Tag Archives: A-10

Foot is still down, but top brass push exit A-10 forward anyway

Despite the fact that many, including top military experts and members of the US Congress, have giant doubts about the ground support fight-ability of the US Air Force without the Fairchild Republic A-10C Thunderbolt II, the military top brass seems eager to push forward with its retirement.

The first two A-10 squadrons will be decommissioned in 2018, followed by another two in 2019, sources within the US Air Force have confirmed. This means the loss of 49 aircraft a year. Speeding up thereafter 2020 will see the disbandment of three squadrons (64 A-10s) and 2021 four squadrons (96 Thunderbolts).

A USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II fires its 30mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon near Campia Turzii, Romania, on 1 April 2015. (Image © Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden / US Air Force)
A USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II fires its 30mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon near Campia Turzii, Romania, on 1 April 2015. (Image © Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden / US Air Force)

Close-Air Support

Putting money aside for the new Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II is the main reason why the US Air Force top generals push on with their decision, amid fears especially among US Army personnel as well as those concerned for their health and their unit’s survive chances. The F-35 will never be a close-air support (CAS) asset up to the task, they feel.

The gun was tested for the first time last year. (Image © US Air Force)
So far the F-35 has fired weapons only from high up in the air, but for effective close-air support it will need to get down to tree level (Image © US Air Force)

High-ranking concerns

Even some of the USAF high-ranking officers have expressed their concern, hoping that US Congress will give the armed service more money to keep the A-10s flying, as well as additional cash to keep enough manpower in place to service and pilot them.

An USAFE Spangdahlem A-10 Thunderbolt II against a perfect blue sky performing a fly-by of Kleine Brogel AB, Belgium, during the 2001 NATO Tiger Meet. Digital scan. (Image © Marcel Burger)
Classic view of the A-10 above the battlefield (Image © Marcel Burger)

Jousting, F-35 vs A-10

There is, however, a slight glimmer of hope. The US Department of Defence has announced a CAS “jousting” for the F-35 versus the A-10 in 2018. Rather late, but probably due to the fact that the Pentagon needs more time to prep the far from ready-developed new stealthy multi-role fighter. Advocators for the A-10 – including former high-ranking Air Force officers – are now strongly suggesting the Air Force to not “boneyard” any A-10 until the CAS tests of the F-35 are done.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): The value of the A-10 has been underlined big time, when it was key in re-enforcing Europe last year with Russia projecting its military power on NATO’s borders there. Seen here landing at Spangdahlem AB, Germany (Image © Dennis Spronk)

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 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

US Theater Security Packages by the numbers

An informative infographic released on Wednesday 6 January by US Air Force in Europe (USAFE) gives more details about the three Theater Security Packages that deployed from the US to Europe in 2015. Most impressive number: 26 nations saw ‘support’ from those packages.

The Pentagon announced the first Theater Security Package (TSP) to Europe early last year as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The move of sending fighter aircraft to Europe was a clear reponse to Russia’s attitude over the Baltics and Ukraine in particular.

Thunderbolts

The first TSP consisted of twelve A-10C Thunderbolts from Davis Monthan Air Force Base and arrive at Spangdahlem airbase in Germany on 13 February. See Airheadsfly.com’s report on their arrival here. The attack aircraft and their crews visited numerous European countries during their six month stay.

Spangdahlem-based F-16Cs chase this Davis Monthan A-10 down to the runway. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Spangdahlem-based F-16Cs chase this Davis Monthan A-10 down to the runway. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Eagles

April saw twelve US Air National Guard F-15 Eagles arrive in Europe for participation in various exercises. Airheadsfly.com’s interview with their commanding officer is here. In September, the third TSP crossed the Atlantic, again consisting of A-10C Thunderbolts.

The deployment of four F-22 Raptors to Germany in August formally never was a full TSP. The sending of those aircraft perhaps gave a stronger message than the three TSPs combined, however.

In 2016, more TSPs are scheduled according to US officials. A batch of F-15s is expected to participate in various military exercises.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: One of the US Eagles in Europe in 2015 (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Two engines, more noise. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Two engines, more noise. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Four F-22s about to overfly Spangdahlem for a historic deployment. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Four F-22s about to overfly Spangdahlem for a historic deployment. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

New flocks of A-10 Thunderbolts to Europe

A new flock of A-10C Thunderbolts is heading to Europe in the not too distant future as part of US Operation Atlantic Resolve. The announcement comes just after the first Theater Security Package (TSP) of A-10s left Europe. This time, the Thunderbolts belong to the 23rd Wing at Moody Air Force Base, nicknamed ‘Flying Tigers’.

