A-10 retirement chart

CAPITOL HILL: Aside from Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the reaction from Capitol Hill to the Air Force plan for retiring the ugly and beloved A-10 has been relatively muted and may remain so. Why would Congress, beloved for going slightly nuts whenever the military tries to retire a ship, aircraft squadron, or anything else that means jobs in their districts or states, not rail against this sweet plane going quietly into the night? They will be replaced at most A-10 bases by F-16s, C-130Js or KC-135s so few or no jobs or money will be lost.

The Air Force has crafted a plan in stark contrast to its efforts last year to trim assets. And the reaction to this one has, so far, been quite muted. The slide above, which depicts the shifts and their timing, was part of a detailed briefing to professional staff and Military Legislative Aides in the last week that included classified assessments of the various tradeoffs the Air Force considered to save the $3.7 billion the Air Force expects to save. Among the scenarios gamed: sending the entire B-1 bomber fleet to the boneyard; pushing 40 F-35 As to the far out years; and retiring 356 F-16s. The Air Force, Chief of Staff Mark Welsh told me after today’s House Armed Services Committee hearing, ran war games to assess the impacts of each action. The retirement of the A-10 fleet was found to be the least disruptive to America’s global capabilities.

A-10 gunMembers did discuss the A-10 today at today’s House hearing, including Rep. Vicky Hartzler. Whiteman Air Force Base, home to an A-10 Reserve unit, sits in her district. She was not convinced by the Air Force’s arguments saying she did not “agree that a B-1″ can do the same job as an A-10. The Air Force argues that precision weapons have replaced the need for the A-10’s depleted uranium cannon shells. Hartzler said she believes ground troops “want to see the A-10 coming over that horizon.”

Several other members voiced what sounded like pro-forma objections to the A-10’s retirements. When Welsh answered their objections they appeared to accept his explanations. Gen. Welsh brings a certain authority to the issue, having been an A-10 pilot himself.

An A-10 "Warthog" firing its infamous 30 mm gun.

An A-10 “Warthog” firing its infamous 30 mm gun.

Here’s how the transfers will work. In 2016, for example, the National Guard A-10 unit at Selfridge will switch to KC-135s. And Hartzler’s Reserve A-10 unit at Whiteman would receive F-16s from Hill. So the bases will switch missions and aircraft, but few people or money will be lost. Those are deals to which Congress may well agree.

Comments

  • PolicyWonk

    Considering that the DoD considers more BRAC action to be coming down the pike, the A-10’s that the Chair Force has been trying to get rid of since the day it was imposed on them will finally happen. Then they will replace those aircraft with ones that will be sent off to other bases when they decide which bases will be closed.

    And of course, it makes sense to kill off an aircraft that uses a gun (that shoots CHEAP bullets – not much profit from) to replace it with one that uses GPS guided bombs (i.e. very expensive and lots of profits) that have NEVER been tested to determine if they are useful in a truly contested environment where GPS jammers, etc., might be used.

    Outstanding! The guys on the ground are going to be the lab rats for a combination of weapons that have yet to be tested against a sophisticated adversary. If they don’t work when the time comes – its the guys on the ground that will pay for the Chair Forces arrogance.

    • Gary Church

      Sorry to disagree with you on this one Wonk but any “sophisticated adversary” is going to have MANPADS and that means those A-10’s will all get shot down on their first mission in a “contested environment.” The guys on the ground are going to have use designators and drones. Both have been around a long time and are well proven. That’s the future in this age of robots and missiles.

      • Mark

        While I agree with you about the potential lethality of MANPADS, one must also consider that the A-10 is built like a flying tank and is able to absorb significant punishment. In addition, as we all know, it is an extremely deadly ground attack/armor-killing machine capable of carrying a massive ordinance loadout far in excess of any other flying machine we possess. It’s interesting that we don’t see the Russians retiring their formidable ~300 inventory of SU-25s (their Warthog-ski variant) so willingly. We will be making a big mistake putting the Warthog out to pasture. It will cost our ground troops big time in the future, and we all know the lack of stomach the American public has for casualties in any conflict.

        • Gary Church

          I was an armored vehicle crewman and I can assure you that “flying tank” is just a figure of speech. It is an airplane made out of aluminum. Not a tank.

          • AFVET

            I served with the 23rd Wing Flying Tigers and I disagree Gary. The A-10 was built to take punishment. The cockpit is a Titanium cage and everything about its design from the placement of the fuel tanks to the many back up systems that allow it return from battle severely damaged speak about how this plane was designed to withstand ground fire. I’ve seen A-10s return from missions so damaged that it’s hard to conceive that it stayed in the air. Look at the statistics as to how few have been lost in battle. And MANPADs and SAMs aren’t really a threat either. The A-10 is JDAM capable and can launch munitions with precision miles from target.

          • Gary Church

            A C-130 can drop bombs miles from the target. Don’t need an A-10. They might return shot up but they also don’t return. A missile will shoot them down and has done so more than once. I repeat; they are not a tank.

          • AFVET

            5 A-10s have been downed by SAMs in over 30 years of service. Considering the thousands of sorties flown between the Gulf War and Enduring/Iraqi Freedom, that’s not a bad record. The Air Force is not replacing the A-10 with the AC-130 they are suggesting the F-35 can perform multiple missions including that of the A-10. There have been more F-series (F14/15/16) aircraft downed than A-10s in the same time period and they do not operate anywhere near as close to the battlefield than an A-10. I just don’t see your point. If you are trying to make an argument based on economics that’s one thing but you say we don’t need an A-10 because you have an issue with the term flying tank and think they are just as vulnerable as other aircraft? You didn’t have to tell us you were a grunt, it’s obvious.

          • Gary Church

            And it is obvious what you are.

          • Gary Church

            “-you say we don’t need an A-10 because you have an issue with the term flying tank-”

            They are not as “vulnerable” as other aircraft. But they are not invulnerable. I am not an F-35 cheerleader. The issue is MANPADS. I was not combat arms- I was also aircrew on rescue helicopters- so what is “obvious” to you is wrong.

      • chernenko

        Have you ever heard of counter measures, or ECM. Manpads have been around for ages they are not 100 percent effective.

        • Gary Church

          Well, that is the canned response; “they are not 100 percent effective.” They don’t have to be. They just have to be less expensive than the airplane and shoot them down some of the time. Even a ten percent loss to air defense means after ten missions your planes are all gone. And the new missiles cost far less than a thousandth of what they are being shot at and work pretty good.
          Figure it out.
          I remember well over a decade ago being shocked after reading the specs on the British Starstreak MANPADS. It has been way upgraded since then. I suggest you take a look C.

      • MikeA10

        Tactics and systems defeat MANPADS. The A-10 has both which makes it more survivable than ever before. Some are more afraid of MANPADS in these posts than I. Recent upgrades have made this aircraft a sophisticated weapon in a rugged shell. Getting rid of them has nothing to do with cost, capability or requirements. It is a victim of political motives based on money, jobs and votes. Overall US military capability and ground troops will bear the suffering.

        • ycplum

          You are dead on with tactics.
          I was with the 1/69 Air Defence Artillery Battallion, 42nd Inf Div NG when it was transitioning from an infantry battallion (yes, the “Fighting 69th” in NYC). We were using Stingers and as good as they were, it is difficult to acquire and lock on to a fast, nap-of-the-earth flying aircraft. And our ability to do so was further reduced at nighttime since we had to acquire and track aircrafts with the old Mark 1 eyeball until the IR got a lock on.
          Ironically, fast middle height jets were easier pickings.

    • SMSgt Mac

      Pfffft ‘Wonk’ of what kind of ‘policy’?
      Bullets may be cheap but cannon rounds are ‘expensive’. Expensive by the round and by the number needed to hit whatever you want to hit. Just one (1!) 30mm PGU-13/B HEI round for the A-10’s GAU-8 cost $53 in 2008.
      We had to buy over 1/4-million rounds to get that kind of bulk discount. If you don’t use them in a timely fashion, you then either pay for the destruction or remanufacturing to add to that cost. You can shoot up a GPS guided-SDB’s worth of cannon rounds pretty quick. Gun barrel replacement is also frequent and not cheap, nor gun maintenance either. Since a fast-mover can drop an SDB or launch a guided 2.75″ rocket (now on helos, A-10s and going on other platforms -expect the F-35 to follow) out of the range of most ground fire you have to also factor in the difference in attrition. Low and Slow buys you nothing but unnecessary risk for no return, if you’ve got the precision, comms, and sensors. All of which the F-35 has in spades, while the A-10 is a poor also-ran.
      If one knows their history, one also knows that the Russians sold Iraq GPS jammers in the ’03 war. Didn’t work out well for them.
      Did you miss the news about the A-10 providing 20% of the AF CAS missions in Afghanistan? How about the 80% provided by F-16s, F-15s, B-1s, etc.

