The U.S. Air Force has given up on trying to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt ground attack aircraft at least until 2022 and likely well beyond, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday.
After repeatedly losing the battle with Congress over continued funding for the aircraft, Carter said that the fiscal 2017 proposed budget for the Pentagon was putting off the next fight over retiring the aircraft known as the “Warthog” to generations of ground troops until 2022.
Even then, Carter said the Air Force and the Defense Department would approach sending the A-10s to the “boneyard” for outdated aircraft carefully, given the aircraft’s strong performance in Iraq and Syria and likely continued support in Congress unless there is a radical makeover in the membership.
Committee members possibly assumed that keeping the A-10s in the Air Force fleet was a given. Carter was not asked about the aircraft but addressed the issue in his prepared remarks.
“We’re pushing off the A-10’s final retirement until 2022 so we can keep more aircraft that can drop smart bombs on ISIL,” Carter said, referring to another acronym for ISIS.
“In addition to changing when A-10s will be retired, we’re also changing how it will happen,” he said. If Congress agrees, and if the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is ready by 2022 to take on the ground attack role, the A-10s will be retired piecemeal, he said.
This has been one of the most idiotic crusades by DC pencil-pushers (including many in the Air Force) in recent memory, especially given the fact that the A-10 is so popular with people who actual use and need it:
Proponents of the A-10 call it the world’s best ground attack aircraft and had argued that retiring the aircraft made no sense during the continuing conflicts against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Spokesmen for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve have repeatedly pointed to the “devastating” effects the A-10s were having on ISIS, particularly in taking out tactical vehicles and oil delivery trucks commanded by the militant group.
Most of this funding battle has been a desperate attempt by various bureaucrats to feel good about the egregious amounts of money spent on the F-35, even though it isn’t nearly ready to replace the A-10. Despite the fact that the Thunderbolt is universally praised by people in the field, some have been willing to risk lives just in a game of make-believe about the F-35’s readiness. That discussion was painfully interrupted by ISIS, and thankfully, military effectiveness outweighed esoteric budget battles thousands of miles away.