven so expensive in their upkeep in peacetime, that wartime continued operation will break national economies to the point that large scale warfare will be unaffordable.

        Naw, screw dat, we’ll just keep printing more money and let the children of the 22nd century pay for it.

    • oldfedvet1941

      And what the Hell do the Morons in Congress and Senate know about the Military as a matter of fact what does the Clown in the White House know about anything other than Community Organizing! We are Doomed!

    • Pat

      No, the F-117 was totally obsolete and of limited use. The F-22 is an air superiority fighter and the F-117 never was. The F-117 is totally subsonic, has no cannon, and only carried 2 bombs at the most.

    • Dfens

      The Air Force doesn’t have anything that can’t blow the F-18 out of the sky, but they’re the force that’s dying?

    • dbw86

      Outstanding analysis!

    • William_C1

      How clueless. NAVAIR is in better shape despite probably losing a carrier and the present lack of a solid plan for future airpower? The F/A-18 as the Navy’s primary strike fighter will not be enough by 2025. What sort of magic avionics do you think will enable it to wipe the floor with enemy aircraft with greater performance and significantly greater stealth? Why won’t the competition have their own counterparts to these systems?

      It’s downright crazy to think that the F/A-18 will be enough for the F/A-XX requirement, even an upgraded F-35C remains less than ideal for some tasks.

      Dfens is right, one of the F-15Es being upgraded now (and also still in production for a few more years to fufill export orders) offers the same advanced avionics as the Super Hornet with downright superior performance at fast speeds and high altitudes. F-16s may be limited in some areas by their smaller size but they certainly aren’t too be underestimated either and are also now being built or upgraded with AESA radars and other systems.

  • To hell with the U-2! RQ-180 comes!

  • Citizen of the World

    The generals also want to keep the F-35 and everything else. If not the A-10, what do we cut? Until you (and all of us) start voting representatives who refuse to govern, we’ll continue to lose vital resources.

    • Citizen of the World

      (Oops, i meant “voting out representatives”, of course)

    • Hog Mech

      How about cut Obama-care which started the budget mess.

    • PolicyWonk

      We could cut the size of the General Officer Corps, which is bloated beyond belief.

      For example, the army’s ratio at last count was 1 general to 600 soldiers. We could make it 1 general to 6000 soldiers and *still* be bloated in the general staff.

  • Taylor

    Maybe we can send the Education Department to defeat ISIS.

    • Barney Rubble

      Better not….they would show them common core and we would be blamed for war crimes because ISIS became dumber…..

      • ghostwhowalksnz

        Give them scholarships to Harvard. Their future could be living in a cave or part of the american dream.
        The other way is find out who is paying them and offer more, after all $3 bill only buys you the rights to a video game

    • ronaldo

      How about cancelling the Department of Agriculture price supports ? Talk about a win win !!

    • oldfedvet1941

      They have a great SWAT Team!

    • El Kabog

      Oh no, we’d be charged with providing weapons of math destruction!

    • allen

      yeah, education is dumb

  • 009

    Alleluia! Thank you General for not getting rid of these great planes.

    • retired462

      The people in the pentagon are out of touch, and most have not had an assignment outside of DC in years. Sounds like the colonel from Mountain Home AFB.

  • Rat

    It’s probably a stretch to say there is no replacement for the U-2, after all, secret programs have been in existence for a long time. And how long does anyone think the warthog can keep flying? There were issues with metal fatigue years ago.

  • Lance

    Strange how the Obama appointed General is the only supporter of retirement for these planes. Most DOD brass opposes this. Thats a DUH!!!! The F-35 lacks carrying heavy weapons and has no 30mm cannon for CAS missions. There is no plane period to replace the A-10 we need to keep them. The new war in Iraq would make A-10s king for the cut to attack ISIS technicals and artillery positions. This whole retirement plan was Obama’s way to hurt congress that stopped his spending thew cuts.

    As for the U-2 I think we should have retied them in 89 and kept the SR-71. Im for the proposed SR-72s if they kill the drone portion of it and keep it a manned plane. Drones like there Global Hawk are too unreliable and can crash in enemy territory like Iran. Keep men in the recon fight.

  • henry

    What does it say for defense companies that can’t even develop a system with the same capabilities today as something that was produced over 50 years ago. Very sad….

