Group: AF Skewed Data in A-10 ‘Smear Campaign’

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The U.S. Air Force manipulated casualty data to make the A-10 attack aircraft appear more hazardous than it really is, according to a watchdog group.

The service “cherry-picked” information on civilian casualties and friendly fire deaths in Afghanistan, making it look as though the aging gunship is responsible for killing more American troops and Afghan civilians than any other warplane, according to the Project on Government Oversight in Washington, D.C.

The raw figures, which were the subject of a recent story in USA Today, don’t take into account the frequency with which the aircraft were flown — critical for any kind of comparison, only cover certain years, and leave out a major incident in 2009 involving the B-1 bomber in which nearly 100 civilians were killed, POGO said.

“Those cooked statistics excluded—and kept classified—data that is essential for a basic understanding of the issue,” Mandy Smithberger, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information at POGO, wrote in an analysis.

The flap comes just weeks after Maj. Gen. James Post, vice commander of Air Combat Command, warned officers that praising the A-10 to lawmakers would amount to “treason.”

It may give congressional overseers such as Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, yet more fodder to block the service’s latest proposal to retire the Warthog by 2019 to save an estimated $4.2 billion a year and free up maintainers for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Congress rejected the service’s requests to begin the process of divesting the low, slow-flying aircraft in the current fiscal year and included about $337 million in the budget to keep almost 300 of them in the inventory. While they did allow the Air Force to move as many as 36 of the planes to back-up status, they blocked the service from sending any to the bone yard.

The 30mm, seven-barrel GAU-8/A Avenger in the nose of the Cold War-era Warthog can hold as many as 1,174 rounds designed to shred the armor on tanks, combat vehicles and other targets.

The Air Force data show the A-10 was involved in missions that killed 35 civilians in the five years through 2014 — more than any other aircraft. However, they also show the Warthog flew almost 2,700 combat missions, or kinetic sorties, during that period — far more than any other plane. That translates into 1.3 civilian deaths per 100 missions. (The rate increases to 1.4 when including wounded civilians.)

That’s the second-lowest casualty rate of any of the aircraft, behind the KC-130 cargo plane, according to POGO. Which was the worst offender? The AV-8B Harrier jump-jet, which had 8.4 civilian casualties per 100 missions, according to the group’s analysis:

Platform Casualties per 100 Kinetic Sorties
KC-130 0.7
A-10 1.4
F-15E 1.6
F-16 2.1
F-18 2.2
B-1 6.6
AV-8 8.4

 

“The table makes it clear that the A-10 is the safest airplane in Afghan combat, except for the KC-130,” it states. “In fact, the A-10 produces nearly five times fewer civilian casualties per firing sortie than the B-1 bomber.”

And that’s taking into account the Air Force’s truncated time period, which excludes the so-called 2009 Granai Massacre in which a B-1 killed between 26 and 147 civilians and wounded even more, according to POGO.

“The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission estimated 97 civilians killed, which the Department of Defense has not disputed,” the analysis states. “Including 2009 would have made the B-1 bomber the worst killer in theater by far.”

The data also show that the A-10 flew sorties that resulted in the deaths of 10 American troops, though the F-15E Strike Eagle was involved in missions that wounded 34 U.S. service members and the F-18 flew sorties that killed 25 coalition members and wounded another 54.

POGO concludes, “Air Force headquarters is engaged in an all-out campaign to use any means possible—including threatening service members and doctoring data for the media—to bolster its failing argument on Capitol Hill to prematurely retire the A-10. Retiring the A-10 gets rid of an Army-supporting mission Air Force generals despise and protects the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program from a combat-proven competitor.”

Lt. Col. Christopher Karns, a spokesman for the Air Force at the Pentagon, said the service wasn’t trying to be selective with data on civilian casualties, or CIVCAS in military parlance. Rather, it only began tracking the incidents in a standardized and consistent manner since 2010, he said.

“In 2010, CIVCAS was tracked by the Air Force using consistent DOD guidance,” he said in an e-mail. “The incidents captured were entered into a data base, validated and met the common definition applied across all the services.”

The point in releasing the information was to respond to a specific media query and highlight how the service’s aircraft — including the A-10, F-15E, F-16 and B-1 — all have relatively low casualty and fratricide rates, and can perform the close air support, or CAS, mission equally well, Karns said.

“The A-10 is an effective platform, there’s no denying that,” he said in a telephone interview. “However, with the fiscal realities of the day, we have to be responsible and take a look at actions that may help us ensure an affordable Air Force in the future.”

He added in the e-mail, “We never take the application of force for granted. From 2001-2014, the incident rate for fratricide for all platforms and services is .0003%. We’re all trying to make this statistic zero.”

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • BlackOwl18E

    No surprise there. Major General James Post, vice commander of Air Combat Command USAF, is currently being looked at for investigation because he’s been recorded telling those under him that “praising the A-10 to lawmakers is treason.”

    The F-35 mafia really wants the A-10 gone because it will allow them to have another argument for the F-35A. They could start saying, “We don’t have enough tactical air frames!” even though they would be the ones to have killed the tactical air frames we have that still have plenty of life left in them.

    The USAF is dying right before our eyes. As of now the only plans they have 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. If the F-35A doesn’t materialize into a combat ready aircraft that is affordable to buy and operate, then they will be left with nothing but a skeleton force that is too small to fight any prolonged conflict, especially ones at the far reaches of the globe.

    • t1oracle

      It sounds Major General James Post needs to become Private Post. The only treason here is him using his rank to intimidate others into lying, especially about matters involving billions of dollars and the future safety of our soldiers on the ground. What a despicable man.

    • William_C1

      “Aside from the F-35A”? The F-35A will represent the core of USAF tactical airpower going forward, you can presume it will be a failure but thus-far it hasn’t despite the problems encountered in testing. This all is based on some personal wish of yours more than anything else.

      Of course they need the F-35A, they bet their future on the JSF and to a large degree were forced to do so when SecDef Gates shut down F-22 production.

      Not all that different from when Cheney pretty much forced the Navy to go with the F/A-18 plan by his ruthless opposition to the F-14D and further upgrades.