      • Gary Church

        It is not just the A-10 Mac. Nothing is going to be able to get down in the weeds with any modern MANPADS around. You can send drones down there and maybe get a few shot down and no big loss; but not manned aircraft. Not unless we are going to continue going up against adversaries who do not have anything to shoot back. That is not very likely in the future. How soon everyone forgets what we did to the Soviets when we gave our friends those stingers. As if that could not happen to us.

        • SMSgt Mac

          We’re in complete agreement on life and death in the weeds.

      • ELP

        The A-10 is in fact useful for many permissive air environments. Which is most of our wars. As for the Just So Failed, it will be too weak to take on emerging threats, and to expensive to own and operate for lesser threats. Your “all of which the F-35 has in spades” comment has no credible facts to back it up. There are at this time, no F-35s with fully working and reliable, go to war mission systems tested out by a real F-35 squadron with a few years of IOC (and tribal knowledge). Your massive disinformation campaign (and Lockheed Martin talking points) are based on no evidence.

        • SMSgt Mac

          The fact that one does not recognize the F-35’s inherent capabilities does not allow one to truthfully assert they do not exist. Nor does the fact that they have not been demonstrated to one’s satisfaction, IF one is not privy to the actual data/information proving such capability, allow one to truthfully assert they do not exist. Such an assertion is known as the ‘burden of proof’ logical fallacy: made all the more entertaining in the face of public descriptions of said capability by program officials, service officials, and the pilots who’ve flown the F-35. I’ve noticed the standard comeback on this point is often Circumstantial Ad Hominem. Please, DO proceed.

          • Clarkward

            I’ll go with the ‘actual proof’ that your Air Force peeps have been providing, which shows that the USAF has been lowering the bar for the F-35 until it passed. Nice try.

          • ELP

            That marketing spin that the F-35 is Lethal,Survivable Supportable, Sustainable and Affordable (or whatever it says on the JSF patch) are today, good enough examples for many things in the logical fallacy tree.

      • ted

        Yeah! But did you get the presentage of f-16’s,B-1’s,F-15’s verse’s A-10’s used?that 20% knocked out the radar’s and other important
        site’s setting it up for the 15’s,16’s,B-1″s to do there thing.

        • SMSgt Mac

          No. In fact, in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, the ‘high end’ systems cleaned out the air defense systems.

          • Gary Church

            That’s not really part of this discussion is it? Air defense radar systems can be attacked but you cannot do that to MANPADS which are what CAS aircraft will go up against. I have to keep saying this over and over because no one else will; we have been getting away with using CAS because of the invisible army of spooks that have kept them out of the hands of our adversaries.
            If you want a real eye opener then take a look at what I mean;
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starstreak_%28missile%29

          • SMSgt Mac

            Read my post. I didn’t say it was the point. I was correcting ‘Ted’ who made an erroneous assertion.

          • Gary Church

            Sorry.

      • 11A Groundpounder

        Number of ordinace droped by F-16, F-15s, B-1s, etc by my JTAC in Afghanistan and Iraq: 1
        Number of ordinace droped by A-10: I lost count

        • Michelle Neff

          That’s the love of my life that did that! A-10 is a flying tank!

    • ELP

      As only one example, JDAMs are not “GPS guided”. They are inertial navigation system (INS) guided. GPS only helps (and has anti-spoofing lock outs) in a less than 60 second bomb flight. So, as long as the aircraft has a good nav cord before release (for example B-1, F-15, B-2 using radar or radar-offset bombing, you can get sub 4 meter CEPs with JDAMs. ………….longer flight time weapons like JSOW, JASSM, SDB can be an issue. An INS is only as good as its last refresh.

      • SMSgt Mac

        I call ‘caviling’. Pretty funny considering you’ve never designed, worked on or tested a GPS-enabled system or integrated one onto a launch platform aircraft. You oversimplified to the point of doing violence to the phenomenon (guidance). ‘GPS guided’ has been shorthand for INS-GPS systems since the first one came out of the labs. And the better the nav solution the weapon at power-on determines both how well the weapon GPS system acquire and ‘refine’ that solution and feed it to the weapon INS. I write that as someone who’s sat in control rooms and told the launch platform which way the weapon was going to turn after launch based upon the weapon’s own GPS-enabled nav solution at point of launch, which was in all but one instance, a better solution than the platform was using. In short, the GPS weapon had a better idea where it was than most launch platforms in the 90s, and the platforms had to play catch-up,

        • ELP

          Then you know that everything involved with GPS anti-spoofing measures (including upgrades over time) in the weapon only allow the GPS information to do so much after it has been verified. It isn’t perfect. But then again, it isn’t a “GPS guided bomb” as so many claim. It is GPS assisted.

    • Gary Church

      Can’t fight progress Wonk;
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MANPADS

      • Gary Church

        You can knock down half a billion dollars of combat aircraft inside of a minute with this pick-up truck and a high school drop out duck hunter (if they come down to play). The world is changing.

      • PolicyWonk

        I wouldn’t suggest we never get rid of the A-10. The problem, is that the F35 is nowhere near being able to meet even the several times reduced mission profiles, and has been raked over the coals by every reviewing watchdog agency as a crowning example of appalling, wasteful spending and lousy performance.

        All we hear is from the folks in the cheerleading squad of how awesome it is, where all the published test results suggest the folks in the USAF pushing for it and at LockMart that are building these planes should be courts-martialed or imprisoned for defrauding the taxpayers while compromising US national security. Many years behind schedule, hugely over budget, and outstandingly lousy performance make it difficult to see otherwise. Given the USAF’s history of contempt for anything that isn’t cute and fast, it isn’t hard to be suspicious. And of course, then despite their inglorious past, they say “trust me”…

        The USAF has never made a secret of their contempt for the A-10, and they were on their way to retiring before Gulf War I, only to discover to the horror of the USAF that it performed magnificently. And to retire it *before* there is any viable replacement represents callous disregard for the folks on the ground.

        Cheers.

  • Gary Church

    Hate to see them go but…..they are right. Close Air Support only works against an adversary with no MANPADS and we are getting out of the business of murdering insurgents and illiterate tribesman. The invisible army of spooks that have kept air defense weapons out of the hands of our adversaries is probably not going to pull that off in the future. We can afford to lose drones by the dozen flying them in weeds on a battlefield- but nothing with a pilot in it anymore. Time to evolve.

  • CharleyA

    Simple. Erase the requirement for 35 F-35As buys you the entire A-10 fleet.

  • Clausewitz

    “…she believes ground troops “want to see the A-10 coming over that horizon…” As opposed to a few hundred pounds worth of precision munitions devastating the enemy in ways that a dumb thirty-millimeter cannon would never match?

    This retirement debate is getting to a frankly silly point now where the wrong decision is going to cost lives in the long-term. The F-35, to name one amongst a number of platforms, may or may not be better than the A-10 in the singular role of close air support but multi-role IS the way to go. Future conflicts will not be a repeat of Afghanistan and Iraq. Politicians need to take this on board and understand that airspace penetration and precision weapons are the principle areas the USAF must focus on. The A-10 simply has no place within AirLand policy.

    • Gary Church

      I think they should retire the A-10 but isn’t it just as “frankly silly” to expect F-35’s to go down in the weeds on strafing runs? Yathink?
      It is not one or the other. It is neither.

  • ELP

    A few points. The first is that Welsh also thinks that the F-35 is useful and worthwhile. There isn’t any credible proof (like robust F-35 squadron operations with mature tested aircraft) to back up such wild claims. Welsh is so very wrong about the F-35 that he lacks credibility. A response to him on this matter would be: “that which is presented without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” So lots of billions to be saved there by canceling the F-35, as a USAF requirement. The second point is that the USAF has about 4 times too many flag ranks. USAF cutting 75 percent of its flag ranks (and with each goes their entourage facilities and perks) could could save about $9B over 5 years. Icing on the cake is that USAF has way more O-6 Colonels than E-9 chiefs. More savings to be had there. Having useful aircraft around like the A-10 are not the main drain on the USAF annual budget. The final worry about Welsh’s credibility is that he wanted to retire the KC-10. That by itself is a severe warning that we have the wrong guy as a USAF boss. Just like the one before him.

