Air Force To Retire Iconic A-10 ‘Warthog’

Air Force
A-10 Warthog | Image by The Aviation Geek Club

Congress passed a $886 billion National Defense Authorization Act with a bi-partisan coalition in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday evening.

The National Defense Authorization Act was approved in an 87-13 vote. The defense policy bill will fund existing military programs, including new ships and aircraft funding, and grant service members a significant 5.2% pay increase.

Part of the expansive legislation included granting the Air Force’s request to retire the iconic A-10 ‘Warthog’ and the staple F-15 Eagle fighter planes, among other planes. The Air Force proposed to retire 42 A-10s, reducing the overall stock to 218. The Air Force will also retire 57 F-15C and D-model fighters, reducing the overall inventory to 92, according to DefenseNews.

Both of these steps are being taken as new military technologies shape the demands of modern war. The Ukraine War has largely stagnated as both the Russian Army and the NATO-backed Ukrainian Army struggle to overcome the widespread implementation of drone warfare.

The Air Force has been lobbying to reduce their stock of A-10 Warthogs for some years, but Congress stifled each attempt amid concerns over how the U.S. planned to combat tanks and provide close air support during combat.

The Ukraine War has produced images of both Western and Russian tanks being easily destroyed by anti-tank rocket launchers and drones, leading some military experts to question if the age of tank warfare is over.

The Warthog was first placed into service in 1976 to combat a feared potential Soviet invasion of Western Europe during the Cold War. The Soviet military maintained an unprecedented stockpile of tanks that far outnumbered NATO’s stockpiles. The Warthog was placed into production to even the odds on the battlefield for NATO troops if a hot war broke out in Europe.

The A-10 Warthog became an iconic American warplane after Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Warthogs decimated Soviet-made Iraqi tanks as Saddam Hussein was expelled from Kuwait, and his military was scattered in the deserts of southern and central Iraq.

However, the Air Force reasons that the low-flying, relatively slow aircraft has outlived its purpose. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin responded to a 2022 request by the Ukrainian military to provide the aircraft by stating that the request “made no sense.”

In light of these developments, it appears that the age of the “Hog” and the equally impactful F-15 is coming to an end for the U.S. military.

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