(From the National Interest)
By Dave Majumdar
The U.S. Air Force has reportedly decided to temporarily call off its campaign to retire the long-serving Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support aircraft. The service finally relented because the Warthog is in high demand fighting the Islamic State terrorist entity in Iraq and Syria.
With its distinctive, even ungainly design, the Warthog is nonetheless beloved by U.S. ground forces who have come to rely on the low flying jet to provide air cover during battles with militants in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the Air Force was—until recently—trying to retire the jet in favor of the stealthy, supersonic Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
“It appears the Administration is finally coming to its senses and recognizing the importance of A-10s to our troops’ lives and national security. Since before I took office and after, I’ve consistently highlighted the A-10’s irreplaceable capabilities and worked to expose the Administration’s flawed argument for wanting to retire it prematurely,” Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ)—a former A-10 squadron commander and current member of the House Armed Services Committee—said in a statement. She added:
“With A-10s deployed in the Middle East to fight ISIS, in Europe to deter Russian aggression, and along the Korean Peninsula, Administration officials can no longer deny how invaluable these planes are to our arsenal and military capabilities. But our fight does not end here. The Administration has been persistent in its efforts to send our best close air support asset to the boneyard without a replacement. That’s unacceptable, and I’ll continue to lead the fight to ensure we keep these planes flying until we know without a doubt we can replace their capabilities.”
The Air Force’s leadership has insisted that the F-35 can perform the close air support role as well, if not better, than the A-10—especially in a contested environment. However, Air Force close air support experts dispute those assertions. Read more
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