The beloved A-10 Warthog is primed and ready to make close air support great again.
The Air Force has finally installed the last set of new wings for 173 of the service's 283 A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft as part of a $1.1 billion contract with Boeing, Air Force Material Command announced on Monday.
Personnel from the Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill Air Force Base in Utah handled the rewinging of some 162 A-10s, the Air Force said, while the other 11 wings were swapped in at Osan Air Base in South Korea. And according to to test pilot, the effort was clear success.
"[The rewinged A-10] flew great and passed all the checks," 514th Flight Test Squadron commander Lt. Coll. Ryan Richardson said in the Air Force statement. "It's unusual to have an airplane in production for as long as this one was and have it come out and fly as well as this one did."
First introduced to Air Force inventory back in 1976, the fate of the CAS workhorse known among infantry troops for the distinctive roar of its GAU-8/A Avenger gatling gun, the A-10's future has been in jeopardy in recent years due to legislative jousting over the U.S. defense budget.
While the initial Boeing contract to rewing 173 A-10s was signed way back in 2007, the Air Force told Congress in 2017 that the remaining 110 aircraft in its fleet were at risk of being permanently grounded unless lawmakers could find an additional $103 million.
That $103 million request was included in the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill signed by President Donald Trump in March 2018, although then-Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told the House Armed Services Committee at t he time that the new funds only covered "about four more rewings" on top of the existing 173.
As of April of this year, the Air Force had set aside $267 million for a new "A-10-Thunderbolt II Advanced-Wing Continuation Kit" (ATTACK) to purchase "about 20 total wings," as spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told Military.com at the time.
The Air Force may be inching its way towards a complete rewinging of its entire A-10 fleet, but for the moment, the prospect of keeping the A-10 BRRRTing with impunity for at least the next decade may fill the average warfighter's heart with joy.