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Is the Air Force's A-10 Warthog the Best Plane Money Can Buy?

When it comes to warplanes, which is better: shiny and new, or tried and true?

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Once upon a time, the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II was inarguably the best close air support fighter in the U.S. Air Force's arsenal. But if you ask USAF brass today, they'll tell you it's time to retire the much-loved (but not for its looks) "Warthog." Its day is done, and there are other planes -- more modern, capable planes -- that can perform the A-10's mission just as well.

Lockheed Martin's (NYSE: LMT  ) F-35 stealth fighter, for example, sports a 25mm GAU-22/A Gatling gun for ground attack, plus internal weapons bays and external hard points permitting a payload of eight bombs and missiles. The plane it's replacing, Lockheed's venerable F-16 fighter, carries a similar payload, and has an M61 Vulcan Gatling gun with capacity for 511 20mm cannon rounds  (which, firing at 6,000 rounds per minute, the F-16 can empty in 5.1 seconds flat).

Boeing's (NYSE: BA  ) high-altitude B-1B bomber isn't much good at strafing, but it can carry a payload of 144 "smart" GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs in its bays, permitting precision strikes on ground targets. And rounding out the ensemble, Lockheed makes a gunship version of its C-130 Hercules transport. Used primarily on special ops missions, it's called variously the "Spectre," "Spooky," or "Ghostrider," and as recently argued on the pages of the Air Force Times, all three variants beat the smaller A-10 for "lethality." Each carries a 105mm howitzer, twin 40mm cannon, and a 25mm Gatling gun capable of unloading 2,500 rounds per minute -- a trifecta of terror for any opposing force.

From the sheer perspective of how much lead can we throw at the enemy, there's no denying -- there are alternatives to the A-10. The problem these days is more a question of cost. With the Air Force on the hook for upward of $1 trillion to buy and fly its new fleet of F-35s, money's getting tight. USAF worries that funding the A-10 will necessitate cutting elsewhere -- retiring hundreds of F-16s, forgoing F-35s, and perhaps killing the B-1B program entirely. So eventually, this turns into a numbers game. Which plane can do the best job of close air support at the cheapest cost?

To find that out, we've mined data from military aircraft website, and from the USAF itself, to try and come up with some answers. Take a click-tour of the following slideshow and see what you think -- and make sure check out our special free report at the end.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 2:54 PM, rclines01 wrote:

    No plane right now can replace everything the warthog can do. The F35 in no way shape or form can do the warthog's job. The warthog is close ground support. Nothing else(fixed wing) in our arsenal falls even close to being in that category. NOTHING else in our arsenal can take a hit like a warthog can and keep on going. The warthog is a specialty weapon and they are trying to replace it with a multi-role weapon. Sure the F35 has a big gun and can carry a similar payload, but it can't stay slow and close like a warthog can, and it sure as hell can't take damage like a warthog can.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 3:07 PM, cityperson wrote:

    The Worthhog is so good and less maintenance, the AF wants to get rid of them and the builder screwed up and made a good plane. I guess if the planes today do not,cost a billion or so per model the builders do not like that.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 3:10 PM, cityperson wrote:

    I forgot to comment why the Marines need expensive planes that can not do the things the Worhthog can do. Maybe be cause it is not fancy enough for the generals and do not cost an arm and leg.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 3:16 PM, Gunny1952 wrote:

    It is the best for close air support until another can be designed.The F-22 Raptor and the F-35 where not designed for dedicated CAS but as general all around fighters.There speed and altitude requirements do not lend them selves to CAS missions.Moreover if a ground mission by these aircraft are called in the ground forces are in just as much danger as the target.Whereas the Warthog can get down and personal with its gun and AGMs can pinpoint visually the target and the friendly's to excellent effect.The F-22s and F-35 would be used to better effect as top cover for the CAS mission if air superiority was a question.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 3:17 PM, genuinejim wrote:

    The warthog served us well as many aircraft have in the USAF inventory with excellent maintenance over decades; think KC-135 etc. But the BEST plane money can buy over the last six decades is the multi-functional various versions C-130, hands down!

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 3:25 PM, ilsm50 wrote:

    Welfare for Lockheed, none care for the soldier or marine really in need of air support.

    The Marine and Naval versions of F-35 have no gun , the 25mm is an after thought "bolted on" with a pod, pod systems are nortiously inaccurate, and the thing carries 180 rounds......

    The A-10 is steady, relaible and quick back on target, slatt winged it flies at around 300 knots, and can drop bombs or guided ordnance and be back over the taregt in less than a minute. Other swept wing airplanes doing 500 plus knots need the size of Connecticut to turn, and move so fast the pilot cannot eye the targets.

    The old 25mm gun on the F-35 has too few rounds, and is so light it cannot damage a tenth the equipment the GAU-8 30 mm on the A-10. The impulse of the GAU-8 would shatter the already crippled F-35 if it could be fit on the dog.

    However, the Douglas A-1E Skyraider (based on an airplane which came out in 1945) could give the A-10 a run for the money in a few categories, but not all the A-10 can do.

    The question for throwing good money after bad in the F-35 is how many failures does it take to kill a broken airplane program?

    A guy in a van in the states can use Raptor to do the F-35 job at 1/10 the cost, not risking a $200M airplane.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 3:26 PM, Merlinever wrote:

    The Russian SU 25 Frogfoot Flying Tank is designed to do the same things as the the A-10, is far superior to the A-10 in every way, and costs a lot less to build. That the Russian military hardware is so vastly superior to ours is very troubling and frightening. The corruption in our military industrial complex is making us dangerously vulnerable.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 3:30 PM, RalphS wrote:

    Having lived in the same town as the Marine Corps Supply Center for the Atlantic Fleet, I came to know a lot of soldiers that had served in a lot of conflicts going back as far as Vietnam. I worked for a civilian communications contractor at the time. I have heard many a story of admiration for the "Warthog". Some were tales of pilot survival, with no injuries at all, after their plane was shot up so bad that it looks like a sieve. For close air support, the general consensus from the soldiers and commanders was that the "Hog" had no equal.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 3:31 PM, Leftofcenter wrote:

    The A-10 is in competition with Army attack helicopters. Both performed very well in the first Gulf War.

    Instead of retiring the A-10 maybe they should be sold or given to Iraq and other allies. They are cheap to maintain and not wildly technical. Parts for the A-10s will keep jobs and if we are smart we can train Iraqi pilots HERE. No outsourcing or boots on the ground in Iraq! It looks like Iraq has no air force.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 3:39 PM, trebzak wrote:

    No one in their right mind would fly a $200 million aircraft low and slow over a battlefield. High and fast cannot get the job done. Hopefully the A-10s being retired will be prepped for storage and not scrapped. That way in the future someone with more sense can bring them back into active duty.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 3:43 PM, Gunny1952 wrote:

    @ Cityperson Sir the Marines are using the same A/C as the navy with the exception of the Harrier V/STOL that is being retired from service just as the A-10 was until recently and being replaced by the F-35B a carrier based A/C.I have always wondered why the Marine Corp did not scream bloody murder when the A-10 was not also designed with a beefed up carrier landing gear for there inventory.The A-10 seemed to me to be made to order for Marine CAS missions.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 3:44 PM, PeteBensen wrote:

    The A-10 simply DOES NOT compare with the other listed aircraft. They are UNIVERSALLY more expensive, thin-skinned, barely effective in the close air support (CAS) role. Giving the A-10 to Iraq would be INSANE. Given their history and current situation you simply CANNOT guarantee that they wouldn't be used against us near term.

    The A-10 is a heavily armored, maneuverable, heavy lift, specialized design that cannot be replaced by ANYTHING in our present air fleet. It is false economy to try and replace it with expensive, vulnerable aircraft that cannot even do the CAS job collectively. Not to mention individually.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 3:48 PM, brashone wrote:

    The last time the Air Force wanted to 'retire' the A-10 there was talk that they would be given to the Army. I agreed with that option, as the Air Force mission to provide ground support is sorely lacking. The only support you can count on is that which you own. So move the aircraft, and personnel to operate it, to the Army.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 3:49 PM, thetnrebel wrote:

    for what it does no aiircraft in the US force can match it..

