sen. kelly ayotte

CAPITOL HILL: While the federal government remains supine and Congress fails to pass appropriations bills, at least one lawmaker is engaged in a classic use of senatorial privilege: placing a hold on the nomination of a senior administration official.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who has made clear her unease with what appears to be the Air Force’s intent to scrap the entire fleet of the beloved and ugly 326 A-10 close air support jets, told the service today she would not let the nomination of Air Force Secretary nominee Debbie Lee James proceed. Why? Answers to questions she posed to the service about the A-10 were “insufficient.” She has sent follow-up questions to the Air Force.

“As Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee, Senator Ayotte’s central concern is that our troops have the close air support they need to accomplish their missions and return home safely. The A-10 has saved many American lives, and Senator Ayotte is concerned that the Air Force might prematurely eliminate the A-10 before there is a replacement aircraft-creating a dangerous close air support capability gap that could put our troops at risk,” a congressional aide said on background.

This isn’t really about the quality of the Air Force responses, which probably said no final decisions had been reached since the next fiscal year’s budget isn’t final yet. (I bet they even used that fabulous and most hated term that no decent person would ever use — pre-decisional.) This is all about the Air National Guard (which flies almost one third of the A-10 fleet) and deep-seated suspicion that the F-35A, due to replace the A-10 in its close air support role, just isn’t nearly as good as the Warthog at flying low and killing tanks, other military vehicles and even troops on the ground.

Thunder alley

Air Force Times recently ran this compelling account of a recent A-10 sortie:

In July, the A-10’s capabilities were evident when two pilots came to the rescue of 60 soldiers during a convoy ambush in Afghanistan.

The convoy came under attack while patrolling a highway. They became pinned behind their vehicles, facing heavy fire from a close tree line. The group didn’t have a JTAC, but a joint fire observer was able to communicate an estimated location to the A-10s.

“I flew over to provide a show of force while my wingman was looking for gunfire below,” the flight lead said, according to an Air Force release on the mission. “Our goal with the show of force was to break the contact and let the enemy know we were there, but they didn’t stop. I think that day the enemy knew what they were going to do, so they pushed even harder and began moving closer to our ground forces.”

One A-10 fired two rockets to mark the area with smoke. The wingman came in next and pulled the trigger on the Avenger cannon. The enemy moved closer to the friendly forces.

“We train for this, but shooting danger-close is uncomfortable, because now the friendlies are at risk,” the second A-10 pilot said. “We came in for a low-angle strafe, 75 feet above the enemy’s position and used the 30-mm gun — 50 meters parallel to ground forces — ensuring our fire was accurate so we didn’t hurt the friendlies.”

Of course, F-35 advocates would note that the plane possesses stunning sensors (far better than anything the A-10 will ever have) that allow the plane to operate at higher altitudes with excellent precision. They would also point out it can carry a heavier weapons load (18,000 pounds) than can the A-10 (16,000 pounds). Of course, the A-10’s 30 millimeter machine gun is one of the world’s most formidable ground attack weapons, far more potent than the F-35’s 25 mm gun, and the F-35 cannot carry nearly as much ammunition as the A-10 does (180 rounds vs. 1,170 rounds).

Then there’s the indelible impression the A-10 makes on ground troops. The good guys love the fact it flies low and slow. And they adore the impressive sound of the machine gun as it unloads its rounds into the enemy, not to mention the effect of the rounds that spew forth. The enemy hates all of those things.

A-10 pilots are also encased in a titanium tub that protects them from ground fire, allowing them to feel much more confident as they stare down at the enemy. We won’t really know how successful the F-35A is at its ground support role until JTACs guide some in and they have to do the dirty work the A-10 does so well.

The A-10 isn’t alone in facing the axe. The Air Force is considering scrapping its fleet of KC-10 tankers, F-15C fighter jets and the planned $6.8 billion purchase of new combat search-and-rescue helicopters.

