A-10 Supporters in Hog Heaven

The Pentagon has switched course and now plans to keep the A-10 fleet operational until 2022, when it will replace the aircraft with F-35s on a squadron-by-squadron basis, said Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Tuesday during a speech previewing the department’s Fiscal 2017 budget request. The decision caves to congressional pressure to keep the aircraft flying, and abandons the Air Force’s previous plan to replace A-10s with fourth generation aircraft, such as F-15s, or to convert A-10 squadrons to other aircraft, such as C-130s and KC-135s, until the F-35 comes online. Carter acknowledged the aircraft has been “devastating” ISIS as part of Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria. It’s also helped recently to deter further Russian aggression in Europe. Instead, he said, the budget will maintain more of the Air Force’s fourth generation fighter and attack jets than previously planned so “we’ll always have enough aircraft for today’s conflicts.” (See also: A Little to the Right… and Delaying Retirement)