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 3:52 PM, Romanticapped wrote:

    This is another genius decision made by political expedient. They want the latest and greatest toys, to stay ahead of the curve and to look fancy and impressive to the rest of the world. Unfortunately they do so at the expense of practicality and actual performance in real life. Those other planes are great for what they are - fighters and bombers but they are not good enough for specific up close fights and ground cover. The A-10 is still the best for that, there is no reason they cannot simply do an upgrade on the A-10 except they simply don't want to. The A-10 is far more capable of taking a beating and continue ground support, it can do so faster than those 'speedy' planes that need more distance to turn around and the A-10 is still more visually accurate.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 4:05 PM, cusefan21 wrote:

    The AF A-10 is just like the USN S-3 Viking.. both built by lockheed and both in a class of their own. A-10 is a workhorse for the AF, is a tank destroyer, and ground support. Go ahead and ask people about the Navy S-3 Viking and most will say what is that.. look it up one of the best planes the navy ever had. The S-3 was the best subhunter to fly from an aircraft carrier.. navy screwed up bad removing its asw package in early 2000's and making it pretty much a tanking aircraft before retiring them in 2007 from the fleet.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 4:09 PM, southernshark wrote:

    Great report, the A-10 is vastly superior to its competitors for many reasons, cost being one, but certainly not the only one. The F-35 offers so little in way of sustained suppression that it is a joke. The B1B, while it carries a lot, just don't offer the same low altitude/in your face option that the A-10 brings to the table. And while the flyingfortress is pretty awesome, it's expensive and unlikely to be bought in large numbers. And if it were going to be bought in large numbers, it would make no sense, since supposedly the reason for ditching the A-10 is to save money. It is also less survivable due to it's size (it makes an easy target).

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 4:10 PM, southernshark wrote:

    If they had to ditch any of those, I say ditch the B1B. There is really nothing it offers which can't be done better by the B2 or B52.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 4:28 PM, drufolo wrote:

    Simple- Ask the families of the 5 dead soldiers what they think of using the B1 for close air support?

    If you do ask an infantry soldier-any infantry soldier, they will all say that the A10 is best.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 4:31 PM, misakowalt wrote:

    As others have noted, the A-10 is the best for the Close Air Support and Anti-armor mission than any other Air Farce aircraft. The primary reason is training in an air-ground combat mode. The F-35 will be one of the most expensive combat aircraft on the planet. It's cost per hour will far exceed the A-10. Because of that, the Air Force tactics will keep it high, away from small arms and ground to air missiles. This makes the aircraft useless to the Army infantry and armor that needs CLOSE air support. Ground infantry, armor, and artillery are MANEUVER forces. That means they are moving across terrain. When engaged by an enemy who is also moving across terrain, engagement distances are usually less than one mile. It is imperative that any aircraft releasing ordnance for a close air support mission be able to distinguish good guys from the enemy -IMPARATIVE. That requires the aircrew to have 3-D situational awareness and to be able to see where the good guys are and the enemy. In mountainous terrain like Afghanistan, it is even more difficult. It was the same in Vietnam.

    The Air Force has tried the B-1 and the result was the death of the people who called for close air support. Reason - NO situational awareness plus the B-1 will never get down low enough to have it. The A-10 pilots are used to getting down into what we call "the mud" with the infantry that needs them. They train together and know the requirements for putting bombs and bullets on target. The Air Force brass wants them to go away so that they can waste more money on shiny new toys. The Army needs the aircraft to stay alive. The F-15/F-16s primary mission is air-to-air combat. Secondary is dropping bombs from way up, but a few pilots are willing to get down lower to avoid killing friendlies and having great effectiveness on the enemy.

    The Marine Corps perfected Close Air Support during WWII and has been the leader in that mission ever since. The key to the Marine Corps' success is frequent air-ground training that includes the F/A-18 and used to include A-6 intruder which has been taken out of service. Note the "A" in F/A- that means attack. The Navy/Marine Corps designed the aircraft for a dual role - an air to air fighter and a ground attack aircraft for deep strike, interdiction, and close air support missions. The Marine Corps continues to be exceptionally successful in putting bombs on target in the close vicinity of friendly troops - all because that is the way we train.

    The Air Farce is focusing the F-35 to only be a air-to-air fighter, not CAS or bomber though it will have the capability to do so. The F-16 did a fine job in the invasion of Iraq with the JDAM bomb. The targets were building or stationary targets. The F-35 will be employed similarly though the B-1 and the multi-billion dollar conversion of the B-2 will also. (Maybe the AF can save money by not converting the B-2 and mothballing it until needed?) The A-10 is by far the most effective close air support weapon platform, even better than the F/A-18 which has proven highly effective.

    This is why so many active duty, former, and retired military members are pushing to keep the A-10. It may be old, but it is dependable and in terms of mission accomplishment, far above any other combat aircraft on the Air Force's flight line now and planned.

    It is one thing to die from an enemy bullet, bomb, mortar or artillery round, it is a completely bad and sad thing to die from an Air Force bomb put in the wrong place on maneuver forces.

    US Marine Officer with over 27 years experience

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 4:36 PM, trc wrote:

    The Air Force does not understand, care for and above all does not want to be involved in close air support. Asking Air Force brass what is the best aircraft for close air support, is equivalent to allowing the Army's 3rd Armored division commander, to tell the U.S. Navy what kind of submarines they need. Ask the Army and the Marine Corps what plane they want for close air support and you will get a definative answer. The zoom zoom boys only want to fly off into the wild blue yonder, they have absolutely zero interest in getting down in the mud with the blood.

    Hows this for an alternative? If the Air Force doesn't want the A-10 let them transfer their inventory to the Army and Marine Corps, who are the most interested in getting the job done. Win win situation, the Marine Corps gets the plane they need, not the one the Navy tells them they can have. The Army Air Corps,(yes it still exists) gets a fast mover flown by dedicated close air support pilots.

    P.S. The problem with the C-130 gunship is that they are a BFST,(Big F***ing Slow Target) and unless you have absolute dominance over the battlefield, you are going to lose a lot of C-130s. Also what has not been addressed, is that an enemy equipped with any sort of capable MANPAD system may be able to drive C-130s high enough to render them ineffective.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 4:41 PM, quasimodo007 wrote:

    OH Yeah and the Downright Dumb US Military should Buy EVIL russian Jet fighter s since they are Better and Cheaper than that Trillions Dollar Black HOLE F35.

    THE GREAT Americans RIP OFF from the EVIL cheney GoP/military corrupt contractors THUGS on the POOR American TAX Payers again.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 4:41 PM, Barmil wrote:

    Some times older is better and this is that time.

    The A-10 has nothing to prove it has been done and proves it is still a viable lethal weapon like the B-52.

    With all the hand wringing going on at the pentagon over the budget cuts you would think the A-10 would be a given to keep it serviceable provided that the air frame is free from fatigue, it might even be up-graded for a fraction of the money lost on F-35.

    Some times common sense is lost when it comes to tax payer money concerns.

    Keep the A-10 and stop funding the money pit they call the F-35,Make the manufacturer prove the plane at their expense.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 4:47 PM, misakowalt wrote:

    @Brashone - I was in the loop in that decision. It was 1990 when the SecDef got involved. The Air Force wanted the A-10 to go away. A very strong Chief of Staff of the Army said no and that they would talk the aircraft. The issue elevated to SecDef, via the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) who decided that a field operational test would be an appropriate way to confirm the effectiveness of the A-10 for Close Air Support to Army ground forces. The Marine Corps was tasked to conduct an operational test to evaluate the effectiveness of the A-10 in CAS. I was the Head of the Technical Support Branch and Scientific Advisor at the time in the Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity (MCOTEA). We were a small organization with the primary focus on the operational test and evaluation of ground weapons and systems.

    We requested that the Navy Operational Test and Evaluation Force (COMOPTEVFOR) be designated as primary evaluator and the Marine Corps would assist. They had both the manpower and experience, test equipment to record aviation ordnance and release data, as well as people.

    While all this was going on, the Chief of Staff of the AF and Army met again in private. When they exited, the AF withdrew their request to get rid of the A-10 and all went back to status quo. Two factors were brought up for this:

    1. About 1948, a defense bill that established the roles and missions of the four military Services provided that the AF would provide CAS for the Army and that the Army would divest itself of providing it's own CAS.

