The United States is to delay retiring the A-10 because of the ongoing fight against Islamic State, it has been reported.
Plans to postpone the retirement of the A-10 will be outlined when the Pentagon submits its 2017 budget request to Congress next month.
The A-10 Thunderbolt is the only United States Air Force production aircraft designed solely for close air support, including attacking tanks, armoured vehicles and other ground targets. The A-10 was designed around the 30mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon and the A-10’s airframe was designed for durability, with measures such as 540kg of titanium armour to protect the cockpit and aircraft systems, enabling it to absorb a significant amount of damage and continue flying.
Martha McSally, a long-time advocate of the A-10 and retired Air Force pilot, released a statement on the news:
“It appears the Administration is finally coming to its senses and recognizing the importance of A-10s to our troops’ lives and national security, since before I took office and after, I’ve consistently highlighted the A-10’s irreplaceable capabilities and worked to expose the Administration’s flawed argument for wanting to retire it prematurely.”
The US Government Accountability Office released a report in 2015 claiming that the US Air Force’s central justifications for removing the A-10 are deeply flawed.