Senators Want ‘Permanent’ Solution to Save A-10 from Retirement

The Senator leading the fight to keep the A-10 Thunderbolt in the active Air Force fleet said she wants a permanent solution that ends what has become an annual fight with the Air Force over the fate of the close-air-support aircraft.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, compared the fight to a classic Bill Murray film about a man who finds himself reliving a single day over and over.

“It’s ‘Groundhog Day’, and it doesn’t help our men and women in uniform to have to go through this exercise every year when there isn’t a replacement [for the A-10]. And there isn’t going to be a replacement next year,” Ayotte said.

Ayotte spoke at a Tuesday morning press conference at the Senate flanked by fellow lawmakers and former Air Force Joint Tactical Air Controllers — airmen assigned to infantry units to call in close air support fire.

As they did last year, lawmakers have staved off the Air Force’s move to retire or otherwise sideline the A-10 by adding money to the defense budget. But Ayotte and other Senators said they want a permanent solution.

“If the answer to retiring the A-10 is money, then let’s find money to make sure it keeps flying,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said. “If the answer to our aircraft needs is to replace sequestration, then let’s replace sequestration.”

The Tactical Air Control Party Association has been vocal in advocating for continued A-10 service.

“There is nothing — nothing — as good as the A-10 at doing CAS [close air support]. Nothing even comes close,” retired Master Sgt. Tim Stamey told reporters.

The Air Force in 2014 announced plans to retire the A-10 — nicknamed the “Warthog” — but immediately met resistance from lawmakers and advocates that include former A-10 pilots, ground controllers and Army and Marine veterans who depended on the aircraft in combat.

Recently, Air Force leaders told lawmakers the service would have to mothball F-16s and further delay the F-35 program if the service could not retire the A-10s on the schedule it had requested. Air Force officials have since backed off those statements.

Ayotte last year led the fight to keep the A-10 in the fleet through 2015, and since then the aircraft has deployed to Syria and Iraq, where it has been used in attacks on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) positions. Some A-10s also have deployed to Europe as a show of U.S. strength.

Armed with the 30mm cannon and a titanium bathtub to protect pilots, the Warthog has long been considered the best close-air-support aircraft ever built, though the Air Force argues the A-10 mission can be accomplished using the F-16, the B-1 bomber and the F-35.

“The A-10 cannot be replaced by any other asset,” TACP President Charlie Keebaugh said. “It disgusts me that we’re even having this conversation to begin with. I don’t know what’s coming next — they going to take our radios, our boots, our body armor? It makes no sense.”

Ayotte recalled that Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno told Congress in April 2014 that the Army considers the A-10 the best close air support aircraft around. Ayotte said the Air Force’s argument for retiring the A-10 “has been a moving target.”

When the Air Force was not able to show that the Warthog’s mission could be done as well by any other aircraft now in the fleet, it said it would need the A-10’s maintainers in order to support the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Without those maintainers, F-35 program manager Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said the program would fall further behind schedule.

The changing arguments prompted Graham to chide the Air Force leadership during the press conference.

“If you don’t watch it, you’re going to ruin what’s left of your reputation on Capitol Hill,” Graham said.

The Air Force denies it has changed its arguments.

Spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Karns said the Air Force has been “consistent in saying there is a range of aircraft able to conduct the close air support mission” and that its inability to divest itself of the A-10s will mean a shortage of maintainers needed for the F-35 as it enters the fleet.

Rep. Martha McSally, R-Arizona, an Air Force veteran who flew the A-10 in combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, last month included amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act to ensure that the Warthog could not be put out of service by “backdoor” means, such as putting it in backup status.

McSally, who is traveling this week with several other representatives to visit U.S. troops in the Middle East, could not be reached for comment.

Ayotte on Tuesday said putting the planes in backup status would have the same effect as retiring them, something that Congress will not allow.

The Senator said she and other lawmakers are working out language of their own to secure the A-10, but she wants to put the debate behind them by finding a permanent solution.

“We intend to ensure that the A-10 is preserved, so that our men and women on the ground have the very best close air capability, because they deserve it,” she said.

Remarking that the administration views the A-10 as a funding debate, with the Air Force having to make decisions on the basis of its budget, Ayotte said that if it is a matter of money, then that can be found, including by cuts to the bureaucracy at the Defense Department.

“We can’t continue growing the bureaucracy and cutting the tip of the spear,” she said.

— Bryant Jordan can be reached at bryant.jordan@military.com

About the Author

Bryant Jordan
Bryant Jordan is a reporter for Military.com. He can be reached at bryant.jordan@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BryantJordan.
  • Ray

    Scrap the F-35 and work on upgrading the A-10 and F-16. This should save money for the F-35 is nothing but a major money sponge.

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

      The body of the F-16IN with the F-16V avionics and engine package would be a hell of an upgrade minus the price of the F-35. just my 2 cents.

    • William Peterson

      Oh, please… The F-16 is a freaking antique, and will not be able to cover the same missions as the F-35, any more than the F-35 (which can’t even fire it’s cannon, yet!) will replace the A-10!
      Yes, SOMEDAY, we’ll need to replace the Warthog. The airframes and engines are getting old, and they’ll start requiring more maintenance than they’ll be worth. But we KNOW that F-16s cannot do the job… Fighter Jockeys view anything below 5000 feet as targets, never mind that IFF nonsense! B-1s? Really? Does the Air Force even expect ANYONE to swallow that concept?
      But the F-35 is the only Modern Fighter we have… The F-15s and F-16s are 1970s tech, and it’s getting harder and harder to keep the newest versions maintained. Yup, the F-35 is still in the teething stage, and isn’t ready to go, just yet. Most of that is the software… Remember how long it took the Eurofighter to fix those problems? And the F-35 is being asked to do a LOT more! If anything, we need to scrap the antique fighters that can’t do the job, any more… That would save a LOT more than scrapping the A-10 ever would! And, maybe, just maybe, it would let the Air Force know that they should not be run exclusively as a social club for fighter jocks….

  • Curtis Conway

    A program to build a New A-10 with modern engines and systems is in order. Since the USAF will not do their job, the US Congress should do it for them. The USAF is doing everything backwards. They do not talk to CAS customers (the Army), and they threaten their very operators of the asset for speaking out about its absolute effectiveness on the Battlefield. Like the US Navy knowing we needed a frigate replacement for 20 years and didn’t do it, the USAF has know the day is coming when the A-10, built to a like specification, will have to be fielded, and they just think they will replace them with expensive smart weapons. More recently they think they will replace them with an unsurvivable airframe. It’s a sad state of affairs. Lack of vision and leadership.

    • blight_

      “Like the US Navy knowing we needed a frigate replacement for 20 years and didn’t do it”

      They operated under the illusion that LCS could be a easy build and deploy to replace these duties before the Perrys were retired.

      So for now…the DDG’s will have to serve in the littorals. Maybe it won’t be so bad.

    • guest

      A10 is having modern systems (A10C) and being re-winged all ready
      Doesnt really need a ‘modern’ engine. The TF34 went on to power a lot of civil jets in its developed versions. May only need some components changed to bring it up to date. It was one of those engines that were mostly right first time

    • t1oracle

      I’d say remove the cockpit and put satellite coms, imaging, and autonomous flight systems, and let guys on the ground control it with a tablet. They can click targets and let the plane figure out how to hit them. The tablet will keep them updated on the exact time of engagement for each target down to the millisecond.

      That would give us unmanned CAS without the cost of having to develop an airframe for it.

      • Eric

        Wouldn’t work. The CAS mission as the A-10 performs it requires an operator in cockpit. Much of the job of a good CAS pilot is performed using the Mark 1 eyeball to augment the planes imaging gear, as well as the fact that no unmanned system designed yet can perform a proper gun run.

        • t1oracle

          Higher resolution camera’s will solve this. I’m talking about gigapixel resolution with a fisheye lense and software image correction. I’ve heard of such a project in the works using an array of cell phone cameras to reduce cost and it’s probably operational by now. With sufficient resolution the software (which can be run remoting thus utilizing the the power of grid computing) could automatically ID threats far faster than a human being could.

          Also, the high resolution solves the issue of needing to focus on the target. You’ll have enough visual data to see the full battlefield while still being able to digitally “zoom” in to pick out the tiny details. Furthermore, you can have an entire team of individuals scrutinizing the video feed to make sure nothing is missed.

          Of course this imaging system would have to be survivable (a potential solution could be to have an array of camera’s whose feeds are patched together). I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is the eventual end product for CAS.

          • blight_

            The higher the resolution of the camera, the more data has to be pushed down a datalink to the operator. If the operator is in the United States, that’s a lot of satellite bandwidth, especially if you think more pixels will make it easier to tell who is friend and who is foe.

            Unfortunately the only solution here is some degree of autonomous computing. Cue the “Skynet!!!!” people. Or putting a Bombardier with teleoperation capability nearby to reduce the latency between the aircraft and its operator.

          • t1oracle

            Increasing satellite bandwidth is the inevitable future. We absolutely must do it. We’re fighting wars where the enemy is mixed in with civilians. High resolution real time intel is an unavoidable requirement to minimize civilian casualties.

          • SOF JTAC

            Your all idiots that have no clue. I am one of the most experienced JTACS in the world. UAVs are like looking through a straw. You need that pilot in the A/C who understands the battlefield and has situational awareness. If you want a UAV to do a mission then let it do the most dangerous SEAD (Suppress Enemy Air Defenses) you can replace pilots in most situations but not TIC CAS (Troops In Contact Close Air Support). SA is needed in an ever changing environment with troops so close to danger.

          • Malcolm_34

            I frankly question your claims as to being one of the most experienced JTACs in the world, given the sophomoric tone of your posts. As Ben Franklin said, “All cats are gray in the dark.”

            To that point, your comments to date hardly stand as a testament as to your familiarity with the platforms in question.

          • Albert

            Problem with that is people developing ways to destroy satellites, Then all that tech becomes the weakest link in the chain.

          • blight_

            Indeed. Just as a force can be decapitated by going after it’s head, or jamming communications, except without communications, UAVs are utterly powerless, with no individual initiative.

          • Malcolm_34

            Any signal can be jammed with enough power. But the bigger the jamming signal, the bigger (and less mobile) the transmitter will be. And that flips the script when the jamming platform itself becomes a target thanks to its own signal.

