Cutting over 100 Warthogs

Noticed this in Air Force Priorities for a New Strategy with Constrained Budgets (pdf):

More than 280 aircraft have been identified in the current budget submission for
elimination across all Air Force components over the next five years. This includes 123 fighters
(102 A‐10s and 21 older F‐16s), 133 mobility aircraft (27 C‐5As, 65 C‐130s, 20 KC‐135s, and 21 C‐27s), and 30 select ISR systems (18 RQ‐4 Block 30s, 11 RC‐26s, and one E‐8 damaged beyond
repair). [emphasis Murdoc’s]

Wow. I’m not sure how exactly many are still in service, but I think that’s about a third of them.


  1. So the Air Force is cutting the birds that are actually used in combat or are true combat multipliers to save the fighter jocks and hanger queens. Sound typical. It’s pentagon politics, kill the birds the other services need to try to avoid the chopping block….

  2. The Air Farce always hated the A-10 – yet another attempt to kill it without a replacement. Let’s get rid of the transports too – who wants to drive a bus?

    Air Farce – all sexy all the time.

  3. To be fair, if ground operations really do come to an end in Afghanistan in the next year or so, and we don’t start any more ground wars, there probably isn’t going to be a lot of need for them. The Air Force is probably trying to look forward, and thinking more along the lines of power projection and expeditionary capability. But seeing as how we have been engaged in some sort of war involving air power for most of the last 20 years (Grenada, Panama, Iraq 1, Somalia, the Balkans, Iraq 2, Afghanistan), it is probably wishful thinking that the A-10s will not be needed.

    Hopefully they are going to Davis Monthan and being kept in highest readiness type storage so they can be returned to service ASAP if need arises.

  4. I’m not surprised at all. The USAF has been pulling every dirty trick in the book to try to kill the A-10 from the very start. To understand why, you need to know the history BEHIND the history of the A-10.

    The USAF created the A-X Program that spawned the A-10 for only a single purpose — to spite the Army for establishing the AHX Program (which the USAF considered an insult to their intelligence) that produced the AH-64 Apache, as the A-10 would rip-away much of the funding that would have gone to AH-64s.

    The A-10 did that with a vengeance, but by the early 1980s, the USAF had already started trying to make a case for Congress to terminate the project. Congress wasn’t impressed.

    Then along came the “Blitzfighter” Project.

    The Blitzfighter was conceived by none other than Col. James G. Burton — the guy who fought the Army (Br)asshats for a half-decade to get the Bradley Fighting Vehicle tested against ACTUAL weapons in it’s ACTUAL combat configuration. The USAF’s (Br)asshats freaked out all over the place whenever the Blitzfighter was mentioned (a 10000lb aircraft equipped only with a gun and a radio, costing only $2 Million — the Defesne Welfare State’s worst nightmare), but they nearly died when they heard the National Guard wanted Blitzfighters.

    However, that helped the USAF kill two birds with on stone — both literally and figuratively. They got rid of the A-10 by sending a few-hundred to the National Guard (and the rest, in time, to the boneyard), which also killed the demand for the Blitzfighter. The (Br)asshats figured the National Guard would fly them for a decade or so in total obscurity, and then they’d be rid of the A-10 for good.

    Then Desert Storm happened, and Norman Schwarzkopf demanded the A-10 *by name*. USAF General Charles A. “Chuck” Horner, who was the USAF’s big cheese in the Gulf (a long-time adversary of the A-10 Program), militantly refused to deploy any A-10s to the Persian Gulf theater. So, Schwarzkopf went to Dick Cheney, and Cheney overruled Horner.

    During Desert Shield, when the A-10 spoke for itself and there was no way anybody was stupid enough to bad-mouth it, Horner said “I take back all of the bad things that I said about the A-10. I love them! They saved our ass”;

    Immediately after the war, Horner went right back to smearing the A-10;

    Then, in the early 2000s, the USAF’s (Br)asshats began a campaign of Social Engineering in the middle ranks to retaliate against any and all A-10 supporters. They figured that if they destroyed the support base from the bottom-up, they would finally be rid of ALL the A-10… until POGO caught them red-handed;

    So in other words, the USAF’s recent bag over the head and dagger in the back of the A-10 is only the most recent of many such maneuvers to kill the A-10. Such are The Games Generals Play.

  5. Every year the Airforce tries to kill off the A-10’s and yet they are the close support workhorse and something we need more of.

    1. DC Guard definitely has a bunch at Belvoir (I believe they were the last unit to get rid of the Huey back in ’08ish). MD, PA, VA, and DE ANG probably also have some. Outside of that, they really could be from anywhere. I’ve seen Pax River helos flying over Boston before.

  6. It would be nice if they transferred the A-10s to the USMC and US Army. I could see them arguing that the Army is not allowed to fly that type of aircraft, but there is no argument against the USMC taking them.

    For the Army, I would even suggest they allow the USAF A-10 pilots to transfer similar to the “blue to green” program that has been used post 9-11.

    1. Considering the effort that the Marine Corps has put into getting the JSF, I highly doubt they’d be interested in the A-10. For one thing, it wouldn’t help the JSF’s case in general, but beyond that, they were so insistent on having that V/STOL capability, stealth, what have you. It would also make the A-10 the only CAS aircraft in the Marine Corps that isn’t carrier-capable.

    2. The ‘Corps is ideal for the A-10, and vice-versa, but as SwissFreek said, they’ve already invested a lot of money and dignity into the F-35B — but if the F-35B is cancelled, who knows?

      The A-10 practically has “Army” written on it already, but under the 1948 Key West Agreement, the Army is forbidden from operating armed warplanes weighing more than 10000lbs.

      1. The A-10 practically has “Army” written on it already, but under the 1948 Key West Agreement, the Army is forbidden from operating armed warplanes weighing more than 10000lbs.

        One good thing is that the US Government can choose to break any agreement, anytime. Just ask the Indians about how good all those treaties were, or the Russians about the ABM treaty. If all that is stopping the Army from getting the A-10s is an agreement from 1948, then that shouldn’t be too hard to break.

  7. The A-10 fleet isn’t the only one that is taking a huge hit. 27 C-5As is a big deal. Same with the other transports. 21 C-27s? I didn’t realize they even HAD 21 C-27s. That’s gotta be just about all of them.

  8. An alternative take on Big Blue’s collective feelings on the A-10:

    More to the point, the strategic directives from the Light Worker and the new SecDef are rather clear- no more big COIN fights, focus on conventional threats. (Gee, that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) The A-10 is, in my opinion, the best CAS platform we have for “permissive” environments like we’ve grown used to. In the face of competent air defenses, things are different. With that in mind I conclude that this is driven not by the AF’s notional hatred for the A-10, but by the marching orders they’ve received.

    1. The A-10 is, in my opinion, the best CAS platform we have for “permissive” environments like we’ve grown used to.

      144 A-10s flew straight into the devil’s mouth in Desert Storm, with only 4 losses.

      And these 144 A-10s (out of more than 2000 Coalition fixed-wing combatants of all types) achieved the following;
      – Responsible for the majority of all Iraqi military equipment destroyed.
      – Destroyed more tanks than any other aircraft (1,000 vs. 500 for the $14 million Apache helicopter).
      – Highest sortie rate of any Air Force aircraft (The A-10 flew 6 times more hours per aircraft than the Apache).
      – Most damage sustained by any surviving U.S. aircraft.
      – Highest readiness rate of any U.S. Air Force aircraft (95.7%).

      (Note the sources’ sources)

      These are not achievements that can be made in a “permissive environment”, or with an aircraft that does not have both considerable armor and firepower.

      1. Mike,
        An aircraft which is shot up and returns to base and then spends the next month having battle damage repaired is out of combat. That’s what happened to the A-10s when they got close to air defenses in 1991. Per SMSgt Mac’s post on this, the Air Force Center for Systems Engineering Case Study called for it to operate in a “permissive” environment. What they meant is up to interpretation but given the era it was probably equivalent to the AAA environment over South Vietnam, rather than what the Israelis faced over the Suez.