    2. I learned the following from an Army contact: the AF was told that when the A-10 transitioned to the Army, the AF would lose the aircraft, personnel, related equipment and supply support, as well as the operational budget. All of that would be passed to the Army.

    With this facing the Air Force, it became apparent that there would be no extra money to the AF with the A-10 going to the Army. It defeated their goal of taking A-10 money and using it elsewhere. Hence, the deal was withdrawn.

    The deal would again be withdrawn if the above were to be reinitiated. Congress would have to change the 1948 roles and missions bill and give the CAS mission to the Army and take it away from the Air Force. Today, that would probably sell with a blink due to the stink that the current AF stance is creating. Along with that, all funding, personnel, and everything else associated to the A-10 would pass to the Army which would be a God-send to the Army ground combat troops who need a reliable air-ground CAs platform. That would be recommendation on how this should ultimately go.

    US Marine - Retired (27 years service)

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 4:57 PM, phillipzx3 wrote:

    Maybe they should take a second look at Burt Rutans Scaled Composites ARES "Mudfighter."

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 5:00 PM, destroyer33 wrote:

    17,000 dollars an hr to fly,its worth it ,to help keep us safe. considering it cost air force one 228,000 dollars an hr to fly, over 2million dollars to fly air force one on obamah s hawaii vacation, how stupid.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 5:01 PM, misakowalt wrote:

    Forgot to address the AC-130. Good bird, good mission, but it is a big target in a contested battlefield and would last long. The A-10 is fast and come in from any direction at tree top level to avoid ground fire or being spotted by anti-air enemy ground troops/systems. Not so the AC-130. So long as the ground terrain is clear of anti-air capability, the AC-130 can be a very useful ground air support capability. Not I did not say "close" Much depends on the gunners in the aircraft as to their ability for situational awareness. There is no room for error when it comes to maneuvering ground forces in close proximity to enemy troops. The terrain and a key element in the decision to use the AC-130 and the commander who orders its use has to have the situational awareness for its employment.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 5:03 PM, Anshio wrote:

    I see a lot of people defending the A-10, which I understand, but one misconception seems to be that it is cheap to maintain. It isn't. The A-10 fleet is old, and age add maintenance costs as parts become more expensive and replacement of parts becomes more frequent. Not to mention that we have to use special training for each unique procedure, and an older craft involves more unique procedures and technology leaves it behind. It also get's hit. It's durable, but not terrible fast, and deliberately flying low. It gets hit more, and that adds a lot to maintenance and repair costs.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 5:12 PM, Roginator wrote:

    The A-10 is probably superb against tanks. Using it for anything else is questionable. We only have a handful of adversaries that have tanks.

    You wouldn't use an A-10 against the Taliban if your own soldiers were close unless there were no choppers nearby.

    I'd say delay the deployment of F-35, leaving plenty of money for the cheap A-10 and attack helicopters.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 5:18 PM, HogLover wrote:

    The A-10 beats all of those other planes easily hands down. Show me any of those other planes that can get half a wing shot off and still RTB. The AC-130 is the only other plane on the list that can take off and land on a dirt strip and even operate on a short airfield in a forward position but most aviators will agree flying a AC-130 into an active conflict when the sun is up is tantamount to suicide. Those special operations planes fly at night. The A-10 can get into the fight day or night. The AF used to have a great video showing a B-1b carpet bombing a group of tanks on a range. Many survived, then they hit the same ones with a f-16 very little damage. Then using the same number of tanks they flew in a single A-10 fully loaded. Not a single tank was left intact on the field. This plane beats them all. One kid with a AK-47 aimed at fuselage around the pilot could do serious damage or possibly even bring down one of those other planes. The A-10 would only need a touch up of the grey paint. No harm.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 5:18 PM, misakowalt wrote:

    Anshio - Do you think the cost per flight hour for the F-35 will be cheaper?? If you do, you do not know anything about what it costs to fly a new aircraft and all the support equipment and special materiel needed to maintain an advanced aircraft like the F-35. Additionally, I would question the cost per flight hour numbers provided by the Air Force since they want to justify getting rid of it. This is the same game they played in 1990 (see my other post above). The B-1, B-2, F-35 are all three much more costly than the A-10 plus they cannot effectively and efficiently preform the same mission as the A-10. The F-16 cost per flight hour is probably pretty close to the A-10s, so maybe the F-16 should be mothballed as well and the Air Force should only keep the B-1 for all missions (pretty dumb statement for obvious reasons - MISSION that the aircraft was designed to accomplish). I would also state that it would be cheaper to upgrade the A-10 like the F-4 was modified and upgraded throughout it's lifespan (the 50s through the 90s and still flying in some countries). That would be a much less expensive option versus creating a new platform that CAS is way down on the AF mission list.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 5:37 PM, tjlipin wrote:

    The P-51 Mustang was used for CAS and one little bullet in its under belly (i.e. radiator) and the engine would freeze up ! Also cannot glide too far at low altitude. Pretty much the same for the F-35, F-16 or F-22. The B-1 is an area weapon from a distance -give GPS and can dial it in. C-130 is low numbers and slow...

    The A-10 has a bathtub for protection of the pilot, the engines are not close; so one bullet only one engine. And second bullet there is no plane to shoot at -or they are the new target.

    Upgrade the A-10 with stronger landing gear and base on Helocopter Carriers with the F-35. Japan has new naval ships for these items. Also in last century a news item said Japan be resonsable for the 1,000 miles around there island.

    Also the Pentagon limits the total number of pilots. Move the A-10 to Army or Marines then the AF(used to be in the Army) may loose pilots.

    Good READing and Vote tjl

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 6:06 PM, peterwolf wrote:

    No. The best plane money can buy is probably the F-18 E/F models. Any plane rugged enough to survive carrier operations automatically has an edge on competitors.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 6:06 PM, stockingshorts wrote:

    The Air Force wanted to dump the A-10 just before the Gulf war. "They" didn't like it. Reports from the battlefield; pictures of A-10's all shot up and still flying, is a Testament to the A-10 and its capabilities.

    Captured Iraqi soldiers, when interviewed specifically, about our air to ground tactics were asked about the A-10's effect on Iraqi troop morale. They were plenty afraid of the A-10 when it appeared and when asked "why" they said, "When it stayed!" The plane would come in at a relatively slow speed and just Grind the living Hell out of everything in front of it for several minutes, whereas when the F-16s or 15s came in they'd drop their ordnance and leave.

    If I remember some numbers right, I think someone made the comment that almost half of enemy armor was destroyed by the A-10.........

    Yeah, I'd say the A-10 is worth the money and worth upgrading at every chance. The thing is a God damn flying Meat Grinder!

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 6:13 PM, Sm0knGun wrote:

    The Argument that an F-16 or a F-35 is equivalent to an A-10 in terms of ground support is ridiculous. Neither the The F-16's M61 20mm Vulcan, or the F-35's 25mm GAU-22/A use Depleted Uranium Rounds(DP), so their kinetic energy is far less, and their ability to damage armored vehicles is significantly hindered.

    And let's be honest, neither the F-16, or the F-35 were not designed to provide close air support. Both are Air Superiority fighters who in a pinch can do crappy close air support.

    The A-10 is a fighter designed for close air support, with few Air to Air options besides 2 Sidewinders. However their tank busting capabilities are far better than any other plane in existence due to their main gun and their payload of Hellfire missiles.

    Add to that the ability to fly at lower altitudes, at slower speeds means more time on target, and greater survivability.

    You can't replace the A-10 unless you just build a better version of it. Helicopters, can do the same job as an A-10, but they are far more vulnerable to ground fire, AA, and Surface to Air, and Air to Air threats.

    I am a Gulf War veteran, and have seen an A-10 in action, I wouldn't give that up for the world. At least compared to the so called alternatives.

