Remember the American budget hassle of FY15 and the planned decommissioning of the Fairchild Republic A-10C Thunderbolt II? Well, the formidable close-air support aircraft and tank killer has again been called to duty in an area of operations where it was saved once before from the scrapyard: the desert and air of the country of Iraq.
As we saw earlier this month on pictures of Italian Air Force Tornados arriving in Kuwait to fight the so-called Islamic State forces (ISIL / ISIS), A-10s arrived as well. US military sources now confirm that the Warthog – as it is popular known – is there to provide something that no other aircraft can: a serious asset to quickly reach and suppress enemy forces during combat rescue missions of ground forces or downed aviators.
No word on the size of the A-10 force yet, but Airheadsfly.com believes there are 12 to 14 planes at Ahmed Al Jaber. It is confirmed the aircraft fly with the 163rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron of the Indiana Air National Guard, which recently saw action in Afghanistan.
After the end of the Cold War in 1990 the Pentagon planned to scrap the A-10 as well, as it would have been obsolete in a future modern war. But the tough aircraft built around its rotating gun proved to be of high value against Iraqi armour in a “second level” war scenario when the US launched its offensive and liberated occupied Kuwait in 1991.
The US Air Force top generals are aiming to retire the 283 remaining A-10s – including the 21 aircraft assigned to the Indiana National Guard now combating ISIS – in favour of freeing funds for the F-35s and drones. But none of those newer assets can do what the A-10 can in the war zones of today against an enemy not the size and sophistication of Russia or China, and the US Senate already seems eager to keep the Thunderbolts in the air for a longer period of time.
© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger