The U.S. Air Force is contemplating pursuing a low-end, light attack “OA-X” aircraft to augment the A-10 Warthog in a close-air support (CAS) role, while simultaneously aiming for a more robust replacement, dubbed “A-X2,” down the [road.]
Ah, the Air Force now has a plan to bridge the awkward gap between spending real money on A-X2 and sending the last A-10 to the scrap yard:
But really, think of this Air Force plan for replacing the A-10 with another dedicated ground support plane as an interim solution.
The plan will exist in the awkward period between their plan to retire the A-10 and the actual retirement of the A-10 (with the razing to the ground and salting of the earth stuff that will follow).
Once the A-10 is retired and safely in the rear view mirror, the Air Force will quietly shelve the plan for a replacement for the A-10 and get on with their plans that don't seem to involve helping ground forces defeat the enemies in front of them.
Now the Air Force can start sending the A-10 to Valhalla before a new capable plane is within reach by sending in a cheap interim plane to symbolize Air Force commitment to ground support.
This comment by the Secretary of the Air Force is revealing:
While some Air Force officials have begun thinking about replacing the A-10 Warthog, including a new proposal that would involve buying two aircraft types, the service's top civilian leader on Tuesday questioned the affordability of such an endeavor. ...
"So far I have read about this in the news. I have not actually seen a proposal on any of this that has come forward to me. So it sure is pre-decisional. It hasn't been decided on,” she said. “Where would we get the money? Not at all clear to me.”
In reality, the question of money is moot. The plan is all smoke and mirrors to achieve the disappearance of the A-10 while audiences look on in awe.
Little money will be spent on the super awesome A-X2; the A-10 will be retired and scrapped; the small OA-X force will be quietly sold off; and the multi-role F-35 (with expert pilots and support crews previously dedicated to close air support turned into multi-role air power crews, losing the experience built up over decades) will be touted as the ground support solution.
And the Air Force will proceed as they planned, paying little attention to ground force fire support needs.