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A-10 Warthog Fleet Could Be Getting New Wings

Jay Bennett
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum

From Popular Mechanics

It's looking like another victory for Hog fans.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson recently testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee along with other military leaders to discuss acquisition reform within the Department of Defense. In the December 7 hearing, Democratic Senator of Indiana, Joe Donnelly, asked Wilson about the fact that one third of the A-10 fleet, more than 100 aircraft, have aging wings that are approaching the end of their service life. Some of the planes will need to be grounded next year without wing replacements.

"This obviously has a very real impact. What do you see as the Air Force's options on this issue, taking into account budgetary challenges, readiness requirements, and our timelines?" the senator asked Secretary Wilson.

The head of the Department of the Air Force replied that approval for funding to replace A-10 wings is under consideration. Funding was put aside in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that passed in October for new A-10 wings, and the House Appropriations Committee has approved the spending. Now the Air Force is just waiting on the Senate to confirm.

"The defense authorization bill that the Senate passed and the House passed, and the House appropriations mark, add money into the Air Force budget to retool and open a line for wings," responded Wilson. "It wasn't in our budget. I know the Senate Appropriations Committee is working on that now. If that comes through, we will execute that and get that line started back up so that we can re-wing."

The U.S. Air Force has been struggling for years to find the correct budget balance between investing in new weapons platforms and technologies and sustaining aircraft that are already flying and fighting. The A-10 Thunderbolt II, better known by airmen as the Warthog, has often been at the center of this balancing act. In the past, Air Force leaders have considered mothballing the A-10 to free up funds for the F-35 Lightning II and other advanced technology programs.

However, the steady need for a proven close air support (CAS) attack plane to support ground troops in warfighting campaigns in the Middle East has prompted congressional and military leaders to pump resources back into the A-10 program. In October of last year, the Air Force announced they would restart the A-10 depot line to keep the planes flying "indefinitely." Now it appears that the Hogs with the oldest wings could be getting a fresh set to keep the aircraft flying for years to come.

"I happen to be kind of an A-10 fan myself," Secretary Wilson concluded in her response.

h/t Task & Purpose

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