The Reserve Officers Association (ROA) today joined lawmakers in voicing objections to the deactivation of the A-10 fighter. Speaking for a community of 1.1 million Reservists nationwide, ROA pledged support for those efforts to continue funding for the Warthog for close air to ground support missions. In a press release ROA, praised the A-10 as a proven, capable and cost-effective asset in our air arsenal.
From ROA's statement:
ROA is chartered by Congress to promote an adequate National Security with a fully capable and equipped Reserve Force as a pillar of our defense. As this nation’s sole advocate for Reservists of every rank and service, ROA cannot back an Air Force proposal that robs our troops on the ground of the most capable and reliable ground support aircraft in the history of our Air Force. Our 54,000 members feel that the Air Forces plans to divest itself of the A-10 are premature. Abandoning this proven and cost effective asset to our arsenal on the promise of delivering unproven or less effective aircraft is both strategically shortsighted and tactically risky.
The USAF established the F-35 requirement at 1765 fighters almost 20 years ago – 1996. The threat, the world environment, and our fiscal outlook has changed dramatically in the intervening years while the 1765 number has stayed the same. Before retiring any more paid for, proven, combat relevant fighters that are ready to go to war today in order to buy unproven F-35s tomorrow, the AF must explain why it still “needs” such large number of F-35s. Why not 600 F-35s – enough to take down enemy defenses to allow the A-10s and F-16s to do the finish work at only 30% of the cost. Yes, both the A-10 and the F-35 can kill a tank. But the A-10 can kill that tank for about $20k while the F-35 would cost about $350k not even counting the aircraft costs (cost per flight hour, maintenance and munitions).
There is currently no other airframe that can do what the A-10 can do. The Warthog has supported countless service members, including many of the 880,000 Reservists and Guardsmen, on diverse battlefields and varied missions. Not only can it carry 16,000 lbs. of ordinance and aim it on-target, but also it does so stealthily, so the enemy is unaware of an approach, until the A-10 passes overhead - with explosive munitions close behind. It strikes like the thunderbolt after which it is named.
Suggestions that the F-16 fighter or B-1 bomber is capable of close air support are even debated internal to the Air Force. The F-16 proved in Desert Storm that it didn’t have the necessary loiter time over the battlefield to accomplish the same missions our troops have come rely on from the A-10.
Close air support requires excellent coordination with ground forces. The B-1 bomber uses precision-guided munitions, relying on GPS for accuracy. Many speculate that in future conflicts, the fight might be without GPS satellites for guidance.
At a lower altitude and speed, the A-10 munitions are more precise, reducing collateral damage. Its Gatling gun fires at 65 rounds per second providing cover for endangered troops.
When the Air Force says divest, it means scrap. If given the opportunity, they will place the A-10 under the guillotine at the Davis-Monthan Air Force bone yard. This has been done to other aircraft that the Air Force wanted to remove from its inventory. If allowed, there would be no coming back.
If the Active Air Force no longer wishes to support the A-10, this becomes an ideal mission for the Reserve and National Guard to protect this asset for use against unanticipated threats. Reserve Force A-10 squadrons already exist, and have been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan with great success.
Most importantly, protecting the A-10 protects our fighting men and women with boots on the ground. The Citizen Warriors we represent have spoken loud and clear. We reject plans to discard the A-10 and support today’s action to halt their adverse effects.