            Keep in mind that the Russians sold Saddam a variety GPS jammers leading up to the invasion of Iraq. They were considered ineffective against the GPS-guided or aided munitions and aircraft the US deployed.

            EW has been a cat-and-mouse game since WWII, to be sure. But to take UAVs off the table thinking the technology will be nullified by EW doesn’t hold water against the typical insurgent rabble.

    • Guest

      The Army should be given it’s Air wing back, plus the funding, the Air Force should be last resort/long range support, for the Army. It just seems obvious neither is building together about this, so put the plane in the hands of those whom need it.

      • Malcolm_34

        The Army has made it clear since the early 90s that they don’t want the A-10. The only reason they tolerate it as a CAS platform is that they don’t have to pony up the budget to support it.

        • d. kellogg

          “Tolerate” ?
          A poor choice of word.
          You make it sound like the grunts on the ground are “eh, whatever” when they’re told A-10s will be providing their CAS.
          On the contrary, the physical and psychological effect of this unique aircraft, to both sides of the battlefield, seems to be more preferred by these grunts, not simply a system they “tolerate” because they’re waiting for these fictitious F-35s to start providing their Star Wars generation support.

          • Malcolm_34

            >>On the contrary, the physical and psychological effect of this unique aircraft, to both sides of the battlefield<< Grunts like any support they can get. Be it armor, arty, or air. Regarding air support, grunts especially like the kind of air support that has the ability to differentiate good guy/bad guy all by their lonesome and put sustained firepower on targets within pistol range of the friendlies. That ain't what jets do, and that certainly ain't what the A-10 does.

          • SOF FTAC

            Where is your experience? Video games? The A-10 is the only A/C that can put bullets within “pistol range” accurately. All other aircraft guns where built and loaded for air to air when air to air missiles are all gone. Ever shoot quail or ducks? You use a shotgun! All other aircraft guns were built to disperse/scatter rounds like a shotgun. The GAU-8 Avenger is a precision cannon that the A-10 was built around. I’m a Grunt with a Silver Star that owes his life to A-10s.

          • Malcolm_34

            >>Where is your experience? Video games?< < Funny you bring that up. First, I'm a veteran of DS in a combat aviation/ground attack role. Second, as my sons will attest, I'm absolutely terrible with the helicopters in the Battlefield series. Not sure why the developers made them so persnickety to fly in that game! >>The A-10 is the only A/C that can put bullets within “pistol range” accurately.< < Absolutely, positively incorrect. >>All other aircraft guns were built to disperse/scatter rounds like a shotgun.< < Again, absolutely incorrect. >>The GAU-8 Avenger is a precision cannon that the A-10 was built around.< < That relies on the pilot maneuvering 15 tons of airframe around to accurately engage a single target using only a Mk.1 eyeball close enough to be engaged by the average AK. Out of curiosity, how many snipers do you know that shoot without a scope? See what I did there? >>I’m a Grunt with a Silver Star that owes his life to A-10s<< If that's true, thank you for your service. But, as Mother Theresa once said, "I kinda freakin' doubt it."

  • Eds

    It’s so simple?

    The Army wants it,
    . . . the Air Force doesn’t,
    . . . Just transfer all A-10 units to the Army.

    Did some idiot say “If it has wings, it MUST belong to the Air Force.”
    . . . Retire the idiot.

    Problem solved!

    • franklin

      I cannot agree with you more! I was saying we should build a new advanced version of the type, but I am no longer confident it could be built with a reasonable budget. The A-10 is an Army close air support lion that must roar in the name of Liberty. The Air Forces only hope of damage control is to make it happen sooner!

    • Ming the Merciless

      Army doesn’t want the A-10.
      http://www.military.com/daily-news/2015/02/25/arm…

      They don’t have the money or the fixed-wing qualified pilots to perform the mission. If you transfer units to the Army, never been done in the modern military, then what USAF pilot is going to give up his regular officer’s commission for a warrant officer’s commission? No offense to warrant officers intended or implied.

      Everyone wants the A-10 but no one wants to pay for it. It’s BS and I hate it but eventually it will be retired.

      • James B.

        Giving the A-10 to the Army would entail transferring the aircraft, support equipment, pilots, maintainers, and budget for dedicated CAS.

        The pilots directly transferred from the AF could initially keep their commissioned ranks; they would be replaced by homegrown Army warrants over time.

        • Ming the Merciless

          Never ever gonna happen - I am AF pilot of 15+ years and got a chance to fly with the Army for a year, they do a great job but they are not setup nor do they resource aviation to the degree necessary for a major fixed wing asset.

          If they took it, which helicopter are they going to divest? You may say transfer the money and people but the people probably would not go and if you say give the Army the money you have only shifted the cost of maintaining it to another branch of the military, you still are taking billions of potential dollars to offer to the Golden Calf of the F-35.. Think about, if you’re the Chief of Staff of the Army are you really going to take on a 35+ year old airplane to get a capability you are can accomplish with your AH-64s?

          Finite resources direct tough choices.

          • SOF JTAC

            The A-10 just got refurbished two years ago to the A-10C. The USAF gets approximately 9 billion a year for the CAS mission but only spends a fraction of that doing the mission they do not want to do. Give the A/C, Pilots, Maintainers, JTACS, and the 9 billion to the Army and then they can provide their own CAS and have money for nice golf courses left over.

    • Don

      Give the A-10’s to the Army! Perfect solution!

  • stephen russell

    adapt for Naval use?? Be awesome from a carrier IF nose gun not to heavy & adapted for carrier landings alone

    • orly?

      Not a very reasonable aircraft for naval use.

      “Too big” - in a nutshell

      • Malcolm_34

        Did someone really just suggest an airframe with one of the lowest power-to-weight ratios of any combat aircraft in modern history be adapted to carrier operations?

        • James B.

          It’s low-speed performance is pretty good; stall speed is more important than raw power when landing on a boat.

          • Malcolm_34

            Um, no. An A-10 with anything close to a respectable fuel and ordnance payload takes a full mile of runway before it can even rotate the nose wheel off the ground.

          • d. kellogg

            It took 29,000 pound thrust engines to finally make the F-14 a true thoroughbred over its original ~20,900pounds thrust TF30s. Don’t suggest the A-10 would be such a mediocre dog because of its thrust. The beefier TF34s that GE makes now could give, between the two engines, another ~6000 pounds of thrust to the A-10, something pilots would notice.
            Similar can be said for the A-6: it didn’t have that ~magical~ 1:1 or better thrust ratio, because its mission didn’t dictate that necessity.
            But it still functioned fine. Matter of fact, S-3 Vikings served quite well off carriers with the same (but a derivative) TF34s the A-10 flies with.

          • Malcolm_34

            Interesting that you bring up the A-6, as the Navy retired it for much the same reasons as the Air Force is retiring the A-10. All aspects of the A-6’s missions have gone to F-18 variants.

            The S-3 has also been retired.

            I’m seeing a pattern.

            But say we did retrofit and upgrade the A-10’s landing gear and airframe to carrier ops standards, probably to the cost of another 3000 pounds counting the hook. That would put the plane’s empty weight at nearly 29000 pounds. Empty, the airplane would be at ~65% thrust to weight. With full bags of fuel and still no boom, 46%. Throw in a full load of 30mm and nothing on the wings, and now we’re under 45%. (And we haven’t even begun to talk about the wing-folding mechanisms.)

            A bog-standard Cessna 150 (also retired-pattern!) sits at 28%.

          • d. kellogg

            Ever seen just how “tooled up” some aircraft have launched off carriers perfectly safely (especially A-6’s) ?

            I can’t imagine the complexities involved in developing a folding-wing A-10 for future naval variant, but I was looking at this soundbite more as a valid argument of the aircraft’s thrust/payload, not its potential for carrier capability.

            A clean sheet naval/maritime attack platform would be more sensible, but again, Super Hornets, Lightnings (maybe) and UCAVs are the carrier aircraft future, and there’s no unique need for GAU-8 firepower over water.
            Should the USMC get an established footprint in any given AO (a fixed airbase), I’d wager Marines would have few regrets having their own A-10s for support. They operated Broncos for some time as CAS/FACs, and never really seem to have openly condemned those fixed wing for any inferior performance issues, nor were there any significant combat losses of those aircraft due to their ~vulnerabilities~ and lack of jet speeds.

          • blight_

            In the meantime, the Marines operate helicopters, and in exceptional cases their STOVL Harriers. There’s a gap between the airspeeds of fixed wing helicopters and jet-powered fixed wing aircraft, and if a reasonably fast STOL can be slotted in there it may work out well for everyone.

            Anyone who can get a good STOL aircraft off an amphib’s flight deck is competing for the same amphib deck slots that would otherwise go to JSF-B. Although at a lower price point, you might be able to move some units…if a big launch customer can be found (e.g the USMC).

      • Dennis

        I bet the Marines would take it:)
        They operate F-18s from land…..

  • Highguard

    Save the negative comments about F-35 for Beer Night at the local VFW! …… or do your homework before commenting. The modern battlefield has changed. We have something to deal with called A2/AD. JSF is the centerpiece of having a 20-nation joint/coalition warfighting capability and capacity for C-A2/AD. It’s not us versus the enemy. Its about Security Cooperation. That means it is us and our friends vs budding adversaries.

    • ilsm

      If the is broken most of the time and when it ain’t flying it don’t matter to CAS, air superiority or AA/AD! That wimpy 25 mm was lightened down to fit.

      Even with 18000 pounds of fuel on board the F-35 has no range to break in to enemy territory. Anti Access/Area Denial is an excuse to figure out a reason for a fiasco.

      F-35 US tax payer funded technology is being given to 20 countries so they get jobs making parts which is the only reason 20 countries are involved.

      Before any one buys the F-35 it needs to fly, which it only does 25/120 of the planned time.

    • James B.

      The F-35 was designed to tangle with fifth-generation fighters and long-range SAMs, not fly CAS from austere airfields with limited support.

      If the modern battlefield has changed, it has changed even further towards low-intensity conflict and counterinsurgency since the Cold War ended.

