Skip to comments.Grounding A-10s will save $4.2 billion, decision ‘clear’: USAF general
Posted on 04/23/2014 6:29:07 PM PDT by Yo-Yo
For months, US Air Force officials have used the adjective hard to describe their decision to ground entire fleets of aircraft in response to budget cuts.
But on 23 April, USAF chief of staff Gen Mark Welsh says a review of the services options showed very clearly that grounding its Fairchild Republic A-10s is the right choice.
Speaking at a National Press Club event in Washington, DC, Welsh says the service evaluated a number of cost-cutting options against a very detailed operational analyses before making decisions.
We came very clearly to the conclusion that of all those horrible options, the least operationally impactful was to divest the A-10, Welsh says. It makes perfect sense from a military perspective if you have to make these kind of cuts.
The services fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, which requires Congressional approval, proposes grounding all of its roughly 300 A-10s at a savings Welsh estimates to be $4.2 billion through fiscal year 2019.
The service has said other aircraft can fill the A-10s close-air support mission, including Lockheed Martin F-16s and F-35s.
The USAF also considered deferring more planned orders for Lockheed Martin F-35As, but Welsh says that option would drive up the cost of the programme. He adds that the service intends to continue funding other next-generation programmes like the Boeing KC-46 tanker and the long-range strike bomber programme.
Another choice was to cut the fleet of Boeing F-15C fighters beyond the current 51 aircraft on the chopping block.
We are cutting F-15Cs, but we cant eliminate the entire fleet or we cant do the air superiority mission, he says.
Reductions in funding for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions and for the services air mobility fleet were also considered, but Welsh says those missions already face a budget shortfall.
Also on the table: grounding the entire fleet of McDonnell Douglas KC-10 tankers.
Without the KC-10s, you could [do the job] but it would be ugly and you would not have any flexibility whatsoever, Welsh says. The impact of that was simply too big on all the services.
The same savings could be achieved by cutting three times as many Boeing KC-135 tankers.
If you take three times as many KC-135s, you flat cant do the job, according to Welsh.
Other options included cutting command and control funding or grounding some long-range strike aircraft.
But Welsh says the USAF is the only service that can provide command and control on a theatre scale, and he says the US needs 80 to 100 strike platforms in the event of a large-scale war.
Thats about how many we have today. They are aging, but we have the right number, according to Welsh.
The USAF has created a transition plan that Welsh says would move other hardware into units that currently fly A-10s, but he did not elaborate.
If we dont divest the A-10s from those units, the plan will come unraveled
and we will start the planning over again, he says.
The Air Force made the same bonehead move with the EF-111A and the F-111F right after the Gulf War. Both platforms performed magnificently, then were retired in order to save money for the F-22.
We modernized and re-winged the A-10s to A-10C standard, and they have been invaluable in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now they want to kill them off to save money for the F-35.
See what getting rid of the Varks did for the F-22 program? SQUAT.
Can you guess what getting rid of the A-10 will do for the F-35?
Remind me again what is the definition of insanity?
Wasn’t the A-10 designed with the cold war in mind?
And now our government is desperately trying to get the cold war going again.
No!! we are broke. We gave it all to parasites. There is no more money CUT CUT CUT!!
No F-16 can loiter like an A-10 can.
Move the A-10s to the Army.
I say that as a former zoomie.
Cutting food stamps by 5% would save how much??
Active Duty ping.
Will they warehouse them in Nevada? I imagine you could kill a lot of cattle with one of those ...
Fundamental transformation indeed.
The Army/Marines should take the A-10 until the drone version is flying. There is no bird in the inventory that can do close air support like the hog.
Do we deduct the riot damages from the savings?
I’ve worked F-15Es, F-16C/Ds, they’re great fighters, but cannot beat the A-10 in terms of the CAS role. Sure they can get there fast, but they can’t stay long. All of the former A-10 Crew Chiefs I’ve know have given that airframe praise for its ease of maintenance.
I used to jokingly call the A-10 a “Dyke Plane” when I was an Airman. In truth it has always been a favorite of mine.
Retiring it is a huge mistake.
I suggest that a minimum they let the Army pay to keep them in mothballs. That way we’ll have them when WE HAVE TO HAVE THEM AGAIN.
Anybody who thinks we’ve seen the last of dirty, low tech war is crazy, And ask any of the guys that have been on the ground what they most want to see in the air!
The USAF has always tried cutting the mighty A-10 for a long time. The main reason seems to be that they don’t find the A-10 “sexy” because it’s old-school technology and the USAF loves all the modern bells and whistles with newer planes. It’s a shame as the A-10 has proven itself again and again, and the pilots who fly them love them. Sad.
I believe I read a retired General/Admiral saying that you could agree with Obama’s Social Engineering in the Military or you could retire. I hope we still have a Military when Obama vacates the WH. If he ever does.
I think the Specter gun ships could probably do most of the A-10’s jobs but they sure look to me like they are just huge targets flying around in circles.
I am sure they have defenses but I wonder what they could be. I often hear them flying around at dusk or night. They have a very distinctive sound.
The F-35 is too expensive an aircraft to use for tank busting and close air support.
An F-16 also can’t get one engine and half a wing blown off and return to base.
I don’t think he will in my lifetime.
And my actuarial life expectancy at this point is probably 20 years.
The Air Force has always hated close air support, passionately. All of the guiding lights of air power have relentlessly pushed long range interdiction and strategic air but all but ignored direct support of infantry (while energetically opposing any move by the army to get their own fixed wing CAS).
The A-10 was a surprising break from this mind-set but with its elimination, the Air Force is back to where it wants to be. Poor dam army will have to beg for CAS from the navy and Marines from here on.
I for one support this move. The A10 hog is one of the most effective close air support planes ever made. Given that Obama et al define US as the enemy, taking it out of service is OK with me.