    On a side note, I wouldn't give up an AC-130 Spooky either.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 6:16 PM, amhas wrote:

    Even the Defense Secretary and the Obama Administration have said publicly (anyone can google their words from press releases from the white house) admitted that with the A-10 gone that there will be more loss of life from our soldiers and the other planes aren't as good a replacement. That when we not only get rid of them but also draw our troops down, we'll have an impossible time to fight other wars and more men will be lost. This author obviously was either lazy or in the boat of ones who want more money in their pockets (as the only reason to get rid of the plane if for others to profit from the sales of more of the other planes) to even try to show that supposedly the other planes can be as good as the A-10! This is the same thing that happened when we got rid of the F-4 phantom and replaced it's wild weasel roll with a modified still wasn't as good and in the Air Force magazine at the time, the Air force heads admitted that the modified F-16 wasn't as good as the F-4 and that it was retired only because some Senator's State was going to profit as the modification program was done in his area. The Air Force even said it'll cost us lives. The official excuse was it was to expensive to maintain yet our Allies (Germany and Israel responded on this) laughed at this assumption as the F-4's in their service was cheaper to maintain than all their other planes, even the F-16's they had. this is all about money in pocket.. that's all it is.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 6:17 PM, Tiger69 wrote:

    Welfare for the Military. Welfare for retiring military going into private sector. The rest of us lose. Remember Dwight Eisenhower's counsel. "Beware of the Military-Industrial Complex".

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 6:17 PM, tjlipin wrote:

    Also C-130 related: In a time long ago and a land far, far away I saw "Puff the Magic Dragon" off in the distance. With a long trail of red tracer bullets "S" snaking to the ground at night. The C-47 a.k.a. DC-3 (still flying) was not flying low (or fast) and the Aluminium did not offer a lot of protection. The KeyWord here is "off in the distance"

    Another poorly written case; hope the author is not a lawyer. The last good lawyer was Abe Linclon had an unique way of using the law.

    Good READing and Vote tjl

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 6:32 PM, squirl033 wrote:

    the A-10 was, and IS, the best close-air support aircraft in the world, bar none. the F-35 can't hold a candle to it. the 'Hog can flly lower and slower (crucial in its role), and that 30mm Avenger cannon beats the pants of the puny 20mm gun the F-35 carries. Plus the 'Hog can carry a MUCH heavier ground attack payload, deliver it accurately, and survive hostile environments far better than the F-35. anyone who has ever seen a pair of A-10s at work (they work in teams in action) knows how devastatingly effective these aircraft are.

    the USAF brass are gadget-happy. they always want the newest and most high-tech airplanes with the latest gizmos, even if they're not the BEST plane for the purpose. the A-10 is cheap, easy to maintain, relatively speaking, and effective. the F-35 is insanely expensive, with more stuff to go wrong, and nowhere near as effective in the close support role. to anyone with a brain (i.e. anyone except the Pentagon and USAF brass), it's not even a question. the A-10s should be kept, and kept for as long we can keep them flying, because nothing we have now or in the works can touch them for the mission they're intended to fly.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 6:35 PM, Liteflyt wrote:

    On June 28, 2014, at 4:47 PM, misakowalt

    Said the Truth about this Blind decision..

    Congress, Direct ALL resources and funding

    of the A-10 to the Army and/or Marines..

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 7:26 PM, mike14706 wrote:

    We should improve the landing gear on the A10 so it can land on a aircraft carrier and trans fer them to the Marine Corps. The A10 is the best close air support craft in the military today. This should not boil down to money. The most important duty of the federal government is to provide for the defense. We need to set prioroties and defense is number one. It seems stupid to worry about we spens on defense. We will question how much a plane or what ever for defense but never question how much money we spend on welfare, medicade, food stamps wick education or some other welfare program, not one of these things are are duties of the federal government under the constitution. W need a much bigger Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine corps. Russia and the Chineese are quickly building up their militariys. That mean we need more men, ships panes and tank. We also need new 45 cal pistols ( I think the 13 round Glock MDL 21) and a 7.62mm rifle like the M14 or the German HK G3. This is not the time to nicle and dime the military.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 7:27 PM, karaya1 wrote:

    The Air Force submits the F-35 for ground support. This is reasonable if it stays a 500 ft. with the brass idiots who came up with this idea in the cockpit. The F-35 cannot even get off the ground lately without smoking up the airfield, lets keep the A-10 and use the 35's for the ground targets they are.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 7:46 PM, HHauler wrote:

    (The AC-130) "it's called variously the "Spectre," "Spooky," or "Ghostrider," and as recently argued on the pages of the Air Force Times, all three variants beat the smaller A-10 for 'lethality.' Each carries a 105mm howitzer, twin 40mm cannon, and a 25mm Gatling gun capable of unloading 2,500 rounds per minute -- a trifecta of terror for any opposing force."

    That's right, they do beat the A-10 . . . Right up to the moment someone on the ground unloads on the AC-130 with _any_ sort of anti-air device, whether it be a shoulder launched missile or anti-aircraft artillery. Don't forget, Air Force, no matter what you call it, any aircraft with a AC on the left side of the hyphen in its designation is still only a cargo plane with teeth. And the AC's, from the original AC-47 and AC-119 during the Vietnam war, right up until now, usually can only operate at night in case someone sees them and shoots them down with a glorified rock.

    Purpose built to survive the most intense combat environment, the A-10 needs to be saved: As I have told my Congressman. How many of you out there have done so?

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 7:46 PM, Hotstarter wrote:

    So, it seems obvious to me to meet in the middle somewhere. Why don't they just throw a few million into revamping the A-10 a little. Give it some more powerful engines, some more hard points (if you can fit anymore) and some bigger, better arsenal to throw at the targets. (I believe the gun is fine just like it is.) Perhaps give it some more counter-measures, keep it low and slow, and keep the costs down. Oh, and transfer the A-10 to where it belongs. The Army and the Marines.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 7:51 PM, StuPeadahso wrote:

    How in the world does the CHARLIE think he is qualified to render judgement about military aircraft? Doesn't look like he's done ANY military service. EVER!!

    So you think you can replace teh venerable 'Hog with some high flying, FAST FLYING fighter do ya??

    There IS a reason why this plane beats all. IT CAN FLY AT SPEEDS BELOW 135 knots and LOITER at flight levels NONE of the planes this "WD" mentioned.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 8:01 PM, dfagan wrote:

    This aircraft was built to house the 30mm cannon. It was also designed to withstand a LOT of damage and keep the pilot alive to fight another day. If you think a 20- or 25-mm gun is equal to the 30mm gun in the A-10, look at pictures on the 'net. It's the difference between a .22 Mag and a 45-70! There is a website describing the gun and the aircraft which is a real eye-opener, look for it.

    If you think a design is obsolete because it's old, think about a 30's design that is still in use, reliably, all over the world. The DC-3 (C-47) has been adapted for numberless applications and was in use by the military (US) until about 1980, and is probably still used covertly. Oh yeah, that was the original gatling gun platform and scared the hell out of the enemy whenever it showed up!

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 8:03 PM, tony11 wrote:

    poor comparisons in the article

    F35 is meant to be a multi role ground attack (not ground support) and supersonic air to air combat platform to replace the f-16 and f-18 platforms. They cannot replace the a-10s role of close ground support which is a slower, low flying platform that can carry more heavy weapons to engage armor, hardened and soft targets. It cannot also replace the role of bomber. A bomber can carry more heavy ordinance for multiple precision bombing or carpe/saturation bombing then any multirole fighter can.

    F-35 program has been a disaster and its turning into the same development fiasco that the Bradley fighting vehicle was. While the idea of reducing multiple vehicles across the different services that fill the same roles is a good step for the DoD they have made major mistakes that are not being corrected.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 8:11 PM, MarsHQ wrote:

    Here's a probable solution for:, USAF and USMC with respect to the A-10 replacement conundrum as reported...

    First off, with respect to the USAF, it could be framed into more simplified thinking if looking at the picture in say, a future $4.2-$4.5B annual Tactical Aviation Procurement budget (in FY14 dollars), going forward. Simply divide and spend that budget accordingly in new-build manned and unmanned tactical aviation platforms. Other budgets allocated towards various fighter refurbs, SLEP, and Bomber platform upgrades on existing aircraft would also be taken into account.

    With that said... USAF A-10 jets should be transferred to USMC for continued operation! Refurb/update them (perhaps a fleet of 80-100 operational jets) and replace current USMC geriatric (ground-based) F-18 Hornet force with them.

    That would be a win-win for CAS missions and both the USMC and USAF in general. (note: USMC's (hopeful) F-35B won't even be able to operate it's external gun pod in combat until 2023 or 2024!).