      I want to keep the A-10 around although it hasn’t stopped people from accusing me that I hate it. None of the services including the USAF do a great job managing their budget, so they want it gone presumably so they can speed up F-35 procurement and SLEP other aircraft. Perhaps Congress is truly not providing them with enough funding to do all of this. It’s hard to determine that.

      • David Christopher

        Before this gets out of hand or someone gets physically hurt:

        Maj General Post is my hero right now…and if i may make a prediction. ..He and USAF brass will soon be yours also.

        • Greg

          Why do you think that?

    • rick

      you are right but i think the better and cheaper solution is just to get rid of the damn generals like post. a friend’s son works on the software for the F35 in DFW and he said this thing is a turkey and by the time they get the bugs out everyone working on it will be retired. part of the problem is the AF keeps making changes sometimes even before the previous change can be implemented. he refused to tell me some of the pet nicknames some of them have for it but he is not complaining as the money is good and the af has too much invested to back out now so he figures he has job security for a long time.

      • JJSchwartz

        “… the af has too much invested to back out now …” Congress can and should cut funding. By the time this turkey becomes operational it will be old technology not to mention probably not doing a very good job of performing any of its missions.. Best to cut the tax payer’s losses.

        • retired462

          The Navy and Marines, also!
          Limit the “buy” to a couple hundred F-35’s; like we did with stopping the F-22 buy.
          Get rid of all the brass and people in congress that keep pushing the F-35 down our throats!

    • balais

      They are doing everything in their power to harm the A10s war record and viability. Its astonishing.

      Lots of concentrated effort to discredit a ground attack aircraft that is allegedly “not viable” any longer LOL

      • d. kellogg

        Funny thing about that supposed “non viability”…
        The same argument against all those various prop planes post WW2 that were obsolete because of the dawn of the jet age, yet today’s USAF has/had folks crying the need for a prop driven (T-6 or Super Tucano) aircraft for third world ally air forces…, no faster than any of those antiquated piston driven Mustangs, Thunderbolts, and Corsairs all scrapped by the end of the 1950s.

    • STEPHEN RENDALL SR.

      NOT ENOUGH MONEY IN CHEAP, EFFECTIVE AND RELIABLE. HAVE TO GO WITH
      STAR WARS STUFF TO SATISFY THE “M.I.C.”. THE AMERICAN SOLDIER IS JUST
      CANNON FODDER, A NECESSARY COG IN THE WHEEL. THAT’S WHY THE BIG
      GUYS KEEP THEIR KIDS SAFELY AWAY…….AN OLD VIETNAM VET, SAW IT MYSELF AND YOU BET I WON’T EVER FORGET IT…….

    • EagleDriverAZ

      I couldn’t agree more with BlackOwl. The Air Force dying! If the General’s had any operationally-oriented brains left, they would reopen the production lines for the F-16 and the F-15C and F-15E! We have almost no offensive force left. The General’s are crying for high-tech, cost-overrun, flawed, unaffordable platforms that they would in no way send at low altitude to downtown Baghdad, and yet we stay engaged in low-intensity conflicts for which all of the current post-Vietnam era fighters were made to combat. Furthermore, the Guard and the Reserves have become the active duty so we are killing those homeland defense systems as well. As a 1992 F-4 and F-15 retired fighter pilot, I am amazed how my squadron mates who stayed and went on to be the three and four star generals got so stupid. Write your Congressman

    • Tom

      All that you say is right on the mark. They’ve been pushing to get rid of the A-10 for over 20 years. When the Army said they wanted it, the USAF leadership backed off.

      This whole comparison of deaths per sortie, etc., is nonsense anyways because it has little to nothing to do with the weapon system, but rather depends on how they were employed and directed against targets. The A-10 is a precision machine. It’s slower speed allows it to accomplish things the fast movers simply cannot do. But that isn’t sexy enough for the fighter jock mafia. The A-10 is an attack aircraft. It’s not a fighter. So, they want to get rid of it. I say it still has a strong role in our force OOB.

      • jsallison

        The blue suiters want vipers. Raptors suckzzors. Break up the air force. Move air support to the army air corps. Take the buffs and icbms away and create the strategic strike force. Merge the transports and refuelers with the Navy’s logistics command into a unified Logistics Command. Let the pointy nosed superspeedy guys jerk each other off in, oh, lemmesee…call em Streaker Force, or some such. Air supremacy is a Good Thing, but once achieved and maintained, the other aerial roles are a lot more useful to everyone else.

    • guest

      can’t say that I’m surprised, as a “former” Marine and EA-6B aircraft mech removing older stuff even though they may be reliable is always in favor of the new stuff especially when it is “cheaper”

  • Roy Smith

    The immense hatred of the A-10 by senior Air Force leadership just boggles the mind. The only aircraft that seemed to be hated worse than the A-10 by a military service was the F-14. When Cheney was SecDef,he made sure that the molds for the F-14 were destroyed,then once the F-14 was finally retired,they made sure that the air frames of all F-14’s were damaged beyond repair,under the guise of preventing Iran from getting working parts for their F-14’s,so that none could ever fly again.
    The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that our civilian government maybe has more nefarious plans for the A-10,otherwise they would have gone the way of the OA-37 Dragonfly & OV-10 Bronco years ago or worse,would have been broken up like the F-14 Tomcats.

    • Ganderer

      Hopefully I’m misreading you and you’re not suggesting by the “nefarious plans” that the U.S. government wants to pretend to scrap the A-10 while secretly keeping it in order to attack Americans here at home??

    • Greg

      I wish they would have kept the tomcat over the super hornet. F-35 could finally replace the a-6.

      • d. kellogg

        @ Roy… don’t be so quick to write off the OV-10 Bronco and A-37 Dragonfly: some backwater nations actually still use theirs they received via surplus/FMS from the US government.