    • Riceball

      It’s not that they can’t, they’ve never been asked to. It’s not like Republic Fairchild came up with the A-10 out of the blue and went to the Air Force asking them if they wanted to buy it, the Air Force had a requirement for the A-10 and had Republic Fairchild build it for them. The reason why current, and newer, planes can’t do what the A-10 does is because the AF has never asked for those specific capabilities from any other plane, the instead focus on the fast moving jets that just happen to be able to drop bombs. If the AF was ever really serious about replacing the A-10 with a true successor then I’m sure that Boeing or Lockheed would be able to make one, just so long as the AF is realistic about what they want that is.

  • flires

    The F-35A doesn’t have the durability, low-speed maneuverability, and time over target capability. even model B wouldn’t be appropriate for this role.This is why the A-10 was designed.
    Seeing tanks roll through the Ukrainian fields these days, you’d think we would invest in a new A-10 design before it’s too late.

    • Dirty Ernie

      If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

  • ohwilleke

    “The proposed budget cuts to the A-10 and U-2 fleets are described by service officials as budget-driven necessities given current fiscal pressures.”

    BS. The Air Force has been trying to kill the A-10 for at least a decade, if not longer, and wasn’t even very enthusiastic about the idea in the first place. The Air Force sees its primary mission as air to air combat and long range bombing, not CAS or logistics for the Army. And, FWIW, the Army doesn’t trust the Air Force to meet their needs, anyway, so they design helicopters that they control rather than use fixed wing aircraft that would be better suited to some of the missions the Army vests in helicopters.

    The Key West Agreement has not served our nation’s military well.

  • Buckrogers2

    Why not just get the Marine Corp to buy out all the A-10’s from the Air Force and scape the F-35s and call it a day. The Air Force can then have it’s new unproven toys.

    • Val

      Congress would have to approve it. However military contractors and lobbyists pretty much decide what happens. So don’t hold your breath.

      • d. kellogg

        It’s been said that SOCOM has its own unique budget parameters and generally seems to have more blank checks in its checkbook than the other services. Let them buy the A-10s and run them in conjunction with AC-130 fleet.

        • Val

          Now that would be viable. Though how much the SOCOM commanders would actually pull for the A-10 to be moved to their Air Wings is an unknown factor.

    • Batou

      Marine Corp would buy the Warthog in a minute. But both the USAF and the US Army have way too many friends on Capital Hill to let a Marine Expeditionary Air-force ( a 3rd air-force) to develop. Hell, it’s even a miracle that US Army are still allowed to keep air-craft. Let alone the Corp having a effective stand-alone AF. I suppose on the flip-side, if the USAF keep the air to themselves, it reduces blue on blue events…

      • Riceball

        I’m not sure that the Corps (note the S at the end) would buy A-10s even if they could. The problem with the A-10s is that they’re not navalized and the Corps would have a hard time getting them into a theater of operations. Legacy Hornets are flown off of carriers and can then, if needed, be parked on an expeditionary air field, Harriers and (eventually) F-35s are flown off of amphibs and can also then be relocated to the ground. The A-10 would have to be ferried in and wouldn’t be able to loiter for very long before having to RTB to refuel and would have to continue to do that until such time that an airfield can be built. But it is a nice thought and if there were a way to make an A-10 more expeditionary capable then I’m sure that the Corps’ Air Wing would love to have them.

    • retired462

      I believe that they were offered them BEFORE Desert Storm, and turned it down.

  • thomas

    Time to start building a new version of the A-10. if you can’t fix them for cheap start over.

    • d. kellogg

      No small fortune was spent upgrading the fleet to A-10C standard, and even new wings were designed for high-mileage airframes.
      I wouldn’t call it “fix them for cheap”, but still offered far more ground support capability per dollar spent than what the F-35 is bringing,
      and what will STILL need to be spent to make the F-35 a more suitable F-16 replacement; an aircraft initially designed as a cheap day-weather fighter but became one of the world’s most desireable (even second hand) combat aircraft for its quart of capability in a pint-sized contained.
      Per-airframe operational and future upgrade costs to keep the F-35 viable will bankrupt most of the partner nations out of the program.

    • LEROY

      What’s wrong with a drone version of te A-10?

  • Nick987654

    For CAS, the F-35 needs an inexpensive GPS/laser guided bomb that can be carried on the BRU-61, something simple without a wing kit and not more expensive than an LJDAM. The SDB1/SDB2 costs too much, and should be reserved against tanks/radars only.

  • Tony

    The US Air Force is a fighter community with some bombers and extraneous communities thrown in for good measure. The A-10 should have been reassigned to the US Army to complement the AH-64 in close air support. The A-10 is faster and can cover more territory than the AH-64, plus has a killer cannon in the nose. Now the priority for the US Air Force is (of course) more fighters. Fighters can drop bombs, but seeing the target from 10,000 feet will be a challenge. Hope the US Army has a backup plan.