    USAF could further be upgrading the B-1B fleet, the F-16 (and F-15C/D/E) fleet and procuring next-gen semi-autonomous UCAV systems and procuring new-build mix of next-gen F-16, F-15E+ and even Growler-lite(?) as a comprehensive, strategic, stop-gap.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 8:15 PM, Brandyjack wrote:

    Long ago, about 1967, I overheard an Army medic just returned from Vietnam being question by a bunch of new soldiers on a train. The Medic gave the following advice about Close Air Support. If you can hear the aircraft, but not see it. It is an Air Force aircraft. If you can hear and see the aircraft, it will be the Navy. If you hear the aircraft and the SOB comes through the trees and you can see his face. That is Marine Close Air Support. Now, in the middle of a fire fight, who do you want to put ordinance on the enemy. The guy targeting by the numbers or the guy who looks you in the eye, and visually can see the enemy? The A-10 gives the Air Force that kind of capability. Which I would suspect, it hates.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 9:26 PM, sajeffryes wrote:

    The USAF guys have a bad track record with regard to preparing to provide close air support. They do not want to spend their budget taking care of the ground pounders. The USAF has NOTHING in the pipe line which can do the job the A-10 can do. The A-10s should be transferred to the US Army, where there are a lot of people who understand the importance of close air support. The opponents of the A-10 are fond of calling it a cold war aircraft designed to destroy Soviet tanks. Well, there are a couple of large countries, the same ones in fact, who are problematic and who have a lot of tanks. Plus, the A-10 was always intended to and always could attack a wide variety of ground targets with rockets, crater making bombs, anti-personnel bombs, concrete penetrators, etc. And the A-10 has great loiter time, which the USAF brass will not even talk about when discussing close air support. The A-10 is a proven close air support. I'll tell you what is a questionable aircraft; the F-35. The last time the DoD tried to develop an aircraft to perform all rolls, we got the FB-111, which had too small a payload to be worth a hoot as a bomber and much too poor performance to go up against other fighters. The USAF will not publish the EM performance curves for the F-35, even though Russia, China, Israel, and India have enough information to be able to calculate those curves. The USAF just doesn't want the proof of the F-35's lack of qualifications to be known to American voters and tax payers. The Pentagon would improve their budget much more by cancelling the F-35 (which is poor performing and has many billions of development cost yet to be seen, plus operating costs) than by dropping the operational costs of the A-10 which performs and is paid for.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 9:33 PM, SLTom992 wrote:

    I hadn't realized there were so many military weapons analysts out of work and willing to give their valued opinions for free. I especially loved the guy saying cancel the B1B and use B52's. You can sure tell he's been on many a bombing mission.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 10:25 PM, mrhokie68 wrote:

    Upgrade the F-4 with new engines and avionics and bring it back to work along side the A-10. With five hardpoints, MERS & TERS, Internal or pod mounted gun, four fuselage missile launchers along with launchers on the the inboard hardpoints, this aircraft can do it all carrying a wide variety of weapons. It was fast with the original engines and can be even better with newer engines. It can do CAS, air to air, and bombing missions, and high altitudes are not a problem. The first all-service aircraft in different variations, and it was fantastic.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 10:31 PM, bob2231 wrote:

    To those who have to depend on thew fast movers for support when they're stranded without any other,of course they're the best.

    It's also obvious that they are because the "smart guys" have decided to kill the platform a dozen times.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 10:50 PM, Mauricesharpe wrote:

    The Air force doesn't like to fly low and slow, which is the best way to support troops on the ground. I've seen a couple of real shows where the F-16 the most capable of the ground attack planes took a number of sorties to hit one target. The Warthog can attack at less than two hundred miles an hour. At this speed ALL of the other fighters are landing whether they want to or not. I would hate to see any of the other programs canceled but they either have to find more money or give serious consideration to how future wars will or should be fought.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 10:57 PM, Red1999 wrote:

    I say Yes to the A-10 wart hogs,Keep those jets in service for as long as they can fly.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 11:41 PM, RetiredGI wrote:

    I can remember a time when the government said that the B-52 was antiquated and needed to be replaced, however, with updates and improvements the "buff" is still flying and is still a plane to be reckoned with. There are pilots flying B-52 today whose grandfathers flew that same plane in Viet Nam. Well the same thing with the A-10, it can be improved and upgraded for far less than the cost of an F-35 or F-22 and is better suited for its' role as close air support. If it ain't broke, don't fixit.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 11:48 PM, oviraptor wrote:

    No one will ever surrender to a F35 or F22.

    Iraqis surrendered on-masse to A10s in the gulf.

    The road to Basra was carried out by A10s and Apaches, I guarantee the Russians do not want to meet A10s in Europe.

    CAS plus tank buster status makes it a uniquely qualified aircraft for close air support.

    The only real thing to do with it, is perhaps, remake it with completely new technology but with the same style and materials.

    It is a perfect weapon in form and function. And try asking the pilots if they want to give it up, the answer will be a very loud NEVER!

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2014, at 11:50 PM, aardvark151 wrote:

    Having been at Edwards AFB in the early seventies, when this was nothing more than a prototype aircraft, flying against the A-9, I remember then, that the Air Force wanted nothing to do with it. It was sort of forced upon them, and they have been trying to get rid of it ever since. There was even one two seat model built to show added capabilites on a battlefield. It is retired and displayed at Edwards now.

    Both of these aircraft designs were good, the A-10 just a bit better, but the design of the A-9 was also good, in fact the Russian SU-27 is amost a direct copy of it.

    The job this aircraft is designed to do, is support troops, and armor. As the A-1E aircraft have been retired, it is ideal for the flying FAC job, directing the fast moving jets, where to place their bombs etc. It can linger low and slow, and is amazingly tough. The battlefield threats of ManPads, and other anti-aircraft defenses, while still a threat, are less of one to the A-10.

    It is ugly, low, and slow. But in close air support, low, and slow, prevents friendly fire accidents, and ensures the troops have the support they need in the face of the enemy.

    The Marine Corps would love to have this tough, able to fly out of unimproved airfields in forward areas, near the troops. In Vietnam, the fast movers blew big holes in a lot of nothing but jungle. That is why the flying FAC's were put into action. They flew O-2s, O-1s, and A-1s. And got down in the face of the enemy, drawing ground fire. Oh, I forgot the OV-10s

    So far I have heard nothing good about the F-35, in all its versions. Too cost, overweight, and failing to live up to its design requirements. But we have sunk too much money into the program, to allow it to fail. So we go on. Sounds a bit like the F-111 program. After many cost over-runs, and mods, it became a good aircraft. But it too is retired, around the world. The Aussies being the last to be flying it, and they recently buried all but a few museum display aircraft.

    To me, it would be better to upgrade the onboard electronic systems, and retain the A-10s, until the proof has been offered that the F-35 can indeed do the adverstised job. Already most A-10 squadrons are Air National Guard units or Air Force Reserves. But they got the job done in the two Gulf wars. And stand ready to do it whenever and wherever needed.

    Yes it is a no frill aircraft, and a basic ugly slow flyer, but you ought to see the amount of bombs it can carry and deliver up close and personal to the enemy. The only requirement it has is that of air superiority being in our hands. And so far we have been able to deliver that.