  • Highguard

    This is not WWII, Korean War or Vietnam. The Army needs to pick up its own CAS mission so the Air Force can focus on Air Superiority, C2ISR, Deep Strike, Interdiction and Strategic Attack to diminish our enemies warfighting capability/capacity, thus saving the most Army lives possible. If Gen Odierno likes the A-10 so much, he should accept the offer USAF made 3 years ago to give the Army to the A-10 Msn. Oh, but the Army doesn’t need the A-10 because they have the AH-64 and the HH-60, both more than capable of fulfilling the demand signal noted by our FACs.

    Therefore, It is time for the A-10 to go where it is needed most for allied defense. Once again, GET IT OUT of the USAF inventory and into the IDF, UAE, ROKAF, TAF and UAF inventories where it will be prized as the absolute best frontline fighter ever imagined. They can maintain it and open the line for more A-10s and fans can see it on the frontlines in action until their dying day.

    • blight_

      They’ve not made any demands for these aircraft. Even the IDF could make a good case for procuring them, but they haven’t. Only the Russians and the US maintain specialized CAS aircraft. Israel needs its air wings to project air power deep into enemy countries, mostly to neutralize their airbases and airpower before it arrives over Israel. If the A-10 doesn’t fit into that scheme than Israel has no need for it.

      The fact that the aircraft is no longer actively produced is also a red flag. It costs a lot to restart production, and so when the Shah almost offered to restart C-5 production it was probably a big deal. But otherwise nobody wants to pay up-front re-start costs when there are other aircraft already in production.

    • ilsm

      The Air Corps should come under the War Department run by US Army.

      The only difference since WW II is the pentagon has welfare queens for suppliers.

    • Ron

      Give it to the Philippines please we need it badly.

      • blight_

        What the Philippines needs is to squeeze those last red cents out of Imelda. The United States gave Marcos’ sizeable foreign aid, and quite a bit of it was not well spent. Philippines is already becoming an outsourcing center for the United States, due to its English speaking population. Asking for more charity sounds like bad press, even if it is to be part of American Pacific pivot.

        Also, what tanks will the Philippines be busting? Will the A-10 be used against Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Abu Sayyaf (or other AQ affiliates)?

        • d. kellogg

          The Philippines would actually be more suited to Rutan’s STOL-capable ARES with its funky silhouette and 25mm gun. Add in more modern capable avionics, sensors, and light weapons integration on underwing and under fuselage hardpoints, it should prove very affordable, and according to Scaled Composites, very user-friendly to pilots who don’t need to be TopGun candidates to fly it. If its simplicity could be met to the minimal support Northrop used to advertise in its Tigershark in the 1980s, it (proverbial ARES 21) would be the ideal mudfighter, a modern day A-37 equivalent quite suited to numerous air forces. And like the A-4, its minimal wingspan would allow its use from a carrier without needing folding wings.

    • oblatt23

      One has to understand that the air-force has always been full of people who don’t want to face the realities of war on the ground. That is why they are in the air force.

      The ultimate expression of this the repeatedly failed theory of strategic air war.

      It needs to be made clear to the air-force that its role is primarily about providing close air support and everything else is just preperation for that.

    • Malcolm_34

      >>GET IT OUT of the USAF inventory and into the IDF, UAE, ROKAF, TAF and UAF inventories where it will be prized as the absolute best frontline fighter ever imagined.<< The A-10 was pimped to high heaven to our traditional export customers, and there were no takers whatsoever.

      • Fordownr

        Sounds like that was THEIR mistake!

        • blight_

          One way or another, many of them selected helicopters instead for their ground attack missions.

  • donbacon

    for a permanent solution-

    There has been a lot of palaver on the A-10, including in the Congress, but the only sure way to save the A-10 is an addendum to the appropriate law, Title 10.
    That is 10 U.S. Code § 8062 - Policy; composition; aircraft authorization which already has the desired sort of language regarding other aircraft:

    (g) (1) Effective October 1, 2011, the Secretary of the Air Force shall maintain a total aircraft inventory of strategic airlift aircraft of not less than 301 aircraft. . .
    (h) (1) Beginning October 1, 2011, the Secretary of the Air Force may not retire more than six B–1 aircraft. . .

    • Fordownr

      Not sure why you gat all the thumbs down… That is one way to get the AF to cooperate.

  • CapTain Obvious

    I think they should make a high wing (with a larger wing) designed A-10 with a V tail similar to the YF-23. It would be great to help generate additional lift and still be maneuverable. For engines, keep them above the fuselage and to the rear between the V-tail.

    It would be great in theory to allow more lift for a lower stall speed and slower speed for using the gun but still have the engines and maneuverability to get out of a bad situation.

    This isn’t suppose to be stealth so that won’t be a problem and manpads will threaten any slow mover, that’s just the sacrifice you make. Just optimize the lift generated, amount of wing loading, put the damn GAU-8 in it.

    • Praetor

      Why not make it a biplane, then?

    • Malcolm_34

      >>put the damn GAU-8 in it.<< The GAU-8 is fine against soft targets and old tanks, but is no longer effective against modern armor. Even in the Cold War heyday scenario of T-64s and T-72s pouring through the Fulda Gap, the A-10 had to close to within 1000 FEET of heavy armor for a respectable Pk. And yes, that's within even Comrade Snuffy's AK-47 range.

      • d. kellogg

        What makes you think it isn’t effective against modern armor?

        The “ground footprint” of an A-10 anti-armor strafe would put well enough sufficient rounds into a modern MBT to tear up most of its ERA tiles, wreck optics and any RWS, and completely overwhelm any current or foreseeable Active Protection Systems. Singular precision weapons inbound are the current focus of APS: there is no APS, current or theoretical, that’s going to keep an MBT intact from a GAU-8.
        Seen that new Russian Armata? A lot of fragile stuff on that turret when faced with 30mm saturation cannon fire. Too many bits NOT protected by thick laminate armor and ERA tiles.
        What’s the penetration again of DU-cored 30×173 again? Doubtful ANY MBTs are that fully protected across their upperworks.

        • Malcolm_34

          Note that I said Pk. Probability of Kill. In that, the GAU-8’s slower, much lighter round is almost laughable compared to the main gun DS rounds that MBTs are designed to survive against.

          Can a tank be peppered with smaller rounds, get its paint scratched up, and lose some equipment? Sure. Perhaps even score some mobility kills, yes. But unless the tank is immolated and/or the crew killed, it’s just a hit, not a kill.

          But then, if you’re talking about defeating an Armata through the top armor with a gun pass, that infers the airplane is being badly silhouetted/exposed through a steep diving angle. Hardly an ideal proposition for a slow-moving aircraft operating within range of even small-arms fire, not to mention advanced MANPADS that have already proven to be capable of bringing down an A-10, “invulnerable” reputation notwithstanding.

          • d. kellogg

            Never even seen A-10 passes on target armor, have you?

          • blight_

            Depends on what tanks are being used as targets.

            If it’s old M-48s or M-60’s without ERA, then why should anyone be surprised? Even a Sagger could kick their asses.

          • Malcolm_34

            >>Never even seen A-10 passes on target armor, have you?<< LOL! You're bringing a knife to a gunfight, my friend. Want to compare logbooks?

          • Vargas

            You also have to think, however, that despite advancements in tank armor, most tank armor is relegated to vertical surfaces. Front face of the turret, front of the hull, very little armor on the sides of the tank sans additional armor, as well as some armor packing onto the rear of the tank.

            The front of a tank, even with ERA tiles, is key for protection againsts MBT sabots and HEAT rounds. That is what they are designed for.

            However, a depleted uranium 30mm round through the TOP of the tank is going to make a much bigger impact. Most everything up top is extremely vulnerable, and there is little armor on top of a tank to stop a 30mm. ERA tiles explode on impact and will stop quite a bit, but straight on, like being shot from above, will probably negate the advantage of thicker plates. Even still, the loss of such protection on the top of the tank makes it subject to worse ordnance than the 30mm.

            To the guy boasting about the Bushmaster on the Bradley, those were monkey model T-72s, and they had no real clue how to use them.

          • Fordownr

            Ever hear of DU anti armor rounds????

        • Fordownr

          UMMM I watched Bradleys chew up T-72s with their 25’s in DS/DS. The state of armor hasn’t changed that much…..

          • Malcolm_34

            >>UMMM I watched Bradleys chew up T-72s with their 25’s in DS/DS. The state of armor hasn’t changed that much….<< Are you saying you saw a 25mm Bushmaster defeat the armor of a T-72?

          • Malcolm_34

            No, I didn’t think so…

      • balais

        against frontal main battle tank armor of modern military powers, most likely, though against older tanks were most likely to face? it is still effective.

        That is not even getting into IFVs, APCs, SPHs, mortar carriers, ATGM positions and anything else in between that are fair game for the A10.

        And if a next-gen dedicate CAS aircraft absolutely needs a gun, the 25mm and large quantity of ammunition is more desirable anyways with its smaller round dispersion radius.

        • Fordownr

          For heavy armor the 35MM is absolutely the way to go. It has great penetration and fully capable of disabling an MBT (Especially from the rear!).

    • Mystick

      Laminar flow would disrupt air to the engines at high AOA. And you don’t want lift on the rear of the airframe in a elevator-rear configuration…. it defeats lift generated by the wings by pushing the nose down, decreasing AOA…. it’s a bad geometry. That’s why elevator-forward(canard) configurations were all the rage for a while… it theoretically generates lift everywhere in such a way to keep the plane at the right AOA for the speed.

  • Edward

    Some sense from congress. Shows that Obama’s lackeys he picked for the DoD are dumb as a rock. We should have scrapped JSF years ago and since Obama backed it in his 08 campaign he wants it no matter what and at other planes expenses.

    Time to save money on weapons we already have a kill off crap we don’t need now JSF AMPPV and MHS need to GO!

  • Hawk

    Easy. Congress needs the following language in law:

    The USAF is prohibited from retiring, replacing, or otherwise reducing the readiness of the A-10 fleet until such time as a designated replacement aircraft is declared operationally effective and suitable at performing the Close Air Support mission by the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation. Once DOTE has made such a determination, the USAF may retire the A-10 fleet at a rate note to exceed the fielding of its replacement.

    • Fordownr

      AMEN! The zoomies have NEVR liked being down in the mud, but that is exactly where the Hog has earned it’s stripes!

  • Benjamin

    The only change I would like to see happen to the A-10 is for them to increase range so it has a longer loiter time.