  • Val

    This makes me want to hit my head against my desk several times.

    The USAF has compromised our national security all for the all stealth white elephant. It’s like they never learned their lessons after the failure of the F-111 Aardvark. A one size fits all aircraft has never worked. The Air Force had to buy up the remaining planes.

  • cloudclown

    I’m confused! NAVY, forties and fifties———-

  • Pat

    LaPlante must be a total fool thinking the F-35 could ever take over for the A-10 for CAS.

  • Dave Hassett

    I agree with the above comment of giving the A-10’s to the Marines. They know and appreciate what close air support is all about and would truly appreciate what this platform could provide to their boots on the ground…………

    • JJ Murray

      Problem is the Marines are putting their money on the F-35 to replace their AV-8Bs, EA-6B and F/A-18s. How they figure they’re going to pay for that at over $300M a copy for the F-35B I have no idea, but that’s their plan.

    • allen

      simple, just make the two jet engines rotate 90 degrees and make the a-10 into a jump jet.

  • 18ZULU

    Maybe it’s time for the Air Force to recognize that the A-10 may be one of the BEST aircraft ever built. It does a job of close air support for troops that count on the A-10 to protect their a**es when the s**t hits the fan. There is NO OTHER aircraft that does that as well.

    Maybe, just maybe, the Air Force should go with what works like the Navy did with the F-18 and scrap all the rest of the planes that are over project cost and way behind in delivery. Heck, just build a couple hundred A-10’s and put them over the hot spots in the world and see what they can do! They are the #1 friend of the ground forces.

    • BillyBob

      No combat vetted A-10 pilot will ever pay for a beer if I’m in the room. Nothing beats the A-10 in a close fight. All the gizmos (F-35) and gadgets (Reapers) in the world can’t beat the Warthog when you need steel on target.

    • tiger

      Your ground forces are not going anyplace or facing any tanks.

  • kenbadoian

    The Air Farce went with the Navy F4’s and I think A7’s. Correct give the A10’s to USMC and USA. F35 is a nice over priced aircraft with all the bells and BS, even a helmet that dose not work and better still stelfe (spelling) is going away with the new radars. How amny retired O’s are working for or on the board of directors of LM. Yea one thing more what happened to the alternative F35 engine? MMCS(SW)SS) USN Retired

    • d. kellogg

      USAF had very good service with the F-4, especially compared to the Century series (even some pre-Century) that the Phantom II’s augmented and eventually replaced.
      The F-4s obviously were no Eagles or Tomcats, but nevertheless the airframe and all its upgrades proved veryt effective AND AFFORDABLE for everyone who opetrated it.
      A-7 was never some world-class performer, but for its role it performed admirably enough. IIRC, the 20mm M61 installation had an internal ammo capacity (1030 rds?) rivalled only by the F-15 (initially 940 rds) and A-10 (1174 rds), something to be said there when strafing is sufficient for targets. Here’s another evolutionary dead-end (A-7 future developments) where the 25mm GAU-12 might’ve migrated over very nicely.

  • wmcritter

    Am I the only one that feels like we are on a high-speed train on tracks that lead off a cliff?
    It’s not just that Washington is destroying the military, it’s how they destroy everything they touch: our economy, our health care, our retirement, etc.

    I honestly believe the only to save our country is to wipe Washington D.C. off the face of the Earth. I know people say “just vote”, but that doesn’t work. How can you even suggest that voting will change anything when we re-elect the most corrupt, incompenent, narcissistic scum we’ve ever had in the White House?

    • W. Dan Wilmarth

      when we were having difficulties with the Soviet Union, I proposed that if they would nuke Washington, D.C., we’d nuke Moscow and then immediately call for a truce, then all’d be well

  • John Smith

    I say put the general in a forward position controlling air strikes and see if he changes -his mind. I for one would give the job of close fixed wing air support to the army and the marines and take it out of the air force’s hands all together since it is not their men under fire.

  • The A-10s are Close Air Support specific and a proven Combat Search/Rescue escort. I don’t think the F-35 could do those missions as efficiently as the A-10, a proven asset and a terror to our enemies overseas. Go to YouTube and search A-10 and you’ll find plenty of film clips of soldiers on the ground under fire that suddenly goes quiet when the A-10 and the GAU-8/A Avenger appear. Every aspect of the A-10 was designed for survivability – if the F-35 can sustain combat damage and survive better than an A-10, then so be it retire the ‘Warthog!’ If not – forget the F-35

    • tiger

      There is nothing magic about a Maverick or hellfire missile that other planes can not fire. Nor is there any thing great about a 30mm taking out targets a .50bmg would. Sustain damage? The idea is not get shot in the first place. This obsession over the A-10 being the “ONlY” plane in the air is bs. Keeping it another 40 to 50 years is not in the cards.