    With the revamped Russia rattling its swords, Iran making threats, N. Korea doing its thing, just about all of Africa, and several other hot spots in the world, I see a need for this aircraft for the next few years at least. Until there is something provable from the programs being tested today.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 12:23 AM, EchoFifePapa wrote:

    As a Former Marine and combat veteran, I cannot personally attest to the CAS capability of the A-10. I was never in a position to have to call in air support. I wasn't infantry but a lot of my friends were. Every single one of them will tell you what the A-10 can do. Ask any other Marine, Solider or AF JTAC that's deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. They'll all tell you the same thing: the A-10 works. I'm now in the Air Force Reserve. I work on A-10s. I now see it from the other side as well. Given my experience, I can tell you all that A-10 really is that awesome at what it does. AND it is very inexpensive to operate when compared against other platforms. I've seen the numbers. Yeah, the A-10 fleet is aging, but so is just about every other aircraft fleet in the US inventory. The A-10 is maintainer friendly and most of the parts that are replaced in routine maintenance are cheap compared to just about every other platform we have. The Air Force claims it will save about 3.4-4.2 billion dollars over about ten years if we retire the A-10 fleet. That amounts to about 25-28 F-35s - or slightly less than two squadrons. Retire almost 300 tried and true aircraft to buy a couple extra squadrons of untested F-35s? I don't understand the logic considering the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy are slated to buy almost 2400 F-35s. I don't think national security will be adversely affected if we forego a few dozen F-35s. Besides, most of the money being touted as possible savings are due to the planned avionics and weapons delivery systems upgrades. I can't go into a lot of detail but the planned upgrades for the A-10 would exponentially increase the aircraft's lethality and survivability. Maintaining and upgrading existing airframes is far cheaper than buy new ones, especially now. Fifth generation fighters like the F-22 and F-35 are extraordinarily expensive. I understand their purpose and role. We do need them, but we als need capable platforms like the A-10 for CAS missions. The intent of the JSF program makes sense; however, the technology just ins't there yet to build an aircraft that can truly do it all. The F-15/18s and fifth generation fighters are outstanding air-superiority assets. I would never send an A-10 to establish air-superiority. That's not what it's designed for. I would never send a B-1 to do CAS - it's a bomber. It's a fine bomber, but it's a bomber. Again, I would never use an A-10 for dedicated bombing missions. That's not it's role. Each aircraft in our inventory has a dedicated purpose or mission-set. They're all good at what they do. I understand the need to modernize the force overall and start consolidating multiple missions into less airframes where possible. But air-superiority and CAS are two truly different roles. That all being said, the A-10 should be kept in service until a superior CAS delivery platform is devised and deployed. Unfortunately, I just don't see the F-35 being able to fill the CAS role anywhere as well as the A-10.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 12:48 AM, leonardwl wrote:

    Everyone is ignoring the slides at the end. Lockheed-Martin will cram additional F-35s through for CAS, no matter what it takes, in order to reduce the per-unit costs of the F-35. The F-35 program is ridiculously over budget and the cost-per-plane is skyrocketing. The only way Lockheed-Martin can save the program is to push higher production.

    Sadly, this isn't about capabilities. In the end, it comes down to politics. Lockheed-Martin and the AF care nothing about ground pounders and in-the-mud soldiers. They will do whatever they have to, to save their bloated F-35 program. Even if it means pushing F-35s for a CAS role for which its ill suited.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 1:08 AM, bill4848 wrote:

    The Air Force is off its rocker. 1. The F-35 is still being tested and fielded so to say that it can replace the A-10 is just stupid. 2.B-1 relies on GPS or lasers to hit its targets and flies high. A-10 flies low and slow and the Mark I eyeball still works in that environment. C-130 flies at night primarily and my understanding it flies primarily in circles or arcs to bring it weapons to bear. I seriously doubt the C-130 can take ground fire like the A-10. The Raptor I doubt it could see a ground troop with it's speed and probably could be taken down with the golden BB. You could probably buy a whole squadron of A-10 with the cost of 1 Raptor.

    None of the planes the AF cites were built around a gun like the A-10. As a soldier nothing more motivating than an ugly plane dishing out some serious lead and bombs.

    The AF wants to get out of ground support because there is nothing glamorous about flying slow and in the trees and the weeds with the ground fighters.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 1:47 AM, Tyeward wrote:

    The A-10? I can tell you one thing. There is nothing out there that can do what it does. Sure you can call in a F-35 or whatever to hit something on the ground, however it won´t do what the A-10 does. The A-10 is engineered, designed and built to bring an overwhelming amount of pain to the battlefield by overwhelming the enemy on the ground. The engines don´t produce alot of heat and that makes heat seeking missiles useless against it. Sure it´s slow, however it turns on a dime and is highly maneuverable. The A-10 is not a fighter jet. It is a ground attack jet. Fighter jets can´t do what the A-10 was built to do. It should be left alone or upgraded here and there in the electronics department. The A-10 is not something you want to just give up. That is not a tactical advantage you want to sacrifice. If the Air Force is looking for an excuse to get rid of them, the Army and Marines should be asked if they would be interested in taking them. The battlefield combination of the Apache Delta and the A-10 is one heck of a battlefield team. I was in the Army (Apache community) so I only know about the Apache, however I am pretty sure that the A-10 and the Super Cobra would be one heck of a battlefield team as well.

    I understand that we are moving in the direction of high tech, however simple and brutal is what wins the day in quite a few cases.

    If they were talking about a replacement for the A-10 that has all of the qualities and abilities of the A-10 with some additional new set of abilities and qualities, I would be very interested in that. Getting rid of it altogether, I think that´s just a really bad idea. Ask the Army and Marines if they want them if the Air Force is looking to get rid of them.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 1:53 AM, McSniperliger wrote:

    I've heard a few soldiers that came back from Iraq say that the Warthog scared the *expletive* out of the Taliban. The only other good plane for danger close is the AC130 gun ship. The F35 is too problematic while the Warthog is tried and true.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 2:12 AM, boeingopport wrote:

    This article is not well informed. The A-10 can loiter. Loitering in a ac-130 is expensive and leaves the plane as a target if it will loiter for a long time. The A-10 can fly low and slow, hugging the terrain and being very maneuverable. It can also launch missiles. Furthermore the plane was designed to survive being hit by a lot of gun rounds and it can fly after losing a wing spar or vertical stabilizer. It is very rugged. The pilot literally sits in a titanium tub that protects him/her. Most importantly...while the other planes mentioned HAVE guns. This plane was designed AROUND the gun. Those planes can fire "lead" but this plane fires a gun that was specifically designed to kill tanks. A 30mm gatling gun is a big step up from a 20mm-25mm gun.

    The A-10 was designed to survive landing gear up. The A-10 has two engines in case one gets knocked out and those engines are not designed for high-top end speed as fighter jets are.

    Why on earth would anyone send a B-1 or C-130 after one small target? It would b enormously costly and would put not just the pilot, but additional crew at risk. Why risk having expensive planes like those shot down. They are also huge targets compared to the A-10.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 2:39 AM, acwestfall wrote:

    My husband was a jet engine journeyman and worked for 7 years on the WartHog. Best plane EVER! My husband's squadron did a forward deployment into Afghanistan in February 2002. The 10th Mountain Division and other Special Forces had been in the area for some time, but there was no air support. The A-10 is perfect for low, slow mountain passes. His squadron received all kinds of letters of appreciation from the soldiers, their families, and the commands. The WartHog is the "red-headed step-child" of the Air Force. The AF wants their fleet to be smooth, pretty, and fast. The A-10 is the opposite of what the generals want. Other planes are for demonstrations and looks. Fighter jets like the 16, 35, or 117 are built for in air combat. We need these planes because other countries have jet to jet combat planes. Only the WartHog is designed to provide close air support to soldiers. It's the only plane that can fly low and slow all while being very agile. Plus, the gun. That thing is the sound of force and reckoning. I know many a Soldier who knows what I'm talking about. If you're pinned down in any terrain, the A-10 will save you!!

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 3:58 AM, Skycop06 wrote:

    As a retired Air Force officer and an A-10 driver; I can honestly say, nothing in the Air Force or any other inventory can do what the A-10 was designed to do. The A-10 is the only platform where the plane was designed around the weapon system and not the other way around.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 5:19 AM, mikaelam wrote:

    I was Quality Program Director on the A-10 and the cost out the door was less than $9M a copy on average. This plane was specifically designed to support our ground troops and it was designed to survive loitering over a battlefield. Nothing since has been able to carry out the same mission successfully. Back in the day the Air Force never wanted the plane and always tried to replace it with the F-16. Congress never bought into that scenario and won't buy into today replacing a proven aircraft with some glorified $200M copy. Best ground support plane ever built. Don't take my word, ask the troops on the ground!

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 5:21 AM, btc909 wrote:

    The Warthog is like the Chevy Volt, you can't make enough money in maintenance off of them.

    ALWAYS follow the money.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 5:47 AM, Rameses39 wrote:

    Reasonably cheap and very, very effective. Sends the bad guys running for cover. Why replace such a proven design?