  • orly?

    I’m all about upgrading, but I hear it’s only a matter of time until the actual airframe skeletal superstructure “cracks” due to repeated landings.

    How does one prevent this?

    • Fordownr

      Restart the line!

      • Malcolm_34

        You’d have just as much luck inventing a time machine.

  • Highguard

    orly coming thru with the bottom line:

    Most JSF-haters would prefer for us to ditch the only alternative modern fighter without working thru the kinks that all new weapons system have in favor of sticking with 40-yr old A/C who’s backbones are ready to crack in two. Have you seen the pics of what happens to an F-15 when its backbone cracks in mid flight?! Not good! Sure, an alternative to the F-35 would be a good thing, an F-35 with 2 engines and a larger weapons bay.

    _blight, foul, you cherry-picked IDF, explain to me how A-10 would not work for ROKAF against nK army or TAF vs amphibious assault by PLA or Ukraine vs Russian Tanks or UAE vs US tanks (in ISIS possession :-)?

    • oblatt23

      The classic Lockheed shill straw-man - we have to fail with the F-35 because there s no alternative to failure.

      But there is an alternative… cancel the F-35, form a grand jury to investigate fraud and racketeering by Lockheed executives and senior air-force officials ban Lockheed from government work for 50 years and then put out the requirement to open transparent tender.

      The F-35 is a USAF suicide cult with Lockheed shills screaming “jump jump kill the USAF now, there is nothing to live for”.

      • RedStatePatriot

        You know absolutely nothing about the F35, and obviously nothing about how the development of advance aircraft proceeds. Go back to playing Call of Duty and leave the aircraft design to those of us that know how to do it.

        • oblatt23

          LOL You can always tell an air-force guy - his natural reaction is to run.

          • Malcolm_34

            Your snide comment was in exceptionally poor form.

          • displacedjim

            …but completely typical.

    • blight_

      Sure. Korea is mountainous, and tends to favor the maneuverability of the helicopter. Which is why the ROKA went with the AH-64. The enemy will be close, which means the enhanced speed of a A-10 over a helicopter may not mean so much. Also, helicopters may be easier to service closer to the field than the A-10, which is not a STOL aircraft. Even then, I would reasonably expect that airports would be the first targets of DPRK artillery.

      Taiwan? A-10 could be used against enemy amphibs…but so could any other aerial platform swinging Mavericks or Hellfires. One way or another, they will be fighting against Chinese attackers with modern surface to air weapons. A-10’s do well against cannons, but not necessarily against Iglas or heavy Strelas, which took out A-10’s during ODS.

      Ukraine? Ukraine has the option of its own ground-attack Su-25’s. The original factory for them is in Georgia, another minor nation that hates Russia’s guts.

  • William_C1

    Permanent solution? No aircraft, not even the B-52 or A-10, can stay in service indefinitely. Wear and tear takes its toll.

    Fairchild Republic is long gone, there is no A-10 production line waiting to be used in some sealed up warehouse somewhere,

    The “scrap the F-35” comments are moronic for a dozen different reasons. Heavily upgraded F-16s would have made sense if they were entering service back in 2000, not 2015! And if you think the A-10 can do the job of a fighter you’re downright insane.

    • oblatt23

      Pointing to maintenance issues is laughable when the F-35 has the lowest availability rate and highest maintenance load of any US aircraft.

      The A-10 is as good a fighter as the F-35 is a CAS aircraft.

      • RedStatePatriot

        Pointing to the so called “maintenance” records for a developmental aircraft is even more laughable.

        • oblatt23

          100 “development” aircraft yea sure LOL

          “Development” is used by shills the same way “special” is used by the parents of mentally retarded cripples.

          “See the F-35 isn’t a mentally retarded cripple it just has ‘special’ needs so that it can reach its full potential”. But everyone knows that full potential is being trained enough so it doesn’t pee in the wheelchair every half and hour.

        • oblatt23

          100 “development” aircraft yea sure LOL

          • William_C1

            IOC hasn’t even been declared and you are whining about availability rates? Great thinking there genius! Of course anybody with a brain would know that it takes time to build up availability rates and it will take some time for the F-35. Just as it took time for the F-14, F-15, F-16, F/A-18, and F-22.

            The F-35 like most other multi-role fighters can provide CAS, while the A-10 can’t be used as a fighter. So that comment was yet another failure on your part.

          • Fordownr

            Throwing up the BULL flag on that one William.. Do you, for one milisecond, actally think that the AF will let their new toy play down in the mud where any JA with an AK could get in a golden BB?

          • William_C1

            CAS doesn’t have to be done down amongst the mud and weeds anymore. The A-10 is great to have for occasions when you can do that and I’d love to see the USAF find a way to keep it for a few more years but CAS is more than guns and rockets at low altitude.

          • Malcolm_34

            Unfortunately there’s a massive case of brain lock regarding the notion of CAS along the WWII paradigm. That’s why entirely too many people think the world will end if the A-10 is retired without another dedicated CAS jet to take it’s place.

            Jets are passe’ in the role, folks. It’s time to move on.

          • displacedjim

            “there’s a massive case of brain lock regarding the notion of CAS along the WWII paradigm”

            There is no more true statement nor more important concept that all these uninformed non-practioners need to learn to become relevant in any discussion of CAS than your statement that I quoted.

          • Malcolm_34

            Unfortunately it’s very easy to come off as being 1) A poser, or 2) Condescending when talking nuts and bolts to people who haven’t served in a role relevant to the context of the discussion. And even more unfortunately the clueless media has been a source of egregious misinformation on the topic. I honestly don’t blame the civilian A-10 die-hards, as they only know what the media has been feeding them while lacking the professional background to smell the BS.

        • SOF JTAC

          RedStatePatriot=Lockheed Martin LET ME TELL YOU ALL SOMETHING!!!! THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER AFTER 33 YEARS FINALLY UPGRADED THE A-10 AVIONICS AND REPLACED THE WINGS. TWO YEARS LATER YOUR GOING TO PARK IT OUT BACK AND LET IT ROT!!!! WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY!! IM A SILVER STAR COMBAT VET JTAC. I KNOW WHAT WORKS ON THE BATTLEFIELD!

          • Malcolm_34

            How many hours in the cockpit during combat operations do you have?

    • LTC Elaine Howell

      The A-10 did have a shoot-down during Desert Storm. It’s quiet, versatile, armored and armed, it goes low and slow, and it’s a maintainers dream. It usually has the highest FMC rates. When it lands at an unimproved field or a distant base, all it equipment it requires is a stepladder. The F-16 can’t say that. I doubt the F-35 can say that, either. I was a Maintenance Officer at Myrtle Beach AFB, and I had the chance to see just what these aircraft can do. Every enemy we had or have has been frightened of them….there is something sinister in the shape and the sound of the gun firing can be heard for miles. If it wants to sneak up on you, it can go low like a chopper, but you won’t hear it until it’s within range. It can turn inside any of our front line fighters. There isn’t and hasn’t been since anything like it. The only one-aircraft replacement would be another A-10. Since Fairchild is gone, someone needs to gear up the acquisition system and do a quickie….it takes from fifteen to twenty years to bring a major system to “rubber on the ramp”. That’s a long time to keep flying the airframe without some serious upgrades to hold it over. I’m for keeping it going as long as possible. If grounding a few F16s will keep it operational, let’s do it. We crash a lot of them anyway. One of our acquisition experts said that the F-16 and the CAS mission was the most dangerous combination anyone has ever fielded. It just isn’t meant to fly low and slow.
      I was in the office of the DCM at RAF Alconbury, where the A-10s were stationed, and over his desk was a huge painting of Soviet tanks coming over a field and road. In the background were a couple of A-10s, and a caption had been added that said, “Red leader, red leader, pick up the speed, they’re about to catch up with us!” The tank-killer has been the most successful aircraft we’ve ever fielded in terms of its effectiveness for accomplishing it’s designated mission.

      • Malcolm_34

        >>The A-10 did have a shoot-down during Desert Storm.< < The A-10 was credited with downing two hovering and unarmed Iraqi helicopters. Not exactly classic ACM engagements. An F-15E did the same against an MD-500 by plunking it with a GBU. (That said, the all-time DS ACM classic kill was an EF-111 who tricked a pursuing Iraqi F-1 into plowing into the ground.) >>The tank-killer has been the most successful aircraft we’ve ever fielded in terms of its effectiveness for accomplishing it’s designated mission.<< Unfortunately it's long-since been surpassed in that role by modern attack helicopters featuring two seats, lots of sensors, and standoff weapons.

  • Dennis

    If the Army would modernize their helicopter fleet with Raider style technology, they could support the troop and let the Air Force do what their promary mission is, Air Superiority.
    But no. The Army is doubling down on thirty year old technology that is too expensive, too slow and maintenance heavy to really support the troops….

  • Malcolm_34

    Not only has the A-10 long-since been eclipsed as a ground support platform, the current CAS doctrine’s reliance on fixed-wing assets is simply obsolete. The emergence of modern attack helicopters, data-linked/high-precision arty, and UAVs can all provide cost effective danger-close support of our troops under a broader range of conditions and with far less procedural/organizational hand-holding than what’s required to shepherd fast-movers onto their targets.

    Those who keep saying the Army should adopt the A-10 forget that the service has gone on record since the early 90s saying they don’t want it. Not only does the Army not want it, neither does anyone else. While dozens of countries around the world are flying F-15s/16s/18s and AH-1s/64s, not a single foreign buyer expressed any legitimate interest in the A-10.

    Why is that, d’ya think?

    • oblatt23

      I guess that why we have a fleet of attack helicopters off conducting missions in Iraq right now not the A10 - no wait.

      • Malcolm_34

        Unfortunately your ignorance-and I mean no insult in saying that, mind you-is consistent with the misguided mindset insistent on keeping the A-10s in service.

        Just one of many links to consider: http://www.ibtimes.com/us-apache-helicopters-atta…

        Note that Saudi AH-64s were also taking part in the strikes against the Yemeni Houthist rebels. And British AH-64s conducted multiple surgical strikes day/night against Libyan ADA and high-value targets. And Israeli AH-64s continue to provide close air in battles against Hamas and Hezbollah targets.