  • Kent

    How much does a brand new F35A cost? Do you really think the F35 will be used for close air support? Hummm…. A-10 or F35, that’s a no brainer.

  • MacPaul

    So, tight budget is the problem, is it?
    No, it’s the F-35, this piece of crap! For the money this duck costs you can develop three different planes/choppers for all different purposes and buy 1000 of them each. And how the F-35 performs A-10 missions is something I’d like to see!

  • Tom.S

    It is sad that the A-10, a proven weapon plate form was not continued in production or given a design update like the F/A-18E, instead just given a electronic face lift. The F-35 is an industry money pit wantabe with no history to back up the capability to the A-10 legacy. I am sure the fighting history of the A-10 has for pound for pound inflicted more harm to enemy forces in both cost and manpower than any other aircraft to date expect the Apache which is still being produced.

    F-35 can’t chase, race, or pound a target like the A-10 can, and if you factor in aircraft loss, I am sure the F-35 is going to pass the A-10 before all the testing is done.

  • jffourquet

    If the USAF does not have suitable replacement for the A-10, then keep it and reduce the # of F-35’s the USAF is planning to buy!

  • Claude H. Church

    T his Air Force General wanting to do away with the A-10 is living in a fantacy
    world. He has never been on the ground and needed the fire power and
    time on target that the A-10 provides. I can’t believe he said we could us the
    F-15, F-16 and B1 bomber (Is he that out of touch) This would be like the F-4
    and F-100 in close support Like Vietnam. (Thank God for the old A1E)

    • tiger

      The B1 has done the bulk of support the last few years. Not the A-10. Facts beat your fantasy.

  • John

    Maybe these “bean counters” should be on the front lines when an A-10 is needed, but not available due to budget cuts. I think they would change their minds pretty damn quick.

  • ken

    The Russians and Chinese are giggling like school girls as ISIS runs rampant in the Middle East.

  • Coop

    We should consider building a drone to replace the A-10 because we do not have to risk pilots in CAS. The F-35 will be a very good fighter for things other than CAS. The main issue with the A-10 is it would not survive long in a complex AA system. The F-35 can perform in this environment and the F-35 could clear the way for A-10 or an A-10 replacement to do its job.

  • David

    I am still confused why the CAS dependent USMC needs the stealthy F-35B.

    I understand the RN’s need for an air superiority / anti-shipping platform.

    Won’t the 35B sandblast its own stealth coating off or catch its airstrip on fire?

    And yeah the 35B lacks the almighty internal gun for CAS work

  • Phil

    F35A, $125 million for a ground support aircraft……. A10, $11 million.

  • Fireball Chief

    In todays Air Force, these comments will lead to the General being fired. Thanks for being honest. This is an officer this old Chief would gladly work for.

  • murf

    Why would want to keep a plane that is economical to operate when you can have a plane the uses a 250k missile to blow up 5k truck.

  • Kostas

    1) A10s are good against an enemy that doesn’t have access to MANPADS. If the enemy has MANPADS the slow flying aircraft that needs to approach at least 2 kms from the target (due to the low accuracy of its gun) will just get hit by a volley of MAnPADS missiles. F35 can detect and identify targets from much longer distances with the SAR mode of its radar and the superior electrooptic sensors, F35 will approach up to 3 km from the target and destroy it with much fewer rounds (higher gun accuracy) and will rapidly turn. Even if the enemy launches hundreds of MANPAD missiles, the F35 will simply outrun them.
    2) F35 can provide surveilance to mugh greater areas due to its highly sophisticated sensor suite
    3) F35 can provide RAPID CAS to troops over a much larger area due to its speed.
    4) F35 can survive the longer range SAM missiles due to its stealth, EW suite etc
    5) F35 can survive an enemy air attack. A10 needs protection from fighters

    I can continue writting more reasons about the superiority of F35, but I believe that those already mentioned would suffice for a logical reader; a biased one will never be convinced, he will remain entraped in his ignorance/wrong fixed beliefs.

    • veechunk

      Your assertions on the F35 have yet to be proven.

      But in the case of the Warthog, case closed. It was built for the trenches.

    • Nick987654

      The F-35 should be integrated with the artillery. No need to carry all the weapons on the plane. It should be able to get GPS coordinates for GPS guided rounds, guide surface-launched laser guided rounds, surrface launched SDBs, or long range ATGM launched in NLOS mode.

