As usual, the emotions are running high surrounding the Air Force’s intent to retire the A-10 Warthog. Congress says no to Air Force plans. Air Force digs in its heels. Members of the Air Force sing its praises to Congress. Deputy Commander of Air Combat Command tries to shut that praise down:
A top U.S. Air Force general warned officers that praising the A-10 attack plane to lawmakers amounts to “treason,” according to a news report.
Maj. Gen. James Post, vice commander of Air Combat Command, was quoted as saying, “If anyone accuses me of saying this, I will deny it … anyone who is passing information to Congress about A-10 capabilities is committing treason,” in a report published Thursday on The Arizona Daily Independent.
Obviously, that’s a pretty stupid thing for MG Post to say. You can read the rest of the story for the background and the PAO trying to unspin the General’s dumb statement.
But as usual, the comments section has something that gets mentioned every single time in the last 20 years the retirement of the A-10 has been discussed:
You can be sure he does not want these planes transferee to the Army, who would be glad to take them an use them for the next 20 years.
And therein lies a dirty little secret.
The Army would never try to take over the A-10 fleet.
In the midst of a drawdown that might see the Army slashed to as few as 420,000 active duty troops, there is simply no way the Army could find the warm bodies to fly the A-10, let alone maintain and support it. And it’s not just the operators at the tip of the spear. While the A-10 is capable of austere operations by Air Force standards, it would require investments in training and support equipment that the Army has no need for. For instance, the armament of the A-10 alone would require entire new career fields with associated training and personnel management costs.
The money and manpower requirements would come out of other Army programs (likely the attack helicopter community). And given that the Air Force, whether it has A-10s or not, will still be tasked to provide Close Air Support and Battlefield Air Interdiction, the Army would simply not see the costs to other priority Army programs as in any way justifying taking on a new role, let alone one with very old aircraft with increasing maintenance costs.
And no, the Marines don’t want it either.