The Air Force Material Command (AFMC) is bringing the A-10 depot line responsible for A-10 maintenance and repair back to full capacity. Despite announcements that the Air Force would being retiring the A-10 in 2018 AFMC chief Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski recently told Aviation Week that they plan to keep the A-10 in the air “indefinitely.”
The Warthog is currently the only Air Force plane being used for the sole purpose of close-air support (CAS). The U.S. military relies heavily on (CAS) in the battle against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. The iconic GAU-8 Avenger 30-millimeter gatling gun found at the nose of the aircraft and its “low and slow” flying capabilities have made it an invaluable resource for missions against ISIS. Pawlikowski told reporters:
“Our command, anyway, is approaching this as another airplane that we are sustaining indefinitely.”
There are currently 283 A-10s in the Air Force. Most of the maintenance takes place at Hill Air Force Base in Utah and service members there are preparing for increased capacity. They were able increase the availability rate of the A-10 from 63 to 68 percent last year and are hoping to continue to improve, according to Aviation Week.
Many of the military officials and congressmen that oppose keeping the A-10 battle ready hope to retire the aircraft so they may redistribute the funds into the chronically delayed F-35 program. Others hope to replace the A-10 with two completely separate aircraft; either a modified existing turboprop plane or a new aircraft designed from scratch.
However, despite these agendas the A-10 has proved to be an indispensable tool in the fight against terror and will remain in the air for an “indefinite” period of time.