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Revealed: US Air Force Is Planning to Build a Super A-10 Warthog

The Air Force is beginning to work on how fast, lethal, durable and capable a new “A-10”-like aircraft would need to be in order to provide U.S. military ground troops with effective close-air support for decades to come. Translation: The Air Force is admitting the F-35 won't get the job done. ( More...

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Thank heavens the Air Force is finally getting its act together.
bentwing60 1
I'd say that's bit of an optimistic stretch. Read Cade foster's comment.
Roy Hunte 21
About time they did something to replace that awesome workhog!
Billy Koskie 10
The F-35 can never adequately replace the A-10. It's not slow enough nor maneuverable enough to provide the kind of loiter and targeting CAS needs. The A-10s received wingbox replacements not too many years ago to extend the airframe service life. Except for upgrading avionics, threat assessment and communication gear, it would be hard to argue a replacement. Plus, there are something over 100 A-10s in desert storage. Cheapest and most effective plan would be to upgrade them all and put them into service.
Honey what took you so long?
blueashflyer 8
We've (GE's) been trying to sell them uprated engines for years, but AF wouldn't bite. 40% more thrust and 10% less fuel burn, that would make a Super Warthog.
Ruger9X19 6
Swapping engines is not that easy. You have to beef up the entire airframe to handle the increased thrust loads and redo the avionics, etc. You are essentially rebuilding the entire aircraft. it is usually cheaper to just start from scratch.
weecosse 4
Regarding engines, Jimmy Doolittle famously said many years ago, (paraphrasing): The problem with the military is that it builds airplanes around engines then they add all sorts of crap to the aircraft and make it useless for its function. He thought it was best to determine the function, determine the needed load, people, fuel, armament and other components then you'd have a good idea what size aircraft and engine(s) are needed.needed , It is best
jbqwik 3
You nailed the one thing the A-10 truly needs. Uprated engines would indeed make a Super Warthog.
Tim Marks -1
The existing PW engines are 1970s technology, the GE offerings are 2000+ technology, so of course they will have higher thrust and better fuel burn from the same engine size/class. PW engines, using newer technologies, can offer the same or better thrust and fuel burn efficiencies. So parading GE as the 'solution' for the Super Warthog is just a vain attempt at advertising. As Ruger stated herein, too much additional thrust will require a redesign, but so will retrofitting new engine pylons and systems interfaces with the existing airframe to mount the 'competitors' engine.
ptrimby 5
Don't forget to fact check yourself before posting. The A-10 has, in all variants, GE engines and has from the beginning. TF34-GE-100A
Higher power versions exist in civilian versions (CF34) with similar mount schemes based.
The Air Force doesn't like the Warthog because it isn't sexy. The ground pounders all love it because its great at close air support. Oh, wait, the Air Force doesn't like that mission - never has. They want to have fast, sexy F-35a. Well surprise the ISIS doesn't have an Air Force so theres no mission for the F-35.

There is no way I would give the Air Force money for another program they will just waste it. Better to go pull 100 A-10s out of the boneyard, strengthen the airfranes and the avonics and get on with life.

And they wonder why the Army, Navy and Marines refer to them as the "Air Farce".....
Ray Beavers 1
Looks are NOT everything. Sexy or not, it is one of the BEST, Close Air Support Aircraft, ever made. The Rule for any Fighter Pilot is, "Strap the thing on me, and I'll Fly it!" Regardless of how it looks. Right???? YEP!
Larry Miller 6
Pull em out of mothballs now. The war is coming. If they don't want to fly them hand em over to the army. They know what their ground pounders need. That is why the marines do their own ground support. They don't use the Air Force or navy for close air support. Even the marines would love those hogs. Don't get me wrong though the warthog drivers in the Air Force are bad ass professionals. Their management just sucks.
Ray Beavers 1
YES THEY ARE BAD ASS DUDES! And have a Right to be Looked upon that way!
Steve Habeger 4
Afraid it does not look auspicious folks. USAF is all about "air superiority" over the battle space. That means fighters and interceptors; how else to earn a DFC?? That's AF pri 1. Pri 2 is bombers to put warheads on foreheads and claim the strategic triad support. CAS is pri 4 for USAF; after all it's just those Army grunts down there. Notice there is no pri 3.

Every time Army proffers an upgraded helo or (gasp!) a fixed-wing CAS a/c, AF promises a study that will deliver a perfect airplane in the future. Meanwhile, the ground-pounders are left to fend for themselves.