The Air Force leadership made clear at last month’s Air Force Association conference that they wanted to cut weapon systems that have only one role, even if those systems perform that role fabulously well. It’s all part of the increasingly desperate push to find big enough savings to either forestall or meet the demands of the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration. The fight over the A-10 will only be one of many come February, when the new budget is rolled out.


  • Taylor

    Eliminate the Department of Education, public radio, public tv, etc. and save the Warthogs!

    • UH34D

      Why do you think those entities were developed and implemented as part of our governmental process? You want to save the A-10, the easiest way would be to eliminate at minimum 30% of the Brass that are useless and redundant.

      • PolicyWonk

        Correct. At last count, there was approximately 1 General staff officer for every 600 boots. This is the veritable definition of bloat at its worst.

        Furthermore, the entire DoD acquisition system is a morass of redundancy, bloat, wastefulness, and inefficiency: it should be either extirpated and replaced by one similar to that used by the British, or otherwise only given funding on the condition that all services branches acquisition systems be put under receivership.

        The F-35 article recently published in Vanity Fair, coupled with the test results published on Aviation Week, lead one to reasonably conclude that the F-35 represents a *staggering* rip-off to the US taxpayer.

        And then there’s the so-called “Littoral Combat Ship”, who’s sea-frame isn’t even built to the standard of a common fleet oiler (either variant). It’s puny 55MM pop-gun failed to put a dent into a military grade hull in Canadian testing; it has zero ability to attack an over-the-horizen target; and has little to offer in offensive weaponry even with its “mission packages”. All this, at a staggering $400M a copy.

        All other navies are able to deliver full military grade hulls, stealthy designs, far more heavy armaments, with mission packages for far less money. And, all potential customers of the LCS have walked away.

        its disgraceful.

        • Richard Baker

          How many Flag Officers did we have in WWII for 11+million under arms?

  • Fred

    The f35 is going to ruin the Air Force. You have air craft like the a10 that perform the mission needed perfectly- and I think we should anticipate in the future the need for similar missions where the f35 just won’t work. But somehow they’ve deluded themselves into thinking the f35 can do everything- it won’t do any as well. Just think of the many multifunction hand tools- why do contractors not whip them out when they are on the job? Many are fine for homeowners, but not professionals.

    • rbrtdun

      As the old saying goes, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. The A10 has done the job for many years and like the B52, it still is the best option we have. I believe we need to keep something this good which has a proven record of success in battle. I agree with Sen. Ayotte on this one. If the A10 is too old, build some new ones. Probably be much cheaper than the F35.

      • Zatoichi

        We can’t build more A10s; Fairchild failed a Contractor Operations Review back in the 1980s. When they failed the COR, the government shut down the factory on Long Island and broke up the equipment used to build the aircraft…

        • HardwareFreak

          Do you have any idea how stupid a statement you just made? This is America for Pete’s sake. Even if we had to fully disassemble and copy every part of an A-10 donor plane we can easily make more. But that isn’t necessary.

          DoD has all of the original blue prints. Boeing has a copy as they are currently producing replacement wings for the entire fleet at 75 sets/year. The enignes are still being produced by GE today for the civilian market as the CF-34-3 series. GD-OTS still manufactures the GAU-8/A gun, etc, etc. Building new hydraulic pumps, motors, electrical systems, etc isn’t a problem. LASTE is still current so producing the fire control system is easy.

          Manufacturing more A-10s would be simple and straighforward for American industry. You simply provide the blue prints to Lockheed and have them compete with Boeing on price for the airframe. Buy the rest of the parts (engines, gun system, etc) direct just as is done today and provide them for installation.

          The only obstacle to producing more A-10s is the will to do so.

          • burritolikethesun

            Oh yeah, because that’s all it takes to restart low-volume capital projects. Just take it apart and see how to make it again! Derr. When they shut down the F-22 production line they literally video taped every worker doing their job because the design minutia of something like a combat aircraft is literally still happening all the way down to how a specific skilled worker has figured out how to assemble a part in a reliable, efficient manner.