    • Gary Church

      I agree with you on most of what you are saying ELP. I do not think they are going to be sending an expensive plane like the F-35 down into the weeds on strafing missions. Uh-uh. Cutting flag ranks; yes. But I don’t know about cutting colonels instead of E-9s. The way I understand it is the air force has so many mid ranking officers compared to other services because they are pilots. I do not know if there are that many O-6 pilots- but I do know there are not that many E-9’s turning wrenches. I have a particular bias against too many high ranking officers AND too many E-9s. Both are pretty useless in large numbers as far as I can see. Get my drift? I think they should retire the A-10 though. As soon as the last troops are out of Afghanistan. I would say we need some kind of specialized drone we can afford to lose a couple at a time for CAS because those missiles are out there and our next adversary will probably have some.

  • UH34D

    I can’t seem to understand why some people think and believe the US isn’t going to become involved in another Iraq/Afghanistan situation in the future? These are the only types of wars the US has been involved in since WW 2, Korea included. As soon as the next bunch of ‘The Best and The Brightest’ to steal a title from Mr. Halberstam, takes over the helm with a new administration, they just know they can accomplish feats no other previous administration could accomplish! The new bunch would never make errors in judgement as evidenced what has transpired since the end of WW 2. Neither Russia nor China will push the envelope so far it results in nuclear armegeddon. Leaders of both nations may be brash and bold, but they will not sacrifice their entire nation for some fleeting gain in real estate. So, that leaves us with the types of conflicts/wars we’ve seen since Korea and you can bet your last dollar the US will become involved in more in the future…it’s just what we do. And the technology of our adversaries will be fairly primitive compared to our technology. Which brings us to the A-10.

    The A-10, no matter how you slice it, is cheap and effective compared to other fixed wing/helo aircraft for the task it’s asked to accomplish. I can’t think of another aircraft, the exception maybe being a C-130 Spook that provides more bang for the buck. I can’t speak for anybody else, but there was never a friendlier sight in Nam than seeing a few Spad’s coming in with napalm and gun support when you were in a jam. People speak of drones, fine, I’m sure they can take on tasks where they will be effective, but drones don’t have the perspective a live pilot does when it comes to close air support. There is something about existing in a truly three dimensional environment that offers perspecive that makes a world of difference when assessing options. Looking at a flat screen, even with GPS and other electronic assists still doesn’t come close to having human eyes on a situation. And let’s be real here…when you step across that line in the sand, sign on the dotted line, take the Oath, you’ve just signed your life away if that’s what it takes. I’m not saying we waste precious American lives, but being in uniform brings about a certain amount of hazard to ones life, just part of the job.

    For anybody who’s studied WW 2, tactics played an important part in defeating the Axis. The tactics would have been meaningless if we didn’t have overwhelming firepower to implement the tactics. We and our Allies didn’t always have the best, but we had overwhelming numbers in armaments and better training. Something doesn’t have to be ungodly expensive to be effective. You know, something like an IED for example.

    I believe maintaining a fleet of A-10’s would be in our best interests. The best example I can think of to present is the Osprey. Given the same amount of $$$’s, if I had the choice between fielding 25 Osprey or a combination of 125 other Marine Corps helo’s, be it a mix of CH-53’s Cobra’s, Huey’s, 46’s, I’ll take the low tech 100 choppers thank you. To me, the A-10 isn’t a matter of its effectiveness, there just isn’t the big $$$’s for certain corporations to want to see the the plane retained. The A-10 to them is like a sore thumb, a constant reminder we can build/refit a plane that costs much, much less and that plane can get the job done…and we can’t have that, now can we?

    • Mike

      Well said. You hit the nail on the head….. Hopefully, some combat initiated Army general who’s butt was saved by an A-10 will recommend that the ground pounders take over this excellent piece of Close air support equipment…. One thing about it, if this baby gets spotted, it can take one hell of a lot more groundfire than any helo the Army has in it’s inventory….. Let us hope that smarter, more ethical, ground combat experienced minds will prevail on this question…

      • Gary Church

        It is far more survivable than any helicopter- that’s for sure. I think they should retire it because a decent missile in the hands of the enemy means they will go out on the first day of the war and never get sent into battle again after taking heavy losses. So all the resources used on them up to that one day end up all for nothing when they could have been used on something else that wins the war.
        But….if we end up doing another war against insurgents or tribesmen and the invisible army of spooks manages to keep MANPADS out of their hands then Mike is right and the reverse is true; they will be very valuable and save lives.
        Hard decision.
        If I was the General I would say goodbye to them after having something to fill their role; like a gun drone that can be controlled very precisely by the troops on scene. Such a classified weapon system might be almost ready and that is the reason they are getting rid of the A-10.
        But I doubt it. I do not have much faith in the stuff they are buying lately.

      • Terrence

        The Army has suggested that before. The Air Force’s response was a polite “hell no”. This again brings up the debate of the Army operating fixed wing assets of its own.

    • SMSgt Mac

      UH34D, I believe that you, unlike those who feed the Anti-JSF hysteria, have genuine if misplaced concerns. I also believe you may find you are not in possession of all the relevant facts, from the sorry-state of the A-10 airframe since it’s manufacture, to the relative total costs involved between fewer more capable/expensive systems and more simple systems, up to and including manpower or attrition costs. Search: Debunking Close Air Support Myths (in quotes) and please read the material at the links or even skip the material and go to the source data if you have the time
      As to how we get into wars, I think we need to keep in mind that historically we get into wars we don’t plan for. If it is all the same to you, I’d rather keep planning for a large war so I can possibly avoid it, and keep fighting small wars with weapons that can adapt to the lesser task, than vice versa. It works out better that way. I would also note, that while in WW2 our ‘Ground’ weapons were not always the ‘best’, in the ‘Air’ and on the ‘Sea’ our best weapons were made better than the enemies’ in very short order. They would have been better from the start if politics had permitted it.

      • Mike

        First, no disrespect intended, but are you Army or Air Force? Secondly, have you ever served in combat? You know the kind where the real bullets make that buzzing sound as they go past your helmet and people are dying left and right around you?….

        I believe that I will have more “warm fuzzy feelings” for the F-35 when it has been tested in actual combat like all those other fine combat pieces that it is “supposed” to replace…. The “Industrial Complex” has suggested many pieces of supposedly “fine” equipment, only to have it be found, that under combat conditions, they were pieces of crap!… :(

        • Gary Church

          And besides buying junk they sometimes throw away the good stuff. It is rare but it happens. There was very cheap missile in the 80’s called the FOG-M. It climbed out from behind cover trailing a fiber optic wire kind of like a mortar round with a TV camera looking toward the target. It was designed to give the operator time to acquire the target and dive it down on top of it guiding it the whole time; all the while the operator was well behind cover. From everything I read it was phenomenal. I was actually at Fort Sill when they were testing soldiers on guiding it. They killed the program. Not because it didn’t work; it was actually too cheap to make a big profit and no one involved had any political connections from what I heard.

          The present day equivalent is the XM-25. It is also phenomenally effective according to the Special Forces guys that have actually used it in combat. Though not cheap like the FOG-M, it is worth the money but the Army killed it. Too fancy for grunts I guess. Makes me mad as hell.

          • Gary Church

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM25_CDTE

            My mistake Mike; I did some research and I guess it is going into production.

          • Gary Church

            Give our troops the best weapons available and they might just be able to survive without the sacred A-10.

        • SMSgt Mac

          Hi Mike,
          Senior Master Sergeant, is AF E-8. Retired after 20 years 2 mos 13 days, ‘just’ 21 years 2 mos ago.
          You miss the point. I don’t care if a trooper gets ‘warm fuzzy feelings’ – I just want them as safe as possible. There isn’t anything an A-10 can attack that a fast mover can’t do as well or better with modern comms, sensors, and weapons, especially in weather, at night, and a high threat environment.
          The A-10 is done. Stick a fork in it already.

      • UH34D

        Okay, I read your short treatise pertaining to what I’ll refer to as air power.

