Air Force brass may finally be about to get rid of those ugly but oh so effective A-10 Warthogs they never wanted in the first place.
One of the ways the Air Force plans to save money in the 2013 defense budget, Air Force Times reports, is parking most its A-10s in the Arizona desert and hope that it's not called on any time soon to provde much close air support to grunts on the ground.
The Thunderbolt squadrons to be stood down encompass one active-duty, one Reserve and three National Guard units. The remaining two squadrons disappearing are a Guard F-16 tactical unit and an F-15 training squadron.
While the A-10 is very good at providing close-air support, the Air Force needs aircraft that can do more than one mission, Adm. James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Jan. 26 in an interview with Military Times reporters and editors.
“Is the F-35 going to be as good a close-air support platform as an A-10? I don’t think anybody believes that,” he said, “But is the A-10 going to be the air-to-air platform that the F-35 is going to be? So again, the Air Force is trying to get as much multimission capability into the limited number of platforms it’s going to have.”
Which reminds me of a long ago conversation with a Lockheed official extolling how in the future close air support would be the province of the F-35, from 30,000 feet. Probably not close enough for most soliders and Marines stuck on the ground in a firefight.