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 6:13 AM, corykid wrote:

    sorry, but the A10 couldn't even begin to be replaced by the other aircraft listed above. I doubt the F-35 could ever endure the ground fire the 'Hog could. One well placed round would bring an F-35 down much faster than an A10. As far as the B-1? Come you're comparing apples with oranges. For true ground support these planes have to get down and dirty with the grunts. You can't support ground troops from 35,000 feet!!! I don't know what the AF's problem is, but until someone comes out with a newer A/C dedicated ground attack/ ground support aircraft, they had better just keep and maintain the Hogs they have left. IF IT AINT BROKE, DON'T FIX IT!!

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 6:15 AM, TheAlaskan wrote:

    Ask any infantryman of whom whose lives have and will in the future depend on the on the Warthogs for CAS. These iconic aircraft are flying tanks. They can lose an engine and half a wing and still fire to support troops. When you are calling everyone including Jesus for help...the Warthogs will decimate any armor threat on the battlefield.

    An Army private with a radio calling in CAS with a Warthog is battlefield multiplier. Nothing in the USAF arsenal or pipeline can replace the A-10. The F-35 and other USAF planes cannot take ground fire like the A-10. How many SGLI life insurance policies have never been paid due to an A-10 and when this metric is calculated...the cost and upkeep of an A-10 is a bargain.

    The world is not retiring the AK-47 because it simply works. The A-10 is America's AK-47...reliable, effective and an Infantryman's...god gun. An ass kicking ass saver.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 6:51 AM, jhall375 wrote:

    The warthog is designed for up close and personal ground support. The plane is designed to take a lot of damage and can stay in the fight longer than dog fighters. F16's, F35's, F15's, Planes with a "F" in front of its name its really not close air support or an attack plane. A-10's are worth their weight in gold. Pilot culture is different. A-10 pilots know they support the ground forces. I always found it hard to get fighters to get in a ground fight. Their planes can not take damage. One round could cause a pilot to eject putting his life in danger.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 6:55 AM, Daveyl123 wrote:

    Nobody wishes to address certain issues which are unique to the military aviation community. Pilots like SPEED. If they operate slow, 'Aesthetically-Challenged' aircraft, they'll resent this assignment. The A-10 was becoming limited in at least one category: The engine oil had to be "Soaped" (Spectrometric Oil Analysis Program) after each leg of flight. This meant the aircraft was limited to fly only to bases with facilities to 'Burn' the oil samples before the aircraft could fly again. I also heard from my nephew, who served a tour of duty in Iraq, who said when the "Warthog" entered a combat zone, they would scatter for shelter. Apparently, the tank-busting machine gun rounds would ricochet in every direction, endangering our troops in the vicinity. If this aircraft was operated in ANY theater of enemy fighter aircraft or RADAR Guided SAM or Stinger Missile threats, it would easily be defeated. It's okay to bomb and strafe targets when no one fights back, but that is not a war, it's a rout.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 7:26 AM, ellaerdos wrote:


    Just who in the JCS informed you that the A-10 is dead and buried? Who said that thousands of domestic and foreign F-16's, a plane that is still being manufactured, is going to be consigned to the ash heap and replaced by an aircraft that still has major teething problems and is not in general manufacture ?

    Age does not preclude the use of the B52, C130, HU1B, Harrier, Viking, 737, or the DC3. The

    USAF does not make decisions about Strategy and Tactics on its own. Maybe its time for the AF to be returned to the Army.


  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 8:02 AM, Pyramid wrote:

    As a grunt on the ground you bet it is. The only thing more reassuring than the sound of an A10 coming in to back you up would be the voice of the almighty.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 8:05 AM, johnnygprJuan wrote:

    Remembering the days in Central Korea 1952 where our eyes were peeled waiting for the Marine Air Support and the Skyraiders loitering overhead , That was a sight.. but now when you mention an R.P.G. or tank or whatever that could try stopping an A10 ..But in the expected advance of an enemy division to overrun your position ... Nothing in this world can crush the enemy or imitate the abrupt silencing of the enemy an A10. Beyond that your satisfaction of knowing your friend in that aircraft will survive the events. Wish we had A10 then. It could have saved at least 25,000 lives.

    Later in the Gulf war what Saddam Hussein Guard called the A10.. "The Whispering Death" or something of that sort. You sure wouldn't have wanted to be in their side.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 9:10 AM, Russmotley6 wrote:

    C130 cannot survive unless total air superiority exists and no air defense networks are active. B-1, F-16, F-35 have one, at best two, gun passes before leaving the battlefield. They are extremely vulnerable to the "golden BB" of one guy spraying into the air with an AK-47. They cannot talk to the troops on the ground. A10 can loiter for hours on the battlefield, dam near invulnerable to the "golden BB" and has FM radios to talk to the troops. Proven again and again it kills more enemy tanks then all the other aircraft types combined. Their pilots identify directly with the troops on the ground. No surprise the infantry wants it overhead.

    Colonel Infantry, Retired

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 9:25 AM, duudaa wrote:

    There's money to be made by replacing it. If no single plane that can replace it, all the better. Now contracting companies can build several planes to replace for much higher profits. The mission is money nothing else!

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 9:53 AM, Constance wrote:

    Being able to deliver a weapon to the ground from 20,000 feet is not the same as from 150. "Close" ground air support has the added benefit of being able to visibly engage the enemy, engage the enemy far more rapidly, ie, quicker response to developments on the battlefield, and a jet right over head is a deterrent that an F-35 out of sight can't do. The A-10 is far more heavily armorred, which allows it to be close, and the straight wing slow moving design allows it to fly low and slow, enabling the pilot the time to peruse the battlefiled.

    Ask any grunt in country what their favorite jet is. The answer is the A-10, and it's not even close.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 10:15 AM, dave11222 wrote:

    I don't see that the guy who wrote the article has any experience to write it or make comment. Did you serve your country Rich?"Rich Smith spent most of the mid-to-late '90s in Moscow, advising U.S. and European companies eager to get in on the action of Russia's emerging market. Segueing into Ukrainian law, he then did the same thing for Westerners investing in Kiev. At some point, he decided that instead of telling these companies how to make money for themselves, he'd prefer to own a piece of the companies (and their profits) -- and began investing. Retiring to rural Indiana to continue this project, he continues to invest for his own account, and to advise other investors on how to maximize their profits, and minimize their risks, by writing directly for The Motley Fool as a contributor, and on special assignment for Yahoo! Finance and AOL DailyFinance. He undertakes assignments for other media outlets -- online, print, radio, and television, upon request. " As far as I'm concerned...your credibility is out the window.

    Ask the guys who have ever called in CAS who what they would rather have helping them out. The A-10 has hard points and one huge gun. In fact the whole aircraft was built around the gun. It has redundancies on redundancies. They still fly with massive holes in their superstructure. The pilot sits in a titanium bathtube to protect him from ground fire(they fly that close) Check to see how little it would take to down an F-35. The major aircraft manufacturers just want to make more money at taxpayer's expense. The A-10 are already designed and working very well. All they need is tweaks. Companies want huge gov't contacts to siphon more money and pay their bloated ranks. It's not about performance. The A-10 has proven itself. It should get the MOH! It's all about the lobbyists and money. Rich, go dig a hole somewhere and fall in.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 10:25 AM, csmnimmons wrote:

    Everyone that has a positive comment about the Warthog is correct, it has made a name for it's self as a tank killer, and the greatest close air suport weapon that there is. The Jet Jockies do not like it because it fly's slow, and is ugly. If you are on the ground and the emeny is crawling up your backside you want this plane and all of it's kill power to help you. Fighter jets take to long to return fire on a target, they have the tendency to fly past the target because of there speed. So if the power to be's read this this is one vote to save a great plane,It has proved how hard it is to knock it out of commission, it can take a licken and keep flyn.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 10:27 AM, tclause wrote:

    keep the A-10 and give up the idea that every thing can be multi role

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 10:42 AM, kennyhobo wrote:

    We now life under the Chicago Way, the Obama Way. You can keep your doctor and you can keep your hospital. You can keep your Warthog. ... It would be nice if the media supported the TRUTH and attacked LIARS. But that would put Obama in jail.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 11:57 AM, bahnw wrote:

    Bring back the A1-E, there was an airplane that could loiter for ever and carry a bigger load than the A-10. Creech got rid of it because it had a prop instead of a jet.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 12:36 PM, jimlamb2 wrote:

    Pilots don't like it because its slow and will get them killed. Ground forces would love it because the enemy would direct their fire at it rather than them. Small arms fire can bring them down.