It's all a game about maintaining (and hopefully) increasing share of DOD budget.
Love all you guys talking about the "Hog" . A wonderful airplane. Im eighty years old and hope they keep a Hog or a similar aircraft around for a long time. Been around long enough time to hear ever couple of year they goona mothball the Hog and then a few months later OH we need to keep it. I'm Prior Army back in the brown shoe days.
Ray Beavers 1
USAF finally does the right thing after trying out every other possible solution.
JC Davis 4
Flew the hog.. Army has right to fly all A10's if USAF won't fly a dedicated CAS aircraft. That's why the AF can't quit flying the Hog. Look it up in Army Air Corp agreement to form USAF.
Ray Beavers 1
Like I said Earlier, Strap it on, and Fly the thing til it Hurts! LOL.
jbqwik 4
This is the AF, right? Smoke and mirrors? I'll believe it when I see it.
It will be overly complex (scope creep) and late as well as over budget. Possibly the most sensible thing I have seen about our military in a LONG time.
Wait, the enemy does not and cannot field anything close to the current A-10 but a Super version is desired. I'm quite sure that the Army would love M3 Abrams Super Tanks as well but again, our enemy does not and cannot field anything to match the M1. I know it's only money, but geeez, enough is enough.
chalet 4
This is going to end up costing almost like the F-35 for the Air Force types, not schooled in very basic economics, will come up with all sorts of goals and performance requirements when the reasoable thing is to just to tweak the Wharthog some. They will never learn.
Air Force Can’t Afford F-35 But Wants a ‘Super’ A-10?
joel wiley 2
Design reqirememts priorities
1. Gun
2. Armor
3. Airframe
4. Engine
James Simms 2
5. Endurance/loiter time
JC Davis 2
Loiter time can be achieved by providing tanker support high above the target area with F22 support for protection and stack a 4-ship at high altitude to replace low fuel hogs in CAS. With a 4-ship of hogs you've got 4400 30mm's, 8 AIM9, 32 MK81 or MK82, and up to 16 Maverick. That's a lot of fire power not used each engagement. Just keep feeding em gas from refuel. 2 4-ships could stay on station 4-6 hours before being replaced by another 8 with fresh weapons.
zennermd 2
It will be twice as deadly at 3 times the ugly... ;-)
Being ugly should be the #1 priorty. a "face for radio"
Tim Marks 3
Ugly is good, that way when the war paint is applied it looks just that much scarier!
The A-30 'Hillary'...
Ray Beavers 1
Ugly is GOOD in War Time!
John Clarke 2
Keep the existing design including the gun but update the powerplant with more efficient core & higher electrical power output (not necessarily thrust). Keep the metal construction as it is easier to fix. Update radios, sensors & displays including helmet sight. The new or rebuild becomes a question of easiest & cost given that as the current fleet has high time in nap of the earth flight that can mean 2 - 3 times the numerical flight hours in airframe life owing to the high g loads.
mikeenderle 2
Cool. Maybe the end of our stealth fetish is finally near. Let's just pray they can (try to) keep it within a reasonable budget.
LGM118 2
The reality of the modern battlefield, as can plainly be learned from our operations in the Middle East, is that the next-gen CAS aircraft will need to be designed with Counterinsurgency operations as a primary focus. This means durability, long loiter periods, and the ability to get down in the weeds for extremely precise attacks with a mix of munitions.

