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Dozens Of A-10s May End Up Grounded Over A Crucial Part
A portion of the Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt II squadrons may end up grounded over the next few years due to desperately-needed wing replacements, with some of the aircraft stuck on the tarmac as early as fiscal year 2018, the head of Air Force Material Command announced on Sept. 20.
Speaking during the Air Force Association’s 2017 Air, Space, and Cyber Conference at the National Harbor in Maryland, Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, commander of Air Force Materiel Command drew attention to the issue.
According to a Sept. 21 Defense News report, Pawlikowski stated that a portion of the service's Warthog fleet could be grounded by fiscal year 2018.
"Our current grounding projections show first groundings in FY18 with approximately 55 aircraft by FY25,” Mike Walton a spokesperson Air Force Materiel Command told Task & Purpose. “There are many factors which could change the projections. We continue to pursue various mitigations to move groundings to the right and reduce the total number of groundings across the fleet.”
Currently, 109 of the service’s 281 A-10s need replacements to extend their wing set’s lifespan to 16,000 flight hours. And unless new funds are made available by Congress to cover the replacement costs, the service may end up putting some of its of Warthog squadrons out to pasture.
Though lawmakers have blocked attempts to retire the A-10, a decade of continuing resolutions has left the Air Force unable to make long term plans to keep all of it’s Warthogs flying. And although congressional armed services committees did allot for $103 million in their policy bills which would allow the service to restart production of A-10 wings — an estimated cost of roughly $10 million to re-wing a single aircraft — Congress will need to pass a spending bill before the Air Force can actually buy the new wing sets, Defense News reports.
“We’re trying to work through to see if we can get to the point where we will not have to ground airplanes waiting to get wings, but as it stands right now, we will have to ground airplanes while we work through getting additional wings,” Pawlikowski told Defense News.
In the meantime, the Air Force may have to turn to its boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona to keep its trusty ground-attack aircraft flying, scavenging wings from mothballed A-10s and refurbishing them. But it’s not an ideal solution, with the wings only providing: “a few more hours,” of flight time, as Pawlikowski said during the conference.
However, laying the blame for the wing-shortage squarely at Congress’s feet recuses the Air Force of responsibility, “While these budget problems were certain factors, she did not mention how the Air Force had consciously cut funding for any major upgrade work or even depot-level maintenance across the A-10 fleet during the 1990s,” writes The War Zone’s Joseph Trevithick. “The service effectively waited right until the last moment in 2007 to begin the rewing process at all, which it had understood would be necessary for some time, issues I have noted many times in the past.”
Even though the A-10 has been in the Air Force’s crosshairs for years to make way for the F-35, it continues to play a significant role in the fight against ISIS. Unlike the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the A-10 is solely a ground-attack aircraft, and it’s a mission the Warthog excels at — especially now that close-air-support is a mainstay of U.S. involvement in the fight against the Islamic State. Able to circle over targets for lengthy periods of time before diving at enemy ground troops and vehicles — exposing only a heavily reinforced belly to soak up fire — the A-10 boasts a complement of air-to-ground ordnance, and a massive 30mm gatling gun which spits out rounds at a rate of 3,900 rounds a minute. It’s got one job, but it excels at it.
“It appears the Administration is finally coming to its senses and recognizing the importance of A-10s to our troops’ lives and national security,” said Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona, in a Jan. 13 2016 statement about the decision to delay retiring the aircraft. “With A-10s deployed in the Middle East to fight ISIS, in Europe to deter Russian aggression, and along the Korean Peninsula, Administration officials can no longer deny how invaluable these planes are to our arsenal and military capabilities.”
The Marine lieutenant colonel who was removed from command of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May is accused of lying to investigators looking into allegations of misconduct, according to a copy of his charge sheet provided to Task & Purpose on Monday.
President Donald Trump just can't stop telling stories about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. This time, the president claims Mattis said U.S. troops were so perilously low on ammunition that it would be better to hold off launching a military operation.
"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'
"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"
This 400-pound feral hog is one of more than 1,200 that have invaded a Texas Air Force base since 2016
At least one Air Force base is waging a slow battle against feral hogs — and way, way more than 30-50 of them.
A Texas trapper announced on Monday that his company had removed roughly 1,200 feral hogs from Joint Base San Antonio property at the behest of the service since 2016.
In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."
A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.
In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.
Constant deployments broke the Air Force's B-1 fleet. Now the service is facing a major bomber shortfall
On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.
In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.
A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.
The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.