Continuing the long-running debate, Air Force Chief of Staff nominee Gen. David Goldfein told the Senate Armed Services Committee the service should not retire the A-10 “in the near term.” But Goldfein, who currently serves as the vice chief of staff, told lawmakers during his nomination hearing on Thursday he is just as concerned about the A-10 community as he is about the platform itself when it comes to replacing the close air support fighter. “The A-10 community is actually our PhD force when it comes to close air support, and they set the bar for not only the joint team, but for the coalition team,” he said. “So my focus is going to be on ensuring that I go back to the doctors of CAS—the A-10 fleet and the A-10 operators, and say, ‘What is the future of close air support?’.” Goldfein seemed to throw out ideas of his own for capabilities that should be included in a replacement platform: an ability to fire 10 minutes’ worth of 30-mm rounds, the use of precision-guided rounds, and technology to help pilots distinguish between friend and foe and perform collateral damage assessments. Goldfein, a 1983 Air Force Academy graduate, led Air Forces Central Command from August 2011 to July 2013 and has flown combat missions in Iraq, the Balkans, and Afghanistan. In April, sources told Air Force Magazine Defense Secretary Ash Carter wanted the next service chief to be a combat veteran capable of leading the Air Force during the ongoing air war against ISIS.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.