Congress Retires 160 Warplanes But Keeps 281 A-10 Warthogs
The US Congress has denied anew the US Air Force’s request to retire 281 A-10 Warthogs in its fiscal 2022 defense policy bill, Valerie Insinna reported for Breaking Defense.
Photo Insert: A US Air Force A-10 Warthog
However, in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the House and Senate armed services committees jointly released on Tuesday, the Air Force will be allowed to retire more than 160 legacy aircraft of other types, helping to free up funding for new technologies.
A House aide that spoke with Breaking Defense confirmed that — aside from a prohibition on retiring the A-10 — the Air Force will be permitted to retire all the aircraft it proposed to divest in its FY22 budget request.
That list includes 47 F-16C/Ds, 48 F-15C/D Eagles, four E-8 JSTARS ground surveillance aircraft, and 20 RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 surveillance drones.
The bill will allow the service to divest the 18 KC-135s and 14 KC-10s requested in the budget, while also removing a restriction prohibiting further KC-10 divestments — opening up the door for easier KC-10 retirements in future years.
Lawmakers also approved the divestment of 13 C-130Hs, five of which will be replaced by newer C-130J models, leaving a total fleet of 279 C-130 cargo planes, according to a second House aide.
Yet, despite this win for the Air Force, the A-10 remains undefeated. Fiercely protected by the congressional delegation that represents Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., the attempted divestment of 42 A-10 Warthogs was thwarted, with lawmakers mandating that all 281 of the venerable ground attack plane remain in service.
“Our old iron, if you will, our 30-year average airplane is an anchor holding back the Air Force right now,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said Dec. 4 at the Reagan National Defense Forum.
“We’ve got to get rid of some of those aircraft so we can free up resources, and get on with modernization.”