            You could say the only obstacle to most anything is the will to do so. In a capitalist system, willpower is largely denominated in dollars.

    • Colin Clark

      Fred, The senior Air Force leadership — from the chief to the head of Air Combat Command on down disagrees — disagree with you on principle and in this particular case. They argue that the budget now requires systems that can do more than one thing. Single purpose systems are unlikely to be smiled upon. I worry that they have forgotten some of the most spectacular failures in American military history — the NPOESS program (which the Air Force is still trying to figure out what to do after scrapping the program); Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) an intelligence satellite program which was killed after enormous costs were wracked up — which committed the grave folly of trying to build multiple capabilities on single platforms. These — and others I won’t mention here — began life after the Berlin Wall fell and the Pentagon wanted to save lots of money by buying satellites that could do lots of things. They couldn’t and they didn’t. I don’t think the F-35 fits that model, though I know many people are likely to disagree. Gen. Schwartz, before he retired as chief, argued that precision weapons made the A-10 much less necessary.

      • Vpanoptes

        And 10 years from now when we lose a bunch of ground troops in an ambush in Somewhereizstan because the F-35 can’t do the A-10’s mission, or because the USAF is afraid to risk its “only” $100 million a pop superjet to the dreaded Golden BB, people will look back and say, “Gee, I guess those folks were right about the A-10”. Small comfort to the troops and their families….

        • Nella Nodnarb

          If the A-10 gets the axe, the Army will just fly more Apache missions to fill the gap. There will always be a need for a slow flying 35mm cannon as long as we’re fighting jihadists. If that fails then the Marines might end up asking for a V-22 variant with a 35mm for close ground support instead.

          Regardless, it’s safe to say the F-35 will not be fit for those low down dirty engagements, it’s not slow enough and it certainly isn’t tough enough.

      • PolicyWonk

        With all due respect to Gen. Schwartz, precision weapons cost FAR more per unit and provide FAR higher profit margins for defense contractors than the cheap/super simple/unsophisticated DU shells that come out of the nose of an A-10.
        The F-35, if the recent test results posted on Aviation Week (let alone the recent article in Vanity Fair) are any indication: the F-35 comes with a 5th generation price tag for an airplane that can’t get anywhere near 4th generation performance, even taking the multiple times reduced mission profile requirements into account. And it has a long way to go to even approach the reduced requirements.

        • Colin Clark

          The Vanity Fair piece was very out of date and largely relied on the usual criticisms from the usual cast of critics (some of whom provide value from time to time). I won’t even bother to detail the simple inaccuracies one could find in the first few paragraphs — let alone the rest of the piece. But I am intrigued by your mention of an AvWeek test result piece. Which one?

      • Amicus Curiae

        Here we go again. “Senior Air Force Leadership” says blah blah. This multi role vs. single purpose debate has been going on for at least 50 years. I have never observed so much incompetence in the Senior Leadership as now. I am telling you, that the absolute cheapest way to get all the jobs done competently is the design and construction of focused, single purpose aircraft. As it happens, they will have some overlap capability to exploit, which will be touted as evidence that a single multi purpose design could succeed. That is incorrect. Additionally, if one of the single purpose designs gets into technical or managerial trouble, the idea can be re-visited or cancelled without catastrophic impact on overall capability. I say that the Senior Leadership is so tangled up with the F-35, they will make any excuse for delay and pay any price for fixing it. Because of past Senior Leadership mistakes, the F-35 is too big to fail. The A-10 is just one of the sacrifices to be made to achieve mediocrity. Overall, the USAF will have LESS capability, not more versatility. I’m sick of this.

        • HardwareFreak

          You hit every nail squarely on the head.

  • Dave

    The A-10 is not “single mission.” It just doesn’t do air-to-air. CAS, AFAC, CSAR, reconn… PLUS the intangibles noted above. The F-35 is the future & everyone should just get used to it – it’s not just the AF’s baby, but OSD’s as well. But we need to think twice before throwing out other babies with the bathwater…

    • superdave

      Actually, it DOES do limited defensive air-to-air. Check out A-10 photos with full weapon loadouts, you’ll see that lots of them carry sidewinders (most like to take out an enemy attack heli).

