Moody Air Force Base will be getting a new lineup of jet fighters in coming years while losing its A-10C aircraft.
The Air Force announced in a statement Monday that Moody will receive two squadrons equipped with single-engine F-35A Lightning II fighters starting in FY2027. This will require about 500 additional personnel, the statement said.
The F-35A is the result of the Joint Strike Fighter program, meant to replace several classes of planes among the U.S. and its allies with a single model. Nine countries — the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Australia — cooperated in developing the F-35A.
In Monday’s announcement, the Air Force touted the F-35A’s stealth and electronics systems.
“The F-35A brings an enhanced capability to survive in the advanced threat environment in which it was designed to operate,” the Air Force said. “With its aerodynamic performance and advanced integrated avionics, the F-35A provides next-generation stealth, enhanced situational awareness and reduced vulnerability.”
One of the criticisms leveled at the F-35 series was that it was meant to be an “all-purpose” fighter not specifically designed for close troop support missions. The A-10C, originally designed as a flying tank-buster, gained a reputation as a ground attack vehicle. Famed for flying “low and slow,” the A-10C could loiter over a battlefield to provide aerial firepower for ground troops.
The A-10C has a rated top speed of Mach 0.56, while the F-35A can reach Mach 1.6; The A-10C’s range is 800 miles compared to the F-35A’s 1,350 miles, Air Force documents show. The F-35A’s single engine also has almost 2.5 times as much thrust as both of the A-10C’s two engines.
Attempts by the military to retire the A-10C fleet in the mid-2010s were set aside due to intense political pressure. At the same time, the Joint Strike Fighter program fell behind schedule and suffered budget overruns.
Moody received its first A-10C in 2006.
The Air Force now plans to retire 54 of the existing 281 “Warthogs,” as the A-10Cs are known, in FY2024, with six of those at Moody. Remaining Warthogs will be phased out by FY2028, the Air Force statement said.
Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., said “This is a major step forward in our ongoing effort to strengthen and sustain Moody Air Force Base for decades to come. Moody is a critical national security asset and a vital job creator for South Georgia. The men and women who serve at Moody are among the finest in our armed forces.”
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