US Air Force Might Delay Retiring A-10 Attack Plane

By Marcus Weisgerber

November 10, 2015

The United States Air Force is rethinking its plans to retire the venerable A-10 attack plane in response to an uptick in the demand for combat aircraft across the Middle East and Africa, the Pentagon’s air combat chief said Tuesday.

The U.S. airstrike campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, American troops staying in Afghanistan longer, and militant activity across Africa are all contributing to a shift in the Air Force’s contentious retirement plan for the cheap, slow-flying, but highly effective attack plane—and just weeks after the Pentagon announced it sent A-10s to Turkey to fight ISIS.

I think we would probably move the retirement slightly to the right,” Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, the arm of the Air Force that oversees all fighter and attack planes, said Tuesday at a Defense Writers Group breakfast in Washington.

Eventually we will have to get there, we will have to retire airplanes, but I think moving it to the right and starting it a bit later and maybe keeping the airplane around a little bit longer is something that’s being considered based on things as they are today and that we see them in the future,” said Carlisle.

The Air Force has told Congress over the past two years that it must retire the A-10 to save money in its budget and free up maintenance workers for newer the newer F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is now entering the inventory. Congress has yet to approve the request.

Now Carlisle says the Air Force is looking at other ways to complete its maintenance duties, including hiring contractors.

Operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Africa have placed a “greater demand on the capacity of the United States Air Force,” he said. The general also said the Pentagon is buying the F-35 at a slower rate than anticipated several years ago.

The final decision on whether to delay the A-10 retirement rests with Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff.

But Carlisle still plans to offer up the A-10 for deployments as long as they’re still around.

If I have them, I’m going to use them,” he said. “They’re a fantastic airplane and I’m going to take advantage of them.”


By Marcus Weisgerber // Marcus Weisgerber is the global business editor for Defense One, where he writes about the intersection of business and national security. He has been covering defense and national security issues for more than a decade, previously as Pentagon correspondent for Defense News and chief editor of Inside the Air Force. He has reported from Afghanistan, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, and often travels with the defense secretary and other senior military officials.

November 10, 2015

https://www.defenseone.com/business/2015/11/-10s-are-here-stay-now/123546/