        I’ll address one section you touch upon and that’s interdiction of the enemy to eliminate the need for CAS. At least that’s the way I read it. In a perfect combat situation, it would be great if interdiction of enemy forces and supplies could be accomplished distances away from ground troops, but that has never happened and never will. It’s sort of like the belief in WW 2, strategic bombing could be the end all and be all for ending the war…it wasn’t. In fact, Germany was producing tanks, planes, artillery, various weapons, ammunition and fielding men to the last day of the war. And if you’re s student of urban warfare, a multitude of examples exist where CAS was the deciding factor in the outcome of street by street, building by building combat. The CAR saga stretches right up to one of the most famous battles of the latest Iraq War…the Battle of Fallujah. Not only do I know the intimate details of that battle, but know a number of Marines who participated in that battle. Thank goodness a few Marine pilots took the initiative to tell the circling K-Mart in the sky to stuff it with their absurd CAR strategy and the pilots reverted to what they had been trained for…real CAS that made all the difference in the world for the Marines on the ground.

        Bottom line, there will always be a need for CAS no matter what kind of war is being fought by the US. The question is; what kind of aircraft will be utilized for such survice? Are you aware of the percentage of so called guided munitions that missed their mark in Iraq/Afghanistan? Look that up. All of that guided munitions stuff is great, as long as we have a grid for them to operate within. What do you do if an enemy has pulsed weapons that destroy the ability for our aircraft and munitions to function? Not beyond the realm of possibility. Any number of nations are working on pulsed weapons in order to have the ability to totally disrupt/destroy reliance upon the electronic wonders we have. Even if it’s on a small scale that just covers a small area of the AO. You can’t shieled everything from say an electro-magnetic pulse of sufficient strength. Pulsed weapons are a reality. In such an event, you will need an aircraft that can function with minimal systems, be easily repaired, get into the air quickly and get the job done. That means an aircraft of simple design, cheap compared to other airframes loaded with the most sophisticated electronics money can buy.

        And what about the ability to take out comm satellites? It’s already been done by the US and China. Without satellites, our flying multi-billioned dollar flying boxes of electronics will be pretty worthless and useless. That happens, it will be the simple weapons of war that will be decisive. And we have to know, one of the first targets in a war with another super power will be communications. War with smaller, inept other nations will not require 300 to 400 F-35’s for us to prevail. Does anyone truly believe bombing Baghdad with B- 2’s made one bit of difference in the outcome of that war? That had we left Baghdad intact it would have made one bit of difference in the initial outcome of the war and the number of casualties we sustained? That initial win in Iraq was accomplished outside of Baghdad, not because we bombed it with multi-billion dollar aircraft.

        For those of us who’ve been on the ground, had CAS save our butts, guess we have a different perspective about what CAS is and should be…not from some computer simulation. And I speak from seeing F-4’s, A-4’s, B-52’s, HUEY gunships providing CAS, but there was nothing like the sight of a Spad arriving on the scene and I’ve been told by many, including our son who did multiple tours in Iraq, there was nothing like the sight of A-10’s swooping in and doing what they do best, kill the enemy, disperse the enemy, destroy their weapons, their ability to continue the fight. By the way, check and see how many A-10’s were lost to ground fire in Iraq compared to all other aircraft?

        Also, check out what’s found doing a search about the Pro’s of CAS.

        Thanks for the reply, much appreciated. Apologize for jumping around…so much info that could be covered, but I didn’t want to make a response too lengthy.

        • SMSgt Mac

          Hi UH34D,
          I don’t think you probably got it all, as the (now 8-part) series pretty much addressed all you bring up. I’d like to point out that the AF has never placed CAS as ‘lower’ or ‘lowest’ priority as a mission, only that at different times different missions ‘come first’ – it is a chronological order of progression. Once control of the air is established (you’re welcome ‘Army': our pleasure to keep you from getting bombed for the last half-century) focus can be shifted to the enemy’s forces in the field and C3I to inhibit the enemy from effectively resisting our ground forces, then shifting to support of forces in contact with the enemy as they engage. The CAS-only aircraft demanded by the Army is an unfunded lien the Army attempts to place on the AF due to their own organizational insecurities. It really serves as ‘cover’ for the Army’s last-century view of ‘joint’ and desire to ‘control’ everything that might affect them, to the detriment of the overall battleplan. Example: Schwarzkopf never should have had to tell his ground commanders ‘Gentlemen, It’s all my air”. I note here that the Marines have been doing their fixed wing air-to-mud support with all fast-movers for decades now. If I had to blame any one individual for the long-standing Army myths about AF CAS, I would blame that egotistical *** Ned Almond, who liked to blame others on his failures from WW2 through Korea, but that is another long post in ‘CAS Myth’ series sometime in the future.

      • Gary Church

        My favorite world war two example is the gun on the Sherman. From the start it was realized the krauts had better (bigger) guns and a better main gun was sought for the Sherman. Ike was really pissed off when he found out the 76mm that replaced the anemic 75 on the Sherman still was inferior and bounced off the German armor. The ordnance guys made all kinds of excuses but it is obvious (in hindsight of course) they should have did exactly what the Germans did with their 88 and put a version of our 90mm anti-aircraft gun in the Sherman. It would have saved so many lives. Very sad and a real shame. We still make those kinds of mistakes- it is human nature- and should do everything we can to avoid them.

        Like we should STOP being in denial that MANPADS work; we can no longer send attack helicopters in and have combat aircraft going down in the weeds.

  • twindragon

    Numbers matter. Why did we loose the peace in Iraq and Afghanistan? Because we didn’t have the troop numbers to maintain it. Our commanders are trying to claim that we can win wars and peace with special forces only. You need boots on the ground in high numbers. They require support. They require that support quickly and for extended periods. The A-10 provides that. The rest of the aircraft will be needed elsewhere leaving the troops without cover. War is not about a fair fight it is about winning with overwhelming power. Stupid is the belief that you can defeat an enemy with technology alone. If I can shoot down an A-10 I can shoot down a F35. How many A-10’s can I get for one 35? How long can the F35 stay in my area to help me? 10 of virtually any other aircraft will not do the job of 250 A-10’s. The military should be asking for more of them not retiring them. What gets shot down first a helicopter or an A-10? Who gets to your aid first and with more firepower? A-10! Nothing against helicopters, they have their place and a very important one. But so does the A10 and it is not some boneyard.

    • dabews

      “If I can shoot down an A-10 I can shoot down a F35.”

      While I agree that the A10 is still supremely valuable and worth keeping in the arsenal, making statements like this bring down your overall argument. The F35 is faster, more manoeuvrable , harder to lock on to and has better counter measures. What you are saying is like saying if I can shoot through a Humvees armour then I can shoot through the armour of an abrams.

      “Our commanders are trying to claim that we can win wars and peace with special forces only. You need boots on the ground in high numbers. They require support”

      This point I agree with. The idea that a war can be won in a month or 2 and the troops can be brought home quickly is a great idea but will never really happen. If you get bogged down in a conflict such as Afghanistan I would prefer an A10 at the other end of the radio and an F35. Especially when you take into account the costs of both the A10 for ground support appears to be a winner.

      • Gary Church

        Don’t even compare shooting down airplanes with shooting at armored vehicles. Puh-leez. Half the people in this discussion seem to think the A-10 is some kind of flying tank. It is not. It is an airplane made out of aluminum with SOME armor around the pilot and critical systems. A full size anti-aircraft missile will blow it into pieces. It might survive some MANPADS hits but more often than not it will not return home.

        • dabews

          Gary,

          Please re-read my comment. I did not make a comment between shooting at armor and shooting at the A-10. I was commenting twindragos comment that if you are able to shoot down an A-10 then you are able to shoot down an F35.

          I commented that the F35 is faster, more maneuverable , harder to lock on to and has better counter measures (more survivable against MADPADS).

          I used the Armour metaphor merely to demonstrate that the A-10 and F35 are different breeds of vehicle (as is a humvee and abrams).

          I agree that the A-10 would be very vulnerable to modern MANPADS. I do not disagree with your statement but I believe that you should make sure you read and understand a comment before disagreeing with it.

          • Gary Church

            Sorry.

