The US Air Force plans to retire the old A-10 Warthog attack jet within the next 5 years.
However, there’s only one problem – there isn’t a dedicated close air support platform to replace it yet, making pilots worry that troops on the ground won’t be getting the air support they need in the next conflict.
Much Beloved Aircraft
The A-10 is a much-beloved airplane, and although it’s old, no other US aircraft come close to matching its close air support capabilities or its survivability.
Not Your Average Plane
The A-10 is protected by a 1,200 lb bathtub-shaped casing titanium armor and a thick front panel of bulletproof glass. While the A-10 wasn’t invulnerable, it was created to withstand a lot more punishment than your average aircraft.
The A-10 isn’t a perfect plane though. It had the dubious honor of topping the list for US aircraft in friendly fire deaths and civilian casualties.
Its reliance on low-tech solutions for targeting and engagements led to plenty of collateral damage and friendly fire incidents.
Because of the A-10’s popularity among troops and the public, Congress has rejected the idea of cutting A-10s directly from the defense budget.
But as new technology enables new means of war, the Air Force finally convinced Congress that other aircraft could do the same job better.
Experts say that the reason A-10s manage to thrive is because of asymmetrical warfare conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, they say that it won’t be the case against a potential enemy like China which has one of the most sophisticated missile networks in the world.
Giant circular swords flying low to avoid radar doesn’t work against modern surveillance systems where both Russia and China had plenty. Its gun tank-busting abilities aren’t sufficient against modern tank armor.
The threat environment has evolved beyond what the A-10 was built to withstand. Not to mention, multi-role aircraft and drones have also evolved, making them possible alternatives.
Do you think the US military should retire the Warthog? Let us know in the comments below!