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Death of a Legendary Fighter Jet

Bye-Bye, Warthog, Bye-Bye

by
Stephen Green

Bio

March 14, 2014 - 11:00 am

WARTHOG

It’s all-but-official that the fabled A-10 Thunderbolt II (aka Warthog) is dead:

The five-year scheme retires all of the roughly 340 A-10 Warthog attack jets in the active Air Force, Air Force Reserve and state-controlled Air National Guard. The Warthogs account for the majority of the planned warplane cuts.

The twin-jet, gun-armed A-10s disappear from their main active-duty strongholds in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and South Korea in 2015 and 2016. Reserve and Guard squadrons in Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Maryland surrender their A-10s more gradually between 2015 and 2019.

Cutting the low- and slow-flying Warthogs leaves a big gap in the Air Force’s ability to support ground troops and destroy enemy tanks.

We’ll be replacing the low-cost/high-survivability/highly-effective A-10 with high-cost/lower-survivability/less-effective F-16s in the ground-strike role. Then the F-16s will be replaced by the stupid-cost/lower-survivability/unknown-effectiveness F-35.

In Washington this is called “progress” and “budget cutting.”

The guys with mud on their boots call it a “SNAFU” courtesy of “REMFs.”

****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

Stephen Green began blogging at VodkaPundit.com in early 2002, and has served as PJMedia's Denver editor since 2008. He's one of the hosts on PJTV, and one-third of PJTV's Trifecta team with Scott Ott and Bill Whittle. Steve lives with his wife and sons in the hills and woods of Monument, Colorado, where he enjoys the occasional lovely adult beverage.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Minor point: in an air-air fighter, like, say, the F-16, the F-15, and the F-35, the gun is aimed slightly up so that the shell's trajectory is optimal for shooting at an enemy aircraft that's about at the same altitude. However, when trying to strafe a target, this means that the airplane must dive at a fairly steep angle, not only making it more vulnerable (because it must be higher to start its run and can't hide behind ground cover) but increasing the risk when the pilot pulls out.

In aircraft built for air-ground combat, on the other hand - like the original Thunderbolt and the A-10 - the gun is aimed slightly down, so that the plane can strafe from a level attack run.

The A-10 is also built expressly for risky environments. The cockpit and electronics are contained in an armored "tub", the nose is optimized for ground visibility, it can lose sizable chunks of wing and tail surfaces and still fly, the engines are mounted up high to keep them safe, and it's easy to repair (the left and right engines and tail surfaces are interchangeable). Oh, and note that the bottoms of the wheels stick out in flight? If it does have to land with the gear up, it won't destroy the airplane. It's also got 11, count 'em eleven, weapons stations and can carry a huge payload of missiles and bombs.

Trying to replace the A-10 with an air-air fighter is a very bad idea.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
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The Air Force has never liked the ground support role, and would much rather spend their budget on high tech fighters and bombers.
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
So we're going to replace existing A-10s that cost about $13 million each and about $1500 per hour to fly and are designed for the air to ground mission with yet to be built F-35's that will cost at least $200-300 Million each and about $32,000 per hour to fly. A F-35 designed to be multi-mission which means it's not the best at any mission. Yup, they're really saving money in defense by this move ... just like their $1.1 Trillion Federal budget that ignores the $2+ Trillion in entitlement spending and $1 Trillion additional spending by the Federal Reserve to prop up the Stock/Bond Market. But hey, at least the Dems are happy in that they get to gut our defenses, hook more voters on government cheese, and keep defense industry fat cats donating to Democratic coffers. It's way beyond time to throw all who support this crap out of office and into prison where they belong.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
They will put the remaining Hogs in storage at DM where most of the first half of them already went (those that didn't end up as lawn ornaments). Assuming someone doesn't do something foolish like scrap them, or nuke Tucson they should be available for emergency use for decades. Interesting how history turns, as the Hog replaced the A-7D after Nam when they divided the high speed and loiter missions between it and the F-16. And the A-7D replaced the old A-1 Skyraider which was pulled out of storage at DM as Nam ramped up. Cheers -
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Minor point: in an air-air fighter, like, say, the F-16, the F-15, and the F-35, the gun is aimed slightly up so that the shell's trajectory is optimal for shooting at an enemy aircraft that's about at the same altitude. However, when trying to strafe a target, this means that the airplane must dive at a fairly steep angle, not only making it more vulnerable (because it must be higher to start its run and can't hide behind ground cover) but increasing the risk when the pilot pulls out.

In aircraft built for air-ground combat, on the other hand - like the original Thunderbolt and the A-10 - the gun is aimed slightly down, so that the plane can strafe from a level attack run.

The A-10 is also built expressly for risky environments. The cockpit and electronics are contained in an armored "tub", the nose is optimized for ground visibility, it can lose sizable chunks of wing and tail surfaces and still fly, the engines are mounted up high to keep them safe, and it's easy to repair (the left and right engines and tail surfaces are interchangeable). Oh, and note that the bottoms of the wheels stick out in flight? If it does have to land with the gear up, it won't destroy the airplane. It's also got 11, count 'em eleven, weapons stations and can carry a huge payload of missiles and bombs.

Trying to replace the A-10 with an air-air fighter is a very bad idea.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
nuts
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The A-10 is not a fighter jet. It's not designed for air-air combat. It's mission is to attack targets on the ground, primarily tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, with its 30 mm cannon system.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, that's correct. It's very good at it.

And it's being replaced by fighter jets, which are NOT good at this role.

28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, F-18's are quite good at CAS, and the F-16 certainly has the capability for the job. The real issue is the pilots, whether or not they're trained and motivated for moving mud.

I wouldn't be surpised if the premeir CAS platform shortly becomes a B-52 orbiting overhead with 110 SDB's. Aside from the ability to engage a truly enormous number of targets, it would greatly simplify airspace deconfliction.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The 174th Tac Air unit, out of Syracuse NY ANG, transitioned from the A-10 to the F-16 with a 30mm gun pod strapped under the belly of the plane in the late 80's. They deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1990 and were the only ground attackers in theater flying this plane.

The pilots loved the F-16, because supersonic fighter. My recollection is that they did good work with the plane, in part because they had so many training hours in the ground attack mode, so it may not have mattered about the platform quite as much as we might think.

The grunts, on the other hand, love the Warthog. There is nothing quite like seeing that plane coming in on a shoot, especially when the A-10 is supporting YOUR platoon.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
One of the few things the jihadi's were actually frightened of...shame to see it go.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
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