Lawmakers Attempt to Block A-10 Cuts

It looks like the fight for the USAF A-10 aircraft is far from over. Congressional lawmakers allege that the Air Force is inflating the savings from eliminating the A-10 as well as breaking the law by prematurely cutting back A-10 flying hours in 2014. Air Force officials are frustrated by the lawmakers claims that the USAF is "walking away from close air support", said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh.

Several Congressional lawmakers have declared their intention to add amendments to the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in order to prevent the USAF from ridding itself of the A-10. The allegations that the USAF is breaking the law come from the lack of any flight hours for the A-10 weapons school, and the cancellation of A-10 modernization and sustainment in fiscal year 2015 (Oct 1, 2014). The 2014 NDAA blocks any preparations for retiring the A-10 in calendar year 2014, however.

The Air Force claims that accusations of it abandoning the Close Air Support (CAS) role are misleading. Gen. Welsh commented that not only have F-16s flown more CAS missions over the past 8 to 9 years, other aircraft that fullfil the CAS role in the USAF include the AC-130, the B-1, the B-52, and the F-15E. A new set of tactics and procedures would have to be developed to replace the CAS currently provided by the A-10 with CAS by the F-16 or other CAS aircraft, however.

The current plan is for the Air Force to retire all A-10s by 2019, and providing replacement aircraft to Air National Guard and Air Reserve units as they become available. Most ANG and Air Reserve will receive the F-16, as the F-35 aircraft will go to active duty units.