        Seeing that A-stan pretty much is an over-glorified large-scale COIN operation anyway (no large scale operations against enemy air, armored, and air defense systems), if the US forces had these two aircraft still in service, they’d have probably made considerable contribution to the effort also. With what has been done integrating UAS/drone support into E-model Apaches, the USMC could’ve installed similar capabilities into an OV-10 upgrade for a much more capable FAC platform….then again, Marines aren’t as overly-dependent on drones as the other services.
        As to the 2-seat A-37s, a proposed -C model upgrade from the late 1980s showed considerable promise (including replacement of its minigun with a .50-cal model or even an M230): Desert Shield/Storm came along and the proposed A-37C fell into the obscurity of aircraft improvements deemed unnecessary. Had it survived, avionics upgrades and integration of a SABR-type radar would have it on par with trainer/light attack platforms like the Albatros/L-159 and Hawk.

        • jsallison

          Dude, the flying dog whistle? Really?

    • jsallison

      I’ve often suspected a conspiracy involving the Martin B-26 Marauder. They were actively sought out to be destroyed mere minutes after the cessation of hostilities. The only aircraft subjected to that sort of pogrom after WWII. Just who did Mr Martin PO? Eh? That was the prettiest plane of the ’40’s, bar none. Also had the lowest loss rate of it’s type. And yet Mitchells survive in some quantities while Kermit Weeks has possibly the only flyable Marauder in the world. Does that seem right to you?

  • Mitch S

    The “civilian casualty ” stat seems an odd way to judge an aircraft.
    Other than a plane killing civilians by crashing into them, why blame the airframe for something caused by a weapon dropped off it?
    When a bomb (or a bullet, artillery shell etc) hits the wrong target it’s because of either a fault with the bomb (guidance system failure etc) or human error (mistargeted due to operator error or bad intel)

    • ccc40821

      To me there’s a certain logic in that the pilot of a relatively slow, low-flying aircraft will have a better chance identifying friends from foes.

      • The Chee

        It’s not just logic; as a JTAC, I have seen frat’s by A-10s, but none were remotely the fault of the aircraft. The B-1 crew on the other hand was partially culpable with the recent frat in Afghanistan.

        • J.T.A.C.

          Your reply makes no sense. You wrote, “I have seen frat’s by A-10’s, but none were remotely fault of the aircraft. The B-1 crew on the other hand was partially culpable with the recent frat in Afghanistan.” First question is, with the A-10 frats, who’s fault was it, the pilot or the JTAC? Second question, is half the crew of the B-1 to blame and the other half the aircraft or JTAC’s? What are you getting at?

          • d. kellogg

            Isn’t part of the whole reasoning behind CAS is to put a support aircraft into closer proximity of the adversary and friendlies to more accurately differentiate between the two and hit enemy targets more often than friendlies in the first place?

    • lastdingo

      “why blame the airframe for something caused by a weapon dropped off it?”

      Because A-10 fanbois insist that the A-10 produces less fratricide and civilian casualties because the pilot is more close and has more time to judge the situation because of his planes’ slowness.
      The facts paint a less rosy picture.

    • Seth Owen

      It is relevant because the nature of the plane affects the chances of a mistake. The best-performing planes (A-10 and KC130 are slow flying with lots of loiter time so there is opportunity to thoroughly check the target. The worst planes are high flying, speedy and/or short loiterers that have to strike fast from far away — just like the F-35 will have to.

  • Dfens

    What, our government lies to us by faking numbers? Next you’ll be telling me that unemployment isn’t 5%.

    • Curtis Conway

      Facts are tough aren’t they?

    • EdC

      Add a 1 in front of that 5 and it might be a little more accurate.

  • Whareagle

    This is insane. The Air Force is… the AIR FORCE! They can love to hate the A-10 all they want, but the fact of the matter is that it still does what it does incredibly well. I find it disturbing that the brass don’t get it. Furthermore, sorry, but the F-35 is either the best damned microwave oven in the world, or… it’s a complete dog, and I’m really thinking that it’s the latter. We’re looking at two decades of screwups with the Air Force. I even have my doubts about the schizophrenic, bipolar approach they took towards the F-16 purchases and upgrades, followed by their unwillingness to improve the breed and let other nations take up the block 50’s and more. The F-15E seems to be the last program that actually worked, and MAYBE the Predator development program. Sad that they feel so compelled to kill of the A-10. I worry about the day when soldiers will need A-10’s, and they won’t be available.

    • JJSchwartz

      The brass gets it alright. They just ignore the ‘inconvenient truth.’ Fact is unless the acft is pretty and exceeds Mach 1 they don’t want it in their AOB. The nation should look very closely at the viability of the AF. You’re right. The AF hasn’t ‘flown right’ for a very long time. Crap going on at the AF academy, nukes flying cross country without anyone apparently being responsible, cheating by missile crews, blast doors left open, and, yes, dumping the A-10; the one and only CAS platform that the guys on the ground can count on to save their bacon when the going gets rough.

    • Curtis Conway

      There is nothing in the inventory present or future that can replace it. No directive, challenge to industry, or proposal has provided anything to replace it. The F-35 (any flavor) will cost more to fix by a log shot, and it too expensive to get that close to the ground. The Marines should consider buying some AT-6Cs for ground support work. One F35B will buy a squadron of them. Jets at altitude will never provide CAS and the psychological effect for our troops and terror in the minds of the enemies.

    • http://twitter.com/Schulzy713 @Schulzy713

      Give them to the Marines for close air support…or better yet to get the USAF knickers really in a knot…the Army.

      • walleye

        The army was in charge of them during the cold war in usaeur.

        • Fordownr

          Sorry walleye, but they were stationed out of Spangalam (sp?) under the command of USAFE (United States Air Force Europe).

    • Stephen_Paraski

      It seems that the USAF does not want those Air Guard pilots providing close air support. I do not think a drone has the loiter capability to support our troops.

    • john

      were these non guided bombs , cannon fire, or both

    • Dennis

      The A-10 would have a happy home with the USMC if it could just land and launch from a carrier. The AF is full of arrogant boys flying fast and loud but that doesn’t impress the likes of the Taliban. The exception is AFSOC. The AC-130 is the monster under the bed and the thing that goes bump in the night. If we could just get ROE that doesn’t tie everyone’s hands while the bad guys get into position in force.

  • gene mascho

    Let the army have them that would piss off air force .like it did when army got choppers. They don’t want them but sure hate it that army wants to operate them . PROTECT YOUR TURF. Makes sense for army to have them.