  • Mark Stuber

    My emotional reaction is, if the Air Force doesn’t want the CAS roll,
    give it to the Navy. I’m sure the Navy would love to get more
    involved in land wars. I’m sure that A-10s could be equipped to
    handle carrier operations. Also, just because they can operate
    from carriers does not mean they have to. Heck, we use SEALs in
    Afghanistan, right?

    However, if you can’t establish air superiority, the A-10 is of no use. If
    we need more F-35s to establish air superiority against the Russians
    or Chines and have to choose between more F-35s and A-10, the choice
    is obvious. ants air supremacy is established or even air
    parity, the F-35s can conduct CAS: maybe not as well as A-10s but
    they still can. Where as, A-10 would be useless in establishing
    air superiority save maybe ground attacks on air bases and SAM
    sights. But they could not do that without air cover.

    • Aaron_Burr

      Modern warships are essentially unarmored. Certainly nothing compared to the battle tanks the A-10 was build to destroy. Can you imagine what a couple Warthogs and their 30mm slugs would do to the aluminum superstructure of a modern destroyer or missile cruiser on a strafing run? Those slugs would go in one side, rip up everything in their path and go out the other side. That ship’s superstructure would look like Swiss cheese.

      • Gary Church

        Modern warships have anti-aircraft missiles and radar directed computer controlled high speed auto-cannon; a strafing run would be equivalent to a kamikaze mission. World War Two is over.

        • Sluggy

          Yup, you’d think so wouldn’t you. Reality is very far from the truth.

          From experience: 4 A4 Skyhawks Vs 1-2 ANZAC Frigates / DDG’s ((VLSM Sea Sparrow / CIWS / SPS49 / SPG51 / blah blah) Odds are marginal that on a good day the boat might survive, and that’s a very BIG might. Tactics beats firepower. Regarding CIWS vs Avenger:Avenger has a longer range (20mm vs 30mm, 30kts Platform speed vs 200kts+), exactly the same as Avenger vs ZSU-23 (the reason they built it that way, probably why the Russian’s built the 9K22 / 2K22 Tunguska)

          MANPADS – The same – the threat, while real is over rated. Good tactics can beat them and there are some interesting active systems around that can kill a MANPADS system. The biggest issue – you have to see the target first. I can guarantee that this is difficult in even flat terrain (tactics again).

          Your solution seems to always involves tanks but you conveniently forget the tanks have their own nemesis – ATGM’s of which, if the ‘opposition’ has MANPADS they are darn’d sure to have ATGM’s – will tear a tank a new hole faster than the MANPADS will do to the A-10 doing 250+ kts

          A final point – have you ever tried to spot something on the ground doing 200kts vs 550kts? No? Try it before you comment, it’s a very different thing and for certain if I was in an F-16 near the ground in hostile airspace I wouldn’t be going slow… The A-10, while not being a tank, comparatively, compared to other aircraft IS a tank (figurative rather than literal)

      • Mark Stuber

        I’m not suggestion they be used as anti-ship weapons. I am suggesting that the Navy use them for CAS for ground troops since, the Air Force doesn’t seem to want that mission. The Army can’t take them because of the
        Pace-Finletter MOU 1952 and Key West agreement. Besides, the Navy has experience and the infrastructure to maintain Jets and has been looking for missions.

    • Gary Church

      Against any adversary besides insurgents or tribesmen who have been denied MANPADS by an invisible army of spooks, neither the A-10 or the F-35 can survive CAS missions. It is not one or the other- it is neither. Though not the best analogy, in World War Two our fighters went down in the weeds to support infantry but there was a great deal of friendly fire casualties. If I am not mistaken GPS has alot to do with reducing those casualties these days. But when fighters attacked defended targets like airfields or factories they suffered severe losses. We lost 50 planes a day average in World War Two (not just fighters of course but there was very high attrition on fighters attacking German airfields). MANPADS turn the clock back- but we do not have an 80,000 strong combat aircraft force to expend like we did then, do we?

      • Mark Stuber

        Can you cite any tests or actual combat to support your contentions? Did the Iraqi Army have MANPADs in 1991 or 2003? They sure were not insurgents or tribesmen.

        • Gary Church

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strela_2#Iraq

          Try and do your own homework Mark. It is not that hard to wiki and google.

          Iraq had a limited number of Srela’s in poor condition. These 1968 technology weapons have a limited lifetime designed into them to prevent proliferation. Most of the details about how our invisible army of spooks go about neutralizing the MANPADS threat is classified.

          The missiles that we would face against a future adversary would probably be far more sophisticated.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FN-6

          • Mark Stuber

            I thought you said anyone who was not an insurgent or a tribesman could easily shoot down are A-10s. Now, you are telling me the Iraqis couldn’t. Are there any other exceptions?

          • Gary Church

            Goodbye.

          • Mark Stuber

            is that goodbye as in “yes” or as in “no”?

          • Gary Church

            I am done with your questions and doing your homework. But I will give you one last lesson. Take a look at the countries that operate this laser guided MANPADS and that will give you the answer.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RBS_70

          • Mark Stuber

            You made the assertion. I merely asked you how you came to a certain
            conclusion. You’re response was to “do your homework.” I’m not
            the one that proposed a thesis. You did. It is you that should be
            admonished to “Do your homework!” None the links you posted
            addressed the vulnerability of the A-10 to MADPADs. You may as well
            just posted links to cooking recipes.

          • Gary Church

            Goodbye again.

          • Mark Stuber

            Here, I did some homework. Also, I am going to cite the relevavent passage that counters your point. I have staked a position.

            “Extreme survivability from armor, triple redundant flight controls, adequate countermeasures and tactics; for example, against modern Iraqi and Serb air defenses in 1991 and 1999, A-10s proved far more survivable than predicted and at least as survivable as far more costly, so-called “more capable” aircraft, such as the F-117.” http://www.pogo.org/our-work/straus-military-reform-project/weapons/2013/the-a-10-warthog-a-core-defense-issue.html

          • Gary Church

            “More survivable” does not mean survivable. The aircraft is designed to fly with one engine, one tail, one elevator, and half of one wing missing but it still will not survive a missile hit in the right place. And it will get hit so often that it will not be able to operate over the battlefield with MANPADS opposing it. It’s day has come and gone.

  • ted

    I’m all for progress.Staying on top of the weapon’s game is crucial these day’s. But scrapping at weapon system that work’s and is loved by all the pilot’s that have flew her and those that still do is plane insanity in my book.UNLESS the bird’s are stressed to the point of falling apart in the air. And maintenance cost’s are too high. Or maybe replacement part’s to high. Every good thing come’s to a end sooner or latter. I just hope it’s later on this. P.S. Policy Wonk: Bullet’s aren’t cheap for any weapon system.

  • onebigfurybear

    To buy a new F35 STOL Fighter at $400 Billion plus cost over runs is a prestigeous new jet that can’t fly at night.

  • onebigfurybear

    The A10 Wart Hog can land and takeoff from Highways, making it less suseptiple to operating off of targeted runways. It is one heck of a tank killer and should remain in service as we are retiring F22’s, F117’s, F15’s, F16’s, C5’s, and a boatload more. The A10 was manufactured in Hagerstown Maryland and afforded many jobs to the locals. Retiring the Wart Hog is a big mistake, as the flying gun is an Infantrymans life saver.

    • Mike

      And as UH34D pointed out that C-130 Spook was very helpful also… Way back in my day those guns were put into C-119’s and C-123’s and more than a few Outposts were not overrun thanks to their “helping hands”… Back then we referred to them as “Puff The Magic Dragon” and they saved many lives….

  • Wardak08

    The Army can save money by placing its M-1 fleet in the ARNG and replacing it with A-10s given to it by the USAF (after adjusting the Key West Agreement). The USAF can either let the Army have fixed-winged combat aircraft or lose the A-10 as well as other wasteful platforms (F-35). The Army will lose its active duty tank fleet but replace it with a flying tank.

    • Gary Church

      Ridiculous. Flying tank is just an expression. It is NOT that heavily armored- it has triple redundant control systems and an armored cockpit and other features but a missile or a big enough gun will shoot it down easily enough. It is an airplane and made out of aluminum.

      • Wardak08

        It was a recommendation. What’s yours?

        • Gary Church

          Build more M-1 tanks (and put a diesel engine in them). As for “replacing” the A-10, the point is that it is kind of like replacing a bayonet. It does not need to be replaced because a manned close air support aircraft is a thing of the past because of MANPADS. Drones are the future. Not very daring or romantic to see the attack pilots disappear and I am not happy about it but there it is. The horses had to go to.