While everyone loves the A-10, the reality is that even it carries too much firepower for the wars we're fighting. The GAU-8 is great for fighting against heavy tanks, but even ISIL (probably the largest, most organized enemy we're likely to face in the next two decades) only has a few commandeered tanks, and none of them are heavy enough or advanced enough that other, lighter weapons can't take them out. The solution may be something resembling the OV-10 Bronco, with more powerful engines (feasible with today's technology) allowing for an internal autocannon (maybe the GAU-22 or a variant?) and better fuel capability.
John Clarke 2
Not sure you can ever have too much firepower - guess it comes down to whether there would be a real requirement nowadays for a fixed wing to provide any sort of personnel or cargo transportation like the Bronco. If there is such a need, perhaps just adding a suitable gun and hardpoints on an Osprey comes closest maybe with a slimmed down fuselage similar to a Mohawk.
Didn't realise until I read Wiki, how many Broncos were lost because they just couldn't fly hot & high.
lsharpe69 2
So overdue update to electronics and targeting? Else leave air-frame and weapons alone. Best damn airplane to provide ground support that has ever flown! Wart Hogs rock!
patrick baker 2
no need to reinvent the wheel- the plane is ideal as it exists now. Make more of them, lots more of them, because the 9th century Islamic terrorists have no counter to it, and I think they may never have one.
The problem is in the shortage of air to ground missiles, and that can be remedied. Or, go lease a few hundred frogfoot soviet ground attack aircraft for immediate use. If the terrorists ever learn not to mass in number above a few dozen, then that is a practical defense against the A10, but the middle east is different from Europe in that there are less natural places to hide. I want to hear the story about the change in attitude here.
Ray Beavers 1
I totally Agree with Stuart, Below. Somebody finally got some real Sense in their heads. The Warthog is a AWESOME MACHINE, that has saved Thousands of American Lives. It sure would have been nice, if All our Guys in Benghazi, would have had Access to just One of the Awesome Aircraft, at their disposal that night of the raid. I sincerely believe in my Heart, IF they had been able to called in ONE Airstrike, every Single one of our Guys would Still be alive today.
Get this Aircraft Back Up and Running! It is Way too Valuable to brush off the table. Commanders, HOLD YOUR GROUND and DEMAND these Aircraft are brought Back to Inventory. Us old Retired guys are going to sit back and see just how well you younger guys Perform and make this Happen!
Stefan Sobol 1
So in about 30 years they'll have a flyable prototype....
matt jensen 1
Jeff Pelton 1
Don't get your hopes up. They'll want a Mach+ capability, look cool, stealth, 360 degree Heads up day and night vision with computer generated target info included.

I think the Army should have their own CAS, same as the Marines. Air Force can have the deep interdiction, battlefield surveillance. Same missions the Navy provides for the Marines.
Jeff Pelton 1
I'm a Vietnam Vet. Remember the HUGE bitch the AF threw at the OV-1 being armed. So the Army ended up with only helio's being armed. Stupid power grabbing and turf protection. After all, not long before that, they lost out trying to get the F-111 accepted by the Navy. Then the AF lost MORE face when they had to use the F-4 and A-7 because they didn't have anything that was up to Tac Air mission requirements. TWO Navy aircraft. The Air Force is good at air defence and large bombers, but the old Tactical Air Support missions are not COOL. And will never get support.
martin poulin 1
KISS Adm Rickover
GUN ostof Ammo WINGS BIG ASS Engines
Joe Charles 1
Why does the Warthog have an armored canaop? So that the pilot does not get hit in the back of the head by the birds trying to fly past it.
They have enough problems trying to build the F35's for Australia more floors in them
Cade foster 1
But make sure no one is held responsible for the 10's of Billions of tax dollars wasted on the F35 project. I mean thats the gov't way....
Like the camel the F35 was designed by committee, everyone from USAF, USN and USMC wanted a piece of the action; Its role was to be all things to all men - doesn't work however much money is thrown at it. The billions of dollars weren't wasted, they created jobs and stimulated the economy; its the poor end result that's the waste.
Jim Quinn 2
Hmmm.... Sounds strangely familiar. Didn't they do the same thing with the F4C Phantom at first? Navy/Marines and Air Force having had their hands in it for an inter-service aircraft that was all things to all people? Or is it my memory that's failing?
Taterhed 3
Yes, it seems like everybody's memory is failing: The F-111 was a great example of a committee aircraft that was a disaster. How many F-111 cat-shots have you seen? The F-4, while a great aircraft, suffered from too many compromises as well (as a joint service aircraft) "Where is the gun?..."

I love this statement "With its sensor technology, 25mm gun and maneuverability, there is little question about whether the F-35 could succeed with these kinds of missions."

The answer is clear: there is little question about using the F35 as primary CAS, it will be a disaster and highly overpriced for the mission.

