Not to be messed with: a USAF A-10A Thunderbolt II in front of a Easter European style aircraft shelter. The USAF is however considering messing with the A-10, as the entire fleet of these tank killers may be cut due to budget constraints. The same goes for the entire KC-10 Extender and F-15C Eagle fleets. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

US Air Force gets behind the A-10

The US Air Force has given up its campaign for retirement of the feared and famous A-10 Thunderbolt, according to various reports. The Pentagon is indefinitely freezing all plans to retire the aircraft, a wish that saw strong opposition from US congress and a number of senators in particular.

The tank killing A-10 is currently actively involved in the fight against Daesh forces in Iraq and Syria. Over the past decades, it delivered its valuable contribution and deadly payload to virtually all military conflicts the US was involved in. Orginally designed to kill Soviet tanks on potential Cold War battle grounds in Europe, the type was already up for retirement after the Cold War ended, but its successful deployment in the 1991 Gulf War gave new life to the aircraft.

A major upgrade gave the A-10 new capabilities, along with a new set of wings. The US Air Force had eyes for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II as a replacement for the A-10, but the fifth generation fighter aircraft has yet to reach its full potential.

Only last year, the US sent two squadrons of A-10s to Europe as a show of force to Russia; the same opponent it’s designers had in mind when they shaped the aircraft in the seventies.

© 2016 editor Elmer van Hest