        Let’s be clear: You’re very poorly informed. That’s understandable, as the clueless media (as represented by this article) has been consistent with their infatuated messaging about the A-10. Were you to have real-life time in a real-life cockpit in a real-life ground-pounder mission, you’d have a much better ability to see through the haze and hype surrounding one of the most overrated aircraft in modern times.

        • d. kellogg

          Apparently someone a few posts above has forgotten that the UAVs the Apache-E (Guardian) will cooperate with are, for all intents and purposes, fixed wing aircraft.
          Predators, Ravens, Grey Eagles: these are NOT vertical flight/rotary wing UAVs. And these UAVs fly much slower than any front-line WW2 fighter aircraft; fixed wing designs that many have argued, in current form like the Super Tucano and T-6 II, are too vulnerable to modern ADA because they’re not supercruising jets. Yet we are to believe the UAVs ARE perfectly suitable?

          • Malcolm_34

            You’re correct in that current UAV’s would not be ideal for a modern ADA environment. (Which has not existed in adversarial territory of the Middle East since the opening phases of Desert Storm. And note that A-10s were deployed WELL away from the hairier ADA bubbles during that operation.)

            Conversely, armed UAVs in the current Middle Eastern environment do bring incredible loiter times, advanced sensors, and the ability to designate and engage their own targets from standoff ranges. They are for all intents and purposes multi-crew platforms, as the remote pilot can focus exclusively on the engagement “in the scope” for extended periods while the platform flies autonomously. The amount of procedural hand-holding that has to be expended by the troops/FAC are minimal in comparison to that of an obsolescent platforms like the A-10.

            Let’s cut to the chase: If we’re fighting the typical ISIS rabble, an AC-130 could likely orbit overhead at 10,000 feet in broad daylight and rain down fire with impunity. A 60s-era Spad may even acquit itself well. That scenario is hardly an acid test for the survivability and efficacy of ANY platform. Even so, a low/no-sensor single-pilot aircraft supporting troops is still badly hamstrung by those limitations.

            Sure, we could just do the CAS mission the way it’s been done since WWII. (The military has often and correctly been accused of representing centuries of tradition unimpeded by progress.) The reality, however, is the fixed-wing/fast-mover notion of CAS is trying to pound a square peg in a round hole. It’s more of a political relic than anything else. Newer assets and doctrines would better serve the troops on the ground by an order of magnitude. We should instead focus fast movers on what they do best, and that’s interdiction: Fly long distances to put heavy ordnance on big targets well out of harm’s way of our soldiers.

            Make sense?

          • balais

            This highlights your “experience ” again.

            Drones are another complimentary tool in the toolbox with their own set of glaring problems, namely, vulnerability to incliment weather, latency, and spatial orientation issues that are different than manned aircraft. And until drones carrying yet-to-be proven SDBs and APKWS see mass service, hellfire missiles still have similar deficiencies when used in close proximity to friendly troops. Not every battlefield is a open desert.

            “Newer assets and doctrines would better serve the troops on the ground by an order of magnitude”

            Like what? increasingly more precise missiles? increasingly more precise artillery? fiber optic guided missiles? small diamater bombs?

            They’re already happening, with or without the A10.

            “It’s more of a political relic than anything else”

            Then why does reality state otherwise? Whether its the A10 or any other fixed wing aircraft, CAS is CAS. it cannot be replaced by artillery or ground-mounted fire support any more than vice versa.

          • Malcolm_34

            Your post is interesting in that it presents a number of self-defeating points.

            >>Drones are another complimentary tool in the toolbox with their own set of glaring problems, namely, vulnerability to incliment weather.< < Interesting that you should make such a comment, as A-10 has no significant inclement weather capability at all. UAV's at least have legitimate sensor suites that can provide some degree of vision when the visibility gets skosh. >>hellfire missiles still have similar deficiencies when used in close proximity to friendly troops< < Any projectile flying through the air in the proximity of friendlies has the ability to end tragically. Pat Tillman was killed by 7.62mm rounds from an M240 gunner in his own unit, for instance. That said, the laser Hellfire's guidance system and focused warhead (be it AT/shaped charge or HE-frag) makes it a superb choice--if not the absolute best available--for a danger-close CAS situation. It's a pinpoint weapon. Tie that in with the fact that there's a sophisticated sensor designating the target (if not picking the specific PART of the target to hit) being operated by a gunner who is focusing solely on putting that missile where it does the most good separates it from anything the A-10 could hope to accomplish. (If you've ever spit a Hellfire off the rail, you'd know this.) >>Then why does reality state otherwise? Whether its the A10 or any other fixed wing aircraft, CAS is CAS.< < The reality is that the CAS mission as its currently defined is a relic of the Air Force's initial charter from 1947. And the tactics have changed painfully little since then. They are still cumbersome, and reliant on aircraft poorly suited to the realities of the mission. If the Army had to pay the Air Force for each A-10 sortie, the plane would sit idle and AH-64s would be doing the lion's share. If the Army was forced to pay for operating A-10s in general, they would've been retired before the last Flock of Seagulls album was released. The only reason they're performing the CAS role is that the Army doesn't have to pay for them, and that service is holding their blue-clad brethren's feet to the fire regarding the doctrinal obligation for ground support. Like I said, "political relic." And even though the Air Force detests the mission with a passion, they're not about to relinquish the budget dollars they get from the CAS mission that would allow the Army to field the systems it takes to support the troops at the level they truly deserve. As was pointed out with absolute authority during a discussion at the War College, the Air Force owns more senators than the rest of the services combined. >>it cannot be replaced by artillery or ground-mounted fire support any more than vice versa.<< That's been patently false since the early 90s, and even more so now. The digital fire control platforms of modern tube and rocket artillery can have rounds in the air before an A-10 pilot puts down his Slurpee and starts jotting down the 9-line. A platform like the Paladin M109 firing the Excalibur shell is capable of putting steel on target with a first-round CEP of 5 meters out to ranges over 20 miles, with the Marines doing just that to bag a bunch of Towliban 22 miles away. Another proven precision system driving yet another nail in the coffin of the A-10/fast-mover CAS doctrine. That said, the realities of the full-spectrum ground support mission are best served by a combination of modern assets. An outdated airframe with primitive capabilities and a reliance on fixed airfields with 10,000-foot runways is not one of them. And while I salute your service as troop, I was not only on the other end of the trigger, I repeatedly saw first-hand just how inadequate the A-10 was at supporting yourself and your brothers-in-arms. I've also seen (hands-on in many cases) just how superior other platforms are at keeping our boys in K-pots from assuming room temperature. You guys may have gotten an airshow from the 'Hog, but to say that's the best option out there for the CAS missions belies your lack of experience wiggling a stick. To that point, I won't to tell you how to counter an L-shaped ambush from higher elevation if you don't presume to tell me about combat aviation in the ground support role. The misperceptions you've articulated in this forum, while consistent with the A-10 die-hard chorus, clearly demonstrate that your expertise is not in the area of combat aviation.

        • balais

          Yeah the “misguided mindset” in keeping a proven and effective air frame in service while newer technologies to continue to evolve and be fielded in respectable numbers. “misguided” by ass.

          “Were you to have real-life time in a real-life ****pit in a real-life ground-pounder mission, you’d have a much better ability to see through the haze and hype surrounding one of the most overrated aircraft in modern times. ”

          Excuse me, but WTF is your experience as a ground pounder? My experiences as one seem to be far different

          The A10 is one of the most cost effective and decisively effective aircraft ever fielded. hardly “overrated”. Those of us who found ourselves in a position to need CAS hardly thought of it as “overrated”. But why stick with the facts?

    • balais

      This is commonly argued, although those of us with experience say otherwise.

      Systems like MFCS for 120mm mortars and Apaches are excellent assets meant to compliment each other, although, there are many instances were fixed wing fighters are superior choices because of the payload and speed in which they can be delivered. Heavy artillery is a PITA to move, and Apaches lack the speed and ability to outpace and outmaneuver small arms fire and AAA if necessary (or take a hit).

      “with far less procedural/organizational hand-holding than what’s required to shepherd fast-movers onto their targets.”

      Thats not even remotely true. I’ve worked with the mortar FCS and gun bunnies and if you think on site CAS requires less hand holding, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

      Furthermore, many of you dont understand that artillery and mortars have high kill radii. Take a gander in the Ranger handbook sometime. CAS in close proximity to friendly forces is one of the strenghts of the A10. It will remain so until newer weapons become more commonplace and proven, no doubt yielded by F35s and whatever else comes along.

      Artillery will remain gods own anti-SOB killing machine.

      Cont

      • balais

        Cont…

        “not a single foreign buyer expressed any legitimate interest in the A-10. ”

        Thats not true either and, on the contrary, different nations expressed interest in the A10. Blame US export laws.

        • Malcolm_34

          Rubbish. The plane was pimped like there was no tomorrow to key allies during the 80s, notably Egypt and especially Israel. No sales.

          Things that make you go, hm…

    • Don

      Maybe the Russians or the Chinese would be interested.

  • pvt parts

    Okay, I’m getting so tired of this. Why are there such strong feeling about these programs, that clearly people don’t have sense or the expertise to figure out? Forgive me but it’s time time for a rant! I don’t understand why it’s so hard to figure out, so I’ll try to some up both the A10 and the F35 in one post.

    I think the easiest way to understand the issue is to ask the simple question, “what is it that we are doing with the equipment in question?” What is it that the A10 does? Well, the A10 in its most simple terms is an anti-tank aircraft. Also in recent years has been used for counter insurgency CAS. Now we know what it is and what it does, we need to how it does its job.

    The Thunderbolt has three main ways of completing it’s mission. And its mission can be determined by observing its mentions. You’d typically see the Thunderbolt using one of three weapon systems: the 30mm main gun, JADAM / TDM guided bombs, and the AGM-65 guided missle. Observing its primary armaments it’s almost totally set up and equipped to kill vehicles. That’s the A10’s whole point of existence. It just happens to be good at CAS as a byproduct of being a tank killer.

    Now this is the CRITICAL comprehension point. It’s the munitions that do the work. The Thunderbolt is just a frame by which these munitions are delivered. An F18 SuperHornet can cary as many AGM-65 into battle as the A10. If you’re a commander and you’re faced with heavy armor it will very likely resists the A10’s 30mm gun. In that scenario the F18 is all the sudden just as viable an option as the A10. Remember, it doesn’t matter if a Sopwith Camel or an F35 is carrying a single AGM-65 the performance of the missile if unaffected.

