Warthogs to the Rescue in the Caliphate

I’ve written twice before (HERE and HERE) about the misguided attempts by the military to retire the A-10 from their inventory of combat aircraft on the grounds that the Warthog is increasingly outmoded and obsolete.  But now, it appears that the military is having second thoughts, at least for the time being.  James Dunnigan is reporting at StrategyPage that:

Despite renewed U.S. Air Force efforts to retire the much loved (by their pilots and the ground troops who depend on it) A-10C ground attack aircraft, at least ten of them from a reserve unit have been quietly sent to the Middle East to join in the air operations against ISIL (Islamic State in A10_WarthogIraq and the Levant) in Iraq and Syria.  Many older ISIL members (who fought in Iraq before the A-10s were withdrawn) are not happy with this news while the soldiers and militiamen fighting ISIL are much encouraged.

This was kept quiet because earlier in 2014 the U.S. Air Force insisted it had to retire all of its A-10 ground support aircraft (to deal with a shrinking budget) and this time it was going to happen.  That statement had been heard several times before since the Cold War ended in 1991.  Many politicians do not agree with the generals and it appeared the air force would be forced to keep at least some of the A-10s.  There is little doubt that the A-10s will again make themselves useful.  That will slow down but not stop air force efforts to eliminate this popular (except among senior commanders) warplane.

A-10s were designed during the Cold War for combat against Russian ground forces in Europe.  That war never happened and the last American A-10 attack aircraft left Europe in mid-2013.  After that some politicians believed the A-10 might be needed back in Europe to help confront an increasingly aggressive Russia.  Meanwhile the A-10 proved to be a formidable combat aircraft in post-Cold War conflicts, first in the 1991 liberation of Kuwait and later in Afghanistan and Iraq.  During the last decade the most requested ground support aircraft in Afghanistan has been the A-10.  There was similar A-10 affection in Iraq.  Troops from all nations quickly came to appreciate the unique abilities of this 1970s era aircraft that the U.S. Air Force is constantly trying to get rid of.  In 2011 the air force did announce that it was retiring 102 A-10s, leaving 243 in service.  At the same time the air force accelerated the upgrading of the remaining A-10s to the A-10C standard.

Read the full article, HERE.