The A-10 Warthog Just Got The Money It Needs To Stay Alive

Military Tech

The Air Force is set to acquire new wings for its A-10 Thunderbolts in order to keep the vaunted attack aircraft in operation until the 2030s.


The Air Force told Congress last year that 110 of its 283 A-10s were at risk of being permanently grounded unless money was apportioned to restart production and rewing the remaining planes.

The service has already paid to replace the wings on 173 of its A-10s, but Boeing, which originally built the wings, has since shut down production, and the Air Force didn't have funding for new wings for the remainder — 40 of which would have to be grounded by 2021, according to CNN. Those aircraft are still flying with wings from the late 1970s, according to Aviation Week.

The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill signed by President Donald Trump this month included $103 million requested by the Air Force to fund the rewinging. That is enough to cover the production of four new sets of wings, but going forward, Boeing might not be supplying them.

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt flies over Southwest Asia in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, October 29, 2015. US Air ForceU.S. Air Force

"If the omnibus comes out in the way that we expect it to, [the fiscal year 2019 budget] will restart the line for the rewinging and will include enough money for about four more rewings on top of the 170-plus that are already rewinged," Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told the House Armed Services Committee on March 20. "The FY19 budget request includes $80 million for additional rewingings of the A-10. We'll go out for a bid, but we think that will get us between eight and 12 more in FY19."

The program is considered a "new start," and under it, the new wings will come with a higher price, as engineers work through the hiccups of the design phase.

Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, mentioned that the service was looking for a new partner on the A-10 earlier this year.

"The previous contract that we had was with Boeing, and it kind of came to the end of its life for cost and for other reasons," he said in January. "It was a contract that was no longer cost-effective for Boeing to produce wings under, and there were options there that we weren't sure where we were going to go, and so now we're working through the process of getting another contract."

Because of the potential for A-10s to be grounded if they don't get new wings, "acquisition is being expedited to the maximum extent possible," according to a draft request for proposal for A-10 wings, issued in February.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Haden, 74th Fighter Squadron commander, lands an A-10 Thunderbolt, December 3, 2014.U.S. Air Force

According to the anticipated schedule included in the draft request, a final request is expected by April 3, a proposal due date on June 5, and the awarding of the contract by the end of the March 2019. (The 2019 fiscal year runs from October 2018 to September 2019.)

The service has committed to maintaining six of the nine A-10 squadrons it has, but the contract will ultimately determine how many wings the service can actually buy, an Air Force spokeswoman told Aviation Week, saying "the majority of the A-10 fleet will fly and fight for the foreseeable future."

The hard-fighting A-10 emerged last year from a debate between lawmakers and the Air Force over whether it would stay in service, and in recent years it has seen duty all over the world.

It was a workhorse in Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, releasing 13,856 weapons between August 8, 2014 and mid-2016 — second only to the F-15E Strike Eagle, which released 14,995 weapons over the same period.

The Thunderbolt has also seen duty in Afghanistan, where the government requested the A-10 return in late 2017. A squadron of 12 A-10s arrived in the country in January, where it has taken part in an intensified air campaign against militants in the country — in particular, the Taliban and its drug-producing facilities.

U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Chris Drzazgowski

The venerable aircraft will soon face competition closer to home, however, with comparison testing between it and the F-35— the plane originally meant to replace the A-10 — happening as soon as this summer, when the F-35 is scheduled for testing in close-air-support and reconnaissance operations.

Congress has said that the Air Force cannot shed any A-10s until that evaluation takes place. But whatever the results, the Thunderbolt looks likely to have vocal supporters.

"If I were to sit down to design a heavy attack platform, it would look just like the A-10," Air Force Lt. Col. Bryan France told The Aviationist. "Our airframe was built to extend loiter times over the battlefield, deliver a substantial amount of ordnance, and survive significant battle damage. It does these things exceptionally well."

"It is built to withstand more damage than any other frame that I know of. It's known for its ruggedness," A-10 pilot Lt. Col. Ryan Haden told Scout Warrior. "It's deliberate, measured, hefty, impactful, calculated, and sound. There's nothing flimsy or fragile about the way it is constructed or about the way that it flies."

"I happen to be a fan of the A-10," Wilson, the Air Force secretary, told lawmakers in December.

Read more from Business Insider:

WATCH NEXT:

(From left to right) Chris Osman, Chris McKinley, Kent Kroeker, and Talon Burton

At least four American veterans were among a group of eight men arrested by police in Haiti earlier this week for driving without license plates and possessing an arsenal of weaponry and tactical gear.

Police in Port-au-Prince arrested five Americans, two Serbians, and one Haitian man at a police checkpoint on Sunday, according to The Miami-Herald. The men told police they were on a "government mission" but did not specify for which government, according to The Herald.

They also told police that "their boss was going to call their boss," implying that someone high in Haiti's government would vouch for them and secure their release, Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles told NPR.

What they were actually doing or who they were potentially working for remains unclear. A State Department spokesperson told Task & Purpose they were aware that Haitian police arrested a "group of individuals, including some U.S. citizens," but declined to answer whether the men were employed by or operating under contract with the U.S. government.

Read More Show Less
Heckler & Koch's first batch of M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the employee behind a firearm company's Facebook page decided to goaded a bunch of Marines into destroying their brand new firearms? Now you know.

Read More Show Less

A top Senate Republican and fierce ally of President Donald Trump reportedly exploded at Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently about the U.S. military's plans to withdraw all troops from Syria by the end of April.

"That's the dumbest f******g idea I've ever heard," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly replied when Shanahan confirmed the Trump administration still plans to complete the Syria withdrawal by April 30.

Later, Graham told Shanahan, "I am now your adversary, not your friend."

Read More Show Less
Members of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and 1st Transportation Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, prepare a seven-ton Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTRV) to be lifted by a CH-53E Super Stallion at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., on Jan. 16, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Clare J. McIntire)

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

If you are in the market for any size of military surplus vehicle, keep an eye on GovPlanet. The online auction house is about to start selling U.S. Navy and Marine Corps surplus M1161 ITV Growlers and seven-ton Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement trucks.

Read More Show Less
Airmen with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron pump water from a flooded common living area to an area with less impact on the local population, Dec. 13, 2009, in Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force/ Staff Sgt. Sharon Singer)

The definition of insanity, the old saying goes, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result — a definition that applies perfectly to the Trump administration's response to the looming national security threat of global climate change.

Read More Show Less