    Additionally, I think it’s very important to note that people don’t seem to understand the “combined arms” theory very well. The most simple definition of combined arms is that a commander has the ability to use air, armor, artillery, and infantry force to complete their assigned objects. It’s very important to remember that any serious military force is going to be trying to bring “combined arms” to bare against their enemy. So what does this mean? Well, for example if a commander has an infantry or armor force in risk of being over run they could call mortars, mobile artillery, helicopters or jets to support them. Just depending on what the situation calls for.

    Now, combined arms is important for two reasons, and both are why the A10 doesn’t fit into the US military’s update weapons portfolio. The first is there’s a ton options available at almost any point in time to your battalion level general. As one weapon system becomes available it might have the effect of mitigating another weapons systems affect. To bring this back to point. When the A10 was invented there weren’t any AH64’s around. The A10 makes perfect since when you have Cobras and TOWs’, but as soon as the Apache shows up it makes less sense. Why is that? The A10’s mission is again to kill tanks, and that’s exactly the primary purpose of the AH64. The issue is that the A10 isn’t as effective at its primary purpose as the AH 64, when you also keep in mind that if you need a jet for what jets are good at the F15/16/18/35 can still bring tons of ATGMs to the battlefield.

    Why isn’t the A10 as good as the AH64 at killing tanks? That’s the other equation of combined arms. If you’ve got battalion level formations to deal with then you’re sure to encounter serious surface to air protection from your enemy. Even infantry with IR portable missiles. That’s the problem with the A10 in the fog of war. While it may be a flying tank; if it has to fly into a enemy formation at relatively high speed to engage and acquire targets. There’s a very good chance it’s going to get hit with some form of AA or another, and once it’s locked it doesn’t have too much in the way of ECM to save it from it’s hideously slow speed. Now the AH64 can sit back and loiter on the battlefield and in essence safely snipe at anything that comes with in the 5 miles radius of the formable hellfire. Because it can sit so long in one place it can fill gaps in armor formations as well provide exceptional CAS with it’s 30MM chaingun. AH64 has better optic for killing enemy infantry as well.

    Shew!

    Now to address the F35. There’s only ONE reason the F22 or the F35 exists. That’s the fire and forget missile! Missiles like the Vymple seriously level the playing field in terms of what something stupid cheap like a MiG-21 can do. The USAF rightfully feels exposed to threats like this. The best solution so far is to not be seen and fire your own missiles as far off as you can and let the guidance do the rest. Thus the F22 and the F35 we born. Like it or not, the F15 and the F18 aren’t going to cut it against the new threats we are faced with from China and Russia. Unless we are ready to deal with a war of attrition and training, and we’re not, then the stealth factor in new age dogfight is a really big deal.

    • Malcolm_34

      Well spoken. It will be entertaining to see the thread light up with the howls of outrage by your insinuation that a two-pilot attack helicopter with advanced day/night sensors and autonomous target designation and standoff capability can handily provide more accurate and sustained firepower than the A-10.

      • oblatt23

        I get that you are BFF but nobody has bother to reply to this because its factually incorrect in nearly every paragraph.

        Most of us have day jobs and don’t have the time to read through the mountain of spam that will arise pointing out how ridiculous this post is.

        Just to let you know.

      • balais

        BS

        The A10 has the edge in payload compare to the AH64, not to mention speed.

        A apples and oranges comparison anyways, as apaches are awesome for what they are intended to do: provide helicopter-based, stand-off distance aerial support/target acquisition. What it doesn’t do well is anything in close proximity to when enemies actually fire back, like karbala.

        Replacements to anything fixed wing they are not.

        • Malcolm_34

          >>What it doesn’t do well is anything in close proximity to when enemies actually fire back, like karbala.<< What on EARTH are you referring to?

    • Chief

      This doesn’t take into account the realities of modern warfare, specifically insurgency based small wars. USAF will likely not be engaging in air superiority dog fights against Chinese and Russian pilots, but instead be providing CAS for small amounts of SOF teams fighting around the globe. Yes we should be prepared for such scenarios against other powerful nation states, but in the process should not forget the lessons we have learned over the past 14 years of sustained combat operations. We can’t forget history.

  • William_C1

    I personally think the A-10 has a few years of good use left in it but sooner or later it will simply need to be replaced due to age. Even if we kept them flying out until 2028 then what? Will we have the same people shouting when the Air Forces goes to retire it then?

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    Pvt parts, doesn’t your claim that the AH-64 is a better vehicle killer then the A-10 require a well-defined FEBA, behind which a helicopter can operate and lob Hellfires at vehicles remotely designated by UAV or soldier on the ground? If the helicopter has to proceed and eyeball targets to pick out friendlies from hostiles (say, Peshmerga from ISIS gunmen) isn’t the A-10 a lot more survivable in the face of 14.5 and 23 mm fire?

    It’s a pity that we put ourselves in a situation where adequately funding and developing the F-35 requires this choice, but sensor fusion may permit the F-35 to provide the next generation of CAS in an environment where guided SAMs will be a fact of daily life. The AF and Marines have staked their plans and souls around the F-35, we’re institutionally stuck with these decisions, and the only real choice is what we need to do to make them work. Congress’ determination that no legacy system will ever be replaced, no base will ever close, and no production line making unwanted tanks will ever shut down is part of the problem, not wisdom.

    • Malcolm_34

      >>doesn’t your claim that the AH-64 is a better vehicle killer then the A-10 require a well-defined FEBA, behind which a helicopter can operate and lob Hellfires at vehicles remotely designated by UAV or soldier on the ground?<< I think the incredulity behind this question would be best conveyed were you to imagine R. Lee Ermey asking it: "Son, what in THE HELL are you talking about?" Seriously, there's no aspect of your question/accusation that has any basis in reality. Please dig up some reference material on modern attack helicopter tactics. Thusly enlightened, I'll be happy to walk you through the finer points. (I truly don't mean to sound insulting, but, wow. Your post does however illustrate just how poor a job the media covering military matters has informed people as to the capabilities and tactics of modern attack helos.)

      • Brian B. Mulholland

        No offense taken. I am a career civilian, trying to follow the implications of pvt part’s post. And I’m not accusing anyone of anything; merely chewing over a post to see if I understood the ramifications. You’re telling me that I don’t, and that’s fine.

        I had thought that being able to fire a Hellfire at a target, without the AH-64’s being directly in line-of-sight to that target, was a major advantage of the system. A fixed-wing aircraft would - I thought - have more difficulty in staying hidden.

        I’m perfectly happy to have my misapprehensions corrected. Anyparticular suggestion as to what I should read for a better knowledge of helicopter tactics?

        • d. kellogg

          Odd thing about this Hellfire argument: current Mavericks (AGM-65, folks) have more than triple the Hellfire’s range, and depending on variant, can use laser designation or various electro-optical or imagining infrared terminal guidance. We only see short range A-10 attacks with it, but the missile ids more than capable of allowing ANY of its carrying aircraft to deploy the weapon considerably beyond any Hellfire engagement.

          But we still run into the issue of, future adversaries ARE going to adopt Active Protection Systems and even eventually C-RAM-type point defense for critical land-based elements. The larger the individual precision weapon becomes, the more vulnerable it will be to interception when closing on the target area.
          Perhaps the REAL issue for future wars is, NOT in the launch platforms, but in the munitions they will deploy: low observable PGMs (aka stealth features) and hyperveocities will HAVE TO become the standard unless we (US) continue to only validate our military might fighting sub-peer adversaries (aka 3rd world COIN).

          • Malcolm_34

            >>Odd thing about this Hellfire argument: current Mavericks (AGM-65, folks) have more than triple the Hellfire’s range.<< At this point, you're just outing yourself as a Wikipedia Warrior. First, it's clear you're not familiar with the Maverick as an operator. The IR and EO versions have to have their seekers manually slaved to and locked on the target. In a single-pilot aircraft like the A-10, this means the pilot is heads-down, flying at 350+ knots straight toward the target at a decidedly non-tactical altitude fiddling with the seeker and not worried about things like getting shot out of the sky or smacking into a mountain. While the Mavs can indeed fly a long way, it's well-known in aviation circles that the motor outflies the seekers by a LONG margin. Most IR Mav shots I've seen from Iraq were at ranges only a fraction of the listed max, primarily due to the fact that the seekers are very low res. So much so that they would be unsuitable if not unsafe for a infantry close-air scenario. While on the topic of seekers, the EO Mav is viewed with contempt. A number of pilots refer to it as, "ballast" or other colorful aviator-speak to convey general the unsuitability of mammary glands on a male porcine. The laser-guided Mav is a sound weapon, but once again the A-10 will be dependent upon another designator. I'm not familiar with any L-Mavs being fired from A-10s. And, frankly, the Mav is better suited to striking larger targets typical of the BAI mission. It's a large and relatively expensive weapon.

          • blight_

            Surprised that the Mavericks have such poor seekers. Might this be due to the original intent of using them against larger targets such as tanks, where a low rez seeker is not such a big deal?

          • Malcolm_34

            The quality of the seekers really comes down to the reality that they’re disposable. They have to be relatively cheap, because they’re going to be just parts scattered to kingdom come at some point.

            The Maverick was actually designed in the 60s as a bunker-busting type of missile. This was consistent with the interdiction role of putting big ordnance on big targets. And it does pack a big punch, but presents a lot of overkill in a tactical environment. It’s not suitable for a danger-close engagement, for instance.

        • Malcolm_34

          The Hellfire has a variety of models with different guidance and warheads. However, the laser-guided variants have seen the most use, so I’ll leave off the discussion about the Longbow/Guardian’s mm wave guidance version.

          Laser-guided Hellfires have a variety of firing/trajectory modes. For instance, the missiles can be fired without active designation in Lock On After Launch (LOAL) mode. The launch platform can remain concealed while the missile climbs to a pre-programmed trajectory for an amount of time based on range to the target, and then provide autonomous designation during the terminal phase of the missile’s flight.

          The Lock On Before Launch mode is pretty much what is says. The missile sees its designation before it leaves the rail and immediately climbs out to its trajectory upon launch.