“The service has said other aircraft can fill the A-10s close-air support mission, including Lockheed Martin F-16s and F-35s.”
A screwdriver makes for a very poor hammer, General. The A-10 is most definitely a hammer.
Better than nothing, I suppose. But the CAS mission is one that requires A LOT of practice. You can’t just dust the aircraft off & put any old pilot on the stick. Bad things can happen — to our own troops.
Not really. The Spectre gunships (AC-130) is very vulnerable to ManPads and even AAA. It needs to be flown in what is known as a “permissive environment”. The A-10 because it maneuvers on the deck and has a lot of lift for tight banking can evade a lot of that stuff, or survive a hit.
One of the reasons that they adapted the big cannon into the Spectre was that the mini-guns were too short in range and the plane needed a better stand-off weapon to avoid the radar control guns (ZSU-23/4).
An Israeli F-15 made it back to base with an entire wing missing. I saw a picture of it and boy, it was hard to believe he flew that thing back.
The thing that allowed him to do it was part of the fuselage is also wing like so it was getting a lot of lift even after the wing was gone.
We need to bring back all the jobs we sent to China.
Last year America imported 440 billion dollars worth of everything just from China.
Last year China imported just 122 billion dollars worth of stuff from America.
This has gone on now through two entire administrations. An entire generation.
Bring back American jobs.
STOP IMPORTING EVERYTHING.
I once taped two A-10s flying around for 20 minutes. The camera I was using used those mini VHS cassets and only ran for 20 minutes.
I still have that tape but it requires a VHS adapter then you play it in a VHS player.
They were a marvel to watch. Reminded me a whole lot of crop dusters. They actually looked to me like they would also be a little vulnerable to ground fire or whatever. I know they are built to withstand a lot.
I’ve seen that picture. A-6 collision, as I recall.
Bingo ... fast fly boys do not like the lumbering but efficient A10, however troops on the ground love the close fire support rather than the high flying “dual purpose” aircraft.
If you can’t get Puff, then an A10 is next best.
I knew it involved a collision but can’t remember the details.
The Russians had a plane in WWII which was somewhat like the A-10. It was the Stormovik. It was heavily aromored and deadly on tanks.
When Erich Hartmann the all time ace of aces first tried to shoot one down his bullets just bounced off. The other pilots took the young man aside and told him how to shoot one down.
I think it involved getting below the Stormovic and shooting from under and behind it.
Very good idea.
And now our government is desperately trying to get the cold war going again.
Funny how that works...
the Acquisition Mafia at it again.
I agree move the Hogs to the army so they n protecxt themselves,
Cost: US invaded and conquered by mortal enemy communists.
Benefit: Saved $4 billion.
Sounds like an excellent Cost/Benefit ratio to me.
He’s a four star. No more available.
1983 Negev mid-air collision On 1 May 1983, during an Israeli Air Force training dogfight, an F-15D collided with an A-4 Skyhawk. Unknown to pilot Zivi Nedivi and his copilot, the right wing of the Eagle was sheared off roughly two feet (60 cm) from the fuselage. The F-15 entered a controllable spin after the collision. Zivi decided to attempt recovery and engaged afterburner to increase speed, allowing him to regain control of the aircraft. The pilot was able to prevent stalling and maintain control because of the lift generated by the large horizontal surface area of the fuselage, the stabilators and remaining wing areas. The F-15 landed at twice the normal speed to maintain the necessary lift, and its tailhook was torn off completely during the landing during a failed attempt at using the emergency arresting gear installed on the runway to bring the aircraft to a halt. Zivi managed to bring his F-15 to a complete stop approximately 20 ft (6 m) from the end of the runway. He was later quoted as saying "(I) probably would have ejected if I knew what had happened."
Also at NO WING F15.
Ask the grunts on the ground if they want and F-16 or F-18 or an A-10 in the air when they are in deep sh-t. The A-10 is so revered by the Army they have one on display at Fort Hood. The grunts love the A-10. They know that slow, ugly piece of aluminum will drop some really bad stuff on the bad guys that are up close and personal.
Marine infantry does not trust anyone but Marine Air for close air support. The A-10 and its pilots are great, but USAF leadership hates CAS and is unreliable. The Army should take the A-10s if the Air Force doesn't want them.
Well totally disbanding the military would save a big chunk too.
The A10 is a ground support aircraft. Currently very effective against the Taliban. Infantry love the A-10.
As a casual observer,it seems to me that what they are trying to do with the A-10 is a lot like what automotive”geniuses” are trying to do with some of the new cars. Take a proven performer & replace it with something that costs more,has more bells & whistles,& is less reliable or effective. It was always my understanding that the A-10 was an excellent,well proven aircraft that was a scarey sight to our enemies.
BLUF - if you can not break Mach 1; pull G’s until your eyes blur, and look high speed on the ramp the AF doesn’t want you.
CAS wins wars, like it or not. You win wars by taking territory away from your enemy and holding on to it. We tried something else in Vietnam; 58,000 plus names on a war tells me that what we did there was wrong. Saigon is now Ho Chi Min City.
For the last 12 plus years the fighters have had a floor below which they aren’t supposed to go. Specter and the Hogs lived, fought, supported, and survived well below that floor.
BTW - the F-16 need to be re-engined - flying all of those air born alerts CONUS under Operation Noble Eagle burned up the engines and airframes.
BTW - when is the first wing of F-35s going to be operationally ready? I mean the latest slip not the one sold to Congress.
What are our grunts supposed to do in the mean time when things turn to heck and the ground fight is danger close?
LM can’t make any profit supporting ground troops. The generals want nice jobs at LM after the Army. For dead soldiers LM won’t pay much. All taxpayer will pay a small pension for the widow.
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