  • Vendetta

    We don’t need to wait and see to know that the F-35 isn’t nearly as suited to the ground support role as the A-10.

  • rudy

    Lets be honest, while the USAF has the “Ground support” mission, it has always been a weak second priority. One does not get to be an “ace”, by killing tanks, or wasting the enemy ground troops. To rationalize that we will use the $80-90 Mill stealth fighter, now non-stealth with external pylons, with all the “Bells and whistles”, to fly a limited time is ludicrious. The A-10 was designed for one important mission, and it does it best. If the USAF wants to depend on F-22’s, and F-35’s, lets use them in Air superiority, and interdiction…..Give the “Ground support” mission back to the Army, along with the A-10…

    • PolicyWonk

      Agreed. And while they’re at it, they should give the army all the C-27’s that are coming off the production lines, and are being flown *directly* to the bone-yard.

    • Mitchell Fuller

      Rudy, same. AF has shown it’s not interested / committed to CAS (and has wasted alot of hours on F 15 / 16 airframes performing the mission in theatres where a turbo prop could have been more effective for a lot less).

      Give CAS to army along with A-10s, thrown in inter theatre transportation too.

    • Tom

      The AF has been trying to get the Army to take over the A10 since the 1980’s. The Army has consistently turned the offer down.

      • Nella Nodnarb

        That’s due to funding though. Why take on an aircraft that’s already fully staffed and functional when the Air Force is doing a fine job? When the A-10 axe comes down and the Airforce decides to drop it, I bet the Army will then ‘reluctantly’ entertain an offer to pick up the program. After all, it’s their boys who need it, not the air force.

    • Amicus Curiae

      I don’t understand this call to give the A-10 to the Army. The Army has no expertise in jet fighter operations. If it is useful, give the budget to the Air Force to operate it. They won’t turn it down, I assure you. They won’t be happy if it comes out of F-35 funds, because that is where careers are being made in industry, politics and military. Try starting a new program to replace the A-10 directly. You might get more universal support because of the opportunity for advancement.

  • CW

    A is for attack i.e. air to ground. F is for fighter i.e. air to air. If the F35 was built to be both a fighter and attack a/c they would be calling it the F/A-35 much like the F/A-18. As a fighter I’ll also assume the F35’s gun will fire at a rate of about 1500 RPM. Her 180 rounds might last for three trigger pulls. They might put a dual speed gun on her? Then go back to the sotry of the JFO calling in for the gun runs at 50m and ask him about the difference between the Risk Estimate Distance (Danger Close) between the 25 mm and the smallest bomb the F35 would drop, currently the GBU-38v5. Both are over 50m. The a/c that has the smallest RED is the AH-1W using 20mm

    • Vpanoptes

      “If the F35 was built to be both a fighter and attack a/c they would be calling it the F/A-35 much like the F/A-18.”
      Wait for it….

  • dt

    It’s called “Time on Target”.

    To a Sapper, an A-10 is almost as good as the calvery.

    Give them to the army. We’ll integrate then with our attack helicopters.

  • Seenitallbefore

    The Air Force tried to get rid of the A10 years ago, and transfer them to the Army along with the pilots but refused to transfer outyear equipment and maintenance funds which made the deal a no go. The jet jockeys have never liked CAS, and since the Norden Bombsight (remember the nonsense about putting a bomb in a pickle barrel) we’ve heard about “precision” munitions. No, troops on the ground need air that has loiter time, a good sized ordnance load, is rugged and survivable, and possesses the ability to react to unusual conditions when called upon.- which the A10 pilots and their aircraft have demonstrated over the years. The A10 is a success story, and should remain one.
    The AF needs to remember it is not about the Air Force, it’s about the soldiers you support. Those soldiers don’t care about “multi-mission capabilities”, they just want to win the fight they’re in now and that is what the A10’s and their pilots do well.