          These modes can be mixed in a single engagement, and additional designators can also beintegrated. The pièce de résistance being the LOAL rapid remote ripple engagement, in which the launch platform uses its own designator along with a remote laser (a Reaper or OH-58D for instance) of a different channel to alternate launches in a long string of pain for whatever’s on the receiving end. And all this can be done from 5 miles away in roughly the same amount of time it takes the A-10 to make 1 gun pass. (Food for thought, hm?)

          There are other tricks a skilled Hellfire gunner can use such as offset lasing and so forth, but I hope you get the idea.

          Regarding your comments about the Apache needing a FEBA, that one doesn’t make sense. The Forward Edge of the Battle Area is defined as the maximum range of the organic tube artillery in the area. This is usually 15-20 miles into Bad Guy Land past the FLOT, Forward Line of Troops. While arty is a valuable AD suppression tool, the deployment of attack helicopters in a close-support role wouldn’t have anything to do with the FEBA. (But they can provide very accurate targeting for artillery if needed.)

          • oblatt23

            kellogg the is of course right A-10 is a much more capable platform than the AH-64. But somehow he fails to include the history of AGM-65 variants in his answer. Really kellogg how do yo expect to get a pass grade if you don’t pad your work ?

            Anyone who wasn’t born in the 90s knows that the AH-64 tactics are no longer about pop-up attacks of the 70s and in fact they tend to use hind style run runs. Much closer to A10 tactics.

            > The AH64 has many overlapping abilities of the A10, but not the other way around

            Son look up the definition of overlapping in the dictionary.

          • Malcolm_34

            >>Anyone who wasn’t born in the 90s knows that the AH-64 tactics are no longer about pop-up attacks of the 70s and in fact they tend to use hind style run runs. Much closer to A10 tactics.<< Really? This is fascinating news! Have your conveyed this to the commander of the AH-64 Q course at Fort Rucker? I'm sure they'd be very interested in your revelation.

          • pvt parts

            Anyone who wasn’t born in the 90s knows that the AH-64 tactics are no longer about pop-up attacks of the 70s and in fact they tend to use hind style run runs. Much closer to A10 tactics.

            > The AH64 has many overlapping abilities of the A10, but not the other way around

            Son look up the definition of overlapping in the dictionary.

            First drop the grandpa I know everything bullshit. The elitist attitude isn’t going to get you anywhere. I’ll lay this out ABC so we’re clear, and anyone else can understand.

            o-ver-lap, verb, to cover and extend beyond.

            Where do they overlap?

            The AH64 like the A10 can:
            Respond to threats at high speed; Provide CAS to ground troops; engage and destroy vehicles; both are well armored to anything up to 12.5MM. So the AH64 and the A10 share the same basic objective.

            Where are they different?
            Most importantly A10 can drop bombs, it’s relatively fast, and can fly higher, and cary more weight. Overlap comes into effect again in that a F18 can do all of these things that are exclusive the the A10 only better.

            Where is it not the other way around?
            The AH64 can do this while the A10 can’t.
            The AH64 can loiter in one spot for hours. Why is the important? It means that if troops on the ground are endangered the AH64 can cover them for longer. If you’ve had a hole blown in your armored / mechanized formation the AH64 can fly to the gap, kill off any of the penetrating enemy, and plug the hole. It can hide in an active battlefield area. It can fulfill scouting roles. Its optics allow it pick out individuals from two miles away.

            These capabilities are exclusive to the AH64 and can not be substituted with a jet.

            The important take away from this is that the A10 doesn’t have any ability, that I can think of, that isn’t replaceable in some other arm of the commanders toolbox.

            Also you’ve made a comment about tactics. While a tend to agree with what you’ve said. A little clarity for others though. Again context is very important. Most importantly, let me state for others, tactics change on the fly to deal with what ever challenge you’re faced with. So in the 2003 Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan the tactics of the AH64, as well as other units changed for the situation they faced. More on other units in moment. Yes, in the invasion of Iraq the AH64 employed blitz tactics. This is was because the Iraq’s AA defenses had been eroded significantly that made US commanders more bold than they would have otherwise would have been.

            Remember the battle for Karbala? So tactics for the battle were to overwhelm the defenders with helicopter force before the armor rolled in. The tactic you describe. Result? Two AH64 killed and a tactical withdrawal for US forces until the armor came in. Now typically the US found success with these tactics, I don’t want to say they didn’t. Remember those as soon as the fight is against the Russians or Chinese that’s not going to come close to being acceptable.

            Side note: Tactics adapt to the situation. It’s well established that armor shouldn’t be used to spearhead attacks into urban environments let alone without support. However, the Thunder Run attack on Baghdad did exactly this! Several M1A1’s (I think they were A1s) and Bradley’s A2’s charged down narrow streets unsupported by anything else on their way to the airport. You’d normally never do this! And it did cost the lives of at least one tanker. I think a commander was killed, had his legs blown off if I remember correctly.

            Just like you’d normally never charge AH64s thorough flack and into a city.

            So back to the point. You’ll use your tools how ever they work best for a individual situation. The A10 is a tool that has had it’s job mitigated by guided bombs, guided artillery, shoot and scoot mortars, upgraded rockets, attack helicopters, advances in stealth and the enemies anti aircraft capabilities. As a whole they make the A10 and outdated platform.

            It is a fact that the Army doesn’t want the A10, the Air force doesn’t want the A10. Other nations aren’t buying the A10. Yet we are all stupid because the A10 is a flying ninja that cannot be stopped? That seems to be the Chuck Norris opinion on the issue. I’ve laid out point after point of why the A10 is going away. You’ve said I’ve made inaccurate statements, but haven’t point out any…

            The burden is on you now… Please explained to me why I’m wrong along with the high command of the us military…

          • balais

            There is a few things wrong with what you posted, but you are absolutely right about certain tools for certain jobs. This also applies to the A10 (and will apply to the F35).

            The reason why the Army wont take the A10 is because of the political consequences for such actions. WIll they have the budget to maintain them? especially compared to other priorities such as modernizing bradley, stryker, and abrams tanks? fielding another scout helicopter replacement? etc?

            This was covered exhaustively and the army knows better than to take A10s.

            Secondly, the air force has been trying to rid itself of the A10 since desert storm (remember the A16?). No new news there.

            But other countries not expressing interest in the A10? that is simply untrue. And besides that point, it was more conducive for nations to purchase multipurpose platforms like the F16 given their more limited budgets and national security strategies. Different circumstances than what the US faces.

          • Fordownr

            Y’all keep talikg about the Hellfire, that is not where the Hog shines. It the ability to put the old Mark I eyeballs on opposing forces and #1 take them out of exsistance, #2 in a very surviveable platform, and #3 at a speed and altitude that reduces the incidents of friendly fire. When talking about precision fires, speed and altitude are NOT you friends especially when DANGER CLOSE is called!

          • Malcolm_34

            You actually list the key weaknesses of the A-10 as strengths. Unfortunately the media does the same.

      • oblatt23

        Its always fun when the war geek high school students pay us a visit. reeling off reams of irrelevant disconnected Wikipedia “facts”.

        They always leave in a week or two in a huff when the adults show them how clueless they really are.

    • pvt parts

      So you’ve pretty much answered your own question. As you’ve said when its hard to know where the front line is you run the risk of taking AA fire unexpectedly. This is one of the advantages of the AH64 over the A10. Because its not coming from 5000ft at 500MPH, like the Thunderbolt, the Apache has a much easier time assessing threats and targets and dealing with them in the appropriate manner. The A10 may have better protection than the AH64, but its a whole hell of a lot more likely to stumble into a hornets nest. Again the optics of the AH64 give it a huge advantage relative to the A10 in this respect.

      Now I want to harp on the one of my points again. I’m not saying in any way that the A10 is not great at what it does. What I’m saying is that the A10 suffers from capability overlap. The AH64 has many overlapping abilities of the A10, but not the other way around. Additionally, when you have to have a jet for your mission why not use something like the F18 that’s way faster / safer and can bring a nasty amount of ATGM to the battlefield?

      There’s situations where the A10 is still the right tool for the job, but they are too far and few between to warrant keeping the equipment .

      Also the AH64 is a pretty tough customer relatively speaking.

      • Fordownr

        You appear to be contadicting yourself…”The A10 may have better protection than the AH64..” however you contend that the AH-64 iand FA-18s are the better choices?
        I didn’t seen where you state which models you are comparing to which, A-10 A/C or AH-64 A/D? The need for a dedicated CAS airframe is as relevant now as it was when the first biplane dropped a bomb. The 16/18/22/35’s are NOT designed to counter ground fire nor is CAS their prime function. When all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail! Specialized tools for specialized jobs.

        • Malcolm_34

          >>”The A10 may have better protection than the AH64..” however you contend that the AH-64 iand FA-18s are the better choices?<< Like many, you're falling back on the outdated WWII paradigm of CAS of whites-of-their-eyes strafing runs and belly-skimming bombing passes. That's understandable, as the seemingly oblivious media covering military affairs seems only to be able to envision that, as well. And I admit that such imagery is just plain more fun than a clinical exercise of precision weaponry. Food for thought: The first rule of battle is not to be seen. That's where stealth and night capability come in. The second rule of battle is not to get hit. That's where standoff comes in. Regarding the first rule, the A-10 has little to no legitimate night capability, presents a large silhouette, and has a radar cross section second only to that of a B-52 among US combat aircraft. Yes, really. Regarding the second rule, the A-10 has no standoff whatsoever with gun engagements, and the minimal sensor suite and single-pilot configuration are dangerously unsuited for missile engagements in a true CAS scenario. As I noted before, fighting insurgent rabble is the least demanding mission in the CAS spectrum. I could fire up a P-51 and have a field day against the average pack of ISIS Neanderthals. Rah-rah stories about the A-10 in such an environment are simply analogous to an NFL team beating their chest about how badly they trounced a Pop Warner club.

  • Big-D

    The problem with the air farce is that they are constantly “Aim High”-ing. They are always looking to the clouds. Guess what air farce, wars happen down on the ground (or sea). Air dominance has never won a war and never will, air is only there to support the ground (and sea) war fighting elements.

    The primary and overriding job of the air force is to SUPPORT the war fighters in the Army. and Navy/Marine corp.

