The US Air Force (USAF) has not fully assessed the cost savings related with A-10 divestment or its alternatives proposed, according to a new report released by the US Government accountability office (GAO).
Earlier, the USAF proposed to retire the A-10 fleet by 2019 to save an estimated $4bn over five years.
The report argued that the US Department of Defense (DoD) and the USAF gave less priority ofor n single-role aircraft like the A-10, while they prioritised fifth-generation aircraft such as the F-35.
In addition, the estimated savings in the USAF’s fiscal year 2015 budget request are incomplete as it didn’t include the cost increased workload on other aircraft, savings from cancelling software upgrades and other modifications to the aircraft.
The DoD reviewed and approved the USAF’s A-10 divestment decision.
GAO also argued that the decision to retire the A-10 will create potential gaps in close air support (CAS) and other missions.
The divestment will result in USAF’s overall capacity to decrease gaps due to the training focus of its aircrews, its wide range of weapons, and its operational capabilities.
Meanwhile, the documentation also revealed that the F-35’s CAS capability will be limited for several years.
However, in order to resolve this crisis, the USAF is transitioning A-10 personnel to F-16 and F-15E units and assessing whether the F-16 or F-15E can replace the A-10 in some of its other missions.
Responding to the report, the USAF earlier criticised the GAO for not looking at the decision’s impact on the entire fleet, Air Force Times reported.
Recently, the USAF placed 18 primary combat-coded A-10 Thunderbolt II close-combat support aircraft into the backup-aircraft inventory (BAI) status.
Image: An A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft from the 81st Fighter Squadron. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo by Master Sgt Blake R Borsic.