Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The US Air Force will keep its A-10 Thunderbolt IIs until 2030

Since 2015, the US Air Force has continually attempted to remove the A-10 Thunderbolt II ground attack aircraft from its inventory, which it deemed unsuitable and too vulnerable to the demands of combat. modern aerial.

This decision was repeatedly canceled by the American Congress, both due to lobbying by the US Army for whom the device remains essential for close support of ground forces, and that of local elected officials, determined to protect their bases and their industrial jobs.

In any case, in preparation for the 2020 budget which will be presented to Congress this fall, the US Air Force has decided not to withdraw the aircraft from service, and announces that it will remain in service until 2030 .

As such, the Boeing company received a new contract worth some $240 million to produce a set of 27 additional wings, in addition to the 173 previously produced, in order to extend the operational life of the aircraft until that date. In fact, 200 of the 290 A-10 Thunderbolt IIs in service with the US Air Force will be equipped with a new reinforced wing to continue flying for the next decade. It is not excluded that a third contract will be signed for the remaining aircraft, estimated at almost $1 billion, although no decision has been taken to date.

However, we can question the place of such a device in the American arsenal, knowing that the US Air Force has begun a significant shift to prepare for high-intensity conflicts that could involve China or Russia, and therefore eliminates many old devices that it considers unsuitable for this type of conflict.

It is for this reason that the competition concerning the light close support aircraft was suspended , before being canceled, such an aircraft being considered too vulnerable to modern anti-aircraft defenses. The fact is, examples of recent conflicts have shown that a protagonist with modern anti-aircraft defense can neutralize the air power of its adversary, even if it does not itself have an air force. .

This is the case in the Donbass for example, where separatists supported and equipped by Russia prohibit Ukrainian aircraft from flying over the area, through the use of anti-aircraft systems of different types such as the short-range Tor and Pantsir S1, or the medium-range BUK system that caused the MH117 disaster.

However, other examples show that the air force was able to neutralize these anti-aircraft defenses, as the Israeli air force repeatedly demonstrated in Syria.

The BUK M3 medium-range air defense system has been in service with the Russian forces since 2017
The Russian Bug system provides anti-aircraft protection on the scale of the Brigade over an area of ​​80 to 100 km radius

It appears in all recent examples that the closer an aircraft operates to the ground, the more it is exposed to a multitude of threats, combining cannons, short-range anti-aircraft missiles and portable anti-aircraft missiles, forcing the aircraft to fly most of the time. weather above 5000 m, and therefore prohibiting the principle of Close Air Support.

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolfhttps://meta-defense.fr/fabrice-wolf/
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the Meta-defense.fr site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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