Is the A-10 Warthog Safe? Pentagon Floats a Plan to Save the Air Force's Best Tank-Destroyer


The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt. Armed and... in danger? Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The U.S. Air Force wants to kill the A-10 Thunderbolt II. Really, really, really wants to.

Or not.

Described alternately as the "most survivable plane ever built" and "the best close air support plane ever designed," there's no denying the A-10 has a lot of fans. On Facebook, some 11,000 supporters have "liked" a page tagged "Save the A-10."

Mother Jones describes the plane like this: "Imagine an unstoppable commercial Learjet with a full-automatic cannon in its nose and an iron bathtub surrounding the cockpit. That gives you some idea of the A-10's appearance and performance." Designed to be a Soviet tank-killer, the A-10 has proved itself instrumental in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, achieving an 85% mission success rate in Iraq.

In contrast, the plane that's meant to replace the A-10 -- and many other weapons platforms besides -- is Lockheed Martin's (NYSE: LMT  ) F-35. Mother Jones mocks the F-35 as "a gold-plated aircraft" that's "supposed to be an air fighter and a ground attack plane, but doesn't perform particularly well at either task."


Lockheed Martin's F-35. Pretty. But would you trust it to defend our troops on the ground? Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

So why is the Air Force trying to kill its "good" plane in favor of the not "particularly" good one? Basically, because the "gold-plated" F-35 costs so much that there's no money left over for the A-10.

Cheaper and better lose out to more expensive and worse
As early as we are in the F-35 program, it's hard to say precisely how much Lockheed's vaunted joint strike fighter will ultimately cost. At the macro level, some say the program could consume $1.1 trillion over the course of 60 years. Zoom in a bit, and the per-plane cost could be $80 million -- or $150 million.

What is clear is that the A-10 Warthog's unit cost of about $20 million (in 2013 dollars), makes it a much cheaper ground attack aircraft than the F-35.

But even so, the Air Force estimates it will cost about $700 million per year to maintain and operate its 326 A-10s over the next five years. That's $700 million it would prefer to pour into the F-35 program if at all possible. But for that to happen, the A-10 has to die.

Or not
The A-10's defenders are not thrilled with this plan. In Congress, fans of the plane, including Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire (whose husband flew the A-10 in Iraq), have mounted an effective defense of the plane's funding. So effective, in fact, that this past week, the Air Force revealed that it's considering alternate scenarios to save money in the event the A-10 survives.

Specifically, DefenseNews.com reports that the Air Force might choose to retire all of its 66 B-1B long-range bombers, or put 350 (of its 1,018) F-16 fighter jets into mothballs. Either move, says the Air Force, would save roughly $3.5 billion over five years -- enough to keep the A-10s flying.

What it means to investors
If the A-10's backers in Congress are successful in saving the A-10, that would be good news for Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC  ) , which has served as prime contractor for A-10 upgrading and maintenance work since 1987. (Israel's Elbit Systems (NASDAQ: ESLT  ) actually owns the remains of Fairchild Republic, which built the A-10. But Northrop bought Fairchild's A-10 business.)

On the flip side, if saving the A-10 means eliminating the B-1B Lancer, this would hurt Boeing's (NYSE: BA  ) B-1B maintenance revenues -- although it could boost the company's B-52 business, as missions that would otherwise be assigned to B-1Bs would logically shift to B-52s and B-2 bombers (the latter built by Northrop -- so a double win for them).

And of course, if the axe falls on the F-16, it would be a similar good news/bad news situation for Lockheed Martin. On one hand, the company would book fewer revenues from keeping F-16s flying. On the other hand, deployment of Lockheed's F-35 fighters might be accelerated to replace the missing F-16s.

On balance, a decision to save the A-10 would appear to favor Northrop Grumman, while being only bad -- not horrible -- for Boeing and Lockheed.


Sunset for the A-10 Thunderbolt II? Maybe not. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 6:53 PM, Racyman57 wrote:

    I think with Russia now being up to their old tricks, an effective and proven tank killer may prove to be a vital weapon against a country with a massive, conventional military force. I wouldn't make an impulsive decision on the Warthog.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 7:13 PM, Billyseventytwo wrote:

    save it??? good god put in an order for hundreds more. someone forgot about the soviets. guess putin just bitch slapped your preparedness gurus up side the head!!!!

