A common argument from A-10 supporters is that it is far and away the preferred close air support platform for troops on the ground, but the top soldier said today that the Army would be OK without the Warthog having its back.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told lawmakers today that while the Army did not make a recommendation to retire the A-10, the Air Force has worked with the service to ensure that the best close air support will be provided.
The Air Force, in its fiscal 2015 budget request, is proposing retirement of the entire fleet of 343 A-10s, with other aircraft, such as the F-35, expected to take over the close air support role. Ground troops have always favored the A-10, with its infamous GAU-8 Avenger gun and slow loiter time, as the best close air support platform.
Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., pressed Odierno on the A-10 issue, and the general expressed the Army’s support for the Air Force’s decision.
” Could you give us your thoughts from an Army perspective, as — whether or not the Air Force’s decision to stand down that entire A-10 fleet is in the best interest of national security?” Chambliss asked.
“So as we talk to our soldiers, they will tell you that they, obviously, support and have been getting great support from the A-10 aircraft in the Air Force. And a lot of it has to do with the visual deterrence that it provides. Low-flying. Visible both to us and the enemy itself and the impacts that it has. So the A-10 is a great close air support aircraft, as far as we’re concerned, the best close air support aircraft,” Odierno responded.
However, Odierno said, other aircraft such as F-15s and F-16s also provide close air support, and the Air Force has assured the Army that other aircraft will be sufficient.
“So we are working with them in the future to develop those techniques and procedures that will be necessary to provide us the proper support of F-16s. So, you know, we have had several discussions about this and we are supporting their effort. But a lot of it has to do with this visual piece and we have to work with the Air Force on how we replace that, once the A-10 goes away.”