Military Aviation

A-10 pilot explains why even though USAF wants to retire it the Warthog is still the best CAS aircraft

USAF wants to retire the A-10 Warthog

As already reported US Air Force (USAF) Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown Jr. said on Mar. 7, 2023 the service would likely retire all its A-10 Warthog attack aircraft over the next five or six years.

Until recently, the USAF and Congress have disagreed over what to do with the iconic CAS aircraft. While the A-10 was known and beloved for its CAS role in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two decades, the USAF says the low-and-slow-flying plane would not be able to survive in a fight against a nation with modern air defenses, like China.

But in a high-threat scenario could the A-10 still be effective in CAS after more modern aircraft had gone through first to clear the air and suppress the air defenses?

Lynn Taylor, former A-10 Warthog pilot, explains says on Quora.

The A-10 can carry laser guided bombs or LGB (including up to four 2,000lb GBU-10s or six 500lb Gbu-12s), joint direct attack munitions or JDAM (which initially included four 2,000lb GBU-31s or six 500 lb GBU-38s subsequently integrated by the 500lb GBU-54 Laser-Guided JDAM or LJDAM), wind corrected munitions dispenser or WCMD (including six CBU-103/104), AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, rockets, illumination flares, and the GAU-8/A 30mm cannon, capable of firing 3,900 rounds per minute to defeat a wide variety of targets including tanks.

‘What IS woefully outdated is public perception of how the mighty Hawg does CAS.

‘The A-10 now performs almost all of its CAS missions in roughly the same altitude block as its more pointy-nosed brethren.

‘And it drops the same precision-guided munitions.

The Warthog is still the best CAS aircraft

‘Now, it still goes “slow” when compared with jets that can push it up to Mach snot (even though they usually go slower because of fuel burn rate), but cruising in the 275–300 knot range will still get you most places in time to only be fashionably late rather than miss the party altogether.

‘The difference is that, once it arrives, the Hawg can often hang around for the after-party, and still have enough party favors to go around. (Some of which you likely won’t find on any other jet.)

‘And the ability to do that will never go out of style. 😉

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. A-10C Thunderbolt II 23d W, 74th FS Flying Tigers, FT/80-144. Moody AFB, GA – 2011

‘It is sometimes vitally important to have the option of going low. Like when your troops are fighting for their lives, withdrawing under withering fire, at night, under a low cloud deck, against a moving enemy. That’s when you MUST be able to get down in the weeds with your troops, get eyes on, and do your job as a professional CAS pilot to save their lives.’

Taylor concludes;

‘So, the Hawg usually fights from high and outside with PGMs like every other carnivore these days, but it hasn’t forgotten how to get down and dirty when the situation calls for it.

‘And that’s why it’s still the best there is at what it does.’

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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  • My Wife's father helped build the A10 working at the aircraft plant on Long Island NY many years ago. The "Warhogs" fly over our home in West Branch MI at tree top level many times a month. We love it! We will miss the A10 attacking the radio tower on our property when they finally replace them 😥

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