          It is a demonstration of human nature that after what those stingers did to the soviets we ignore it.

          • Wardak08

            Got it…..and good idea. What ever happened to light tanks? Replacing A-10s with a comparable drone makes sense….but following that logic, I think the entire USAF ought to be replaced with drones given the cost savings. Reorganize the USAF into the Air Army Corps (apaches, Blackhawks, armed drones…and a few A-10s)….the remaining part of the old USAF becomes the US Space Force with emphasis on cyber-warfare, space dominance, and strat-air.

          • Gary Church

            All the light tanks got turned into flaming junk by heavy tanks. Replacing and reorganizing according to our personal preference probably will not happen :)

          • Wardak08

            In that case, I’m taking my M-551 & going home.

          • Gary Church

            I knew guys that had crewed Sheridans in the 82nd when I was in the Cav and they did not have anything good to say about them. They mostly cursed them and called them junk.

          • Wardak08

            I was told the only really good thing about them was the main gun.

          • Gary Church

            It had a big gun, but the 82nd guy I talked to said the caseless ammo would shed propellent and shards would end up on the floor. Nothing like being inside a closed compartment with hi-explosive ammo that could catch on fire at any moment.

  • Oak Ridge Curmudgeon

    The A-10 was an ideal weapon that proved itself in destroying large numbers of Iraqi tanks. Obama and Helgel are certain we’ll never face such an enemy again. That’s so 1950s. Who’d send battle tanks to the border in attack formation in our lifetime? No one. Except perhaps for Putin’s tanks on the border, but no worries. Kerry assures us – as he did Assad – our response would be incredibly small. Tanks a lot.

    • Mike

      A couple of C-5’s filled with AK-47’s and plenty of rounds and 30-40 stingers and a few Abrams… Maybe even a bunch of A-10’s and some 16’s flown by “volunteers” with Ukrainian symbols..

      • Gary Church

        You should go hunt feral pigs with a spear or something Mike and get all that out of your system :)

        • Mike

          Going to be a bloodbath… Bad situation.. Vlad did not think this through….. He forgot to consider the impact on his natural gas sales, which is one of the few products they have to maintain their military….. Suddenly the Europeans are starting to investigate how to get at the natural gas that they are sitting on….. Personally, I think the man is having a midlife crisis (divorce, shirt coming off, judo, etc)….. :(

          • Gary Church

            Since the Russian Mafia really runs that country I doubt they will let him get out hand. As for our leaders making noise about sanctions and intervening……we need to let Russia and Ukraine sort out there own problems IMO. We have enough problems of our own here to deal with first without saving the oppressed subjects of the former soviet union. I am pretty isolationist at this point in history. I am impressed with the Ivanpah solar plant. I think you are right about energy- it is key.

    • Gary Church

      Russians have decent missiles. Try and strafe a Russian position and none of them will come back. That’s reality.

    • Gary Church

      The ideal weapon for use against tanks is other tanks. In all recent conflicts the enemy managed to hide a significant percentage of their armor from air campaigns- in Iraq those tanks hid for weeks and then were destroyed by M-1 tanks when they came out to fight. The three top predators- tanks, fighters, and submarines, are all top of the kill chain for a reason and best killed by others of the same kind. Robots might be changing that status quo very soon.

      • PolicyWonk

        The ideal weapon for use against tanks is other tanks.

        ==================================
        Tanks weighing 70tons are however, a severe logistical burden.

        • Gary Church

          Not nearly as severe as A-10’s and their air fields and support infrastructure. And they are right there with the troops.

  • gorak

    The A-10 is the most effective ground attack aircraft in history. If the goal is to weaken the US military then this makes sense. Hopefully Congress will not allow this kind of open sabotage.

    • Gary Church

      I would say the IL2 Sturmovik has that honor. Tens of thousands attacked the nazis at as low as 15 feet off the ground. Several thousand were shot down despite it being bulletproof. It’s day has come and gone like the A-10. They cannot survive against MANPADS. Let it go.

  • IA_Adam

    Because it’s cheaper and safer (for USAF personnel) to strafe with drones. They’re not retiring the functionality of the A10. They’re retiring the pilots and the pilot dependent planes with them. I’m wagering that within 100 years most cars, planes, trains, and ships will have robotic pilots. Ships will still have engineers on them. But cars, planes, and trains will only have passengers or service staff on them.

    • Gary Church

      I agree Adam. Too much emotion and “wow, it’s so cool, don’t get rid of it” going on here. It is a machine and if it is time for it to go then it is time.

    • Rob

      IA_Adam, we currently do not have the technology to strafe with a drone. There are a LOT of variables and moving parts & pieces associated with a strafe pass and the GPS update rates just aren’t where they need to be to allow that. This is why none of our RPAs are equipped with a gun (they use Hellfire missiles and a very small assortment of Coordinate Seeking Weapons.) There are many reasons the A-10 is a better overall platform for CAS than an MQ-9. The idea of taking the man out of the cockpit so we don’t put our pilots in danger is a good one, but it’s just not realistic. Not right now.

      • Gary Church

        What about MANPADS Rob?

        • Gary Church

          Actually, I would say it is completely realistic; just not using an operator in Nevada. A “gun drone” could be controlled in real time by an aircraft orbiting overhead at high altitude out of reach of enemy fire. Maybe the back-seater in a F-15E or “Silent Eagle” for example. I would hope something like this is in the pipeline. No way of knowing though- that would be classified.

        • Mike

          Gary,
          I believe the Israelis have technology that is pretty good against the MANPADS… Who knows, perhaps they would share that technology with us, much as they shared their “secrets” that made the F-4’s and F-16’s that we sold/gave them perform better than ours…

          • Gary Church

            Jamming lasers work. The problem is they only work really well when the missiles they are jamming are old technology and fired from behind in a tail chase. If the missile is laser guided and not a heat seeker or has a multi-spectral head that tracks UV and other wavelengths- and can engage from extreme angles, then laser jamming does not work very well at all.

            And of course the newest missiles are made to defeat the latest laser countermeasures. Defeating countermeasures against missiles is much easier than coming up with them so……..

            If the enemy has missiles that work then you can expect to lose planes just like the Israeli’s did in 1973;

            The Israeli Air Force lost 102 airplanes: 32 F-4s, 53 A-4s, 11 Mirages and 6 Super Mysteres. Two helicopters, a Bell 205 and a CH-53, were also lost.[34] According to Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, nearly half of these were shot down during the first three days of the war.[42]

            You can imagine what the reaction would be if we lost 92 fighter planes in a 7 day war.

  • gwhh

    Getting rid of the a10 is as bad as a decision they could makebb

    • Gary Church

      I feel the same way about steroids.

  • Don Bacon

    Putting ordnance on a ground enemy is so nineteen hundreds. Having a “God’s eye view” is where it’s at in this century. /s

    • Gary Church

      You are right as usual. But since the XM-25 will explode a frag round over a foxhole or behind a wall with the accuracy of a sniper rifle it is pretty much like the hand of God. Can’t hide. And a couple other fusing options that can be used in very clever sneaky ways. And since troops now have those little model airplane recon drones they carry around in their packs the two go together; the militarized version of google glass is going to kill alot of people. The precedent for this was the proximity fuse that came into use near the end of world war two used against the Germans by U.S. artillery. It was a whole new level of horrific.

  • Mike

    Gary,
    Thanks for the “heads-up” on the XM25…. All of you prior “ground pounders” might want to take a look in wikipedia about this weapon….. Let’s hope we see more of those puppies… Sure could have use those in the past… Incidentally, it was those fly by wire” missiles” carried by F-4’s that brought down a lot of the bridges in North Vietnam……

    • Gary Church

      Right on Mike, I hope it works as good as they say. The classic book on small arms, titled “Misfire” (forgot the author and now out of print) tells how the SF guys endorsed the M-16 early on in Vietnam- because it was light (I guess light was everything in the jungle with small Asian troops) and we know how that turned out. That the army changed the propellent in the ammunition was the main reason for the problems but it still was and is not a clean operating system. Special troops do well with special weapons (they will actually clean them) but regular grunts sometimes not so well. We will see. At least the SF guys are going to get them- but they are not great weapons for raiding a building obviously. And they are heavy. But being able to precisely kill a couple bad guys taking cover behind a wall or in a foxhole is…..a huge advantage and since two other countries, South Korea and China, are already fielding their versions……….