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 7:33 PM, luckyagain wrote:

    The Warthog is a fantastic ground support plane which the soldiers/Marines on the ground need and want. While the F35 is utterly worthless as a ground support plane. It is really hard to believe that the Air Force should be given the job of close ground support when they really hate it and want nothing to do with it. Hopefully Congress can save the plane that only the Army/Marines love and need. The reasoning that the Air Force has to save $700/million out of a defense budget of over $6000 million a year is stupid beyond imagination.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 7:34 PM, daverhall wrote:

    Some aircraft were built properly at the beginning and have done their jobs well and this seems to be the case with the A-10. I hope the military keep using them and gets enough to do the job as it should be done.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 7:39 PM, agostino wrote:

    Money has little to do with the plan to scrap the A-10. It's an excuse. AF pilots like fast, sexy fighters. The Warthog, as the name implies, is neither fast nor sexy. But for those of us who recognize the importance of defense in sports, a weapon that can slug it out with the best is invaluable. If I recall correctly, no Warthogs have ever been shot down.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 7:52 PM, davjed wrote:

    In 1992 the military closed England Air Force Base and redesignated the 23rd TFW specifically because the A-10 was obsolete. Now, 22 years later, it's still playing a role and flying combat missions. Thankfully, the local area has taken possession of the abandoned base and turned it into an award winning international airport, AEX.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 8:04 PM, Skeptic202 wrote:

    During Operation Desert Storm, the A-10 was a hero in the skies against armor. Yes, it flies slow and is not particular sexy, but it is quite effective. That is more so than any speedster could be in support of ground troops. As a flight medic, it was amazing to see these aircraft maneuver to protect "slugs" (helicopters).

    New and sexy is not always better

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 8:06 PM, 1670charleston wrote:

    Once before the USAF tried to ditch the Warthog and Failed. What stopped them was the US Army wanted them and they do not want the Army having FW aircraft of a combat nature. This is reminiscing of the old Key West agreement that for years kept the Army from even having weapons on their helicopters.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 8:06 PM, rangerchuck wrote:

    Anyone who considers that the F-35 is a replacement aircraft for the A-10 can not think. The unit cost give are one where A-10 the money is spent, they only have maintenance cost. The F-35 cost are still to be paid. The missions of the aircraft are very different. The F-35 will operate at above 10,000 feet in order to lessen the chances of a golden BB. The A-10 is a true air to mud AC who will work in the weeds to help the ultimate war winner - the Infantryman.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 8:16 PM, tmacIN wrote:

    Is it "SAFE?" Not for those who are being targeted by an A-10!

    The Warthog is one of the most effective purpose-built attack planes ever built. It is tough, it can work in a variety of conditions, and it has more than enough punch to do its intended job.

    Should we keep it? You bet!! We can update the avionics and weapons systems and still keep the air frame. It's not stealthy, fast, or pretty, but it works.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 8:22 PM, valuwarrior wrote:

    Seriously, quoting Mother Jones about anything military is a journalistic joke, right? I 100% agree we should keep ALL A-10s flying until we replace them with F-35s. The F-35 will be a far more survivable, more lethal replacement for the A-10 in medium-to-high threat scenarios because of stealth, speed and sensor fusion. Several A-10s were shot down in Desert Storm by AAA and SAMs killing a few of my buds--so let's be clear--the A-10 will NOT be survivable in anti-access battlespace. That said, with Russia and China threatening our allies, keeping all A-10s, B-1s, F-16s and F-15s flying while we build new F-35s and bombers is absolutely essential to US national security.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 8:23 PM, rcmpvern wrote:

    Following this quote,

    "supposed to be an air fighter and a ground attack plane, but doesn't perform particularly well at either task."

    the author wrote,

    "So why is the Air Force trying to kill its "good" plane in favor of the "particularly" good one? "

    What he meant was "not particularly" good one.

    And the reason isn't because the cost of the F-35 leaves no money for the A-10 program.

    It's because the decision-makers who risked our money on the F-35 don't want their All-Everything plane to be embarrassed by the forty year-old A-10.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 8:25 PM, docfjs wrote:

    The Air Force hates ground support. That is why they don't like the Warthog.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 8:34 PM, rcouellet wrote:

    The A-10 is a great aircraft, but it's actually not the best close support aircraft out there. Boots on the ground typically prefer Apaches or Cobras for their ability to loiter on target until the threat is gone. It's gun is so powerful, the support role is often compromised if the enemy position is too close to friendlies. It becomes a friendly fire hazard.

    The A-10 is more suited to a hunter-killer type of role, seeking out and engaging enemy armor. They decimated Iraqi tanks at the start of the Gulf War and Enduring Freedom.