    • SMSgt Mac

      seen it all before? And yet understands none of it.
      You seem to be a reasonable sort, so here’s a free resource for you to START down the path to knowledge. Enter into your search engine:

      “Help From Above: Close Air Support For the Army” AFHSO
      Should be first or second link if you use the quote marks. Not a complete survey of the topic, but as close as you are going to find in one place. The author (John Schlight) IMHO falls too easily into rationalizing the Army’s behavior while cutting the AF’s little slack, but it is as close to a balanced account as you’re going to find (and I’m a little hardened against the massive disinformation on CAS I’ve encountered over the years. The book is only about 400 pages of text, with excellent notes, and index and bibliography behind it. My hardcover copy was well thumbed before I found the free online version.
      When you’re finished, read as much of what is in the bibliography that you can get your hands on. Dollars to donuts you will have rethought every line you wrote.

      • Amicus Curiae

        I tried to get educated from your recommended resource. Although I was enlightened about the value of communications/command/control, it did not help me decide whether it is desirable to give up the unique low and slow capability the A-10 offers. Consequently, I still think it is prudent to keep the capability. Also, I was hoping the resource would spell out the origins of all the A/X design requirements better. That would also help me decide what I was giving up by supporting the multi-role F-35 as a substitute. Obviously, the F-35 must do it another way, using different weapons and sensors. It is not yet clear to me if some holes are left in capability using the F-35, like there were using the F-16. I was amused to read that helicopter escort was mentioned as a desired A/X capability. That mission was such an oddball to us during A-10 design that it was universally ridiculed. However, I am aware that it has actually been done recently in Afghanistan. So, I have more respect for the ancients who hammered out the A/X specification 50 years ago and got something unique.

  • Richard Baker

    Sounds like the Air Force is more concerned about the “Wild Blue Yonder” at altitude than supporting the guys on the ground (no glamour there). Maybe it’s time to return the Air Force to the Army Air Corps. At least the guys in the combat arms would be a priority.

  • SMSgt Mac

    Oh Gawd. Here we go again. It’s bad enough that subsets of the US Army have repeatedly subverted every agreement and joint document on CAS since the Air Force gained independence, all the while pretending to not encroaching on AF roles and missions, while failing to get it into their thick skulls that Airpower is least efficient and wasteful when doled out in “penny packets”. Now we have to deal with this flotsam? — No doubt as a result of pillow talk between an ignorant Congresswoman and her former A-10 meat-servo husband? Seriously? What next? If Rep Boehner’s wife decides she believes we should all be driving a Mary Kay Cadillac is she going to make him put a hold on the next GSA administrator?
    Key observations on the ‘breathtaking’ anecdote of the A-10 used to create a “misleading vividness”.
    1. Sounds like convoy procedures have gotten rather lackadaisical. How did the convoy manage to get in such a dire predicament? Sounds like somebody screwed up and was LUCKY the AF was nearby to bail them out.
    2. I’m sure the Army will always find a way to get into trouble that even Moses couldn’t lead them to safety. At what point do we design CAS ‘good enough’? The ridiculous extreme and rare (or self-inflicted) 99.9 percentile cases or the 95% solution? Answer as if you had to pay for it. Then ask yourself what the Army could spend it on to prevent those extreme cases from ever happening in the first place.
    3. If the GAU-8 wasn’t such a fire hose, and more precise weaponry was available, such a danger-close pass would have been “danger-stupid unnecessary”. Good news! Laser Guided 2.75 rockets are on the way for the A-10 and F-16. Any bets as to also for the F-35?
    4. If the pilot was in an F-35, he could have communicated with the ground convoy directly with his advanced communications, had the location of the attackers identified automatically for him by their muzzle flashes, and shacked the bad guys with one pass using GBU-39A/B FLMs from on high. No ‘show of force’ required: actual force applied on first pass instead (and yeah, the GAU-8 is sloppy and scary, but getting precisely blown up by an unseen enemy is scarier.)
    5. The F-35 could have done it in far more environmental conditions.
    Time to retire the A-10 before we need CAS in a REAL shooting war. And if you had to look up anything I said or didn’t know the “penny packets” quote source , you shouldn’t even have an opinion on the topic.

