News & Politics

Rise of ISIS Makes USAF Reconsider Scrapping A-10

Photo/Lubos Pavlicek (CTK via AP Images)

Sanity may yet prevail.

ISIS seems determined to destroy much of what’s in its path as it tries to conquer more territory in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, but it may have inadvertently saved a fleet of U.S. Air Force jets.

Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force’s vice chief of staff, tells Defense News the rise of the Islamic State and the U.S. air campaign to fight it has prompted the service to reconsider plans to retire the A-10 ground attack jets, which first joined the Air Force fleet in 1975.

The Air Force’s version of the F-35 will eventually replace the A-10 Thunderbolt, but those new jets are just coming online and are not battle tested like the A-10, which has seen combat in Iraq, Afghanistan and recently in Syria against ISIS — also known as ISIL.

“When we made the decision on retiring the A-10, we made those decisions prior to ISIL, we were not in Iraq, we were coming out of Afghanistan to a large extent, we didn’t have a resurgent Russia,” Goldfein said in an interview on “Defense News with Vago Muradian,” scheduled for broadcast this weekend, according to the Defense News website.

Goldfein’s office confirmed the general’s remarks to CNN.

I’m a Tucson native, and this venerable beast is pretty much the hometown plane. As such, I’ve heard stories of its imminent demise since the late 1980s. Bureaucrats are forever finding reasons to get rid of the A-10 but that’s become tougher to do since we’ve been at perpetual war/conflict/whatever with terrorists who live in the desert. The bureaucrats keep trying though, despite the fact that the troops love it.

Here’s one example, the A-10. It’s a 40 year old warplane that looks like the designer guzzled too much Jack Daniels then pieced it together out of junkyard scraps. They don’t call it the Warthog for nothing. But to our guys on the front line it’s the most beautiful thing there is.

The A-10 can carry tons of bombs, but its big selling point is that 30mm cannon poking out of its stubby nose. The Warthog flies low and slow around the battlefield, lingering and waiting for the call. And when the call comes, well, there’s going to be a run on virgins.

As we aren’t likely to wrap up our problems in the Middle East any time soon, the pencil pushers may want to get a grip and keep this ugly but beautiful bird flying for a long time.