    Overall, I can see both sides of the argument. The combat role of the A-10 is becoming increasingly less relevant in 21st century warfare, yet it's such a clutch weapon system when it operates in the proper environment. I see no problem with "parking" them so to speak, dramatically reducing their maintenance costs. If the time comes where we need em', they'd still be ready to go.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 8:41 PM, bill4848 wrote:

    Air Force's best tank killer. How about the Air Forces only dedicated tank killer. The AF does not like it at all; not fast enough or sexy enough, unless you are a ground fighter. For us it's fast enough and that darn gun is sexy when it fires.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 8:55 PM, jjn1976 wrote:

    Come on people quite holding on to the past. This weapon system was great at the height of the Cold War and very effective in Iraq and Afghanistan but against the sophisticated integrated air defense systems of the Russians or Chinese it would at significant risk and in most cases not survive more than an engagement or two. Nope it’s time to go just like the KC-10 should and yes the U-2.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 9:07 PM, Grandpastu wrote:

    The A-10 is paid for and proven. Don't opt for the F-35 to try and do the warthog's job. Pilots would be afraid to fly it because if it got shot down, they'd have to explain why they screwed up and lost a perfectly good, very expensive airplane to a bullet from an AK-47. Leave the Warthog alone. AD-1 Skyraiders should still be flying because they were the best at what they did, as well.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 9:09 PM, redneckreaver wrote:

    Keep the A-10 , Disband the air farce. Bring back The Army Air Corps.

    We need weapons that work not new futuristic crap with ridiculous price tags that won't ever deliver up to the hype.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 9:33 PM, Citizen110 wrote:

    The A-10 was designed around it's main weapon system, the GAU-8/A 30mm automatic cannon. It's straight wings are a dead giveaway that this aircraft is designed to fly low and slow. Just the sound of that automatic cannon firing will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up! Forget about trying to hide from the impact of those 30mm rounds raining down outta the sky at 3900 rounds per minute. Talk about maneuverability, it can turn on a dime. The US needs to keep the A-10 and keep improving it, because it does what it does so very well!

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 9:35 PM, RHO1953 wrote:

    The A-10 cannot be replaced! It can do things no other plane can even attempt. Its capabilities in close quarters and ability to take abuse are incredible. It would be insane to kill it off.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 9:45 PM, Galane wrote:

    Do a google on Rutan ARES. Scale that up to wrap around the GAU-8 Avenger cannon from the Warthog and it would make a faster, even more agile, affordable replacement for the A-10.

    In Desert Storm, only six A-10 aircraft were lost. Four were shot down and there were two pilots killed. Two were shot down close together - with the pilot of the second one of the fatalities as he was attempting to protect his downed wingman - who was captured on the ground.

    Compared to the amount of damage dealt to the enemy that's an excellent record.

    At least one A-10 suffered major combat damage (a dud AA missile through a wing which took out a wheel and ripped a strip of wing skin off from root to tip) and was repaired with a complete wing replacement and returned to flight before hostilities ended. How the plane managed to stay flying with a full length strip gone off the top... that's as amazing as the Israeli F-15 that the pilot managed to land after losing a wing in a mid-air collision.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 9:49 PM, mikim10 wrote:

    I built this plane from 1978 to 1982...The end of the cold war and the lack of international interest from countries to buy the plane WITHOUT the gatling gun, killed the project. I sat in that cockpit for many hours, that's how each plane started out, the shell of the cockpit. No more can be made. Air force pilots are into speed and altitude, I've seen this plane fly 6 feet off the ground. Preserve them. You never know who the next foe will be.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 10:01 PM, Tyeward wrote:

    Leave the tank buster alone !!!!!!!!!! It´s too good at it´s job to dismiss it. Of course it´s safe. It´s literally a flying tank built around a 30 mm Gatling Gun. The beauty of it is that it´s simple, and quite often simple wins the day on the battlefield. If the AirForce doesn´t want it anymore, split up the fleet and divide it between the Army and the Marines. This type of aircraft is an amazing asset to ground forces and because of the engines not burning hot, it´s difficult for heat seeking equipment to lock on to it. It can take a beating and turn right back around and dish it right back, and it can turn on a dime. We need a dedicated aircraft like this for the job it does. As long as air superiority is established and enforced the A-10 is virtually unchallenged in it´s role. There is nothing out there that is an effective substitute for what it does or the havoc it wreaks. If they are looking to get rid of it, I really hope they have something planned that can fill it´s shoes on the battlefield. The A-10 is a formidable capability that´s hard to beat and those are some seriously big shoes to fill.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 10:04 PM, Kummin wrote:

    The generals sold Congress a bill of goods. This always looking for one airplane that can do all missions is a fool's game and they know it. But it's the lies they need to tell to get Congress to go along with something as expensive as the F-35. Too bad the fighter jocks run the air force.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 10:41 PM, Dienekes wrote:

    This JSF developement program has cost about 1.5 trillion dollars. For that money they could have bought 10,000 F-22 Raptors. The F-35 is the obamajet of aircraft, it is ridiculously expensive to develope, will be costly to produce, and the original specifications have been downgraded because the airframe is unable to achieve them. The only advantage it has over an F-16 is stealth. It has not proven to outperform any of our current combat aircraft. This situation does not bode well.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 10:45 PM, jymjim wrote:

    the air force should sell the A-110 to the Army or Marines, who should use it to replace the Harrier and some attack helos. That way the AF gets out of the CAS mission they don't want and the Army & Marines get control of thier own CAS with an affordable, proven aircraft. win-win

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 10:49 PM, Vlad1955 wrote:

    We don't need more fighters. We will not be fighting anybody with significant fighters (China/Russia). We need the A-10 for the low budget 3rd world enemies whose main weapons are suicide warriors and rocket propelled grenades.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 10:51 PM, rav55 wrote:

    @valuwarrior

    The definition of CLOSE COMBAT SUPPORT role DOES NOT describe the F-35.

