WASHINGTON, US — The withdrawal of 21 A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft means the beginning of the end for the one calling itself the “Warthog.”
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The United States Air Force has announced the withdrawal from operational service of 21 of its A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft. This news marks the beginning of the end for the entire US A-10 fleet, according to General CK Brown, US Chief of Staff.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II fleet should be gone entirely within five to six years. The reason for the retirement of the aircraft nicknamed “Warthog” was its inability to survive against modern anti-aircraft defenses. It’s also a single-mission aircraft, well below current operational expectations that tip the scales toward multi-role aircraft.
Favorite Cold War Aircraft
Commissioned in the 1980s, it was designed with a Cold War conflict on European soil in mind. Its 30 mm GAU-8/A gun would be designed to counter the armored columns sent from Moscow.
With the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the fleet was greatly reduced, but it flew numerous close air support missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning it the recognition of many ground forces.
As early as 1991, the US Air Force attempted to withdraw the A-10 from service for the same reasons now stated. However, the Warthog resisted being ousted thanks to the support of veterans and congressional representatives. The announcement of its withdrawal follows several attempts by the Air Force in a struggle that has lasted just over 30 years.
The development of a replacement policy
The Air Force originally had the ambition to replace the A-10 with the F-16, but questions and projections about future air capabilities changed that perspective over time. Like the F-16, it will now be replaced by the F-35 Lightning II.
The removal of the Warthogs from operational service comes days before the presentation of the budget proposal for the fiscal year 2024 in the United States.
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