The A-10 Thunderbolt/Warthog: Air Force: "We don't want it" Army: We'll take it

The whole retiring-the-A10 proposal seems nuts to me, but what do I know. A UAV and any F-35s that happen to be around for low, low, level hunt-and-kill? The F-35 for close-in troop support? :confused:

Anyway, is it possible that intra-service budget rivalry has been put aside for the good of the Armed Forces that the Army is talking about taking it over? Are pigs flying? Are their similar cases in US military tech history?

There is speculation that the Army would take the A-10s, but it just isn’t going to happen. The Army is divesting itself of all sorts of stuff – Kiowa Warrior helicopters, tens of thousands of troops, etc – to meet its budget pressures, and the chances of the Army finding a few billion under the seat cushions to take control of A-10s is zero.

However, it is certainly known that weapons systems unwanted by one military service can find their way into other services. For example, the Army decided a few years back that it didn’t really want the C-27 Joint Cargo Aircraft that it had already bought, so they got transferred to the Air Force. Then the Air Force decided they didn’t want the planes either, so most of them are being retired but a few may find their way to the Coast Guard.

Another example is that the Army started buying Joint High Speed Vessels, then it decided it didn’t want to be in the ship business anymore, so they boats were transferred to the Navy.

Both examples happened just within the last few years. I’m sure if you turn back the clock further you could find many more examples.

(Do you notice a pattern of the Army buying stuff that it soon decides that it no longer wants?)

On one hand it’s nuts because the A-10 is very good at air-to-ground combat, which is what we mostly need for up-close engagements. It’s also a cheap aircraft. On the other hand it’s not nuts because they are old, slow, and easily taken out by other aircraft, from what I understand.

But yeah, I think the F-35 is just another gift from US taxpayer to military contractors, generally.

“Gift.” What a lovely way to describe gang rape.

Warties are one of the few planes I’m genuinely crazy about. Hate to see them go.

I’m surprised the Marines aren’t looking to acquire them. They already have their own air units so it would be less logistic and administrative issues than the Army creating air units. And with the primary mission of the Marine Corps being combat on the ground, you’d think they’d want to augment their air support.

Based on the writeup on the Wikipedia, it looks like the USAF’s primary concern is that the A-10 is only able to accomplish one thing. The hope/plan is that the F-35 can serve multiple roles, even if it does them worse than single-task machines. Rather than having to field ~300 A-10s around the world + ~300 Whatsits that do something else very well, they can do 100 A-10s, 100 Whatsits, and 200 F-35s. Then they only have 400 planes to upkeep instead of 600.

I wondered why they retired that plane when they announced that. It’s very well designed, with a titanium tub for the pilot to sit in, and twin jet engines spaced far enough apart that one exploding (being shot) won’t destroy the other. It’s definitely a top notch infantry support aircraft.

On the other hand, the Army really doesn’t need it with the current crop of deadly ground support helicopters they are flying.

I think the real problem is that the one thing the A10 does is something the Air Force doesn’t really want to be doing.

The Air Force’s ideal would be that there would only be two types of missions: Air Superiority (jets fighting jets - the coolest mission of all) and Strategic Bombing (the mission by which the Air Force would win wars without any other branches of the military being needed).

Air support, after all, is support - it’s playing a secondary role to the troops on the ground. No branch of the military wants to be told its role is to assist another branch. The Air Force doesn’t want to be the Army’s sidekick.

It’s worth noting that the current Chief of Staff of the Air Force, who is ultimately responsible for deciding what the Air Force wants to do, is a former A-10 pilot.

I wonder why the AF doesn’t just transfer all its C-130s and C-170s over to the Army, then.

All Marine Aviation must be carrier capable. Ground support that can’t be where the Marines need it is a waste of resources.

I wonder how much it would take to convert A-10s to carrier compatibility.

Folding wings, tailhook, strengthened gear. Carrier-certified versions of A-10 specialty AGE (like the GFU-6E ammo loader for the GAU-8 cannon). Appropriate tweaks to logistics and training.

There are probably tactical issues (like needing to be carefully bodyguarded en route, because of their vulnerability to air-to-air ambush). And the fact that the Department of the Navy has a history of working very hard to avoid adopting aircraft initially procured by the Air Force.

shrug. To a naive observer, seems like a good match to me.

That’s one of the administrative issues I mentioned earlier. There’s a Defense Department directive from 1948 which divided up what air units each branch of the American military can have. The Army got the short straw: they’re only supposed to operate fixed-wing aircraft for reconnaissance and medical evacuation purposes. This is the reason the Army has so many helicopters: they’re a loophole that lets the Army have its own air support units.

The A-10 was designed to be a tank killer. And it’s a great one. But enemy tanks aren’t much of a threat to an Air Force base. The Army, on the other hand, has a pretty reasonable aversion to enemy tank attacks. But it’s a SEP to the AF. The AF isn’t interested in “mud-moving” missions.

The cost would likely be prohibitive- new wings, new gar, and entirely new systems like tailhooks would cost a bundle, and the USMC/Navy already have adequate strike/CAS planes in the F-18s they fly.

It would literally be a whole new plane. For comparison’s sake, the F-35C carrier aircraft probably has more differences than similarities from the F-35A Air Force variant.

Nice thread.

“SEP” :confused:

Didn’t we recently do a thread on this topic? The only one I can find is this one, but I seem to recall a much longer discussion/argument.

It’s a term from the Hitchhiker’s Guide trilogy. Not the first book. SEP = Someone Else’s Problem. An SEP is something you can safely ignore.

So the question really is, how much trouble would it take to box and crate the airframes for storage. I can get behind that we don’t need them now, but a break glass in case of, sounds reasonable to me.