Aviation News: Congress To Retire 21 A-10 Thunderbolt IIs

Making room for F-35As and other aircraft in the USAF Fleet.


A-10 Thunderbolt “Warthog” II launching chaff and flares

How the a-10 Warthog's Legendary Gatling Gun Really Works

 The A-10 Thunderbolt “Warthog” II, nicknamed “The Flying Gun” due to its giant GAU-8/A 30MM Machine Gun that takes up half of the aircraft, above is the GAU-8 next to a Volkswagen Beetle.

Approval & New Aircraft

The Compromise National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) made by lawmakers and approved by the House Of Representatives, will increase the United States defense budget by 8%, adding $816.7 billion to it. It will retire 21 A-10 Thunderbolt II’s to make more room in the USAF fleet. These aircrafts include Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II, BAE Systems EC-37B Compass Call Aircraft, and Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky Aircraft HC-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter. This would leave $301 million to speed up the acquisition of the Boeing E-7 Wedgetail AEW&C. It’s not just the Air Force that benefits from the NDAA too! The U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy will get 15 F-35B’s and 16 F-35C’s, as well as 8 F-18E/F Super Hornet fighter Aircraft, 12 CH-53K helicopters, 7 E-2 Hawkeye aircrafts, 5 KC-130J aerial-refueling aircrafts, 3 unmanned MQ-4 Tritons and 4 MQ-25 Stingray aerial-refueling drones.

Lockheed Martin F-35A Lighting II

 The United States Air Force Response

The U.S. Air Force has been trying to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt for years because they believe it is “outdated”, yet they still heavily use it. The A-10 Thunderbolt was designed during the Cold War as a “Tank-killing aircraft” and was used mainly during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The Air Force has long warned that the A-10 will not survive the high-contested airspace. Since 2015, they have repeatedly tried to either retire part of, or the full fleet of A-10s or free up some funding. However, The Department Of Defense denied their request. Air Force Secretary, Frank Kendall, says that the Air Force (if free to do so) will retire the entire A-10 Fleet within the next five years.

More F-35s & Compass Calls

The NDAA grants the Air Force’s wish to fund four more EC-37B Compass Call electronic warfare aircrafts to replace the EC130H. Four additional Compass Call aircrafts will cost $979 million, a hefty sum, but would it increase the fleet of EC-37B’s to 10. Also, the NDAA will provide enough to buy 5 Lockheed-Martin F-35As for the USAF bringing the fleet up to 38. The Air Force had originally asked for 33 of these aircraft recently, which was lower than the original 48 F-35s they had asked for in 2022. USAF Secretary Kendall said the U.S. Air Force wanted to use the money freed up by buying fewer F-35s to develop the Next Generation Air Dominance platform (NGADP) to work on a new, advanced engine for the F-35, and more quickly bring on the F-15EX Eagle II.

A couple of months later, the Air Force asked for $301 million to speed up the production and acquisition of two prototype E-7 wedgetail aircrafts, on top of the $227 million in research, development, test, and evaluation funds the Air Force initially requested. The Service plans to use those Boeing-made planes that are now being flown by air forces of allied nations, such as Australia, to replace the current fleet of E-3 Sentry, or Airborne Warning and Control System planes.

United States Air Force Boeing E-7 Wedgetail landing at Edwards AFB

Construction Funds

$479 million of the funds are going toward new projects: this includes $246 million of the funds to go to the natural disaster recovery projects at Tyndall AFB in Florida, Langley AFB in Virginia, and Offutt AFB in Nebraska. $114 million of the funds will go towards a Corrosion-Control Hangar for the KC-46 Pegasus at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma.

Other Aircraft And Technology In The NDAA

Another request from the USAF is $579 million for WSS (Weapon Systems Sustainment) and focusing more on the B-52 Stratofortress, F-16 Fighting Falcon, T-38 Talon, C-17 Globemaster III, and C-5 Galaxy. The Air Force also hopes to add $197 million to test Hypersonic Technology at 2 Air Force Bases, Edwards AFB in California, and Eglin AFB in Florida, and hopefully, to add more contractors to help with the work. This would be a large increase from the $577 million requested in the budget for hypersonic prototyping in fiscal 2023.

Photos Of Aircraft Mentioned In This Article

General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon
General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon
KC-46A Refueling a F-18 Super Hornet
Northrop T-38 Talon
C-17 Globemaster III Launching Chaff And Flares
The First F-15EX Super Eagle
Boeing E-3 Sentry
B-52 Stratofortress With Its Full Weapons Payload
C-5 Galaxy (The Air Force’s Largest Aircraft)
Information from: https://www.defensenews.com