    • JJSchwartz

      Unfortunately by law the Army cannot have anything like the A-10 as it infringes on AF turf that the AF is very sensitive about even though they don’t want the mission. Also the Army is very closely wedded to helicopters as their main CAS platform.

      • blight_

        Why does everyone think it is a “law”? It is an agreement between services, not codified by Congress, not present in the USC, and not part of any executive orders.

        Key West Agreement led to Pace-Finletter in 52, which led to Johnson-McConnell. The latter was an agreement between Army CoS and AF CoS.

      • walleye

        The a-10’s in Europe during the cold war were under army control.. Less likely fratricide.. True

    • Sw614

      Where would the Army get billions to operate the A-10 for the foreseeable future? Not to mention the supply train, trying for pilots and maintenance and the facilities to support all of them?

      The argument today is where to spend very limited funds. With F-15s andF-16s aging out rapidly, a replacement must be fielded. The F-35 can do that whereas the last single mission Tacair actt cannot. Would love to see the A-10 retained. If Congress feels so strongly about it, dedicate funds to keep it and stop hiding behind sequestration.

      • http://gruntsandco.com/ majr0d

        The funding is already there. The Air Force is supposed to save over $4 bil by retiring the A10. It’s not “saved” yet because it hasn’t been spent. Give that to the Army as well as the pilots and maintainers (this was the plan in 1990).

        Future basic pilot training can be conducted by a sister branch (I’d recommend the Marines for the right CAS mindset) and the Army could develop A10 specific training with the IP’s the Air Force sends over. It’s not that hard or rocket science but sounds like a great excuse to keep the Army from having armed fixed wing.

        You may be surprised to find out the Army actually runs several large airfields with hangers.

        Agree on ending sequestration but the Dems tie social program funding to any effort to lift the sequester.

        • CHOPS

          Good idea, give half to the Army and half to the Marines–take the enlisted maintainers and give them a bump in rank and transfer to each respective service then listen to the A F scream–if they lost the maintenance people I bet the would shut up and keep the A10.

      • guest

        The Marines will gladly take the A-10 off the hands of the Air Force.

    • Curtis Conway

      The USAF is required by statue to support the Army in the field with air support what ever the need is, like CAS and Mission Critical/Time Sensitive cargo delivery. The USAF needs to put on their Big Boy Pants and come down out of the rarefied air and help their brethren on the ground.

      • blight_

        http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/8062

        (a) It is the intent of Congress to provide an Air Force that is capable, in conjunction with the other armed forces, of—
        (1) preserving the peace and security, and providing for the defense, of the United States, the Commonwealths and possessions, and any areas occupied by the United States;
        (2) supporting the national policies;
        (3) implementing the national objectives; and
        (4) overcoming any nations responsible for aggressive acts that imperil the peace and security of the United States.
        (b) There is a United States Air Force within the Department of the Air Force.
        (c) In general, the Air Force includes aviation forces both combat and service not otherwise assigned. It shall be organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt and sustained offensive and defensive air operations. It is responsible for the preparation of the air forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war except as otherwise assigned and, in accordance with integrated joint mobilization plans, for the expansion of the peacetime components of the Air Force to meet the needs of war.

        ———

        In the meantime I will go look for this statue that explicitly requires that they support the Army.

    • pathfinder56

      You are completely correct! The A10 is the grunts best air buddy and if the AF don’t want6 it givve it to the army… but wait the AF dosen’t want the army ot have fixed wing combat capabilities……

    • Dennis

      The Army already gave up all future fixed wing aircraft in the C-27 boondoggle. Rotary wing Aircraft have to have a massive logistics tail and the AF is not going to give Army spare parts the priority that a small fleet of dedicated C-27 would. plus the sigint and recon that the army does with their present fleet of fixed wing assets. The Marines would really love the A-10. They know and understand the CAS mission and how important it is to get it right. The only airframe with a better CAS capability is the AC-130. But it usually rules the night and slumbers all day.

  • Tad

    Supporting old planes does not get one a high position or consulting gig at Lockheed-Martin after leaving the Air Force.

  • Charles

    “Air Force headquarters is engaged in an all-out campaign to use any means possible—including threatening service members and doctoring data for the media—…”
    =============================================
    “Doctoring data for the media…” = LYING

    So much for the Code Of Honor. Those responsible should be prosecuted and dishonorably discharged.

    • JJSchwartz

      I fully agree. It would appear that there is a lack of character, of credibility, of integrity and leadership within the AF, at least the upper echelons of the AF, It would be scandalous for the service but I think that what is called for is a full examination of the Department of the Air Force. I believe that it is in serious trouble of loosing the faith of those that the AF is meant to serve.

    • d. kellogg

      Apparently codes of conducts and everything else all those annual briefings put out,
      only applies to the lower enlisted ranks.

  • Eric

    I see these posts over and over again when the a-10 comes up about everyone hating them and that is simply not the case. The brass loves them. They have admitted that they love them. The catch is two fold. One, that there is not enough manpower and money to have F-35 and A-10 under current constraints. Thank Congress. It is unfortunate the F-35 got so expensive which is definitely part of the problem. Part 2 is that the future wars ie: the pacific, require different aircraft that the A-10 is not a part of. For example it will be a Denied access environment which the A-10 cannot infiltrate. The distances are enormous and the A-10 moves painfully slow giving the enemy huge lead times to intercept. Lastly it would not be attacking tanks, it would be attacking boats. The A-10 is the best at what it does, everyone knows this. But the force needs to adapt to a new environment and it needs all the power it can get out of every airframe to defeat an enemy. This is my 2 cents and if you have other opinions I am more than willing to hear it as this is the picture I have pieced together.

    • oblatt22

      You haven’t pieced together a picture you’ve just repeated Lockheed marketing propaganda word for word.

      • Eric

        Huh? I am not sure that made sense. Are you saying I have repeated propaganda word for word?

