Although low-intensity wars involving US military intervention still tend to increase, the US Air Force still wants to retire the A-10 early
Beginning in 2015, the US Air Force planned to retire all of its A-10 attack aircraft, but the plan was opposed by Congress. So far, the A-10 is safe even as the Air Force is planning to phase out more modern aircraft. According to Defense News, acting Air Force Secretary Matt Donovan stoked speculation that the service will retire the A-10 after announcing that its fiscal year 2021 budget request will include “controversial changes” such as the divestment of legacy aircraft. But according to Lieutenant General Timothy Fay, deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements, confirmed that the A-10 is not one of the aircraft under consideration for divestment and will stay in service until the 2030s.
The history of development of the A-10 Warthog dates back to the early 1970s, when the Soviet Union and its allies possessed an overwhelming number of main battle tanks compared to the US and NATO. The U.S. Air Force requested the development of a close-in, subsonic ground-support attack aircraft with a longer flight time. The A-10 Warthog, with its twin engines, subsonic speed, the main armament being a 30mm cannon and missiles and precision-guided bombs, proved to be a reliable and effective close-in ground-support aircraft in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US Army suddenly lost a great opponent. Although low-intensity wars involving US military intervention still tend to increase, the US Air Force still wants to retire the A-10 early, saving about $ 5 billion for other investments. But with the US Congress’s objection, the Air Force’s intention to remove the A-10 attack plane had to be stopped. Not only that, the A-10 continues to be upgraded, extending its service life until 2030.
Defense News reported: A-10 upgrade options were completed by the end of July 2019. The focus of the upgrade is the replacement of new wings for 173 A-10s by Boeing, including one that crashed, and its latest contract could be worth as much as $999 million if the Air Force decides to re-wing the rest of the 109 A-10s that need replacements.
The A-10s are also equipped with new weapons, avionics and sensors. The A-10s have recently begun to be fitted with a new improved version of the Thales Visionix Helmet Mounted Display System. These systems have been tested by A-10 pilots since 2012. With the helmet-mounted aiming system, pilots can aim directly at the target.
The next major upgrade will be the integration of the GBU-39 small-diameter bomb into the A-10’s arsenal. So far the A-10 has been limited to carrying a single weapon per mount. With the BRU-61/A Carriage System, the A-10 will be able to carry four bombs per hardpoint, making it a true bomber that can neutralize threats from long range, before starting to provide fire support with cannons and missiles to ground forces.
The A-10 will also be upgraded with a Link 16 data link, allowing it to communicate and exchange data with all combat aircraft, as well as ground and air reconnaissance vehicles in real time, helping to further improve combat effectiveness. The last major upgrade on the A-10 is the inclusion of a new radar. This is a synthetic aperture radar, to improve aiming capabilities. Although not officially confirmed, the radar is likely to be the active electronically scanned array radar AN / ASQ-236 Dragon’s Eye, which has been fitted on the F-15E Strike Eagle.