      • Mike

        To me the adjustable burst range is huge….. Looks like the 101st had great luck with them in Afghanistan……

        Those early M-16’s did not even have chromed barrels, which lead to them rusting very quickly in the jungles…The AK was the weapon of choice as it was dependable, and that 7.62 would penetrate the jungle foliage and kill it’s intended target (generally one tap apiece)… The M-16, when it wasn’t jammed, would ricochet when it hit a vine or twig or not penetrate a larger limb (many taps apiece negated the weight difference)….. :(

        The weapons being carried by SF in Iraq and Afghanistan are very expensive, very dependable and very accurate….. I’d still favor the 7.62 as it will penetrate the wall or corner of a mud hut were the 5.56 will not….. In the jungle, you only really had two choices

        • Gary Church

          101 lost a lot of people. I was catching hops on C-17’s off and on and saw many of their wounded. Makes me want to get some payback but I am too old now.

          Yes, I always enjoyed trigger time with the M-16, very pleasant to shoot. But I would go with an AK if I could choose, rather catch some Z’s than have to clean a weapon spotless twice a day.

          • Gary Church

            Uhhh, I guess “give some payback” would be the correct term. Do not like seeing young guys all f-d up. When I was a boy I remember going to the hospital to see my brother back from Vietnam all shot up and ate up with jungle rot. Never forget my Mom crying.

          • Mike

            I still remember… In my nightmares…. Johnson closed the borders and then it was Korea all over again… Lost a lot of friends over there… Enough….

          • Mike

            It comes down to trigger time and in a big operation that can be massive… No time to field strip and clean… The AK just keeps on going… Used to say that the best weapon was the one that could go into the “mud” and still keep working…. Virtually never with the M-16….. Generally good to go with the AK. Then there was the penetration… A lot of our guys have gotten shot by rounds from an AK through a mud wall, while we could not effectively return fire unless there was a hole… Like taking a pee shooter to a gun fight, in my opinion… Back in my deer hunting days, the women fired a 270/3000 which was basically a .223/5.56….. Not worth a crap for deer when the shot had to be made through the trees… The better rifle was a 30-06, more along the lines of a 7.62… Hunting deer/hunting the enemy… Same basics still work…

  • Michelle Neff

    Ok great can I buy one its my beloevd plane ! I want it will cannons intacked and a full bomb load!

  • Michelle Neff

    The F- 16 cant do its job~!

    • Gary Church

      And they can’t do an F-16’s job.

      • Michelle Neff

        Absolutely, they have two differrent roles, Combat is a btich isn’t it?

      • Michelle Neff

        I Llke Noe if you get grass cought in the gear that’s ;low enough! Its fun to dodge shrapnel after a hit thats what alewrons and riudders are for! but then f-16 pilots dont need those they are riding a razor blade

  • Michelle Neff

    Oh love of my life come home to mommy we’ll go kill some tanks!

    • Gary Church

      Have you been drinking again?

      • Michelle Neff

        No Gary but that’s a great idea!

  • MikeA10

    Tactics and systems defeat MANPADS. The A-10 has both which makes it more survivable than ever before. Some are more afraid of MANPADS in these posts than I. Recent upgrades have made this aircraft a sophisticated weapon in a rugged shell. Getting rid of them has nothing to do with cost, capability or requirements. It is a victim of political motives based on money, jobs and votes. Overall US military capability and ground troops will bear the suffering.

    • Gary Church

      “Getting rid of them has nothing to do with cost, capability or requirements.”

      I disagree. MANPADS cannot be defeated anymore. The only reason we had CAS was the invisible army of spooks keeping them out of the hands of our adversaries. What those stingers did to the soviets was the reason I am afraid. Maybe you and the A-10 are not but…….I would call that stupid.

      • Attack!

        Gary, I’ve read a lot of your comments. You have quite a respect for MANPADS. However, as a former ‘armored vehicle crewman’, I’m not sure you are qualified to comment on the survivability of an A-10 in a CAS environment or the capabilities of drone aircraft to fulfill the CAS role. As a former A-10 pilot, I can say that there are tactics and systems in place to counter the threat of MANPADS. Not negate, but counter. I’ve also worked with unmanned aircraft during multiple deployments. Great asset for tactical point employment. Not so great in a fluid and time critical CAS engagement.

        • Gary Church

          Well, you of course are not biased at all.

          As for my “qualifications” there are none required for this forum.
          It does not take an export to see a picture of an A-10 strafing a target to realize there is no magic way to keep it from being shot down if someone has something to shoot at it. If you don’t have any “respect” for MANPADS that is your call. My call is to believe what I see in that picture above these comments. You can belittle me and wave your wings around but there are many experts who are of the same mind as me and that is why the A-10 is on the way out.

          • Gary Church

            And I was not only an armored vehicle crewman, I was also a flight mechanic on Coast Guard rescue helicopters in Alaska for two tours. I know a little about aviation.

  • Amicus Curiae

    Arguments about the usefulness of the A-10 have not changed in 40 years. I think it gave a good account of itself when it finally went into combat, especially when compared to alternatives like the F-16 and AV-8. However, it is done. The USAF is on the road to oblivion and this is inevitable. Everything is being sacrificed for the all singing, all dancing F-35, which is the plan. When everyone realizes 2443 F-35s will actually turn out to be 600 (500 for the USAF), the transition to a completely defensive military will be complete. Tankers and bombers are not necessary either. The decline in the USAF was signaled without doubt by the termination of F-22 production in 2012, which is the enabler of all the other functions. Stop lamenting the demise of the A-10. Play the dirge for the USAF.

    • Gary Church

      I would not count the air force out yet. I could see it evolving into a fleet of around 4000 large commercial airliners subsidized by the DOD that could be converted on short notice into military transports, tankers, missile carriers, and electronic platforms. That would be the air force reserve/ air national guard. With an active duty force of drones and tactical transports. And maybe even some fighters.

  • Gary Church

    It occurs to me the key to this back and forth about the A-10 is the gun.
    How close do you have to get to use that gun and how close to a MANPADS means your goose is cooked? I suspect the answer is the same.
    If the tactics to survive MANPADS are to keep your distance then there is no reason for the A-10 and it’s famous gun; it is for CLOSE air support after all.
    Uh-huh.

  • Gary Church

    Half the people in this discussion seem to be taking a figure of speech literally and believe the A-10 is some kind
    of flying tank. It is not. It is an airplane made out of aluminum with
    SOME armor around the pilot and critical systems and other features to make it more survivable. “More” survivable does not mean it is survivable against missiles in a high threat environment. A full size
    anti-aircraft missile will blow it into pieces. It might survive some
    MANPADS hits but more often than not it will not return home. Which means if the enemy has missiles and we send them all on a couple missions we have no more A-10s.

    Over half the 610 F-105’s built were lost in combat over Vietnam and we have about 350 A-10s in service last I read. I expect we would lose them all against an adversary with missiles.

    • madskills

      Gary,
      I would suspect if we had had F-35s flying close air support rather then A-10s or the F-105s, we would have lost 300 of them…. Let’s see, that is 150 million times 300, $45 billion….. The other thing is the AF states that the f-35 would be almost as good as the a-10…. Being a former Army guy, how many extra guys would we be losing from the almost….

      • Gary Church

        This debate revolves around one thing; MANPADS. If our next adversary has them we will not have A-10’s and every penny spent on them will be money we could have spent on something that would save lives. Figure it out.

        • madskills

          No Gary it revolves more then that. The AF and the military/ industrial complex wants the US to buy”NEW” aircraft, period. A-10s are ground support aircraft for the Army. The AF says the f-35 can do almost as good as job. You might think this is the right thing to do at $150 million plus a copy, I don’t. As a former soldier in Vietnam with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment under Patton(that guy’s son), I have seen close air support from f-4s. Sitting ducks. They need to do things right and they haven’t. I’ll stop.

          • Gary Church

            Please don’t mistake me for an F-35 cheerleader. I don’t think the F-35 can do the A-10’s job M. But I also think the A-10 is out of a job because of the MANPADS threat. So I agree with you….mostly. I’ll stop also.