    It is too fast for close targeting and too complex to sustain anything but superficial damage.

    The Airforce for years have designed flying Turkeys and called them multi-role fighters. Because politicians get in the way of procurement.

    The F-35 program should be scrapped.

    It is a shame full waste of money. What is it's mission? Nobody really knows so they say it's multi-purpose air superiority fighter. That's crap.

    It's purpose is to spend money and make arms industrialist boatloads of money as there is no real foreign threat to our sovereignty that would require squadrons of F-35s.

    It's proof of concept that's all.

    The put the clear thinking of the Airforce in perspective, they also want to eliminate piloted aircraft and send drones off instead. Given how easy drones are to hack that's a really great idea.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 10:56 PM, mso88 wrote:

    Keep both. Cut the monstrous expansion of federal employees and agencies elsewhere.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 10:57 PM, sjcraig1953 wrote:

    The A-10 was developed to counter Russian tanks that threatened Europe. They may be needed in that role again. Keep the A-10, it is a flying tank.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 10:59 PM, Ravenor wrote:

    "Gold-plated?" No. It is more like titanium and carbon fiber foil plated is more like it. A-10s are like Rocky and the Energizer bunny. It withstands heaps of punishment, and just keeps going and going and going...

    Maybe they need to repaint them with tusks and teeth like the past. That would bring back some some "cool".

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 11:00 PM, babyleg wrote:

    Real simple. Yes. During Desert Storm had one that took a SAM thru the right wing near the tip and leading edge. It flew back safely, was fixed and back out for service. Awesome aircraft built around a very big gun.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 11:59 PM, TMFDitty wrote:

    @rcmpvern: Thanks for pointing out the typo. I'll get that fixed asap.

    TMFDitty

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 12:46 AM, ExMilitary777 wrote:

    I have a better way the Air Force can cut costs and not lose any planes.

    If the average taxpayer went onto a military installation and saw how nice the Air Force facilities are they would freak out and the media would have a field day.

    - How about stop paying to upkeep all those really nice golf courses on every base.

    - All those really nice brand new super large HD TVs in every work area.

    - Sure having a fitness facility is necessary but one in every work area with all new top of the line equipment.

    - There are way too many generals something like 300 in the AF alone and the make base salaries of 100k-250k+ (not including housing allowances, expense accounts, etc...) Millions and millions of dollars.

    - The complete C-27Js fleet which is brand new and being turned into mothballs.

    - VIP visits and all kinds of award and other ceremony banquets and events.

    The list goes on and on I could keep naming examples but basically the DOD and Federal Government has a culture of waste.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 12:47 AM, jimsmith22 wrote:

    Getting rid of the A-10 Warthog is a bad idea it's the best plain ever built.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 12:52 AM, Brinis wrote:

    the A-10 has got to be the most beautiful ugly plane ever made. Just imagine siting in a cockpit built over a 50 cal gatling gun.I'd have to say that Putin saved the A-10 and dosn't even know it. But he will learn that he made a big "OOPS" when A-10's are tearing his tanks all to hell and back.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 1:18 AM, PatriotMuckraker wrote:

    The REAL reason they want to kill it is because military brass need to continuously shovel the highest price gizmo into service because it makes the most profit for the corporation that will hire them after they retire. Simple as that. This has been going on for decades.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 1:53 AM, 2ADDICTED wrote:

    The A-10 is an affordable and effective Close Air Support (CAS) / Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) aircraft. The total FY14 program budget was $900M for 340+ aircraft. The cost per flying hour is < $7K. The A-10C is modernized with up-to-date sensors and datalinks. The A-10 carries more expendables (chaff & flare) than other fighter/attack aircraft and the new generation jamming pod (ALQ-131A) gives the A-10C similar capability to the F-35. The A-10C carries more munitions and cannon rounds than the F-35. The A-10 also has more range and can spend more time on station. The A-10 pilots are specifically trained for the CAS / CSAR mission vs. the F-35 pilots being focused on Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (DEAD) and Air-to-Air combat. The F-35 program is experiencing significant schedule delays and cost overruns. Current fly-away cost of the Air Force (AF) F-35A is $105M per aircraft.