      • Eric

        Ok I think I get what you are saying, it was just missing some punctuation in there. My opinion is based off of Air Force Magazine interviews and discussions as well as articles on this website and Air Force Times. It is clearly evident that Lockheed Martin is ripping of the government and that does make me angry. Someday I hope to be in a position to change the way such defense contracts are written, from open ended open checkbook to: I will pay as you deliver. As for the theater shift, that is clearly happening. You cannot deny that. We are investing in the Navy and Air Force and cutting the Army. So when people talk about requiring close air support, where does the A-10 fit into a large theater war in the pacific? We can hope for another land based war in the middle East or Asia. But can you structure a smaller Air Force around the maybes and possible contingencies? The military as a whole is shifting from land based to sea based and you can even see it with the types of weapons we are building and the exercises we are conducting..

        • JH
          • Auyong Ah Meng

            Look i understand the area of denial or loss of air superiority which makes the A-10 a sitting duck…just like those luftwaffe stukas in the latter years of world war 2…the thing here is ground pounders need CAS…and the A-10 do deilver on it as long as US do not lose air superiority and prevent the other side from making its area of denial assets from working….and using the A-10 right….unless the AF don’t mind american ground pounders to really bleed a lot to just win the ground battles the hard way which i doubt the AF in the main will think that way cos it is insane cos detrimental to the USA…lastly…boots hold ground flying planes do not…..this is a known fact for the past 2000+ years….zzz

    • http://twitter.com/Schulzy713 @Schulzy713

      Drop the F-35 and all the problems are solved.

    • ret7

      You raise a valid point of area denial and combat v ships vice tanks. However the Russian bear is still to be reckoned with and that is what the A10 was designed for. Further the “Denied Access” argument was seriously considered during the A10’s development … the current brew up in the Ukraine may prove it in this regard. The long flight times over the Pacific can hamper many aircraft … perhaps more so for the A10 perhaps not … ships are large targets, most not nearly as well armored as a tank therefore from the gun to stand-off weapons the A-10 is a serious threat to ships.
      Dealing with the Pacific threat the F-35 is becoming overpriced and behind schedule and is apparently the only thing the mil-industry has going forward unfortunately. Perhaps an F-22 variant for the carriers would be cheaper to build?

    • jerry Mullen

      Not enough money for both F-35’s and A-10’s? Do you want them to spend more??? They are already 18 trillion dollars in debt. Commies and Boko harfam won’t have to conquer us. We are spending ourselvesinto oblivion.

    • Greg

      Sounds very reasonable Eric. If the future war are at sea, it is a shame they did not give the A-10 a tail hook. That gun should be able to do some damage, even if it is the slow one of the bunch.

  • Jack Johnson

    Just give the A-10 to the Army & Marines.They realize what real air support is. It’s not super-sonic.

    • Jeff

      I AGREE! Let the Army operate to “Close Air Support” for themselves. Bring back the Army Air Corp!!! The Marines have the ability even though the Navy works with them in this role too. As a matter-of-fact, The Air Force should only be focused on Space, ICBM, Air Superiority, and Command-and-Control denial through Electronic warfare and surgical strikes. Why we need another LRB (Long Range Bomber) is beyond me in the age of denial weapons, and cruise missiles. Seems like they just trying to look for ways to spend money in more sophisticated ways…

      • Eric

        What if the new LRB was not just a “bomber” but also served as a missile carrier for 5th generation fighters? Just thinking about it and throwing the what if out there.

        • Eric

          I dont get it. You give me a negative one but dont explain yourself.

      • Sw614

        Seems the Army and Marine commanders in theater disagree with the utility of long range strike acft. Bombers are the ONLY asset we have that can strike from CONUS with conventional weapons. Bombers can cover large areas of terrain or ocean carrying a variety of weapons. The also deliver the most weapons per sortie.

        • blight_

          True, though in practice we operate much closer to our targets (Guam, Diego Garcia). It took ~35 hours to get to Baghdad and back from Barksdale for ODS. It is not an experience we should repeat again.

          I wonder if the Navy and the Air Force will share technologies when it comes to maritime aircraft and the LRB. A maritime aircraft needs long range and good loiter like a bomber; but one is likely going to be high altitude while the other is low altitude. Both will need powerful weapons to strike from long range at ground targets. Both may be well served by a reduced radar cross section, and may need to jam enemy aircraft or to defend themselves against enemy fighters.

    • William_C1

      Minus the Marine Corps’ F/A-18s, and the host of other supersonic aircraft like the F-4 they used to operate?

    • Sw614

      The USMC decided on the AV-8 long ago and did not request any A-10s when they were in production. Why? The A-10 is not ship capable and would pose deployment issues for the USMC. The F-35 started life as a USMC AV-8 replacement program before it morphed into what we see today.

      The Army simply cannot afford them.

      People state the other services would put the A-10 to good use, but the USN and USMC will use the F-35 for CAS just like they use the AV-8 and F/A-18 for CAS. Why is the USAF the only service chastised for using the same acft for the same mission?

    • ret7

      I like your idea, but doubt it will happen

  • oblatt22

    The A-10 is only a small part of the huge cuts that have to be made to fund the F-35. There are 22 programs that have to be cut to feed the F-35. And they are fighti8ng back. The submarine program has even gone as far as getting their own budget because they were being targeted. The A-10 supporters are raising a political hue and cry. Others are busy buying politicians.

    If the A-10 dies to feed the F-35 basically operational need and utility will not protect any weapon system. A slew of useful systems will be gutted and the money fed into the gaping maw of Lockheed.

    • Curtis Conway

      The USAF and Oath Taking seems to be going in the wrong way latey. Lot of good people in the USAF, but unfortunately the political officers are now supporting the Industrial Military Complex.

  • Lance

    Corrupt USAF brass lies to get there way??? DA!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Face it they want sexy weapons the A-10 is not but the A-10 is needed and proven but Generals in the Bush and Obama era who get money from the JSF maker wants there way and they will lie and trample over there own service to get there way. Congress must be prepared to separate the facts from the BS.

  • ScienceABC123

    The AF A-10 problem lies solely between the ears of the AF leadership. They are fighter pilots and don’t want anything that isn’t a fighter or doesn’t supports fighters. The A-10 does neither. The only good solution is to put the AF back into the US Army.

    • William_C1

      Which would be foolish and minimize all of the other uses of airpower.

      Do some reading about the politics and arguments between the USAAF and the rest of the US Army back in WWII, it wasn’t pretty.

