In response to having Congress requiring the US Air Force to keep flying the A-10, they are slow-walking wing upgrades which will likely result in many of the aircraft being sent to the boneyard before they can be fixed.
The wild blue yonder guy hate it because it is cheap and because they hate the close air support mission:
In a victory for supporters of the battle-proven A-10 close air support aircraft, Congress provided the necessary seed money to extend the fleet’s lifespan for at least another decade in its last spending bill. The U.S. Air Force had announced in 2017 that 110 A-10s were in danger of being retired because their wings were rapidly approaching the end of their useful service life.
The seed money is not as clear-cut a victory as many have supposed, however. The $103 million Congress appropriated for the A-10 re-winging project will only produce four new pairs of wings and it will likely take six years before new wings are installed on any operational A-10s. These funds will mainly be used to start up an entirely new production line.
The Air Force claims it needs all this money and time to get competitive bids to start up the new wing production line. All the while, the men and women serving in combat for the next six years badly need to be able to count on an A-10 force that is not shrinking rapidly due to a failure to replace worn out wings.
The unnecessary time delay and expense of the Air Force’s chosen path should frustrate everyone committed to responsible and effective government spending and life-saving close air support for our troops.
Re-winging the A-10 is not a new problem. In 2007 the Air Force awarded the Boeing Corporation a $2 billion contract to build new wings for 242 A-10s. In 2014, F-35 program managers and Air Force leaders started another campaign to retire A-10s in order to free up funding for the F-35.
After strong Congressional pushback the Air Force submitted a budget in 2016 that claimed to give up their efforts to retire the A-10.
Air Force leaders, long hostile to the A-10 and the mission it performs, cut this initial re-winging effort short by allowing Boeing’s contract to lapse in 2016 after only 171 wing sets had been delivered.
Now, due to the intransigence of Air Force leadership in calling for the shutdown of the earlier production line, taxpayers are paying $103 million just to create a new production line and to produce only four wing sets. That is approximately $25 million per set with all of the capital costs included. For comparison purposes, a set of wings cost approximately $3.8 million in 2013.
The Air Force has established a schedule for the re-winging project that can generously be called leisurely. Contracting officials sent out the bid solicitation documents on December 22, 2017. If they stick to the draft schedule, the interested contractors will be submitting their bid proposals the first week of June 2018.
More evidence of the lack of urgency to get new wings to the A-10 fleet can be found buried in the draft contract solicitation. The winning contractor will be required to deliver the first set of wings within 1,095 days of when it was announced that the contract was awarded. That means that in addition to the year it will take Air Force contracting officials to sort through their paperwork, the contractor will have an undemanding three years before they have to make their first delivery.
To put this all in perspective, the Air Force leaders have repeatedly attempted to shrink or cancel outright the A-10 fleet for at least the past twenty-five years which is particularly striking since the A-10 has consistently proven its battlefield worth in every war since 1991.
The reason for this is simple. Air Force generals don’t like the airplane because it lacks the complexity and expense to justify ever-expanding budgets. Furthermore, they despise the mission: it places them in a supporting role to ground forces.
Fold the USAF back under the US Army.
The original justification for splitting it off was the idea that the nuclear delivery by the Strategic Air Command, and conventional strategic bombing, would allow them to win the war on their own.
Thankfully, the former has never been tried, and the latter has never happened despite repeated efforts by air arms around the world to justify Giulio Douhet’s delusional theoriess for the past 100 years, and we have created a prohibitively expensive and profoundly military branch as a result