    • Amicus Curiae

      The Vanity Fair article was exceptionally well researched and articulated. Yes, it was a surprise that a piece like that would be published in a non-aerospace medium. Nevertheless, it was refreshing. Just one question to you Sgt. Why do we need anything more than an F-16 with sensors and precision weapons for CAS? Why spend over $100 million a new aircraft when a few million for pods and mods on an existing jet will do? I’ll tell you why. Because it was tried and found unsatisfactory.

      • Colin Clark

        They got the price wrong. They got the number of aircraft the F-35 is planned to replace wrong. And that’s just the first few paragraphs. As far as I remember, the piece did not include a single new and verifiable fact. There’s a reason the piece vanished from view almost as soon as it appeared — it was a wobbly bit of reporting that shed little light on this enormous program. If god ever grants me several months to work on a piece to the exclusion of all else I hope my readers get something worth waiting for. The fact that Vanity Fair pulled its head out of Hollywood and devoted its resources to the story is encouraging in this era when serious issues of America’s national security too rarely get covered in any depth by the best funded media. Let’s see what 60 Minutes does with the F-35 piece they’ve been working on over the last three or four months.

        • Viper550ful .

          I always knew that Vanity Fair was THE most important magazine for the professional aviator and soldier.
          Next important article on the JSF program will be published in another MUST HAVE magazine for the professional soldier: The Playboy Magazine…

        • Amicus Curiae

          Everyone quotes a price that is wrong, and the number of jets it is planned to replace also is not static. That makes the deceivers job easier. Try this. Take published procurement budget and divide by the quantity procured. Make sure the thing has the engine cost in it at least. For instance, in the President’s 2013 budget request : $3353279 / 19 jets
          = $176488 each for the F-35A. The other two variants are much more. This does not include the $5-10 odd million for mandatory post production modifications, or the software upgrades to make it a real weapon. May I propose there are other reasons for Vanity Fair to pull back? The F-35 is too big to fail and powerful interests can bring crushing pressure to bear. If you want to write your own piece about the F-35, then bring it on. I wouldn’t look to 60 minutes for any enlightenment.

    • Amicus Curiae

      “an ignorant Congresswoman and her former A-10 meat-servo husband”
      Wow! Don’t hold back. Tell us how you really think. Assuming her actions are influenced by her husband, explain to me why the advice of a trusted, retired combat pilot should be ignored because you don’t agree with him (or her).

    • HardwareFreak

      “4. If the pilot was in an F-35, he could have communicated with the
      ground convoy directly with his advanced communications, had the
      location of the attackers identified automatically for him by their
      muzzle flashes, and shacked the bad guys with one pass using GBU-39A/B
      FLMs from on high. No ‘show of force’ required: actual force applied on
      first pass instead”

      False assertions presented:

      1. The F-35 pilot can ascertain GPS coordinates of enemy muzzle flashes
      in his FLIR from “on high” after communicating with friendly grunts to
      ascertain their position.

      “Fog of war” often modifies percetual awareness, North become South, 20 ft becomes 100 ft, etc. $2 million dollar digitial fire control systems do not change this historical fact, and they will not give an F-35 jockey anything close togood situational awareness in a ground support role. An A-10 pilot
      flying at 100 ft has no problem identifying blue from enemy through the
      canopy, to the front or the side.

