The Valdosta Daily Times, Ga.
VALDOSTA — Despite an official reprieve, the Air Force may have to ground a significant portion of its fleet of A-10C “Warthog” planes — some of which fly out of Moody Air Force Base — next year due to issues of aging and parts availability, according to a general.
Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, said last month that some Warthogs would have to be grounded in 2018 because their wings will have reached the end of their service life, meaning they cannot be safely flown, according to Daryl Mayer, media operations section chief for 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio.
The A-10C is the Air Force’s only plane designed for low-level ground attack missions for troop support. As of 2015, the Air Force had 283 A-10Cs.
In 2014, then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proposed retiring the fleet of tank-killer planes for an estimated savings of $3.5 billion during five years.
More recently, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter decided to postpone the planned retirement of the planes until at least 2022. He cited the Warthog’s success in strikes against ISIS forces as a factor in the decision.
“We expect to ground up to 55 A-10s across the entire fleet by fiscal year 2025, although there are many factors which could change those projections,” Mayer said in a statement.
“We’re trying to work through to see if we can get to the point where we will not have to ground airplanes waiting to get wings, but as it stands right now, we will have to ground airplanes while we work through getting additional wings,” Pawlikowski said in an interview with Defense News.
Boeing is under contract with the Air Force to deliver 173 wing sets through 2017. Defense News reports that Boeing is having trouble delivering wingsets on time due to a part that is being reworked.
The Department of Defense originally planned to replace the A-10 with the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The F-35 project is behind schedule and over budget.
©2017 The Valdosta Daily Times (Valdosta, Ga.)