It is unknown exactly when the tanker killers will deploy to Europe, other than in the fall. Moreover, another package of A-10s should deploy to Estonia for a shorter period of time in August and September. These aircraft belong to the 442d Fighter Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base.

The A-10s from Moody will likely use Spangdahlem in Germany  as their main base in Europe, similar to the first TSP that arrived last February. Aircraft and aircrew of that deployment were seen during many military exercises and airshows in Europe throughout their stay.

After six months over European skies, they left for the US again earlier this month, arriving back at their home at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, AZ, on 4 August.

Spring and summer 2015 also saw US Air Force F-15s deploying to Europe, as seen here and here.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): An A-10 seen head on. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

The business end of an A-10 Thunderbolt. (Image © US Air Force / Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen)
The business end of an A-10 Thunderbolt. (Image © US Air Force / Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen)

 

Stealing Thunder: Paris preview

UPDATED 10 June | One week prior to the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, it’s clear that Pakistan stole everybody’s thunder by sending over three JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft. The aircraft left Pakistan for France on Sunday 7 June. Le Bourget kicks off on Monday 15 June, with other high lights being the Bombardier CSeries and a sizable delegation from both Boeing and – remarkably – Qatar Airways.

Update 10 June: Airbus has confirmed an Airbus A400M will take part in the flying display. The company says it has complete confidence in the aircraft

The JF-17 is a joint endeavour by Pakistan and China, both already operating significant numbers of the type, although the Chinese prefer to call it the JC-1. Several countries have shown interest in the type, Argentina reportedly being one of them. One JF-17 will be on static display at Le Bourget, while the other two will be used for a solo flying display.

Bombardier
The Paris Air Show marks the debut of the Bombardier CS100 and CS300 airliners, both still in development and in need of customers. Swiss was officialy announced as launch customer for the CS100 earlier this year, with deliveries commencing no sooner than next year.

First flight of the Bombardier CSseries on September 16, 2013 (Image © Bombardier Aerospace)
First flight of the Bombardier CSseries on September 16, 2013 (Image © Bombardier Aerospace)

Boeing
On the military side of things, Boeing will bring a CH-47F Chinook, P-8A Poseidon and F-15E to Paris. The no-show of the F/A-18 Super Hornet is noteworthy, as the type is rumoured to have drawn interest from Kuwait. Other sources mention Kuwait is now eyeing the Eurofighter Typhoon, however. The P-8A is a serious contender for the UK, with an order on the cards in the not too distant future. Boeing will also present a 787-900 Dreamliner in Vietnam Airlines colours, plus a China Airlines 777-300ER.

For the US, an A-10C Thunderbolt tank killer should also pay a visit to Le Bourget. The type is currently deployed in Europe and the focus of a Boeing-effort of selling used airframes to interested nations.

(Image © Boeing)
Boeing sends one 787-9. Qatar Airways however also has a Dreamliner in display in Paris. (Image © Boeing)
Final approach at Spangdahlem of one of a dozen A-10s the USAF sent to Europe in light of Russia rising (Image © Dennis Spronk)
One of a dozen A-10s the USAF sent to Europe in light of Russia rising (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Airbus
Closer to home, Airbus is dispatching a A350XWB and an A380 to Le Bourget. It is uncertain if the Airbus A400M will be present at all after the fatal crash on 9 May in Seville, Spain. Airbus Helicopters will show a lot of its portfolio during the show

The Russians stear well clear of this year’s airshow.  Ukrainian aircraft designer Antonov is taking the opportunity to present its new An-178, only a month after the type’s first flight.

Qatar
Quite remarkable is the presence of Qatar Airways at Le Bourget with an Airbus A380, A350, A320, A319 and a 787 Dreamliner. The major delegation fits into the current aggressive Qatar Airways marketing in Europe, which many European airlines see as a major threath to their business. It is said the recent order for 24 Dassault Rafale aircraft has opened many French doors for Qatar – the door of the Paris Air Show apparently being one of those doors.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): Noisy Thunder. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

(Image © Airbus)
(Image © Airbus)