- The US Air Force is once again targeting its A-10 fleet for cuts
- The service has tried this before in recent years, only to be stymied by lawmakers
The US Air Force (USAF) is looking to reduce its Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support (CAS) fleet again, this time by proposing to cut its non-active force fleet by 46 aircraft, or by 33%, in fiscal year (FY) 2021.
The USAF, according to its FY 2021 budget request released on 10 February, would keep its active force A-10 fleet at 143 aircraft but the service would slash its Air National Guard (ANG) fleet from 85 aircraft to 46 and also reduce its Air Force Reserve fleet from 55 aircraft to 48.
Major General John Pletcher, deputy assistant secretary for financial management and comptroller, told reporters on 10 February that these aircraft would be the oldest and least-ready aircraft, and that these cuts, combined with planned modernisations, would allow the USAF to have A-10s in seven squadrons flying into the 2030s.
This is the third time since 2014 that the USAF has tried to reduce the size of the A-10 fleet. The USAF proposed divesting the entire active force A-10 fleet as part of its FY 2016 budget request, but was stymied by lawmakers.
A Pentagon watchdog and retired US Marine Corps (USMC) captain criticised the USAF for again trying to reduce its A-10 fleet. Dan Grazier, military fellow with the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) watchdog group in Washington, DC, told Jane’s on 11 February that despite Congress repeatedly affirming its support for the A-10 and an effective CAS capability, USAF leaders have apparently convinced the President Donald Trump administration to allow them to press forward with their long-held desire to sunset, or gradually retire, the fleet.
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