      As for the A-10, against lower threats it is certainly much more cost effective than F-35s and the F-35s would have better things to do that pure CAS.

      The USAF should be able to destroy the enemy air force quickly, so there should not be much fighter threats.

      There is certainly a way to keep around 150 A-10Cs for low/moderate intensity conflicts at low cost.

      Sometimes the truth is somewhere in the middle…

      • Kostas

        the CAS needs to be fast, I ‘d rather have an F35 with its 25mm cannon rather than waitingfor the A10 to arrive when it is too late. Moreover I would like CAS that would engage an enemy that is really close and has pinned me down (common urban scenario), the F35 can provide that with its sensors and highly accurate cannon. The A10 will shoot half of its bullets on me rather than the enemy.

        • blight_qwerty

          If you want pinpoint accuracy with close air support, I wouldn’t call on any fixed wing aircraft. Break out the helicopters.

        • Val

          Except the F-35 has much lower sortie and loiter time. Most of those 25mm bullets will bounce off enemy tanks and then said tank will open up with its own 12mm gun. Severally damaging or take it out of the sky. The F-35 will be detected and taken down like the F-117 was.

          • Thomas L. Nielsen

            “….and then said tank will open up with its own 12mm gun. Severally damaging or take it out of the sky”.

            And how much anti-air gunnery have you done from a tank, exactly?

            And why do you think the F35 will be using its gun as an antitank weapon?

            Regards & all,

            Thomas L. Nielsen

          • Kostas

            just to make things clear, the aircraft cannon is NOT an anti-tank weapon. Even the A10’s 30mm CANNOT penetrate the roof armor of modern tanks. By the way I don’t know of any 12mm gun with an effective anti-aircraft range of 3kms, do you? 3kms is the range of F35’s cannon in air-to-ground role.

          • Val

            Your the one who mentioned the 25mm cannon. Which is even less effective. There are Sabot rounds that will penetrate top tank armor. Though it has to be higher caliber.
            EXACTO rounds will make them better anti aircraft weapons. China and Russia are working on their own versions that extends their range.
            Also 20mm and 30mm guns are being downsized. With volume of fire that will make the F-35’s lack of maneuverability a hindrance.
            Dropping bombs on tanks don’t work anymore. The F-35 can’t carry the AGM-65 Maverick. Only British versions will have the Brimstone installed.

          • Kostas

            Check what the SDB II can do to tanks and then we can continue our conversation.
            EXACTO in machine guns?? I don’t think we should include imaginary things in our comments.

          • Thomas L. Nielsen

            “There are Sabot rounds that will penetrate top tank armor.”

            There is. Which is irrelevant, since sabot rounds cannot be used from aircraft guns*. The discarded sabots tend to get sucked into the engines, with unfortunate consequences.

            Oh, and there is a lot more to CAS than tankbusting.

            Regards & all,

            Thomas L. Nielsen

            *) The exception being gunships. Depending on weapons configuration, the gun(-s) may be far enough behind, and away from, the engines to allow safe use of sabot rounds.

          • blight_qwerty

            I’m not sure how much tank-busting we intend to do in the near future with the A-10…and if we do, will we be using missiles.

            30mm is fine against BMP’s.

        • Nick987654

          In case of bad weather you don’t want to risk an expensive F-35 for CAS at low altitude. For low/moderate intensity conflict the A-10 can do the trick so why spend a little fortune on F-35s for that kind of mission?

          The A-10 is not very fast but it is not that slow either.

          Against tanks, it will be limited to 2 internal bombs until block 3 when it will receive the SDB1. And even at that the SDB1 is not ideal for attacking moving targets. For that it needs the SDB2 which will be available at block 4 in 2021.

          Anyways the real successor for CAS if the A-10s are retired would be the F-16. But then the F-16 is not as optimized and cannot be used for other purposes at the same time.

          • Kostas

            In case of bad weather A10 is useless, F35 can continue business as usually by turning on the radar.
            Where did you get the 2021 date for the sdb2?

    • d. kellogg

      It takes a much larger SAM than a MANPADS (Man Portal Air Defense System…man-portable) to bring down an A-10.
      Past combat performance has demonstrated that cannon fire smaller than 57mm only scratches A-10s, and an A-10 can even limp home after SA-6 (larger than any MANPADS) hits that have downed aircraft like the F-16 (and no F-35 is really any measure of structurally more armored than an F-16).