      • oblatt22

        The other use of air power that Bill is primarily concerned with is using it to funnel money to Lockheed through corrupt contracts.

        Lockheed has paid good money to buy the USAF if the job gets given to the army that that a whole new set of generals it needs to buy.

        • William_C1

          Where is all of this back-pay Lockheed must owe me according to you?

  • JimmyD

    Being in charge of the A-10 doesn’t get you a promotion. I just means you’re getting the job done without bankrupting the Country.

    • Curtis Conway

      G-d will give you your reward, and you have the thanks from the 1,000s of ground pounding brethren who received the support. The political officers will get the reward they deserve in Heaven.

      • d. kellogg

        Suggest you re-read your Bible. There is no place in Heaven for the petty (is there a more accurate opposite of infallible?) politics of worldly-concerned men.
        As such, rest assured a majority of politicians and their ilk (military and civilian) have little chance of being anyone significant There, despite whatever Judeo-Christian right/left drivel they profess every election cycle.

        It won’t be Heaven that gives political officers their just reward for all their deceptive, dishonest human indoctrination ideologies.

  • John M

    Transfer all close air support to the army of all air assets. Make whats left of the AIr Force the Space Force (ICBMs etc). Thats the only solution to protecting the A10 long term. The Air Force does not want to do close air support and never did. Revoke the 1948 Air Force-Army DOD agreement as it has outlived its usefulness.

    • Curtis Conway

      ICBMs need to go to the National Guard.

  • John

    Give the whole A-10 fleet to the army an be done with the argument. If they mothball it we will believe the decision since their lives are on the line.

  • J.T.A.C.

    Major General Post must have his hand in a money bag somewhere to make such a statement to other commissioned officers. What a way to stop freedom of speech to whom help keep that right in place. As a former J.T.A.C. it has been my experience A-10 aircrew are WAY more experienced in the air to ground aspect of a fluid battle and know ground maneuver forces intent much more quickly than arrogant F-16/F-15E/B-1/FA-18C/D aircrew, all those hot shots want is to unload their ordnance and get the hell out of dodge. A-10’s were always my hope when requesting C.A.S. and if they did show up I knew it would be a good day. Just remember people, airplanes cannot hold territory, but with the help of a true C.A.S. platform it sure does make the taking of territory so much easier. Sorry Attack Helicopter bubba’s, you are excellent C.A.S. platforms too…oh and you too, he who makes left hand turns for hours on end delivering mayhem and destruction…BOOM on your head bad guy! Hey Big Air Force, get out of your office once in a while and take the bean counters with you and get close to the action, you have no idea what really happens in war, you just see data and predator feeds. Here is a suggestion, try “Undercover Boss,” perhaps you might have a better perspective. I won’t hold my breath!

    • Gm1

      Sorry about the thumbs down…..using iPad hit the wrong button really liked the read

    • M. Gibby

      loved your little quip on “he who makes left hand turns” etc. Immediately thought of two entities who practice that scenario : the famous NASCAR and the almighty Spooky /Spectre.. long live AC-130’s!

  • ken

    This is third world crap.

    • Curtis Conway

      Most of the planet is. Better have A-10s if you have to go there . . . and we do.

  • Jeff

    Imagine how much simpler it’d all be if the Army were responsible for its own tactical close air support.

  • IronV

    And in other news… The USAF just announced they’re deploying a squadron of A-10s to Europe to deter the Russians… amazing.

    • oblatt22

      Where they cant survive according to Lockheed.

      • d. kellogg

        Yet oddly, it was Soviet Armored Hordes Storming Across Europe was what the A-10 was designed for (you don’t need to develop the GAU-8 to defeat insurgents with pack mules and technicals).

        Anything I’ve read regarding the recent “12 A-10s plus 300 support personnel” to Europe was more for a back up to US forces being drawn into the anti-IS campaign, moreso than anything to deter those Soviet Hordes of Putin…

  • stpaulchuck

    this is about the F35 pure and simple. It’s an over expensive bright shiny toy for the generals to decorate their career folders with. We’ve seen this sort of nonsense over and over. Once the political generals are matriculated to the top we start buying stuff we don’t need or that costs ten times what it should and never performs to spec. In the meantime, some really reliable and effective machine gets tossed aside to pay for the new toy.

  • txkboy

    Smells of top brass lining their pockets with contractor pay-offs. The A-10 is a beast, and hated by our enemies. Nothing like the whine of those turbines. Support to some, death to others!

    • e perez

      I think if the Apache is a good ground support attack platform,and it is liked as it is, the A-10 is significantly better.Don’t you think?

  • Rhstern

    The Air Force always has a flavor of the month. Way back when I served, it was SAC which sucked all the oxygen out of the room and left the rest of us scraping the barrel. Then came Vietnam and SAC was immaterial and we scrambled to find platforms to do the job. A lot of good people died because of that shortsightedness. Here we go again.

  • rat

    The nitty gritty about the A-10 is this: the stairway to having stars on your suit isn’t through the A-10 and therefore the 10 has to go. The way to being a general is through the F-22/15/16 and B1/2. Ironic that the USAFs most successful design – ever – is viewed with such disdain.

    • d. kellogg

      Yet oddly, there have recently been some new additions to Congress who know wholly well the benefits of the A-10. Last time I checked, Congressional decision makers outrank any star the USAF has.

    • ViperDriver

      And yet the Chief of Staff of the Air Force was an A-10 pilot…

  • JH
    • Curtis Conway

      The Russian tanks are still there, and with Putin acting the way he has lately, the sure fire way to start WWIII is to park the A-10s. Whose side are the generals on?

  • Curtis Conway

    Live in the real world, or it WTLL come to visit. The Russian tanks are still there, and with Putin acting the way he has lately, the sure fire way to start WWIII is to park the A-10s. Whose side are the generals on?

  • Benjamin

    The Congress needs to take action here. They are the only one’s with the authority to move the CAS mission and aircraft to the Army.

  • jamesb101

    Give the A-10 to the Army….Period….

    They CAN DO IT!

    • retired462

      Never happen G.I.