    The day the Air Force gives up the A-10 and relies on the unproven F-35A, is the day when the AF deems troops in contact and downed airmen as expendable.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 3:05 AM, quasimodo007 wrote:

    If they need it why don't they use it against the Evil bully russian dogs and czar putin/HITLER serbian bully Lap dogs THUGS who are taking and stealing Ukraine land. next it will be Ukraine and the USa will keep warning czar putin/Hitler as he keeps taking more of Europe

    oh i forgeot the EVil NsA mislead the USA and saying China is the real danger that is why the EVIL NsA has NO real Intel on czar putin/hitler from who the ally of the evil russian is ISRAEL who give false Intel to the The EVIL nsA

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 3:16 AM, rawknee wrote:

    1) keep the HOGS

    2) no to the multibillon $ ripoff

    3) A - adapt a drone system to fly with the hogs

    B - drones to use 1 - already developed air to ground missile's &

    2 - air to air defensive missiles adapted

    to fire a CHAF CLOUD ---- to intercept incoming THUS the defensive drone's can play 2 roles/

    HOG protection & also vs incoming fire &

    2A can CLOUD confront against incoming nuke missiles by exploding a CLOUD of small SS balls in front of INCOMING missiles of all kinds including ICBM's

    this system does not require pin point HITS vs high speed incoming - it forces the incoming to fly through CHAF clouds at low cost w/o risk of human pilots &

    it saves a HUGE amount of $$$$$ too

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 3:21 AM, GlassHat wrote:

    while i do think a new STOVL is needed, such as the F-35B. i have to look back and remember that on average it took 4 Sherman tanks to take kill a German panzer in ww2. since it cost the same to build 4 a-10's and 4 f-14's as single f-35, or 11 multi role f-16 falcons.

    "jack of all trades is master of none" would hold true.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 5:51 AM, Psyphex wrote:

    Keep the A-10. The only Air Defense threat to the A-10 is shoulder fired munitions like FIM-92 or vehicle platforms such as the Avenger. If the Boys up top are doing their job in SEAD then much of this system will be nullified or at least mitigated to being low risk.

    For a CAS aircraft the A-10 does its job superbly on paper and in the air. So much so that equivalent Attack Helo's such as the Mi-24D "Hind" and the "Havok" or "Hokum" will not be much of threat when this aircraft is paired with AH-1Z's "Cobra" and AH-64D's "Apaches". The A-10 is a force multiplier even in the 21st century.

    The Air Force needs to revisit the lessons of World War II and the Luftwaffe. The Major success to the German Blitzkrieg was due to CAS, as much as it was Attack in depth and Interdiction strikes.

    Interdiction, and FLOT strikes will be a critical mission in any conflict. Afghanistan and Iraq have proven this time and time again despite the asymmetry of those battlefields.

    Personally, One plane: 30mm GAU-8, 16 AGM-68 "mavericks"/"hellfire", or 16 500lb Bombs versus Two aircraft that carry half that each? Where is the economy of force sense in that?

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 5:58 AM, mikaelam wrote:

    I was one of those responsible for building the A-10.

    Every year we had to fight with the Air Force brass to build more. They were only interested in sophisticated and expensive planes and not the work horses. The A-10 was less than $10M when we were building them. They could not be shot down. It was an Engineering Marvel. The pilot sat in a titanium bathtub, 6" ballistic foam on the bottom part of the aircraft. You could shoot at it all day long. It had three flight control systems including one you could fly by wire. The GE AU6 gattling gun could fire over 4,000 rounds a minute destroying everything in it's path. Pilots loved to fly the plane because they were in control, not computers. The Air Force would rather buikd F-35s where you fire a missile without seeing a target. They could build cheap drones to do the same thing. Keep the A-10 Flying!!!

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 6:20 AM, Chevynuts33 wrote:

    Politics, Politicians and Wall Street, can't live without them, can't (ki)ll 'em. lol!.

    Spec operators AND, the ground pounders know choppers may be to far away or take too long, They know that the politics of Drone usage means, one day they are the preferred tool and the next day a policy may be to restrict the usage.

    The F-35 is seen as a nice addition, but that it will have both said restrictions. Will the F-35 be too far away or will its expense and tech value prevent sending it into any situation and for Pete's sake there will never be many of them for quite some time.

    For the same price for a '35' one gets an entire flight of 10s.. a squadron? The 35 hasn't yet been outfitted to carry the loads the 10 is capable of in all forms of ground support. A 10, push comes to shove and armorers allowed to do their thing, can carry racking systems that can fill the air with anti-tank or air to air.

    So, so you want a flight of 10s lined abreast filling the down range with a cloud of munitions that are smart in the air, depleted rounds for the ground, or a single 35, lighting off a few and scurrying out of the contact area?