      If the future CAS argument is going to be stand off weapons, well, there is no single stand off weapon in existence nor development keyed solely to F-35 deployment and no other airframe. It carries no weapons that aren’t deployable from other platforms.

      • Kostas

        Sa-6 has a 60kg warhead. Do you really mean that a 60 kg warhead will only make the A-10 limp?
        There is no point in saying anything else.

        • d. kellogg

          I can’t spoon-feed you everything, this isn’t kindergarten.
          Query A-10 pilots Cpt Kim Campbell, Paul Johnson, and Col Bobby Efferson
          (“Killer Chic” ‘s A-10 can be seen here,

          Col E’s “controlled crash” video can be found all over.

          These aircraft were hit by large weapons, not little stuff like SA-7 MANPADS.

          No lesser aircraft is going to limp home with that measure of damage, nor what some of these other A-10s received and still flew home.
          You can click the individual tabs here for pics of some of the aircraft and see the visual damage received yet they still brought the pilots’ home.

          • blight_qwerty

            SA-6 Gainful is a vehicle-borne SAM. It is not in the same class as the Strela or Igla. If anything, it is a system intended for high-flyers like the JSF, accounting for Scott O’Grady and other F-16’s in the ’90s.

            There isn’t much information on /what/ was fired at Kim Campbell’s A-10, and perhaps we’ll never really know.

            The A-10 is a very potent contested airspace penetrator, but not invulnerable.

            From GW1 it is thought SA-9 and SA-13’s used to take down A-10’s. SA-9 was related to SA-7, but turned into a larger version mounted to BTRD’s. Apparently it was ~4x bigger, but freed of man-portability constraints much more effective in a similar envelope as the man-portable version.

            SA-13 was successor to SA-9. Both SA-9 and SA-13 are definitely larger than the man-portable device, but against something bigger problems may present themselves.

            The Army uses Stinger missiles in its Avengers; the Russians obviously went with much bigger missiles that were cousins of their MANPAD missiles. We should not assume that our opponents will be firing Strela and Iglas…instead we should worry about the larger Strelas (SA-9, SA-13) and Tunguska. Tunguska uses a missile from a navy CIWS system…so akin to firing RAM missiles from an AFV.

  • John Morris

    Someone who wants to retire the A-10 lives in a fools paradise.

    • tiger

      I need pot holes filled & kids able to walk the streets with out getting shot. A-10’s & U2’s do nothing for that. The obsession with the toys needs a reality check.

  • Pete

    Scaled composites designed, built a prototype, and flight tested a replacement for the A10. Its called the ARES 151 “Mudfighter”. The US Army had requested the concept tested, and as usual, Burt Rutan delivered in spades.

    If it is really about money, the USAF could stop messing around with JSF, maybe B2, maybe get some new F15’s produced in the short term and a whole lot of 151’s to replace the A10’s.

    I worked on A10’s for about 16 years, ending in 2009, poor things are beat, and there was never real money backing them up as compared to the pointy nose fleets.

    Not a lot of common sense to be seen i the big picture at the USAF anymore, I’m to limited in vision to see it at any rate.

    • d. kellogg

      They may indeed be high mileage and used up, but their sheer structural integrity is their testament to survivability (or maybe I’ve worded that wrong…?)
      When is the last time we saw instance of an A-10 disintegrating in flight due to structural fatigue, or the entire fleet or large portions of it grounded due to structural deficiencies?

      Again tho, can’t thank you enough for your service in support of such a great aircraft. Great maintenance (affordability, ease of use, and testament to the ground crews) is the real importance of keeping fighting aircraft flying.

  • Jim

    IF the DOD and Congress would remove the rules that only the Air Force can have fixed wing aircraft and not the Army; then the Army could easily take over the A-10. If anyone on this thread remembers, the Army had a small-medium sized transport in Vietnam. Iit was a high wing two engined aircraft, whose name I do not recall. I do remember that the ‘powers to be’ in the AF were totally unhappy that the Army had a fixed wing anything and pushed hard to get it removed from the Army. Don’t if they were successful in doing this, as I left there in 67 and I do remember seeing the aircraft on the TSN flight line back then. And no, it was not the C-123. From what I was told by a couple of Army friends I had, this plane filled a niche that could not be filled by the C-130s or the C-141s at the time. It was able to land at many of the smaller ‘fire bases’ for resupplying, rather than just dropping stuff from the back ends of the C-130s.

    • Riceball

      But the Army can and does have fixed winged aircraft. It’s just ARMED fixed winged aircraft that the Army can’t have and that was part of the Key West Agreements which saw the formation of the US Air Force as a separate entity from the Army.

