At a time when the future of the A-10 is in doubt the Air Force has decided to upgrade 19 Warthogs to give them improved combat search and rescue capabilities. According to a statement by the Air Force these upgrades were urgent.

Watch A-10 Thunderbolt Gun Runs

The LARS V-12 is designed to allow A-10 pilots to communicate more effectively with individuals on the ground such as downed pilots, pararescuemen and joint terminal attack controllers.

“This urgent operational need arose in August (2016),” said Timothy Gray, 309th AMARG acting director. “Air Combat Command and the A-10 Program Office asked me if AMARG could complete 16 aircraft by 16 December. I said ‘Absolutely!’ It was awesome to see Team AMARG take on this massive logistical challenge, build a production machine, find facilities, manpower, equipment, tools, and make material kits (to) execute the requirement.”

“A-10 pilots take the Combat Search and Rescue role very seriously,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Hayde, 354th Fighter Squadron commander and A-10 pilot. “While this is just one tool, it can assist us in bringing them back to U.S. soil safely.” – Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

Photo of A-10 on a gun run by US Air Force

While many have called for the A-10 to be retired the aircraft is still proving its unique capabilities everyday in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting ISIS and the Taliban. The Air Force has stated that it feels the F-35 could ultimately replace the A-10 in the close air support role but there is heated debate in aviation circles on the wisdom of such a move.

Let us know your opinions below on if you think the F-35 can replace the A-10.

Featured Image of A-10 by Airman 1st Class Mya M. Crosby, US Air Force