    Politicians and Wall Street want one thing, the guys in the (S)hit want another.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 6:29 AM, Scott2 wrote:

    Save the Warthog and the BUFF. And the Bone. I served in the Air Force for 6 years as a B-52 mechanic. We have our own names for these aircraft.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 6:43 AM, McSniperliger wrote:

    Drop the POS F35 and you'll save money in the long run. The F35 was a great concept but was poorly executed.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 6:54 AM, rumjug wrote:

    This NKP vet says it is absolutely necessary to keep this war bird. No F-18, F-35 or any other F designated plane can do the job of the A-10. The A-10 is the best air to mud killing machine ever built. Way too many young Americans died in the jungles of Southeast Asia because we didn’t have a plane like this. We had to take A-1 Skyraiders out of mothballs to have a similar capability. Somebody high up in the Air Force needs to stand up for the A-10. Sadly, careers are more important for too many officers than preservation of a weapon that saves battlefield lives. May God forgive this type of leader.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 7:20 AM, rick99rick wrote:

    The only reason this aircraft was targeted is because it is to OBAMA a symbol of American "aggression and imperialism" and part of his plan to neuter the United States.

    What sort of fool would want to decommission one of the most successful aircraft in our arsenal??

    Just ask our guys in uniform on that battlefield what THEY think of this bad puppy! They will tell you plenty of stories of the enemy running away with their tail between their legs when they hear the unmistakable BBRRRAAAHHHTTTT of the warthog about to send them into the next world.

    S&&& u Obama ... not on our watch!

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 9:57 AM, joebury2004 wrote:

    so we are going to save the a-10 but scrap our only modern bomber that is in significant numbers??? I say get rid of 300 F-16s instead. F-35 is more closely matched to the F-16. We lose the B-1 we lose all practical ability to launch a long range bombing campaign against a significant adversary. B-52 cannot make it into any airspace of a country that is not living in the stone ages.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 10:12 AM, brb1972 wrote:

    save and upgrade the a-10. ditch the f-35, b-1 and b-52. upgrade the rest of the f-16s, f-18s, f-14s, and harriers. keep the b-2s and f-22s. it is the navy that needs a new stealth phoenix platform. retrofit a f-22 to fire phoenix and add an arrester hook.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 10:47 AM, OFIA wrote:

    The Air Force WANTS new and expensive. They never wanted the A-10 in the first place. Not sexy. But it's one of the most effective battlefield weapons we've ever deployed. The Air Force didn't want the F-16 either. The biography Col. Boyd ("BOYD") is very instructive about the Air Force's mentality on weapons needs and acquisition.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 11:19 AM, Rockyvnvmc wrote:

    As I've ben cautioning, for years now, America's greatest strength, as well as it's greatest weakness, is our high tech military and even our entire civilization.

    While lower tech solutions to almost everything always exist, we always seem to go for the high tech solution, the most costly and the most fragile, to our enemies attempts to destroy it and us.

    All of our enemies already are aware of our vulnerability to an EMP weapon, now they are aware of just how vulnerable our entire electrical grid is, to everything from EMP's to hacking.

    Our entire civilization, here in this country, is walking a 'high wire'... one small trip and down we will go.

    In my humble opinion, it's always wise to keep some low tech options available... just in case of a catastrophic failure of some sort, or another...

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 11:37 AM, agsb2 wrote:

    It doesn't have what Gens are looking for. It is not sleek, SEXY and Stealthy nor a fast Mach 2 or 3 aircraft but a tank busting, ground troop support aircraft with redundancy and pilot protection that would make other aircraft blush with envy.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 11:38 AM, ellaerdos wrote:

    Bad news F35 Lovers! I heard on the radio this AM that the US Navy has cancelled 50% of their F35 order.

    .7/

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 11:55 AM, dannystrong wrote:

    The A10 is pretty much the last special-purpose plane left. It was a mini gun with a plane wrapped around it. Oh sure, you can strap some missiles on it, but that's window-dressing. And it's a fantastically effective weapon.

    The USAF brass, and their patrons in Congress, though, love "multipurpose" aircraft. Such planes (e.g. "Fighter-bomber", "Interceptor-ground-support", "carrier-capable-strategic-interceptor") are easier to sell, because they can be whatever you want them to be to whomever you want to sell them to.

    Want a strategic interceptor? F35. Want a fighter? F35? Want a plane you can catapult off a carrier? F35. Want a precision bomber? F35. Want a stealth fighter? F35. Want a STOL fighter? F35. Want a replacement aircraft for the blue knights? F35! See? And you only have to carry around one set of slides, no matter who you're going to try and sell. No matter that in doing everything, it won't do anything really well, because of all the design compromises necessary. No matter that costs keep going up and up, because of all these compromises and capabilities you keep bolting onto it. And since you've put all your capabilities in one airframe, you have to put yourself into the situation of having this thing or nothing.