IMHO: An MC-130 with mini JDAMs (LSDB?) and 2 super Tucanos could do the work of a squadron of F35s, have better sortie rates and remain over target far longer. Add 1 F22 (or F15 etc..) to provide air cover for the package.... That's what I call CAS. Placing a super-technology 140 MILLION dollar fighter on a CAS mission in the low-altitude environment.... well, that's what I call politics.
Jeff Pelton 2
The F-4 was designed for the Navy as a Air Superiority fighter. At the time (1950's) it was believed guns on fighters was a thing of the past, as the fighters can fly faster then the bullets. And dogfighting was also a thing of the past. Then Viet Nam proved all those ideas in error. And though the F-4's systems didn't support air to ground, it did have a gunsight, and could do visual air to ground bomb missions, and did. Not as a Primary Mission, which was Air Superiority. The Air Force needed to replace the F-100 and F-105 in the Tac Air missions, and fast, in the late 1960's, so first the F-4 was picked as the F-105 replacement and after the A-7 was up engined with the TF41 they got the A-7 to fill the hole left by the retirement of the F-100 from front line duty. The A-7 was built a Light Attack aircraft as the replacement for the Navy's A-4.

So, neither the F-4, or A-7 were designed as Joint Service aircraft.
paul trubits 3
Welfare for the middle class. A make work project. Kinda of like putting alcohol in gasoline.
My point below on the A10 vs F35 spend!
Randy Marco 1
Just another military industrial complex welfare subsidy. The existing A10 cannot be matched by any of our advisaries, MORE wasted money for no JUSTIFIABLE reason!
Jeff Pelton 2
Russia does have a aircraft comparable to the A-10, the Frogfoot, in service at this time, and has had it for years. And in CAS having that 30mm cannon the A-10 carries is a Godsend for the guys on the ground. Taking down EVERYTHING shooting at YOU is GOOD!
Bill Garcia 1
Let's get something straight. The Air Force never "wanted" to retire the A-10. The Pentagon forced them into that. USAF was told to choose between the A-10 and F-35, they couldn't have both. It's a horrible choice, what do you do? Dump a new 5th generation fighter that is slated to bolster a horribly depleting fighter force or dump the military's best CAS aircraft ever? It's a horrible choice to make, it's like somebody putting a gun to your head and telling you to choose between losing an arm or a leg.

As for the F-35 not being as good as the A-10 is the CAS role, that is obvious. Back in the late 1980s, the A-10 was going to retire, too. The solution was to put a 30mm gun pod on the F-16 and off you go hunting tanks. Predictably, the testing went terribly and there was no way to make an F-16 do well in that mission, just like the F-35. The A-10 is about as different in design from the fast fighters as Christmas Island is from the moon. The F-35 (and F-16) were never designed for that mission. The F-35 is having a PR problem because, when proposing a new jet these days, you have to prove that it can do everything. Then you have to "prove" through testing that it can do everything. For anything that it doesn't do well because it was never designed to do it (like CAS), there's a legion of anti-military media (that has opposed every new weapon system acquisition since the Korean War) and anti-F-35 bloggers waiting to pounce on it and put it in the worst light possible. Most people don't know that the F-35 has NEVER been defeated by an F-15 in air combat. The "loss" against the F-16 last year was a bogus red-herring story that never even happened.
Jeff Pelton 2
I'm well aware of the Air Force problems. Spent 9 years in Navy T&E, and R&D during the 1970 - 1985 period. The Air Force problem back then was getting the F-22 funded, the B-2, etc. A slug like the A-10 wasn't going to get much attention. Once we won the Cold War, TACAIR took a huge hit. Making mud holes in the ground isn't flashy. However, all the JO's from then are now Flag Officers, so going for the fast and fancy is ingrained in the current Air Force leadership.
Jeff Pelton 3
I'm also leery of Lockheed. Don't get me wrong, I have over 8000 hours in all models of the P-3. Aside from that BOTH the F-22 and F-35 are projects that have gone way over budget, and, schedule. When Lockheed moved from California to Maryland, I noticed that the quality of support for the P-3 fleet went south. I'm just glad I decided to stay in the Navy, and not take a position in Production Flight test when it was offered.
GM Crump 1
Great post Bill on !!!!
If the Air force doesn't like thwew Mission with the A-10 give'em to te Army or the Marines. Then get the He[[ out of the way, they know how to fight a ground war.
John Clarke 3
That is at least disrespectful to all hundreds of USAF pilots, FACs and maintainers who have perfected the art of ground attack with the A-10. The platform needs to be updated to meet current airspace requirements if nothing else - I doubt the current aircraft meets RVSM or RNAV.
Wasn't being disrespectful to the rank and file the guys putting their lives on the line. They don't make the dissensions. What I said if the USAF BRASS don't want the A-10 because it's not "SPIFFY" then give it to the other serveries where their BRASS knows what WAR is All about.