          • madskills

            I’m torn because we need the best we can get for ground support. I don’t think the f-35 is it. But we refuse to address the problem. you AF guys to need to figure out the best for the other roles as I’m just responding to thing I have read. I’m getting old, so I tell my daughter it’s going to be her problem in the future. LOL!

          • Gary Church

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BArp6RVgZ9k

            If you think about these enemy soldiers on the ground armed with a decent MANPADS then you might understand why I think the A-10 needs to be retired. A-10’s are much faster than these Apaches but with a laser guided MANPAD it does not matter how fast. A motivated well trained duck hunter will not miss.

  • madskills

    Why don’t we give the 400 planes to the Ukrainians… Or how about the Syrian Rebels. Or even better, give them to the Israelis…..

    • Gary Church

      The older a plane is the more expensive it is to maintain. More maintenance, parts cost more, etc. A plane that pulls G’s all the time is worse. But at least it was not a carrier plane because slamming them onto a carrier turns them into junk pretty quick. If we do not want them I doubt anyone else will. Selling them in batches to dictators to massacre peasants with is not what I would want either. Time for the boneyard. Should have sent all the B-1’s there also but they avoided that. The swing wings on the B-1 make it one of the most expensive planes to keep flying in the history of the air force- huge amount of maintenance. The swing wing is why they got rid of the F-14; One of those amazing engineering solutions that did not turn out to be worth the trouble.

  • Mike

    Gary,
    It is a Pegasus that is now out there looking for that missing airliner Southwest of Australia…. Great plane at a reasonable cost….

    • Gary Church

      I wonder how long that thing can stay in the air? I remember being stuck on a C-130 that was diverted on a search once for about 7 hours. It was stormy and bumpy and I was so airsick I thought about suicide.

      • Mike

        Imagine flying from Fort Bragg to Fort Greeley, Alaska in a C-124 with full combat gear and then jumping into a forest DZ ….. :( Too bad you didn’t go Airborne, then you could have enjoyed the experience of shuffling down the isle with all that gear in the middle of that stormy, rough air,,, A lot of good parachutes had a lot of barf all over them…… There were times…. :(

        • Gary Church

          Sounds hairy. I flew paragliders for many years and did land in trees a couple times. Nothing compared to airborne ops of course. I did manage to almost kill myself once by taking off on the wrong side of a mountain. One of the most elementary mistakes and I made it. My wing collapsed and I fell a couple hundred feet- then it popped open and then collapsed again for another couple hundred and popped open. I screamed both times I was falling(“NOOOO!”). Did not pee my pants or poop myself though so I guess it was not that bad. All good fun:)

          • Mike

            Those down drafts will kill you very quickly… Nothing like sticking your wet finger in the air or throwing some dirt into the air…. :) As if all those years in the Airborne and SF didn’t contribute enough towards ending my life, I learned to fly after college….. Prided myself on landing on the “numbers”, low and slow and using little airstrip… Often times you had to make a low, wheels up, pass over those backcountry strips to scare the elk and moose off…. Back in my day we spent a lot of time getting out of very small backcountry strips after an operation with very powerful tail draggers with STOL kits… Pile everyone in, very early in the morning, bring the engines up to high and pop the brakes!… I felt safer hanging under my T-10…. :(

            The advantage of being “our age” (I’m pushing 70 and I’d imagine you are in your 50’s) is that we talk about a lot of that stuff in a “past tense”… Trying those things now would probably get us a “dirt dance”… :(

            That said, it would be the thrill of my life to spend some seat time in a A-10 some 30-50 feet above the ground… I’ve spent a lot of time flying very fast, very close to the hard deck, very early in the morning… Just put the early morning sun at your six and go for it…. :)… The only way to fly… They might get you, but they would have to be very quick… That said, when you strafe that close to the ground, you fly through whatever you have destroyed and sometimes that can bring you down… :(

          • Gary Church

            My dad tried to teach me to fly Cessna’s. Some of the most boring and unpleasant experiences of my life.

            You know those STOL planes are pretty awesome! I always thought an extra little rocket engine mounted on one could set it down and pop it up in the air for vertical operations. Use compressed oxygen and gasoline; something cheap. It would really be an effective air ambulance. Helicopters are incredibly expensive.

            I think they should have stuck with the credible sport and made it work. Much better than that V-22 junk.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSFjhWw4DNo

          • Mike

            Mine were Pipers…. Learned in a Warrior, then went to a Turbo Arrow for instrument ratings… Had to be careful on the small backcountry strips if the grass was as high as your wings as it could hide things…. Still loved it. Too bad your Dad didn’t spend some time close to the ground in the early morning when the air is calm…. That gets your heart racing and the adrenaline flowing!… :)

            Only did one departure with Jatto Tubes on a C-123 or 124… Desert operation and at the end, a bunch of teams met up in the night on this old WW-ll emergency airstrip where the plane was hidden with desert netting… 0300 departure. Once everyone was strapped in they announced that this departure was going to be “unusual” as they were using the Jetto Tubes to shorten our runway time…. Brought the engines up to high, popped the brakes, lit those tubes up and it felt like “warp speed”… I think we cleared the runway in about 100-150 feet. We went from the ground to about 100 feet in a heartbeat…. Heck of a way to get one of those big loaded birds out of a short strip!…..

          • Gary Church

            The most awesome display I have ever seen was at Elmendorf in Alaska on a very cold dry day and the F-15’s doing afterburner take-offs. My wife and I were getting off a Coast Guard C-130 from Kodiak and some fighters taxied by and then took off right in front of us. Those planes cleared the runway and roared straight up till they were out of sight. Just amazing. My wife has never forgotten it and recounts the story every chance she gets.

  • Jon

    Bring back the Douglas A-1 Skyraider!

    • Gary Church

      “Bring back the old planes” comments pop up once in a while. The old planes are so inferior in performance and require so much maintenance that such comments are….jokes. If you meant it as a joke then put a smiley face at the end. If not then you have no idea what you are talking about:)

      • Marcus Sullivan

        It’s pretty obvious that it was….

  • Carllj62

    I was a 46250 on the A-10.

  • Ray Gross

    It is the very best Ground Support aircraft in the WORLD. We have 300 and they are PAID FOR. We spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined. This is just about WASTEFUL SPENDING. IT IS NOT OBSOLETE.

  • Eric

    This is a classic case of the Monument Strategy at work. Whenever a government worker gets his budget cut, he first cuts the thing that has the most taxpayer support. When the US Parks Service got hit with the sequester last year, it was the best known monuments and parks that were closed instead of places nobody knew about. When the FAA got the sequester, suddenly there were not enough flight controllers to go around even though they have lots of people in desk jobs. The A-10 is popular, well known, and effective so it goes first. Now the Air Force can go to Congress say if you want to help our poor guys in the trenches you have to restore our funding to keep the A-10 flying. Meantime, something more expensive and not needed stays untouched.

  • Jack Simon

    The A10 is the best damn combat plane in the U.S. arsenal.

  • SilentWarrior

    I am surprised no one mentioned the fact that the A-10 can linger on mission for 2 hours for close air support. Has redundancies (fly by wire, hydraulics) that ensure air craft survivability, pilot armor cockpit, fuel tanks AWAY from the engines (reducing fire and/or explosions) and low and slow engagement (stall speeds of 120 knots). The F-35 is over bloated, recently grounded due to fire, can easily be defeated by small arms fire. Does anyone recall the infantry vehicle that required the troops to exit and deploy water skirts? The A-10 would be more cost effective to refit and upgrade rather than the over zealous multi-roll aircraft. Raptor anyone?

  • LonnyMac

    I’m just so skeptical about this. Seems like I’d like to see the A-10’s given to the Army, and Navy to support special forces operations that get into trouble or need a workhorse to cover a withdrawal of infantry or an exposed convoy. I wonder what an A-10 on station might have meant to the SEALs that lost their lives in a battle featured in the movie “Lone Survivor” or other operations where over-watch support from a flying weapons platform that is ferocious and accurate inside a four mile envelope, Can turn on a dime and instantly configure for attack, can avoid or operate through most ground based or air-to-air threats, instills courage in all that fall under its protection, and fear in all that face its fury. From 84-86, I maintained the aircraft at Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson. Scuttlebutt was that at Red Flag and any other exercise like it, the A-10 was unbeatable in its own environment. Action in the gulf seems to bear that out. Confusing… http://www.wimp.com/storyreplace/