  • Old Warrior

    I’ll bet the Ukrainian air force would accept ‘volunteers’ flying the venerable A-10 in the same fashion the Chinese accepted the P-40. We could call them the American Volunteer Group in tribute to the men who previously led the way.

    • d. kellogg

      Don’t knock it: a very recent article on AKO (Army Knowledge Online) mentions the US Army is training Ukranian troops….

  • 10th

    “included about $337 million in the budget to keep almost 300 of them (A-10’s) in the inventory”

    What does an F-35 cost?….an average of $178 million per plane?

    So it’s keep 300 proven A-10’s for the cost of 2 new F-35’s. I think we know where to save money…

  • Highguard

    “As a matter of principle, I have a problem with”…….AF leaders who don’t give a cotton pick’n crap about our 1st Core Value “Integrity First” vice total force members who are trying to serve their country amidst more obstacles and pitfalls then we’ve seen in the last half-decade. The A-10 is one of the most awesome planes ever built. In fact, it was one of the first Counter-Anti-Access Area Denial (C-A2/AD) fighters ever built. I could operate out of dirt strips fwd at the FEBA, didn’t need a 7000ft runway to take off from, could get shot up in the Fulda Gap and keep kill’n commies all day long. Not a single A-10 should be taken to the Boneyard.

  • Highguard

    Could we please stop using the word Boneyard in the same article as the A-10?! You don’t send the A-10 to the boneyard, you give it a mission worthy of its characteristics: the Mtn Canyons of North Korea, Crimean Peninsula, the Mtn Canyons of Formosa, etc. You do this by divesting it to FMS in the midst of an AF budget that a public, who has no clue about the timeless lessons of Air Power, could care less about. Worse, we have the me generation in charge nipping at the heels of a great legendary A/C when instead they should be extoling a appreciation for modern Air Power and the need for to fly high and invisible.

  • Ed Platkin

    I’m surprised that no one has brought an amazing fact(s) about the A-10 in Iraq. Read the book Warthog written William Smallwood. The squadron of A-10’s that he was assigned to performed just about every type of mission that other airframes, individually, could perform. They jokingly referred to their A-10’s as RFOA-10G’s. The did Reconnaissance, Fighter, Observation, Attack and Wild Weasel (G). Re-nicknamed the Wartweasel. Where do the generals get the idea that A-10’s are one trick ponies? The A-10 DID shoot down 2 Iraqi helicopters.

    The powers that be are going to put a multi-million-billion aircraft in to a ground support battle space? I think not! Not unless the AAA are marshmallows.

  • balais

    Oh this is interesting. and telling.

    The AF has also “doctored” the A10s sortie rate to somehow create the perception that it was ‘less useful’ for GWOT operations.

    Talk about grasping at straws.

  • Soldat

    I remember reading somewhere that 2 A-10’s accounted for 21 Iraqi tanks in a single sortie, in the same document I also seem to remember that it is the only fixed wing aircraft that ground troops have ever surrendered to. How’s that for a resume?

  • joe

    One more argument against an independent air force.

  • Curtis Conway

    The administration’s example has been out front for too long. Even our military lies to us today and thinks its OK. Law => Morality => Ethics. They have lost the fundamentals. How can we count on them to righteously keep us safe. Integrity of the process is everything, and the USAF has lost it in this case just like they lost it with so many other things.

  • Mikenk53

    Reconstitute the Army Air Corps and handover the A10 to them.

  • NavySWO

    Aside from civilian casualties being an odd way to compare aircraft, I wonder if anyone took a look at the physical difference between point munitions like bullets, and area munitions like bombs. If you take into account the kill radius of a bomb and a bullet, it makes sense the B-1 would be far more capable of inadvertent civilian casualties than the A-10.

    • 45k20

      Good point, and that just further proves the need for point weapons like GAU-8 Avenger in the CAS role.

      • d. kellogg

        Please also take into effect that a majority of modern bombs are precision-guided point-target weapons.
        We prefer laser-designation, GPS guidance, or electro-optical nose cameras to put bombs on target now.
        How many carpet bombing area missions have we done with unguided bombs since the “Highway of Death” in Iraq in Desert Storm ?

  • Taylor

    Wow, the aircraft designed specifically for close air support is actually better at getting its ordinance on enemy targets compared to aircraft that aren’t designed solely for close air support… who would have guessed….?

    The Air Force needs to get over their love of only high flying sleek aircraft. Sometimes low, slow, and ugly gets the job done best.

    I say we continue the airframe and engine lifetime extension programs and keep this baby in service until other aircraft prove they can accomplish the same task as well or better. It’s as simple as that.

  • trav

    that warthog A10….. would destroy whatever it aimed at…..and would get pilots home with parts of wings or engine shot off of it……. that is one bad ass weapon that itself is an icon which saved many American lives through back up air support…….

  • Jpasq113

    MGen Post should retire and the A-10 retained!

  • Frank

    Why is there any surprise in what the AF is trying to do. The AF has been working of getting rid of the A-10 since 1986. Originally they wanted to replace it with the F-16.

  • Torpedo8

    1. Admit you made a huge mistake and back off the F-35 immediately. 2. Pump what you’ve learned from the process into retooling and restarting the F-22 assembly lines. 3. Begin work on a new manned/unmanned plane which will take the 22’s place in 2025.

    Yeah, that won’t happen.

  • Homerbob

    Occam’s razor is never ever applied to military weapons, if it’s not complicated it useless.

  • jim v

    What the USAF needed was the delta-winged version of the F-16 which was greatly feared by
    the makers of the Eurofighter as being a superior aircraft. It wasn’t stealthy enough..bull…we will see that radars that can paint f-22’s and f-35’s are available and all that high-priced stealth for nothing!

    • d. kellogg

      The F-16XL had little influence on those “Eurofighter” folk.
      Eurofighter was designed to keep the aerospace manufacturing base in Europe, where Europeans had control over it (IOW, not dependent on US policy regarding US manufactured aircraft).

      The closer comparison to the F-16XL would likely be the Israeli Lavi, which also never made production,…unless you look to china and see their Lavi knock-off that, it has been suggested, was developed with considerable support from Israel’s ex-Lavi people and their technical know-how. But we don’t dare suggest the Israelis are quicker to pony up tech to the Chinese than American firms who were once encouraged to do it (Clinton era), but now are frowned at for it (claiming instead it’s industrial espionage).

