While most in the U.S. Air Force would love to keep the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II in the air as long as possible, at this point it seems the conversation has been forced off the table by raging conflict between senior leadership and Congress over the Warthog’s fate.
There is a potential light at the end of the tunnel for the trusted, relevant, and proven attack jet, however: approximately a week ago, Boeing revisited the idea of selling refurbished A-10s to foreign customers. A large number of Hawgs sit in “near-flyaway” condition at AMARG near Davis-Monthan Air For Base, Arizona.
While Boeing has been up front in saying they currently have no specific customers in mind, it’s an avenue they are starting to look at. Since the final decision on retirement is still up in the air, what the Air Force ultimately does with the Hawg has the most bearing on which direction Boeing moves.
Boeing already has the contract for a SLEP (service life extension program) involving the re-winging of active A-10s in order to extend their service lives through the late 2020s. Boeing Off-Program Chief Paul Cejas says it would not be fiscally efficient to cancel the SLEP at this stage, with over one hundred Hogs getting new wings and more than 70 still awaiting the upgrade. That contract goes through the early part of FY 2017.
Although there isn’t a prime contractor for the A-10 program, Boeing would be the closest entity and a logical choice for the title due to their ownership of the technical data package for upgrade and modification.
We know this is not the answer A-10 proponents are looking for, but it’s an answer that could save the Titanium Bathtub from the chopping block, should the USAF and congress move to retire her.
More on this as it develops, Fightersweep Fans. What do you think? Should we even consider selling this jet to other air forces? Let’s hear your thoughts!