Despite Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh's assertion that a head-to-head competition between the A-10 Warthog and the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter would be "silly," Department of Defense officials tell the Washington Times there are now exercises in the planning stages to test the F-35's close air support (CAS) capabilities.
Now that the Air Force has figured out why some F-35 jet engines ignite on takeoff, it's ready to retire its A-10 fleet. Over it's 30-plus years of service, the A-10 has become a beloved platform and a welcome sight and sound to troops on the ground who love to hear the distinctive sound of it's nose cannon projecting freedom and 30 mm rounds on America's enemies.
The Air Force wants to retire the Warthog for what it calls "budget cuts" — but most suspect this is to help pay for the development of the F-35. With a total price tag of $1.5 trillion, the F-35 is set to be the most expensive weapons program ever developed by any country ever. And for that price you get stealth and other high-tech gee-wizzary, but no BRRRRRRRRRRRRRT.
Retiring the A-10 is controversial to some members of Congress and the military who accuse the Air Force of planning to mothball the Warthog without providing a CAS replacement. Gen. Welsh claims the F-35 was never intended to replace the A-10's CAS capability but that the F-35 was designed "with the whole battle space in mind."
The tests are currently set to be held in 2018, which doesn't really make sense because the software for the F-35's guns isn't scheduled to be delivered until 2019.
In the meantime the heated discussions will rage.
What do you think? Do we need to keep the A-10 or go all-in with the Joint Strike Fighter? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.