Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Interim Close Air Support Plan

As the Air Force pushes to retire the best close support aircraft in our inventory--the A-10--as soon as possible, the Air Force is looking at a replacement.

The Air Force swears on a stack of Curtis LeMay biographies that they truly are 100% behind the close air support mission that the Army needs:

The US Air Force (USAF) has begun developing requirements for a new close-air support (CAS) combat aircraft to replace the Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, a senior service official said on 7 April.

See? The Air Force will spend money to do this mission! They care. They really do.

Which is odd since the Air Force used to claim the F-35 would do the CAS job at least as good as the A-10.

And it is odd that the Air Force would push to retire the A-10 early before this so-called replacement aircraft is even designed.

For that matter, it seems odd that the Air Force would retire the effective and cheap-to-operate A-10 when the Air Force claims it needs money for maintaining the F-35 as it enters the force. If the A-10 can already do the mission more cheaply, why replace A-10s with F-35s for that mission?

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.

That's the only real requirement of the plan.

The Air Force is great at what they do. I just wish they'd choose to do things more directly helpful to the ground forces.