    I would not fly in one, it was just for political money.

    If it were "so swell" (air force talk) it would still be used.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 3:05 PM, Beachrider wrote:

    A10 is a fine plane with key weaknesses in today's easy-drone era. First it MUST be based within 800 miles of the attack zone or be refueled to extend that range. Without previously established air supremacy, this just cannot happen. The gun is an excellent tool, but it works best in the open, otherwise, this is a missile platform. Drones have been proven to take several roles away from A10. It's other roles have been taken by various helicopters and fighters.

    Always remember that it is the fearlessness of the PILOTS that made A10 so tough.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 3:10 PM, lpa wrote:

    A-10 i love it as a kid i was not into models but i had to have a A-10 one, but now to biz the A-10 history always been sketchy the AF created the A-10 because was afraid losing funding to the Army specially when the army was building the chayenne what became the apache and the CAS role with it after the vietnan war and to replace the A1-E that the AF did not want because was a product of the Army Aircorp not the AF and also with a war looming in europe they wanted a good and accurate way to deal with the russian tanks rolling into their air bases, now with "precision guided bombs" the CAS role has come into question; do you need a 30 million dollar aircraft hovering that low to the ground when a 15k shoulder SAM can bring it down NO!! but what matter is the future of warfare and that is what the AF it looking at, the A-10 against a tier one SAM system wont survive, the F-35 AC-130 doing the A-10 job no as good, but F-35 will survive such SAM systems and the AC-130 could still support SpecOps in small conflict where where not such SAM threats are available i dont know who put the B1B on the list, but the truth is the AF is tired of doing the CAS missions i heard this F-16 Capt in bagram field say this "i dont feel like a fighter pilot anymore, they might as well give me a gun, i spent more time skimming the ground i feel like a dog", but to the end everything is about saving money i dont know what they trying to save with the F-35, the A-10 has been out production for a while and they have to keep cannibalizing others to keep the fleet flying, the A-10 is great for pop up wars but they still need lots of support and infrastructure which is expensive, but in a big conflict its obsolete specially how the world is shaping its self to, in the europian and asian theater we got two blocks china and russia and they have great air forces and even better anti-air capabilities, we are probably looking back to the old strategic bombers ops, and with drone doing lots of the supports and killing i dont think the AF wants to put pilots and expensive aircraft at that risk if they can avoid it.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 3:23 PM, Darksail wrote:

    This air fame has fantastic lift capabilities. It should be modified for fire fighting uses. Heavy lift, slow speed when needed but much faster then a chopper (turn around time), excellent targeting, could hit any target in the forest (like around trapped fire fighters) or water bomb a structure fire.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 3:35 PM, airfoto wrote:

    Just how many pockets is Lockheed filling with bribes? This is so stupid! First the AC130 only flies at night the ground troops are there all the time!

    The F35 is a waste of money for it's capabilities. It'll be over 300 mil a copy when those little countries said they would buy it at 40 mil a copy, but now will cancel at over 200 mil a copy - makes no sense at all.

    How about killing each of Congress's clowns 100% retirement to pay for the F35! They sure as HELL don't deserve it!

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 4:44 PM, vet212 wrote:

    Like the B-52 and the Interceptors of the 50's the A-10 is purpose designed to do one thing exceptionally well it has succeeded beyond all hope we need more of them

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 5:32 PM, CraigB wrote:

    Every generation or so the same thing happens. People that know little of what is required get the idea that a "one size fits all" will provide savings.

    None ever do all the requirements well. Frankly

    we are talking about the LIVES of OUR PEOPLE.

    Until a replacement for the A-10 can do ALL of it's

    capabilities,for the same money,or less,it should remain in inventory. Instead of getting stuck with an aircraft which is unusable,after Billions of Dollars are spent, how about building something that is usable.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 5:56 PM, badkat7 wrote:

    The A10 is an aged aircraft that cannot survive air to air combat or advanced ground-based weapon systems. It is slow to arrive on target unless you hold airfields in close range (<200 miles) of the war zone.

    So the question is: how many battle scenarios involve opposition as technologically challenged as the Taliban and Iraqi forces? The answer is, of course, most of them. However we do need modern weapon system able to take on a modern opposition. That's where everything starts to unravel.

    The F35 has one redeeming virtue; it can deliver a small payload deep into enemy territory with a high chance of evading effective interception. Why a small payload? Because once you start sticking weapons on a hard point, the stealth advantage goes out the window. The F35 can carry a maximum of just 6 inboard weapons, only 2 of which are air-to-air missiles (that is being upgraded to 4 however).

    If enemy aircraft can close on the F35 the situation rapidly reverses; the F35 may be better in a dogfight than the F16 but would have zero chance against a Typhoon 2. Indeed, as a weapons carrying platform the advantage also lies with the Typhoon 2. So the only real strength of the F35 lies in over-the-horizon aerial combat and fast in-and-out attack missions (probably single pass). That's not much of an advantage for a $300 million aircraft.

    Probably the saving grace of the F35 is as a Carrier solution. The F35B is minimally adequate as a Carrier aircraft (more as a STOL solution than a true VTOL aircraft).

    In terms of true air superiority I see a huge problem coming up; to pin our hopes on the F35 alone is extremely high risk. We need a combination of solutions: F22's developed further, cost effective solutions like the Typhoon 2's to replace F15 and F16's. We need a supersonic Harrier with advanced ground attack for the Carriers and Marines. And we need more drone development to provide battlefield support and active radar solutions in support of stealth aircraft.

    In any event, I am sure of one thing. The USAF is headed in entirely the wrong direction; but in no small part that is due to incompetent leadership.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 10:10 PM, hotairbill wrote:

    You guys should stick to what you do better! It is obvious that you don't know crap about the military or their equipment.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 8:53 AM, bobfbell wrote:

    Arguing for these new and very expensive weapons systems to replace the A-10 ignores the fact that we have almost 600 A-10s currently available for deployment and use immediately.

    The F-35 if it is ever built in the numbers planned

    (note; the entire "fleet" is now grounded for serious operational reasons) will not come on line for several years. And, conflating the various ground attack capability of the A-10 with the B-1 which is a stand off weapon is ridiculous

    Ask any ground pounder who has been pinned down in a firefight how they feel when a Warthog shows up to attack a dug in enemy. It is an awesome weapon with loitering capability planes like the F-35 can never achieve.

    Pardon my skepticism this article appears to be totally slanted to buying new and very expensive weapons systems rather than any serious and objective analysis of military tactics. What else might we expect from a column which touts stocks?

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 10:16 AM, OleIII wrote:

    A10's offer incredibly destructive power for convoys in the open. During the first Persian Gulf War photos and videos were taken at ground level immediately after A10 strikes on Iraqi military convoy fleeing Kuwait. The photos and videos were not allowed into the United States because the graphics could be extremely upsetting. The ISIS (ISIL) convoys could quickly be eliminated using A10s.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 11:21 AM, ellaerdos wrote:

    The Russians have shipped 5 SU25's "Frog Foot" ground attack aircraft to Iraq. For those in the USAF who don't understand, ITS THE RUSSIAN VERSION OF THE A-10! The plane came on line in the 1970's, has an armored tub for the pilot, carries tons of nasty ordinance and can linger for hours.

    The SU25 does not have the 37MM tank buster gun, but it can take off from roads and rough landing fields. The Russians seem to think its a "keeper".


  • Report this Comment On November 11, 2014, at 7:44 PM, RickRumney wrote:

    I forgot that the Russians make the Best Fights, bombers and Attack aircraft in the world. We all should buy our aircraft from them or just give up. If they can find enough rubles to pay their pilots and fuel their aircraft. They would be lucky to get a few squadrons in the air. Its laughable that Putin is testing NATO and American Air Defenses as they did in the cold war. Stop making fools of yourselves. You are just showing the world how irrelevant you all have become. And when it comes to corruption, the world can't hold a candle to the Russian Military Industrial Complex. I love looking at the pictures of the Russian Navy's subs and ships rotting in Northern ports, half submerged. Pay your troops before insulting everybody else.

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