In my 4 years in the USAF I served 3 years, 3 months ,3 weeks, 3 days & a wake up in SAC in the late 60's. We were there for one reason,to Scare the Crap out of the Russians. Mission Accomplished Gorby tore down the Wall.
Ray Beavers 1
I'm an Old SAC guy, and you are so RIGHT!
Randy Marco 0
Sorry to burst your bubble but the military did NOT bring down the wall.... being left behind by capitalism brought down the war!! The Russian military has the same ignorant fighting mentality as the U.S. military, actually MORE so because they lost over 10 MILLION people in WWII... we lost only 400,000 AND WWII was fought IN their major cities, unlike America that only saw War footage at the MOVIES!! You've been brainwashed into thinking as Americans we are superior to every other human, you need to educate yourself instead of beating your chest like a neanderthal!
Randy Marco 0
*being left behind by capitalism brought down the WALL!!
Jim Porter 0
Thankfully someone is thinking!! It will be interesting to see what she will look like
bbabis -1
The gun is fearsome and cool but that is what really needs to be changed hence the redesign. It needs a fire and forget weapons system that can engage multiple targets with an extreme kill rate. Replacing 2 tons of gun would make a lot of room for smart weapons and armor.
joel wiley 2
Maybe it's just me in my ignorance, but that sounds a bit like the mission creeping away from CAS.
bbabis 1
Actually, Its fully about CAS. Enemies don't always line up in a neat line to be strafed and will so less in the future. Pilot aimed single point weapon systems waste most ammunition and require multiple passes for multiple targets exposing plane and pilot to return fire. An AC-130s can loiter for hours over a battlefield if its suppressive fire that is needed. The new Thunderbolt III should be able to eliminate multiple enemy, vehicles, or structures on a single pass simply by the pilot designating them as targets. A single smart-bullet is all that is needed in most situations instead of 20 or 30 depleted uranium shells. A super Warthog would be able to do the work of 3 or 4 A-10s on most missions. Those are my thoughts anyways. I envy the pilots that get to fly them.
JC Davis 2
And let me take a guess at the cost of a single "smart 30mm" after redesigning the gun, aiming system, and the aircraft to fit around the gun. Probably around $10000 a bullet. The A10 bullet contract is rebid each year and is split between both manufacturers either 80/20 or 70/30 so next bid the incentive is on the previous high bid to optimize his price per bullet. so the net cost per bullet is way lower than some fantasy conceived electronic, GPS, or IR or radar guided bullet. I'd rather shoot 20-30, saturate the area with API/HEI and instill the fear of God into these miscreants than zapping em with one $10K bullet at a time. Besides it is hard to shoot only 1 30mm at a time even if it costs $10K and hits its target. The $100 API/HEI spits out about 25-32 with the first trigger pull.
Jeff Pelton 1
For sure, the more expensive something is, the less there will be available. Shooting wars use up supplies and people, you sure can't plan an operation if they run out. Look at what happened to Patton in WWII in Europe when he out ran his supply train and his tanks were getting short of ammo and fuel.
bentwing60 2
So, let's make an A10 that costs relatively as much as a B2 and not be able to afford to send it into battle. Riiight. The russkies had the right idea, as we did during WW11, build enough of them and they can't win. Besides, the pilots are gonna be gone in another generation anyway! I do agree with your last sentence.
bbabis -1
Great battlefield commanders never have and never will make decisions based on the cost of equipment. I don't care about the cost. I care about getting what we paid for, which hasn't been the case in a long time. That is what must get fixed. As long as our pilots ride into battle it should be on nothing but the best. Sure, when a controller at a desk is controlling strike drones, give him hundreds of low bid ones and use 'em up like lives in a video game.
bentwing60 1
No one disagrees with your thesis but the guys at AF command and the supply and procurement system. They show themselves the money. And maybe you ain't noticed who the brick is putting in charge of operational Air Force but they {she} will never be known as a Great battle field commander!
Randy Marco 0
Don't care about COST... we spend MORE on our military than the next 13 countries COMBINED.... BILL you are a loon. Rome didn't care about the cost of their military until the Romans no longer existed!!!
bbabis 1
You fail to take in as a percentage of GDP Randy. Remember figures lie and liars figure. No doubt we spend a lot but that is because many countries depend on us militarily and we fail to demand any compensation as they give away and waste trillions to corruption in their socialist welfare schemes that a certain group is trying their best to bring here to America. Careful with your name calling. You give away your affiliations. Safe and sunny skies Randy.


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