    If if can’t comprehend that, they need to be disbanded, broken up, and given to the war fighting services.

    • SB3

      Big-D, I agree with you that a war can’t be won by air superiority alone because the “boots on the ground” must be there to actually capture assets, but no modern war can be won without air superiority. Thats what concerns Air Force command. The budget allotted is only so large and being cut by the current Administration so they really want a platform that can perform multiple roles. Thats what they see in the F-35….I don’t know if thats the best course of action but I understand their reluctance in keeping the A-10, which by the way ,I love.

  • Mastro63

    Its hilarious that the AF wants to retire the A-10, gets stuck with it- then immediately uses it in battle.

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    Pvt parts, Malcolm34, thank you for the corrections. If the Internet permitted, I’d be happy to teleport you both over for beer, instruction - and corrections as necessary.

    • Malcolm_34

      Well spoken, and well played, Brian.

  • balais

    What is a “permanent solution”? I think its another politician cookie cutter approach to a problem they cannot seem to grasp.

    The A10 is a proven aircraft, although it is getting long in the tooth. By the 2020s, i anticipate newer weapons giving the F35 and other aircraft the capability of providing close air support accurate enough for fratricide prevention.

  • Vargas

    Quick question. Over a chopper or faster flying craft, wouldn’t a subsonic unit be better overall for the CAS mission versus close battlefield interdiction, where fast speeds would prove more hazardous and troubling to low target acquisition, and helos without support would be an easier target for MANPADs and AAA fire?

    The subsonic craft would be fast enough to get out of danger, but be able to fly at low enough speeds to provide more precise support.

    My earlier comments were that the A-10’s angle of attack could help it defeat more modern armor, but then again most tanks used by foreign nations aren’t exactly new. Still, a new weapon might be needed versus the hugeness of the GAU-8.

    It needs to be replaced, but I don’t think a more fragile F-35 is needed for its mission. It needs an in-between, like a gyrodyne or a compound helicopter.

    • blight_

      The “low speed” argument has been used to advance the A-10 over faster moving aircraft…until it comes against the slower AH-64, where the argument shifts to the A-10 being faster. Conceptually AA rounds and missiles are inevitably faster than either platform, and AH-64 survival rates might be improved if they just zoomed around the battlefield like they were fixed wing aircraft. The fact that the AH-64 can hover is undoubtedly it’s greatest strength compared to the A-10, but that is also the point in time where it is most vulnerable.

      • Malcolm_34

        To the contrary, the fact that the AH-64x or AH-1W/Z can hover behind terrain features while engaging from standoff distances are key strengths of the platforms. Assuming the pilots chose their battle position(s) well, they could reposition behind cover within a second or two after incoming fire was detected, or, more likely, remain almost impossible for the enemy to detect and accurately engage from a distance.

        While admittedly not all terrain is going to be conducive to such sniper-style engagements behind cover, there are still the key differentiators of standoff and far better target acquisition that set attack helos above what fixed-wing assets such as the A-10 can provide in the modern CAS environment.

        • blight_

          My original point was that at the “low speed” that favors the A-10, it’s still much faster than a helicopter, and to a helicopter the A-10 is still a fast mover with some degree of disadvantage possessed by the faster movers.

          Hovering behind terrain features is nice on paper with hilly terrain and buildings as objects to hide behind. These are features the A-10 can’t use quite as well, short of flying out of line of sight and popping up to engage while committed to a relatively predictable trajectory.

          However, helicopter agility is useful against small arms and perhaps heavy machineguns…but maybe not so much against MANPADS.

          Against the next generation of fast moving MANPAD, I suspect both platforms get a run for their money.

          • Malcolm_34

            >>However, helicopter agility is useful against small arms and perhaps heavy machineguns…but maybe not so much against MANPADS.<< It's certainly understandable, but unfortunately you're still subscribing to the classic Hollywood notion of out-maneuvering a tactical SAM. Those days have LONG since gone by the wayside, as the Israelis learned the hard way when facing the SA-6 in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. (Notably flying A-4 aircraft both faster and more nimble that the A-10.) A modern tactical SAM/MANPAD has a G-load maneuverability that no manned aircraft or pilot can withstand. There was one video out of DS where an F-16 pilot allegedly juked 6 SA-2 launches, but subsequent investigation revealed he had only truly been engaged once, with the site simply continuing to fake launches by engaging its tracking radar without sending missiles up. SAMS have instead been for decades defeated by utilizing tactics that minimize exposure to their engagement envelope, passive stealth, or active countermeasures. The A-10 for instance, would rely upon flares to foil MANPADS. These can be reasonably effective, but less so against the post Cold-War systems. The 'Hog, like every jet, relies upon the exhaust plume of its engines for forward motion. Attack helos do not, meaning their combination of exhaust suppressors and "disco light" ALQ-144s provide a combination of passive and active countermeasures against MANPADS that are more effective. And as an aside, the idea of an A-10 with even a modest weapons load trying to out-maneuver ANYTHING in a hot/high environment is both tragic and humorous to consider. Those things look like baby elephants trying to wallow their way out of quicksand in such circumstances.

  • jimt5100

    The original mission of the A-10 is still active. Do we now have an aircraft that is more suited and more successful than the A-10?

    • Malcolm_34

      Attack helos, UAVs, and tube artillery can provide more accurate, flexible, and sustained firepower across a broader range of conditions than any fixed-wing/fast-mover in the inventory.

      • blight_

        And in a real pinch, there’s ATACMS, which may be cheaper than flying an aircraft to drop a PGM. Although if you need multiple ATACMs vs the cost of having an aircraft drop multiple bombs…

        • Malcolm_34

          You’re not wrong! The ATACMS/MLRS/HIMARS are awesome pieces of rocket artillery that can certainly bring smoke on a bad guy’s position. However, the US Army tends to dedicate those assets to theater-level /deeper targets or other missions that require a massive longer-ranged salvo such as SEAD or area denial.

          The other consideration is that they make a very big boom, depending on the specific rocket(s) being fired. That can compromise their suitability for a danger-close engagement that would be more suited for smaller ordnance. That said, the GPS-guided version of the MFOM rocket, the M30, would be solid support option for troops in contact with the bad guys. (And these rockets get there fast.)

          • blight_

            Hmm, GMLRS variants are given a range of ~60 km. ATACMS is limited out to the range limits of MTCR (like the Iskander).

          • Malcolm_34

            Understood. The later guided/extended-range M30 rockets can reach out to 70km. The ATACMS of course can reach out to 300km.

            The primary consideration between rocket and tube arty is the ability to sustain fire. The rockets are big, but the vehicles only carry 2-6, and take around an hour to reload. A Paladin carries 39 rounds internally, and can be fully rearmed relatively quickly.

            There are some interesting clips on Youtube of MLRS rockets taking out Taliban. They can get the job done if called upon, to put it mildly.

  • Joe

    The retirement of the SR71 (Blackbird) should have provided a clue. After it was de commissioned, reality hit an it was discovered that they could not duplicate the capabilities of the Blackbird, hence one of our most effective intelligence gathering methods was lost forever. Now the A10 is on the chopping block with nothing on the horizon to match it’s efficiency. If you’ve never seen an A10 in action you have missed something very scary for enemy ground forces.

    • Malcolm_34

      The SR-71’s key capability of flying at speeds and altitudes Soviet theater SAMs couldn’t engage was nullified with the newer missiles being fielded in the 80s, and the increasingly high-resolution satellites being launched. While there was a small gap in the early 90s , the platform hasn’t been missed.

      It does, however, look awesome.

  • 12537866

    A lot of good arguments here both for and against the A-10. I do notice however, that when assets are needed in the changing Middle East Theater, the A-10 is always in the mix and that tells me a lot! The “Ground-Pounders” love it and it still can loiter longer in the area than any other tactical aircraft and that also is important. It is reliable with economical and reliable engines, is relatively simple to operate and maintain and can withstand a lot of damage. My Friends who have flown it have nothing but praise for the aircraft, all of these are reasons to be careful getting rid of a known weapon for something we have nothing comparable to replace it with.

    • Malcolm_34

      Change is scary. The Navy was literally torn apart by the shift in doctrine from dreadnoughts to carriers.

      Regarding your arguments about loiter, UAVs can do so for much longer. Attack helos can be equipped with long-range tanks if needed, also have the ability to stage out of primitive FARPs and, heck, even land and go to idle just about anywhere to extend their time on station. Artillery can just sit and wait with the rope ready to pull.

      Regarding damage, an F-15 survived having its entire right wing sheared off in a air-to-air collision. Survivability isn’t limited to the A-10 alone by any means.

      Patton was almost court-martialed for his insistence upon an force centered around armored vehicles. Jimmy Doolittle faced the same with his evangelism for strategic bombers. The military will always have voices that resist change at all costs even in the face of the obvious evidence in support of it.

  • LTC Elaine Howell

    It isn’t a fired smart missile that kills tanks and defends personnel on the ground. It is that 30mm Gatling gun. The A-10 is essentially a flying gun. It can be stealthy because it is very quiet and low and slow. No other airframe can make this claim. Turns inside any other existing winged aircraft.

    • Malcolm_34

      >>It isn’t a fired smart missile that kills tanks and defends personnel on the ground. It is that 30mm Gatling gun.<< Unfortunately your lack of combat aviation experience is telling, Elaine. I'll address each of your statements: 1) Modern ATGMS have FAR better accuracy, standoff range, and armor penetration than the 30mm round fired by the GAU-8. 2) "The A-10 is essentially a flying gun." That is correct, yes. But that's also the fundamental weakness of the system in that 15-plus tons of airframe have to be aligned precisely on the target and fired at ridiculously close ranges to be effective. 3) Calling the A-10 "stealthy" is, no offense, laughable. It's a large, slow aircraft that is not quiet by any stretch, presents a large IR target, as well as a radar cross section second ONLY to that of the B-52 among US combat aircraft. 4) "Turns inside any other existing winged aircraft." Categorically false. An A-10 with a moderate combat load is hard-pressed to maintain even 3g for more than a few seconds without departing. (There's a reason the Thunderbirds don't fly them.) Nothing personal and no disrespect intended, but the entire topic of putting the A-10 out to pasture has entirely too many uninformed voices as it is. Out of respect to our troops on the ground that deserve better, please don't add to the misinformation.