      2. The GBU-39A/B FLM is effective against grount personnel in the open.

      The GBU39A/B FLM is in fact specifically designed for attacking
      stationary targets while generating low collateral damage. It has a
      composite, i.e. carbon fiber/kevlar, case body instead of steel to
      eliminate shrapnel effects thus radius of lethatlity/injury. It
      achieves destructive power via blast impulse overpressure effects alone.
      Thus it is effective against building structures and parked vehicles.
      It has a lethal blast radius of some 26 ft. An enemy formation of only
      50 men will be spread out over at least 200 ft, which is 4 ft spacing
      between combatants. If the pilot is able to place weapon impact
      directly over the head of one enemy, it would only kill or would ~15% of
      the enemy force because it produces no shrapnel effects.

      3. The F-35 + GBU39A/B combo could eliminate the threat in a single pass.

      Again, the GBU-39A/B FLM is totally ineffective against gound
      personnel. It would take at least four passes with 4 such weapons, and,
      after the first, the enemy personnel would rapidly displace. Now we
      have the additional problem of weapon flight time. Dropping munitions
      from 5000 ft altitude, it will take some 15 seconds time to impact
      releasing at 400 KIAS assuming no wing kit is installed. The average
      adrenaline pumped fighter with rifle and gear can easily run 100 ft in
      15 seconds, literally outrunning the bomb. Thus, for the F-35 to be
      effective against these fighters it must use a fragmentation bomb or a
      cluster munition. In the tactical situation under discussion, this will
      lead to friendly casualties due to shrapnel from a singular bomb, or
      direct pressure and shrapnel effects from bomblets landing nearby. And,
      as we all know, GPS guided munitions are not always accurate, and have
      caused many times more friendly casualites than any A-10’s GAU-8 has.
      We simply don’t have the sensational gun camera footage provided by
      Wikileaks showing GPS bombs landing on friendlies, as we do with POPOV36
      mis-identifying British Scimitar scout vehicles as Soviet model Iraqi
      trucks and engaging them. This incident was due to no shortcoming of
      the A-10 BTW, but serious pilot error WRT target identification.

      “5. The F-35 could have done it in far more environmental conditions.”

      1. The A-10 is all weather, designed for the European theater, specifically
      fighting in rain, snow, and below the clouds. The F-35 FLIR can’t see well through cloud cover, just as with any FLIR. Its ground RADAR can see through clouds but can’t discern personnel, same as the F-15E, only structures and some vehicles. And the F-35 can’t fight below the clouds due to lack of armor protection against AAA. So this claim is completely false as well.

      • SMSgt Mac

        Oh really? You drop your ‘points’ FIVE MONTHS after everybody has left the party? If you were correct on any of them, I would just call you our for ‘bad form’ but you’re so wrong on every point I just may use your argumentation at my place as a warning to others. I WAS looking for some FLM pics I had posted on another BD thread (here: and found your post first oh Brave Sir Robin.
        You might ought to use some GoogleFu and search up “Debunking Close Air Support Myths”..; and please, DO take it all in before attempting to re-engage.
        Here’s a peek at some of my A-10/CAS swag. (IYAAYAS!) What’s yours look like?
        p.s. This thread is ‘done’. Stop being a ‘bushwhacker’.

  • Atomic_Walrus

    Gen. Horner talked about the fact that a couple of weeks into Desert Storm, about 24 A-10s were out of operation awaiting battle damage repair. The aircraft is survivable, but it’s more vulnerable to getting shot up in the first place due to its flying characteristics. Unless operating in permissive airspace, would the A-10 actuallybe able to provide effective close air support over a long period? Also worth noting that the big 30 mm cannon has been a big source of blue-on-blue casaulties.

    • HardwareFreak

      Please get your facts straight. You stated: “Gen. Horner talked about the fact that a couple of weeks into Desert Storm, about 24 A-10s were out of operation awaiting battle damage repair.”

