After years of threatening to cut funding to the A-10 program and funnel the money to the newer F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Air Force seems to have finally faced facts – the A-10 is just too effective to get rid of.
Air Force Materiel Command chief Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski recently told AviationWeek that the depot line that maintains and repairs the Air Force’s 283 A-10s has been reopened to full capacity.
“They have re-geared up, we’ve turned on the depot line, we’re building it back up in capacity and supply chain,” said Pawlikowski. “Our command, anyway, is approaching this as another airplane that we are sustaining indefinitely.”
This move echoes the sentiments of many, many people across the defense community. Senator John McCain, former Navy pilot, and Representative Martha McSally, former A-10 pilot, both fought hard for the Warthog in their respective Armed Services Committees against the Air Force’s claims that the F-35 could replace the Cold War-era bird.
The move also follows trials initiated by the Air Force to determine if the F-35 or A-10 better executes the close air support role, which suggest that the A-10 came out on top.
The Government Accountability Office debunked the Air Force generals' contentions that the A-1o could be replaced, arguing that the plane's low flight costs, unique airframe, and hyper competent, impeccably trained pilot community was without peer in today's Air Force.
Now maintainers at Hill Air Force Base in Utah can finally make good on a 2007 contract with Boeing to keep the aging birds air worthy for years to come.
For now, the Warthog still faces the chopping block in the 2018 budget requests, but fans and friends of the bird can breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate with this hour long compilation of the best of BRRRRT.