  • Devil505

    I find all of these posts as being a bit one sided. Everyone here seems to be completely emerged in the fact that the F-35 is over budget and hasn’t proven itself. The A-10 is a wonderful plane and I will hate to see it go. The fact of the matter stands is weather it is more cost effective to maintain a fleet of A-10 Warthogs and U-2 Spy Planes that have been out of date and out of life span for at least a decade.

    Look at the USMC wanting to replace their AV-8B Harriers and you will get your answer. Why go out and buy a bunch of Super Hornets that do not and will not carry the stealth or other capabilities, like the EA-6B, AV-8B as in STOVL, range like an F-18 or even CAS like an A-10. The Marines just like the Army have CAS covered with the AC-130 Gun Ship that can loiter for hours over targets.

    What we need is something that can get in fast, protect itself, drop munitions, and get out to pave the way for other aircraft including bombers that do not have the technology to protect themselves like the F-35 can.

    On internal ordnance the F-35 with stealth and a heavy electronics suit can get in fast, drop its ordnance, get out and still survive in situations the highly regarded F-18 can’t. The reason being the electronics and the Stealth. You do not have to have a 30mm gun to provide CAS. What you need is an aircraft that can get there quickly and be effective when it is on target.

    Don’t forget the F-35 can have jettisonable pylons installed to carry more ordnance than it absolutely needs for its mission. Up to and including air to air munitions to get into enemy airspace. After the pylons are jettisoned the F-35 relies on its stealth to get on target. Once done these aircraft can communicate with themselves, if there are multiple F-35’s that can talk to each other and there are multiple targets all of those targets can be engaged at the same time much like the F-14 used to be able to do in air to air combat from 80 miles away.

    As far as the Army not having any fixed wing support, give me one Army air base in the USA or over seas, that is actually able to support a fixed wing aircraft, with knowledgeable people to take care of these aircraft, hangars to run maintenance in, and the equipment to do so. When you can’t think of an answer you will understand why the Army doesn’t have fixed wing aircraft. It’s not that they were denied fixed wing aircraft it is because they do not wan’t them.

    The last thing any service branch want’s to do is retire their tried and true aircraft. Like the A-10 in the Air Force, the EA-6B, Harrier, and the F-18 are being replaced in the Marine Corp. because they are old and have served their country well. No one want’s to see them go but it’s time. They are 30 plus years old and need to be replaced. It’s time for something new and I’m not talking about Super Hornets. They are not as capable of doing three jobs at once like the F-35.

    One last thing is, I understand there is a huge problem with cost, over run , and the performance. But where is the complaints about the F-18, F-16, F-15, and even the F-22 when it came to cost, over run, and performance. Everyone had a complaint until that jet had the chance to prove to everyone it could do it’s job. The F-35 is in infancy give it a chance to prove you wrong before you cast judgment.

  • Mr. ED

    they have trouble with the F35 now,how can it replace a proven A10 in combat support.

  • JJ Murray

    When he feds cut the space shuttle with now replacement I think this gave the DoD ideas and now we’re seeing things like cutting the A-10, U-2, EA-6B, AV-8B with no replacement in the immediate future. Oh yeah – they got smart enough to extend the AV-8B not long ago – indefinitely since the F-35 is so far behind schedule and so much over anticipated cost. Our government has never been good at long range thinking, but now they can’t even seem to think 2 or 3 years out.

  • ArtilleryMan

    I do believe that the F-22 is a very capable aircraft, but the F-35 looks like McNamara’s F-111 back in the 60’s. Oh yeah, it’ll do everything! The ONLY thing that can replace an A-10 would be an A-10B,C,D… That is one aircraft we should not be getting rid of. Until we can prove the F-22, we should be building F-15SE, F-16N, put the F-15SE Tech into the F-18 SuperHornet. Give them all engines with super cruise and vectored thrust. Build a couple hundred B-1Rs. Oh yeah, and build the next gen A-10. It’s safe to say that we’ve wasted to much time and money on the F-35. Lockhead can build us some aircraft for free since they took all our money.

  • veechunk

    “When it comes to the A-10, LaPlante said that the emerging F-35A will be capable of picking up a large number of close air support missions currently performed by the A-10.”
    And let’s see how the pretty one fares with a missing tail fin…

    God Bless the Warthog.

  • Joe Biden

    Army should have its own close air support aircraft.