        I feel vaguely disgusted with myself for writing this stuff even though I believe it to be factual. I love the A-10. I think cutting them is a mistake, just as I think declaring “no more small wars” is a mistake. My intent is to show that the AF’s notional hatred CAS in general and the A-10 in specific probably isn’t driving this decision.

      2. I’m pretty sure he meant little or no opposing air force, or functioning integrated air defense systems, by “permissive.” The A-10 did and does an amazing job in the attack plane job category, but would be in a lot of trouble if it had to face a competent enemy in a modern Mig or a fully functioning IADS network. The A-10 kinda depends on the rest of the air force to get those things out of its way before it can really get to work.

        1. The A-10 is certainly no dogfighter, but unlike most other fighters – particularly the single-engine F-16 and F-35 – it is designed to soak up damage and stay in the air. Many A-10’s have made it home over the years with battle damage far beyond what any other modern F/A aircraft could have absorbed before dropping out of the sky like a rock.

        2. It appears the air force is forgetting all those war games in Europe. A-10 tactics in hostile environments ( Fulga gap ) involve the, the F-117’s hiting the rear anti-air and integration nodes, AH-64’s hitting the frontline anti-air units while the A-10’s nail the tank formations, while the F-15’s cover the roof. No aircraft can do it all. In non-permissive environments it takes a team to get them all home.

          1. The real tank killer in that scenario, particularly in a 21st century setting, is PGMs like the IIR Maverick, the SDB, and the WCMD. When a column of Republican Guard armor moved out of Baghdad in 2003, it wasn’t the Hogs that wiped them out- it was heavies dropping a few CBU-97s.
            This isn’t a new lesson, in fact, you can go all the way back to the JAWS tests when the A-10 was brand new and see the same finding, later confirmed in Desert Storm, that the AGM-65 was the real champ. And LOTS of airframes carry antitank PGMs these days.
            In my opinion the A-10s best advantage is its number of hardpoints vs. airframes like the F-16.

          2. 2Echo

            I agree that the Maverick is a good tank killer. The SDB in its current configuration is near useless vs armor and WCMD is great in certain conditions but is way too expensive and vulnerable to counter measures. Your example of the Bagdad 2003 raid is taken out of context. The B-52’s were effective, but were used in the context of a large sandstorm that grounded most other birds including the A-10, againt an enemy with zero knowlege of the atack.(perfect conditions) Modern tank defense (trophy) would make short work of a WCMD attack.

            While there is a school of thought that claims the heavy bomber is the “best” anti-armor support possible. Using the B-52 in the context of a “permissive” argument is a tad odd.

            The A-10 advantage over the F-16 is not the number of hard points. As a point of argument , you could double an an F-16’s hard points and not materially increase its effectiveness. As it effectiveness is blunted by its poor sensor systems, its short legs, and its relative inability to withstand combat damage.

            The A-10’s, real advantage is in it’s ability to fly slow, stay in the air, and ability to use its hard points to provide precision strikes ( gun, bomb, and missile) on call. The A-16 was a disaster the was quickly killed.

    2. The USAF doesn’t want the A-10, period. Any environment not ‘permissive’ enough for the A-10 will be similarly problematic for all other aircraft, especially the oft-suggested “A-16” and its successor the “F/A-22′. Personally, I blame ACM Trenchard …


  9. Maybe the Air Farce along with president Obama’s eager approval will sell all the “obsolete” aircraft to Iran for a promise that they’ll halt their Nuclear bomb development program?

    Yea, I’ve been at the weed again!

    1. I wouldn’t put it past him — he’s cut from the same political cloth as Jimmy Carter, who gave TOW missiles to Iran so they’d stop being all mean and terroristy.

    1. That has the makings of a much better argument, care to elaborate?
      I won’t lie, the best part of working in the CAOC were the gigs and gigs of A-10 gun camera video hanging out on the high side.

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