A-10 Spared Indefinitely - For Now

a-10 spared

It was predicted back in November by Air Combat Command commander Gen. Hawk Carlisle, but it wasn't official until the Air Force just recently - but for right now, the A-10 Warthog is safe from a premature retirement!

According to Gen. Carlisle this is not a permanent reprieve for the A-10 - which will have to be retired eventually - but with the current increased demand for aircraft and pilots to perform the close air support (CAS) mission in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan now is not a good time. Although many have widely speculated on the superiority of the F-35 Lightning vs. the A-10 and other current CAS aircraft, one of their current limitations is capacity.

Despite their highly advanced avionics and sensors, the F-35, like the A-10, can be in only one place at one time. Currently, the number of F-35s in the USAF inventory is much lower than the number of A-10s, and the current budget situation and high cost of the F-35 means that the potential final number of aircraft orders may be lower than originally predicted.

Additionally, although the USAF says that it's on-track to declare the F-35A operationally deployable by August, 2016, it will still operate under some restrictions. Most importantly
for CAS missions, the F-35A will only be capable of using two air-to-ground weapons, the 500-pound, laser-guided GBU-12, and the 1,000-pound, GPS-guided GBU-32. The F-35 still is not capable of carrying its most-advertised ground weapon, the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB), and without that weapon (and with no massive cannon like the A-10) the F-35's ground-attack capabilities are severely limited.

Once the final number of F-35 aircraft is finalized and the USAF has a larger number of aircraft capable of carrying the full range of weaponry, the A-10 will almost certainly be quickly retired and personnel moved to the F-35, however. But right now, the A-10 is safe and free to do what it does best.

To celebrate, here's a pretty inspiring and impressive video of what Hog drivers do - day in and day out: