A Higher-Tech Hog: USAF A-10C Upgrades and Refurbishments
Elections will make A-10 retirement harder; USAF trying to push the F-35 angle for a watered-down deal.
Nov 11/14: Politics. The USAF has a new angle in the A-10 fight, proposing to retire 72 A-10s in order to switch their maintenance workers over to the F-35. It’s being sold as part of having the F-35A reach Initial Operational Capability, but A-10 proponents like Sen. McCain and Kelly Ayotte say the USAF has other choices. The USAF says that their previous plan B has been blown apart by renewed needs in Iraq and Syria. Sources: Defense News, “USAF Discussing A-10 Compromise With Congress”.
Nov 4/14: Elections. American mid-term elections leave the Republican Party with a bigger House Majority, and recapture the Senate from the Democrats. That result leaves John McCain [R-AZ] as the new chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. There are 80 A-10s at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ in Tucson, and McCain is very much a proponent of engagement in places like Iraq, Syria, and other places where the A-10’s unique capabilities make a big difference. He’s going to be a staunch opponent of any retirement plans.
The election also features A-10 pilot Lt. Col. Martha McSally [AZ-2], who was the first woman to command an American fighter squadron, and has been described as one of the Republicans’ top House recruits. McSally is narrowly ahead in a traditionally-Democratic district, but the vote count and recount process is going to take a little while. If she is elected, it will have obvious implications for A-10 lobbying in Congress. Sources: AP, “Sen. John McCain vows to save A-10 from retirement” | McSally for Congress, “McSally Campaign Statement on Challenge to Uncertified Ballots” | Politico, “The House GOP’s top recruit”.
The Precision Engagement modification is the largest single upgrade effort ever undertaken for the USA’s unique A-10 “Warthog” close air support aircraft fleet. While existing A/OA-10 aircraft continue to outperform technology-packed rivals on the battlefield, this set of upgrades is expected to make them more flexible, and help keep the aircraft current until the fleet’s planned phase-out in 2028. When complete, A-10C PE will give USAF A-10s precision strike capability sooner than planned, combining multiple upgrades into 1 time and money-saving program, rather than executing them as standalone projects. Indeed, the USAF accelerated the PE program by 9 months as a result of its experiences in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
This is DID’s FOCUS Article for the PE program, and for other modifications to the A-10 fleet. It covers the A-10’s battlefield performance and advantages, the elements of the PE program, other planned modifications, related refurbishment efforts to keep the fleet in the air, and the contracts that have been issued each step of the way.
A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II: Experiences on the Ground
The A/OA-10 Precision Engagement Modification Program
A-10 PE, Increment 3.2
A-10 PE, Increment 3.3
A-10 Fleet: Other Planned Improvements
Contracts & Key Events
FY 2005 – 2006
FY 2004 and earlier
Background: A-10 Platform & Enhancements
News & Views
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