As the media outlets recently reported, the Pentagon’s fiscal 2021 budget request increases spending on nuclear modernization, space, cyberspace, and multi-domain operations in preparation for great power competition, while proposing to cut dozens of aircraft from the fleet and reducing overseas contingency operations funding for the wars in the Middle East.
“We had to make additional tough choices, major cuts in some areas, to free up money to continue to invest in preparing for the high-end fight,” Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist said during a Feb. 10 budget briefing at the Pentagon.
According to Air Force Magazine, many of these cuts will hit US Air Force (USAF) flight lines directly, with the service requesting authority to cut 17 B-1B Lancers, 21 RQ-4s and three EQ-4 Global Hawk variants, 44 A-10s from both the Guard and Reserve, and 24 C-130Hs from the Air National Guard.
However, the budget also includes $56.9 billion for 79 F-35s of all variants, 24 F/A-18E/Fs, 12 F-15EXs, 320 support and logistics aircraft, 167 rotary-wing aircraft, and 703 unmanned aerial systems, plus the development of aircraft-related technology and modifications to existing aircraft.
Noteworthy, despite multiple efforts to push the A-10 Warthog‘s retirement date further into the future, the USAF is now slated to shelve dozens of Warthogs in the upcoming fiscal year.
Military.com reports: ‘In 2016, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter delayed the A-10 retirement until 2022 after lawmakers such as then-Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona, and the late Sen. John McCain, also of Arizona, complained that retiring the iconic Hog would rid the military of a “valuable and effective” close-air-support aircraft.
‘Nevertheless, fiscal 2017 budget request documents show the USAF had still planned to remove A-10 squadrons in increments between 2018 and 2022 to make room for F-35A Lightning II squadrons coming online.As a result, McSally included a provision in that bill that would prohibit retirement of the Warthog until the Air Force could prove that the F-35 is able to perform similar missions as effectively on the battlefield.
‘To date, the Air Force has 281 A-10s in its inventory (two A-10s were destroyed in a collision in 2017), but has repeatedly stressed it can maintain roughly six of its nine A-10 combat squadrons through 2032, which is why officials have not committed to buying new wings for the entire fleet.
‘The Air Force finished re-winging 173 A-10s in 2019 through the Enhanced Wing Assembly program, which began in 2011. One of the destroyed aircraft had received the upgrade.
‘Through the next iteration of the effort, the “A-10-Thunderbolt II Advanced-Wing Continuation Kit,” or “ATTACK” program, the service will begin re-winging the rest “of the A-10s that remain in the inventory” after 44 planes are cut.
‘The reduction means only 65 aircraft would need the wing fix, down from 109.’
Hence, the proposal appeared on 23RD TFW Flying Tigers Facebook page that is aimed to save the legendary Warthog.
‘Instead of dumping the Hog…why not “double down”?’ the post says.
The post also features the image of a new variant of the Thunderbolt II, the A-10AA Close-Support Attack Aircraft, sort of Twin-Warthog.
Just a joke of course. But that proves the A-10 is one of the most loved aircraft ever made.
Photo credit: Don Urban / U.S. Air Force via 23RD TFW Flying Tigers Facebook page
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