      No, he said: “I think I had fourteen airplanes sitting on the ramp having battle
      damage repaired, and I lost two A- 10s in one day [February 15] , and I said, ‘I’ve had enough of this.’ It was when we really started to go after the Republican Guard.” from:

      The implication here is that the Republican Guard units possessed mechanized RADAR aimed AAA, and knew how to use it, as well as mechanized RADAR guided SAM launchers. The A-10 was not designed as a Wild Weasel airfcraft, and is not equipped to detect and engage enemy RADARs. It suffered losses because it was assigned to engage units which had such weapons, but the brass didn’t take that into account, and tasked no escorts for this job. The F-16 can carry the Shrike and HARM missiles to take out these RADARs from safe distance. This is precisely what Horner did. What he doesn’t state in this interview is that once the AAA and SAM capabilities of the Rebublican Guard were eliminatetd, he sent A-10s back in to engage those units.

      “The aircraft is survivable, but it’s more vulnerable to getting shot up in the first place due to its flying characteristics.”

      Again, get your facts straight. Not “flying characteristics”, but “mission”. The A-10 can carry 6 Mavericks, same as the F-16, and fire them from stand-off distance, avoiding AAA. That’s the tank killing mission. The other mission of the A-10 is close air support which requires getting in the dirt, especially on danger-close missions. Neither F-16s nor F-35s are suitable for this mission, as they can’t take hits and survive. To attempt survival, they must scream in at 500+ knots to take a gun shot, and simply don’t have sufficient time see and to line up on the enemy. F-18s have the same problem. And after two passes their drums are empty, many enemy survive and fight on, because the zippers didn’t get enough HE on target.

      The A-10 gets shot up unlike any other aircfract BECAUSE it performs so well at its primary mission (today) of CAS. In Vietnam the Sandy’s were the aircraft taking all the hits. Same mission, different airframe.

      “Unless operating in permissive airspace, would the A-10 actuallybe able
      to provide effective close air support over a long period?”

      Of course not. Neither would Army Apaches nor Marine Corps Cobras, not to mention Harriers. Should we eliminate these since they incapable of providing their own air superiority?

      “Also worth noting that the big 30 mm cannon has been a big source of blue-on-blue casaulties.”

      Mortars, artillary, and aerial bombs (guided and dumb) have killed 100 fold more friendlies than the GAU-8. And in all cases, it wasn’t the weapons that did the killing, but the folks behind the trigger. Guns don’t make mistakes. They shoot where the operator aims them, period. Making such an argument as a reason to retire the A-10 is simply stupid. By that logic we should have absolutely retired all artillary pieces after WWI, as they killed tens of thousands of friendly troops in that conflict.

  • nlcatter

    ayote is a moron

    • HardwareFreak

      Name a politician who isn’t, to some great degree or another.

  • Taylor

    Until we have a suitable replacement for the A-10 it should not be retired.

    If our military planners were really thinking rationally, they would be working on the Thunderbolt III and designing for warfare with the Chinese.

    We need a new platform of that type and a successor to the AH-64. I also agree that we need them in the hands of the Army, USMC, and the Air Force deployed in forward and also rear positions.

    A new Thunderbolt III could benefit from rotating engine pods (not unlike a jet version of the Osprey) and leverage advances in computer technology affording a near STOL capability.

  • PD MacGuire

    It’s not like the Air Force hasn’t tried everything to avoid ground support for the last sixty years. It’s why the Army had to sneak around and develop their own attack helicopters. If the Army doesn’t want the A10s, I’ll bet the Marines would be glad to have them.

    • Sam Pensive

      I sense the Army just plain needs more Officers to speak out and carve out a permanent role for Army AF capabilities separate from any foolishness on the AF side …

  • Sam Pensive

    if and only if the AF uses Raptors for close ground support as often and as long as needed – then ‘maybe’ they can scrap some A-10’s…but i’d test the crap out of that concept. anyone who has been close in with the Warthogs has to be impressed at how well they work.

  • gongdark

    sounds like we’re being sold out as well as the troops the A10 protects. The troops don’t mean shit to those lining their pockets with tax payer dollars. The A10 is the perfect aircraft for troop support. It was mainly, correct me if I’m wrong, built to destroy Russian tanks in Europe if they ever crossed the border and started something. We seem to have a brain dead defense secretary and a president who would like to see this country go down the tubes.