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.