After three years of unsuccessful attempts to retire the A-10, the U.S. Air Force is apparently opting to keep the Cold War-era gunship in the inventory, for now anyway.
The U.S. Air Force is reportedly scrapping what has become an annual attempt to retire the A-10 Thunderbolts from the fiscal 2017 budget request being drawn up.
Maj. Melissa J. Milner, an Air Force spokeswoman on budget matters, said Wednesday she could not comment on the Defense One report that the Cold War-era attack aircraft had been spared indefinitely, but boosters of the plane affectionately known to ground troops as the “Warthog” hailed the move to keep them in the inventory.
“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 and a retired Air Force colonel who flew the A-10.
“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,” said McSally, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, also known as ISIL.
The service had estimated it would save more than $4 billion over five years by sending the slow, low-flying gunship to the boneyard. But a recent budget deal in Congress gave some financial relief to the Defense Department by increasing spending caps over the next two years.
Boeing Co. has received defense contracts to outfit the aircraft with new wings and other improvements.