The USAF wants to come down from nine A-10 Warthog operational squadrons to seven and keep one “full-up” operational squadron at Osan Air Base, South Korea.
The US Air Force (USAF) plans to retire 42 A-10 Warthogs in fiscal year 2022 with Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB), Ariz., and the Indiana Air National Guard slated to lose their aircraft but to pick up new missions.
As reported by Air Force Magazine, in order to gain money and manpower for other needs USAF wants to cut the Warthog fleet by 22 percent, from 281 aircraft to 218. However, A-10s would still outnumber F-22s even after the cut ensuring the close-air support (CAS) jet will still be there if needed into the 2030s. Beyond that, USAF officials believe the Warthog will no longer be viable.
Lt. Gen. David S. Nahom, the deputy chief of staff of the Air Force for plans and programs, during a Jun. 22 Senate Armed Services airland subcommittee hearing said that retiring 63 A-10s over the next two years “frees up nearly a thousand Airmen, maintainers, and operators that we can then transition into future platforms, specifically the F-35. As we look at the F-35, we are having resource issues, mostly with manpower… We have to start replacing some platforms.”
The 122nd Fighter Wing at Fort Wayne, Indiana, and the 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., will be the first units to lose their A-10s. The 122nd FW’s 163rd Fighter Squadron received its Warthogs in 2010 and since then deployed several times to the Middle East. The “Blacksnakes” will convert back to the F-16s.
The USAF said Davis-Monthan would lose one operational A-10 squadron, with plans for the follow-on mission there still in the works.
The service wants to come down from nine operational squadrons to seven and keep one “full-up” operational squadron at Osan Air Base, South Korea, Nahom said. Back home, there will be three Air National Guard squadrons, two Active duty, and one Reserve. Those squadrons would be “in a rotation” enabling the Air Force to always have at least one A-10 squadron available to combatant commanders, he said.
To date, the Air Force has 281 A-10s in its inventory, 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.
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 the 42 planes are cut.
The reduction means only 67 aircraft would need the wing fix, down from 109.
Photo credit: Tomás Del Coro from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA via Wikipedia