Air Force may retire a third of active A-10 “Warthogs” for want of replacement wings

A US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II assigned to the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron flies during a “theater security package” deployment at Campia Turzii, Romania, April 1, 2015. The Air Force needs to fly the A-10 through 2022 because of F-35 delays, but it hasn’t got enough orders for wing replacements to sustain all of them. (credit: US Air Force)

The US Air Force’s plans to operate the A-10 attack aircraft beyond 2022 have run into some turbulence. According to a report by Defense News, a third of the currently operating A-10 fleet will have to be retired soon because the Air Force has not included orders for enough replacement wings in the service’s budget request. The aircraft are rapidly approaching the end of service life for their current wings.

The Air Force’s Air Combat Command chief, General Mike Holmes, told Defense News that new wings have been ordered for 173 of the 283 A-10s currently in service. That amounts to six squadrons’ worth of aircraft (out of the current nine squadrons). The remaining aircraft could be retired over the next five years as they hit flight-hour limits on their current wing sets.

Some aircraft could see extended lives; “We have some flexibility in the depot, we have some old wings that can be repaired or rejuvenated to go on,” Holmes told Defense News. “We can work through that, so there’s some flex in there.”

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Ars Technica