  • http://gruntsandco.com/ majr0d

    The A10 debate has been hot and heavy but what strikes me is the number of clearly decietful and outright dishonoarble actions the Air Force has been caught in just recently when it comes to the A10.

    First it concocted the excuse it needed A10 maintainers to field the F35. Never been addressed or briefed before but it came up all of a sudden when their logic to scrap the A120 started falling apart.

    Then there is a General intimidating servicemen and calling them treasonous if they dare to exercise their right to speak with Congress.

    Finally, there’s cooking the books in a redhanded manner to get to the preferred conclusion.

    What’s really stunning is some still deny (or refuse to address) the Air Force’s obvious ethical problem when it comes to the A10. That should be all that needs to be said about their credibility when they comment…

  • SgtJohn1328

    The Air Force needs to get rid of the A-10’s as soon as possible. Simply transfer them to the Army and Marine Corps. F-16’s and F-35’s are no good for ground support. So far ISIS hasn’t flown any combat missions yet. So F-16’s and F-35’s can prowl the skys for Cessna 150’s and 170’s about all the ISIS can possibly muster. Oh, how about retiring major General Post? He’s over due for a manager’s job at the Pentagon PX.

  • Super Tex

    What congress should do is……………….Give the A-10 to the Marines, then take the money needed to operate them. From the Air Force budget and give that money to the Marines. Problem solved.

  • paint369

    Post should be ashamed of himself, these aircraft help protect our boots on the ground,as far as I’m concerned that is about as close to treason as you can get

  • GI dude

    Give the A-10’s to the Army, transfer any pilots willing to switch branches, train enough to fill out the ranks.

    • d. kellogg

      As often as A-10s use training ranges on Army bases across the US, you’d almost think the aircraft WERE Army. Ft Leonard Wood, Yakima, Ft Drum, even that antiquated Ft Indiantown Gap the PA National Guard runs, sees A-10s shooting up ranges so often anyone would think the aircraft were actually based at those Army installations, while in all actuality they fly in from distant cushy USAF base to play shoot-em-up at the Army’s expense.

  • GI dude

    True story…. in Iraq, 2007, near Baghdad, I was a Brigade level NCOIC for the fires cell. (Kind of like an FDC) We had some troops pinned down once by sustained heavy automatic weapons that were danger close at only 200 meters from blue forces. Going through our ROE checklist, Air Force liaison pipes up and says, “We have two F-16’s on orbit, with 500 pounders, ready to go!” (Hooah!) Battle Major says, okay, you guys get first crack. AF drops their ordinance 1000 (One THOUSAND) meters behind the bad guys, due to “lethal radius”. Effects? NONE! Our guys on the radio now screaming, can’t your really do something? Once air was cleared we put 120mm mortars right smack on bad guys heads (not doctrine, “walk it in and all”) sent a repeat, BDA was “pieces of at least 15 individuals”. Asked AF liaison, what did you expect to accomplish? He said “we thought it would scare them”. Leave close support to the ARMY!

  • wrr

    “Then came Vietnam and SAC was immaterial and we scrambled to find platforms to do the job.” As an Army aviator and Vietnam vet, looking on from the outside, I found it very telling that the two best/most used air craft the USAF used in Vietnam were the A-1 and the F-4 … Navy programs. AF lack of vision?

  • d. kellogg

    F-4 Phantom or A-4 Skyhawk?
    Either or, both aircraft were incredibly capable fighter bombers that will more than likely be better remembered for their contribution to both US and allied nations alike. Both were quite capable of being upgraded with the most modern engines, avionics, and weapons. Their only drawbacks became that they were out of production (new airframes) and getting too high mileage. With everything we’ve been involved in since Desert Storm, there’s nothing these two older designs couldn’t bring to the table that Falcons/Vipers, Hornets, and Eagles did.

  • Franklin

    Am I too late? Oh well! Here’s my two cents worth anyway. The A10 is/was a great aircraft in its day, and has potential for military sales, but it’s really getting old. I think if you use its design as a baseline and build a new one you would have an incredible CAS aircraft. It would also be interesting to see how much effort goes into jacking up the cost. I am only suggesting up armoring, re-engining, and possible some basic cheap low observables and heat deflectors. I know this will make it faster with far more range, and certainly lt would be more survivable not that the A-10 ever had a problem in that department.
    I really wonder if it’s even possible to build any aircraft in the US cheap at this point. The Chinese are famous for their knock offs, and that’s where the real battle is today. We design them they build em and they don’t make our mistakes because they can sit back and watch us do it.

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  • MarkE8Ret

    Statistics. They can be printed anyway you want them to appear.

    • blight_

      The art of cherry-picking facts…sounds like practice for politics in Washington DC.

  • chuckiechan

    The A10 is perfect for the type of enemy we are engaging today. The Muslim insurgents are mostly lightly armored, with limited defense. What armor they do have is of the type the A10 was designed to destroy.

    You can’t beat it in the “Bang for the buck” category.

  • donbacon

    The latest is that Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James said the date of initial operating capability for the F-35 is “getting closer” but needs sufficient maintenance personnel to stay on track, which requires dumping the A-10.

    Of course the date is “getting closer”, all dates are getting closer, but the USAF IOC is a year-and-a-half away, and the USAF has plenty of maintainers So James is a double liar, just trying to kill the A-10.

    Lorraine Martin, the Lockheed F-35 program manager, bragged in her recent year-end PR video that 1,500 F-35 maintainers had been trained at Eglin. The AF IOC in August 2016, when many more should be trained. But a couple thousand maintainers won’t be enough for twelve aircraft?
    (Initial Operational Capability F-35A USAF Aug 2016 – Dec 2016 with 12 to 24 F-35As)

  • M. K. Smith

    The A-10 should be in the hands of Army and Marine pilots and should never had been placed with the Air Force. The answer to a problem is normally the simple solution and in this case the Air Force can hand over the A-10 and take their budget money and buy 2 or 3 overpriced F-35’s. I am sure the F-35 is going to be a fine plane as all US fighters of the pass but not doing the role of the A-10.