Pentagon is going back and forth on its decision whether to retire the A-10 Warthog. This is due to various pressures, both internal and external. Military industry cares only about the money, and retiring the A-10 would bring huge profits to the defense contractors as the aircraft would have to be replaced – likely by several times more expensive F-35. Upper levels of the military itself are connected to the military industry with a system of revolving doors, and retired generals get highly paid jobs inside the military industry. This means that active generals are under extreme pressure to secure profitable contracts to large military corporations.
A-10 is an anthithesis of everything that technophilic industry and generals believe in. It is an embodiement of the World War II military adage, „Keep it simple, stupid“. Aircraft itself is basically a flying gun – literally, as the gun was designed first and then an aircraft was designed to carry it. It is also heavily armoured and highly maneuverable at low speeds and altitudes, and does not rely on either high speed or radar „stealth“ to keep it alive. As a result, it is a major embarassement to both the military industry and the US Air Force, both of which maintain that top-of-the-line technology is absolutely necessary for a useful weapon. It also looks ugly, unlike Mach 2 fast jets that seem perfect for PR photoshoots.
Because of this, USAF generals are very motivated to try and retire the A-10. They use half-truths, lies and promises to warp the public image of the aircraft. USAF states that fast jets such as the F-15, F-16 and F-35 can perform the close air support as well as the A-10, completely ignoring many doctrinal and technical difficulties they face: pilots that train for many missions, not just close air support, and do not understand situation on the ground; limited situational awareness when aircraft are at high altitude due to „soda-straw“ view of the sensors such as radar and FLIR; „smart“ munitions missing due to fins being bent at release, sensors or computers malfunctioning; bad weather forcing the aircraft to come within enemy weapons envelope, which fast jets cannot survive; inability to provide timely close air support due to fast jets being incapable of lotering above the troops or flying from dirt strips near the troops in contact. This betrays complete lack of interest in and understanding of the close air support mission, which is far more complex than merely dialling in the coordinates and requires a community dedicated to nothing but close air support to keep alive. More importantly, presence of a dedicated CAS aircraft forces the USAF leadership to keep the mission alive, instead of airmen who trained only for hitting strategic targets from fast jets being forced to come up with ad hoc solutions on the spot, and making mistakes – oftentimes deadly – in the process. But right now, USAF leadership is cutting maintenance to the A-10, in an attempt to artificially induce mechanical and other failures which would then be used as a „proof“ that the A-10 „has to be retired“ due to „old age“.
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