  • Bob Hillen brand

    Seems that it would be prudent to see if the replacements REALLY work first and then phase out the A-10 & U-2. Why do I feel that a number of other agencies/friendly
    governments would love to have them ! What is with this Washington concept of doing
    stuff like this and leaving serious gaps. Is it stupidity ? Lack of foresight ? Leadership ?
    NASA does this, the military wants to do it, and it always leaves the US at the mercy of
    others. Is there any thought process going on in DC. ? Now that’s a dumb question !
    Sorry about that !

    • d. kellogg

      Sadly it seems like the US forces are being lined up for another Rumsfeldian failure, “You go to war with what you have, not with what you want.”

      Eliminating all competition is a guaranteed way to ensure your product’s success, when it no longer has competition to prove itself against.
      Get rid of everything the F-35 is designed to ~replace~, then when your choice is F-35 or nothing, naturally the F-35 will be the preferred choice.

  • Big Daddy

    The DOD must end the no armed fixed wing aircraft in the US Army policy. Let the Army control the CAS mission with their own aircraft and helicopters. The A10 is a little long in the tooth. Upgrades against manpads and small lightweight vehicle mounted air defense systems have to be made to the aircraft. It is a great frame to work with. The A10 is a flying tank, no other aircraft can do it’s job. It can decimate any large advancing force in minutes with it’s firepower and time on target. Yes you might loose a few but a few can completely destroy a mechanized division’s ability to be a viable fighting force. I think the trade off is worth it. The aircraft are not expensive and extremely versatile. Give them to the Army and build upgraded version with more self-defense ability against any air defense by using anti-radiation missiles for radar suppression. Along with the Helicopter force, the A10 and the AC130 the Army will be able to handle most of their needs, throw in some F35 jump jets for air defense and attack. The Airforce can now concentrate on air-to-air and long range bombing missions, it’s a win-win.

  • JTH

    Retire the truck that works and replace with the race car that can’t leave the pits

    And if the F-22 can’t be exposed to risk (too expensive) who will ever commit the F-35 ?

  • edree

    Nothing that the crap-for-brains the top politicians, both in and out, of the military will change the fact that NOTHING performs the ground support mission like an A-10. The Air force is condemning groundpounders to unnecessary deaths pretending any other aircraft can do the job any where near as well. Never the less, AF brass will renege on their commitment to provide air ground support to the Army. Facts are facts and politics will not change them.

  • Kostas

    Nobody doubts that CAS is extremely important and A10 has saved many lives in that role.
    If I was an active duty soldier I would like to have available a CAS platform that:
    1) would be available and survivable in a high threat environment where the enemy has AA weapons and possible air presence. A10 simply cannot do that and our future enemies will not always been bare foot soldiers
    2) a CAS platform that would be able to localize the location of the enmy’s indirect fire positions. The F35 can see the flash of enemy mortars and artillery with the panoramic DAS suite and can protect me from enemy indirect fire
    3) a CAS platform that would provide me with exceptional surveilance capabilities that only a powerfull radar in the SAR or ground moving target modes can offer. The F35 carries a radar that fullfils that role.
    4) A CAS platform that would be able to come fast at my area and protect me. The differences between F35 and A10 are chaotic.
    5) A CAS platform with a long range. Therefore fewer airbases will be needed and more personnel/resources would be used in combat roles rather than just protecting airbases
    6) A CAS with a high ceiling. A high ceiling would give the gliding weapons a longer range, therefore this airplane would be able to engage multiple distant targets in different locations almost simultaneously

    In short I would ask for a F35 in CAS role

  • Zspoier

    You know all that money our “little friends” with a 7% approval rating are making. We should cut their pay .that would solve a lot of our problems

  • Dorman

    give them to the Army

  • Bill Roberts

    F35 is too to big to fail, or for them to ever admit it.

  • Bob Dempsey

    Want to save money? Cut the Air Force to airlift command, Transport cargo and personnel. Have them for refueling also and maintain enough jet to fly protection for their tanker and cargo planes. Also they maintain responsibility for the missile sites.

  • Dave

    Well if the SF is so fighter happy over the F35. Why not just had over the A10 to the Marines? the folks who need her? they know what they need, give them the frickin’ A10’s..

  • Ideas2

    When can we upgrade the A10 Warthog?… maybe tilt-down from where the gun and ammo are stored? It could breath new life into the A10. And a computer can identify each target and apply the right aiming and correct energy to blow up an explosive or IED (or suicide vest), melt or deform a gun barrel rendering tanks, ect. inoperable, silently target enemies without throwing up the dust from a gun… fly some A10’s with guns and some with a LaWS or elsewise… A generator grabbing some rotation from the twin out-mounted jet engines should be able to get a lot of electricity needed, too.

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