GAO: Air Force's plan for retirement of A-10 falls short

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An A-10 "Warthog" flies over Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., in October, 2015. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
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An A-10 "Warthog" flies over Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., in October, 2015. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)

GAO: Air Force's plan for retirement of A-10 falls short

by: Travis J. Tritten | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: August 25, 2016

WASHINGTON – The Air Force does not have a clear plan for retiring and replacing the A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft – or reliable estimates of how much money the move could save, according to a federal audit released Wednesday.

The Government Accountability Office found the service plans to fill the air power gaps left by the A-10, which is known as a close-air-support stalwart, but has not said what it plans to do about the aircraft’s role in combat search and rescue missions.

Meanwhile, the Air Force claim that retirement could save up to $4.2 billion is unreliable and the actual savings could be higher or lower, if A-10 upkeep and the need for replacement aircraft are properly calculated.

The audit was ordered by Congress in the 2015 defense budget after the Air Force kicked up a political storm by first proposing the retirement as a cost-saving measure. The findings Wednesday could provide more ammunition for lawmakers who are blocking the service’s effort and argue the aircraft saves lives on the battlefield.

“The Air Force has not established clear requirements for the missions the A-10 performs, and in the absence of these requirements, has not fully identified the capacity or capability gaps that could result from the A-10 divestment,” according to the audit.

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