    We've been here before -- the F111 (then FB-111) was supposed to do this; it wound up doing nothing it was originally designed for, and now is reduced to a low-budget awacs. We didn't, apparently, learn from this mistake. (Thanks, Robert Macnamara, for doing the country yet another favor over and above Vietnam.)

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 12:28 PM, ellaerdos wrote:

    If the A-10's mission can be done by the F35 why are the Russians still building their version of it?

    That's right, the Russians still build a 30MM twin-barrel rotary cannon carrying tank buster called the Su-25SM. The plane has been recently upgraded with new electronics and smart bomb capability. To date they have built about 1,000, the aircraft is also available in an export model.

    The SU-25 is a 19 ton aircraft that carries 250 30MM rounds and 5 tons of bombs, rockets and other weaponry.

    Guess the Russians still think they need it.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 12:58 PM, harte wrote:

    Send the unwanted A-10's to the Ukrainians.

    They'll make good use of them against the commie tanks.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 1:04 PM, leon1 wrote:

    The first option the Air Force should pick is finding $700 million in the budget somewhere each year to for the next 5 years so it can keep the A-10. After that, I support selling the KC-10 fleet to Israel, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Omega Tanker to generate $2 Billion in revenue, and replacing them with Boeing 767 tankers that are coming anyway. They should also re-engine the B-52 fleet with the same (more fuel efficient) engines as the 767 tanker fleet which will be a huge fuel consumption and logistical savings. After that option, I support eliminating 300 F-16s; we would still have 700 F-16s, and supposed the the F-35 is a stealthy F-16 replacement. We would also still have the A-10 fleet and the B-1 fleet.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 1:18 PM, nagalfar wrote:

    The Air Farce (Spelled Correctly), has to find a use for the biggest budget overrun in the HISTORY of the military, we know it as the POS F-35, the same performance of a 40 year old F-16, and the stealth ability ONLY when its unarmed.. it sucks at everything..

    The A-10, a HERO of both gulf wars, and Afghanistan, ask the grunts what aircraft save lives, the A-10 and Apache's and even some old Cobra's.. every word stated to the most powerful and useful aircraft were those 3.. the WHOLE A-10 fleet just finished a complete rebuild and update, why? because they had been used so much, and they are such a valuable aircraft there was no choice, rebuild the fleet of around 800, till this year... gutless men trading the lives of grunts on the ground so they wont have to admit they totally screwed up on F-35 at OVER 1.6 TRILLION DOLARS cost so far... A-10, cheap, tough as a USMC Drill Sgt. and it DOMINATES its A.O., ask any Iraqi who was in armor during either gulf war.. but there are not many left to ask! F-35, most expressive military project in history and it still cant do the job it was meant to do.

    This is a moved forced by brass in the Air Farce because of their stupidity, the F-22 has no equals on this planet.. fast movers have no loiter time, nor are they anything close to the A-10 at ground attack.. so what do we need the F-35 for? no one is buying it, no allies are ordering it.. lol.. the only real order thus far is from the Air Farce.. and the irony of the 40 year old F-15 being able out out fly a new F-35 is mind numbingly stupid.

    Thanx to the Air Farce, and Lockheed Martin for lives that this will cost.. BTW, my sons are grunts..

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 1:24 PM, nagalfar wrote:

    Most is a good officer defined? his/her willingness to stand no matter what happens to them to protect the men and womens lives who serve under them.... where have to officers gone? we seem to have a different kind of officer serving now.. if you are not a "Yes Man".. with superior officers and politician's.. you are OUT the door.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 2:40 PM, thorlovesthea10 wrote:

    the air force hates low and slow. the army loves the a-10 because it can stick around and kick arse like no other. let the army have the a-10 an manage them with the helicopters.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 3:07 PM, prayforwar wrote:

    OK this is not true, "the Air Force estimates it will cost about $700 million per year to maintain and operate its 326 A-10s over the next five years. That's $700 million it would prefer to pour into the F-35 program if at all possible. But for that to happen, the A-10 has to die".

    The Air force has ALREADY spent 1 billion for the A-10 maintenance for the next 10 years, and they still want to scrap it. So what they really want to do is waste 1 billion of the tax payers dollars and get rid of a plane with a maintenance plan they already paid for.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 3:14 PM, birder1500 wrote:

    I really doubt they want to save it. It doesn't cost enough. They like the F35 at a trillion dollars.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 3:31 PM, bmmohio wrote:

    Would be cool to even update the A10 targeting system and add a box wing design to allow more munitions or fuel efficiency.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 3:59 PM, SLTom992 wrote:

    Mother Jones knows all about it because they asked a submarine recruit.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 5:37 PM, philato wrote:

    The Air Force love height and speed. Getting close to the ground scares them. Sooo just give the hogs to the Army and Marines. The troops on the ground are theirs, The same as we did with the armed helicopters.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 5:57 PM, runn70 wrote:

    I love that aircraft. Just listen to the wisdom of the people that know it well in the comments.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 6:23 PM, ellaerdos wrote:

    KEEP THE A10, RETIRE THE AIR FORCE!

