The Thunderbolt might live to see more action after all.
President Donald Trump’s proposed $639 billion defense budget would save the A-10 Thunderbolt fighter jet from being phased out of the military and replaced, according to the Department of Defense.
The proposed budget includes “restored funding to maintain the Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt II fleet across the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP),” according to the budget overview.
In October of last year, as the Obama Administration was closing shop, then-Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James said that the service is thinking about keeping the A-10 around for a longer period of time, even though the fighter jet was slated to be phased out starting in 2018, according to a report.
“The A-10 has seen extensive use in Iraq and Syria to fight against Islamic State militants, and the fighter jet has turned out to be so useful that the Air Force put out a $2 billion contract to replace the fleet’s wings,” the report said.
Air Force leadership has, in the past, pushed to to retire the A-10 jets – which are seemingly money pits – and spend the money on F-35 fighter jets.
Congress has stopped the move to replace the A-10 fighter jets before, but the Air Force is going to test three new jets this summer that could replace the A-10, including the A-29 Super Tucano, the AT-6 Wolverine and the Airland Scorption, according to the report.
The proposed base defense budget request is $574.5 billion, and the request for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) is $64.6 billion, totaling $639.1 billion, according to the DoD. This budget proposal aims to sustain gains, informed by the defense strategy, and also to build “a bigger more lethal and ready force,” the DoD said.
Also in the proposed budget are major aircraft investments, including 70 F-35 Joint Strike fighters, for $10.8 billion, 15 KC-46 Tanker replacements totaling $3.1 billion, a B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber for $2 billion, and 14 F/A-18 aircraft for $1.3 billion, according to the DoD.
The funding in the proposed budget “is required to continue to rebuild warfighting readiness and will restore program balance by fixing the holes created by previous budget cuts,” the DoD said in a press release.
“Since enactment of the BCA [Budget and Control Act], the world has become more dangerous,” the DoD said. “Over this period, the military has become smaller and training, maintenance, and modernization have been deferred, resulting in degraded warfighting readiness. This budget request reverses that degradation and starts restoring the readiness of our armed forces to meet the challenges of today and the future.”
The DoD said the budget request also includes:
“Sustainment of the increased manning levels for the Army and Marine Corps in the [Fiscal Year] 2017 National Defense Authorization Act as well as increases in Air Force and Navy manning levels;”
“Additional funding for operating forces, logistics, maintenance, training and spares;”
“Additional shipyard capacity and aviation depot maintenance for the Navy;”
“Increased unit and flight training for the Army;”
“Increased weapons sustainment and increased end strength to address pilot and maintainer shortfalls in the Air Force;”
“Increased investment in a wide range of preferred munitions;”
“Increased facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization across all Services.”