Saturday, December 14, 2013

Goodbye A-10 Warthog!

I read the other day that the Air Force is finally going to get its wish and kill the A-10 once and for all.  I've read that the A-10 drivers love the aircraft but the Air Force has never really had the same affection for it that it does for a fighter.  The likelihood of the USAF engaging in air to air combat on the scale of WW2, Korea, or even Vietnam is unlikely for the foreseeable future, but precision ground support missions are a given for a long, long, time.

I first saw the A-10 in Germany in the late 70s.  The newly arrived A-10s would sometimes practice strafing runs on the lines of obsolete equipment parked at the end of the runway at Harvey Barracks.  The engines have a distinctive whine to them and the rush of the plane at low altitude as it passed by on its simulated attack run was always fun to watch.   Not too much fun to be on the receiving end.

I next saw them in Maryland when I was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds and the MD ANG was flying them.  I find the aircraft beautiful in its functionality and amazingly maneuverable.  The Air Force wanted to get rid of them after the end of the evil empire (AKA the Soviet Union) and started sending them to the bone yard.  There was talk of perhaps converting them into fire bombers.    The Army agitated long and hard to keep them in service and even started talk of overturning the agreement that prohibits the Army from having fixed wing ground attack aircraft.  Rather than share its toys the Air Force decided to keep them in service although at a fewer number.

Then came 9-11.

I am reading a book called "The Outpost"  by Jake Tapper.  I highly recommend it.  The sacrifice and tragedy faced by the new 'Band of Brothers'  in the mountainous areas of northern Afghanistan is truly heartbreaking to read.  In the description of the battles, frequently A-10s show up just in the nick of time to prevent the outnumbered and sometimes outgunned soldiers from being overrun by the enemy in Afghanistan.  Ask the soldiers who served in the mountains of Afghanistan if they want the A-10 replaced by F-16s? 

The A-10: the infantryman's best friend and the enemy's worst nightmare
We saw this one at an air show in 2010.  the maneuvering of the plane was amazing

A bit of rough language in this one

Remember those MD ANG guys I mentioned  earlier?  They're still at it!

I imagine in the end the Air Force will get its way and the A-10 fleet will end up as gate guards at some air bases around the country, the rest turned into aluminum ingots for recycling into soda cans.

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