For years, the Air Farce, loathe to keep anything that didn't go Mach 2 in afterburner, and was ugly, in a permanent preference for high-speed low-drag wunderjets with per-airframe costs approaching numbers that would have bought the entire Air Farce a few decades back, have now had to re-adjust to adult supervision at DoD, and the ongoing realities that the F-35 Thunderjug is a monumental waste of time, money, and effort worthy of the DoD boondoggles last seen under whiz-kid idiot savant Robert McNamara (ptui!).
Having brought the world the Ford Edsel while heading up Henry's car company, he moved into the DoD, and gave us such miracles as the Ho Chi Minh Trail interdiction system, which saved South Vietnam from the horrors of communism, the abortionesque adoption of the original M-16, which only took two generations to unfuck, and pinnacle of his tenure as SecDef, the F-111 Dual-Role Catastrophe, which was so unworkable the Navy literally mutinied, and the air admirals told him to go fuck himself, and then shitcanned it, leaving the Air Farce to try and salvage the thing.
His spiritual heirs brought us the multi-service disasterpiece F-35 Thunderjug (now only about twenty years behind schedule, at multiple times the original cost, half the capability promised, with foreign commitments and orders disappearing like rabbis at a Klan rally, and still largely unable to fly any of its missions, with no idea when that will change) and the recockulous idea that an F-16 whizzing by with a severely limited gun system and travelling at 600MPH can do the same CAS job as the aircraft it was to replace could do going 200MPH, and built around an enormous gun, and bristling with hardpoints and low-level CAS capabilities built into it from the get-go.
I'm talking, of course, about the multiple-times-issued-termination-orders A-10, originally left behind by the Air Farce in Desert Storm, until Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf suggested ever so politely to his air commander the earnest suggestion that he either "get those m*****f*****s here this week, or start looking for jobs in aerospace after your sudden and early retirement", or words to that effect. It seems that after rehearsing for over a decade to use them in combined-arms battles against Soviet armored hordes, Norm thought somehow they might be useful against Iraqi brigades of Soviet armor. Whereupon, they miraculously appeared in theatre, in plenty of time to give Saddam's forces, from Soviet-made front-line tanks to Toyota pickups laden with booty from Kuwait City, the drubbing they had earned in 1991.
Then did the same thing in 2003, and for a decade-plus since in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So after announcing yet again (third time? fourth? I've lost count...) that they were going away for good, between reality kicking in, and hue and cry in Congress, they're not only back, they're now staying around well into the next decade.
Citing budgetary reasons, Air Force leaders had said they planned to begin retiring its fleet of A-10s as soon as this year. Some Air Force personnel maintained that other air assets such as the F-16 and emerging F-35 multi-role stealth fighter would be able to fill the mission gap and perform close air support missions once the A-10 retired.
However, a chorus of concern from lawmakers and the A-10s exemplary performance in the ongoing air attacks against ISIS – has lead the Air Force to extend the planned service life of the aircraft well into the 2020s. Despite the claim that other air assets could pick up the close air support mission, advocates for the A-10 consistently state that the platform has an unmatched ability to protect ground troops and perform the close air support mission.
Now, the Air Force has a begun a three-pronged strategy to replace or sustain the A-10 which involves looking at ways to upgrade and preserve the existing aircraft, assessing what platforms might be available on the market today or designing a new close-air-support airplane.
In the past I sparred with a person or two still serving, for suggesting that the decision to yet-again shitcan the ugly, slow, and entirely unglamorous, but thoroughly combat-lethal A-10 was short-sighted foolishness stemming from severe mental retardation, and/or a Class V (beyond the chin) cranio-rectal impaction. Probably both.
Nice of the Air Farce's fighter mafia to be dragged to the same conclusion, albeit kicking and screaming. I'm wondering how much the decision had to do with this personnel placement decision last December:
Whatever the reason, hordes of grunts in both services will be happy about the decision to keep the ugly Warthog flying low cover, and raining shitstorms of hurt onto the enemy with a sound like farting death from a dragon of hell.
I also suggested that if the wing wipers didn't want the ugly old sumbitch, the Key West agreement should be re-visited, and the airframes split equally between Army Aviation and Marine Corps Air, both of whom would fly the things for a paltry additional few decades, unless or until the Air Farce recalls that one of their central missions is Close Air Support of the Army's battle, something Marine Air officers are fed for breakfast from their first day in the Corps.
The only modification likely necessary to transition the A-10 to Marine service would be the addition of a bayonet mounting lug somewhere near the nose of the plane.
And probably a bottle opener, cup holder, and a Skoal-sized slot to hold a can of dip.
NASCAR sponsorship of individual aircraft would be entirely optional, but heartily encouraged.