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 8:48 PM, Constance wrote:

    Putin did more to save the A-10 than anyone.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 11:06 PM, dowhathas2 wrote:

    If the Air Force does not want the A-10 give it to the Army.....they will keep it flying.....if they want to keep it killing give it to the Marines.......let us not enoble war.... but when called to fight, by God let us win!

  • Report this Comment On March 25, 2014, at 1:05 AM, dihp1956 wrote:

    One only has to look back just over a decade to the row of destruction stretching from Kuwait back along the road to Iraq. The Iraqi armor that had invaded Kuwait was in full retreat, back to Iraq and the crews that had any sense bailed out of their tanks and armor and ran for their lives as the A-10's chewed them up without resistance. The not so smart ones died in their tanks.

    No, the A-10 will not survive in the battle space of a modern 21st century military, U.S., Russia, China in an all out conflict but that is not how we use them. They are purpose built for taking out ground armor of our 20th century foes and they are one of the most successful weapons platforms that we have ever fielded in that respect. If you are a tank on the ground and an A-10 is gunning for you you are simply a dead tank...End of story.

    The A-10 has spent the last decade proving its worth again and again and the value vs. cost of the A-10 has been proven over and over. There simply is no more effective weapons system for the destruction of enemy armor and close air support in existence today. Trying to retire a low-cost proven weapons platform in favor of an unproven, undeveloped multi-role weapons system that simply can't do the same job and for a much higher per unit cost with a lower probability of survival is just crazy. The Air Force really wants their F-35 joint strike fighter and it is going to be just like any other multi-role weapons system. Okay at what it does but really good at anything and at an alarming price.

    The A-10 is one of the most effective close air support systems ever developed. The guys on the ground love them. Simply stated, they fly low and slow and target their ground targets and take them out with relative ease. The guys on the ground breath a sigh of relief when the A-10 is on station. The Air Force is not crazy about it because it's old and low and slow but if they don't want it they should hand it off to the Army. The A-10 should be here to stay because it is extremely effective and saves lives and it does so more cheaply than other weapons systems. Lives are the name of the game and the A-10 is the best of the best.

    When and if the F-35 ever gets off of the ground it can have other missions but it will never be able to replace the A-10 and will never be nearly as effective. Make the smart choice to save lives and take out tons of enemy ordinance safely, surely and economically. Keep the A-10 and let the Warthog do what it does better than any other aircraft in the world....Kick air to ground ass! Save the A-10...Save lives! Save money. Bring more of our boys home because of it. How much simpler can it get?

  • Report this Comment On March 25, 2014, at 5:04 AM, SeniorMoment wrote:

    The wars where the A10 has proved effective have been against countries such as Iraq or in Afghanistan that do not have sophisticated Surface To Air missiles , it could be a gamble against more recent technology.

    On the other hand if I was a former soviet state I would be asking the Americans for a heavy deployment of these planes. Its as much about politics as it is about military might and these planes send a loud statement.

    I could also argue that the Apache has fitted in to the same role as the A10 and doesn't need a runway.

  • Report this Comment On March 25, 2014, at 10:53 AM, TMFDitty wrote:

    I have to say -- this idea of shifting the A-10s over to the Army's jurisdiction makes a lot of sense. USAF today seems much more concerned with air, and even over-air (space) superiority.

    Perhaps the best solution is to shift dedicated CAS assets to the Army, shift funding from USAF to the Army in tandem, and then let the Army decide if the assets are valuable enough to it, to be worth maintaining.

  • Report this Comment On March 25, 2014, at 11:33 AM, rw93003 wrote:

    Maybe we could cut back on the massive increases in needs-based-program (welfare) expenditures that we've incurred over the last 5 years and keep all of the defense equipment

  • Report this Comment On March 27, 2014, at 3:28 PM, RickInVirginia wrote:

    How many times, in how many places and in how many critical situations does an airplane have to prove itself to be considered a truly exceptional weapons platform by today's defense seniors. The thing is, they are in a box not of their own making. Years ago, before their watch, we started down the "one airplane, many users" path having turned a blind eye to history's lessons regarding the effectiveness of a "one for all" airplane; does anybody remember the F-111? In combat, the only two parameters that matter are the effectiveness if a weapons system and the number of those systems being deployed.

    The real issue is not the Warthog, it's the F-35 which doesn't do anything very we'll at GREAT expense. Damn it, these decisions are much too important for politics to be the primary consideration. What's happening on the borders of the Ukraine should give military planners a wake up call. A ground confrontation with the Russians? My god, what's a key part of their strategy and tactics? Tanks, and LOTS of them. And what kills tanks? Warthogs. But the F-35 will look good at air shows!

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