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Author Topic: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?  (Read 106483 times)

Offline TaiidanTomcat

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2013, 06:29:09 pm »

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A good argument Taiidan.  Still while the US would not allow A-10 into Libya, both France and the UK committed attack helicopters to action there, even though the uber-MANPAD (SA-24) was rumored to be operational, not just the SA-18.  They did do more than hover off the coast as well.

I don't disagree with this at all, but it also kind of highlights the USAF's hesitation to use/risk the A-10 for its intended role, and would rather assign alternates. This is especially true as the A-10s are flying at medium height, with targeting pods, deploying PGMs-- just like everything else. In that case, why risk them when other stuff will do? As long as the USAF has the option, it will opt to send other things in high threat cases.

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Also GPS jammers are not overly "high tech" any more, and some "non-state" actors most likely have them.  As more of the world gains access to information I suspect that ways and means to surmount our technology will be found.

Thats a fair point, but if we are now talking about deploying dumb bombs from fixed wing assets in close support of troops going against non state actors, its nothing that can't be handled by a helicopter. i would also be curious if an aircraft like say an F-15E would do able to deploy dumb bombs more accurately, with the help of its AESA radar and other avionics. So again, is the A-10 the best option even when everything goes wrong?

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There is another challenge in that the USAF will NOT allow anyone other than a TACP to call in air launched fires.  Just hope every ground unit below battalion has one (hint: they don't). 

yes, but thats not exactly an A-10 issue. its an organizational one.

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Also I would say that if you do not stop the enemy from closing with you and you are throwing grenades and curses at each other from shouting distances, a laser guided bomb is of no avail to the ground forces.

Thats true, but then again I think we both know if we are calling in any kind of fire within grenade tossing distance from a fixed wing asset even an A-10, all bets are off anyway.

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A slower aircraft with a cannon might be able to do the job though... it has in the past.  The CAS baton has been handed to the attack helicopter (who can be called in by Army Sargeants or anyone else needing help).

I agree with this, as nothing gets lower or slower than a helicopter, but all the teen series fighters and harriers have done gun strafing runs in support of troops, and although they couldn't get as slow as an A-10 it didn't seem to affect the quality of the support. (You may know more about this than me though)

The A-10 may have the biggest gun but it certainly doesn't have the only gun. And I would like to point out that the USAF is the only operator of the A-10, somehow other services and other nations have been able to perform CAS without it. Again I don't think the AC-130 is going anywhere either.

At this point the A-10 is more symbolic than anything.  So when it retires it will be the end of the A-10, but not the end of capable platforms (fixed and rotary) providing support for ground forces, and a lot of them have advantage that A-10s don't. I know its going to traumatize much of the internet though.
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Offline quellish

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2013, 07:29:24 pm »
I don't disagree with this at all, but it also kind of highlights the USAF's hesitation to use/risk the A-10 for its intended role, and would rather assign alternates. This is especially true as the A-10s are flying at medium height, with targeting pods, deploying PGMs-- just like everything else. In that case, why risk them when other stuff will do? As long as the USAF has the option, it will opt to send other things in high threat cases.

The A-10 was intended to operate in a permissive threat environment with enhanced survivability against the organic AAA assets of it's targets (i.e. ZSU and small arms accompanying tank regiments). Protection against SAMs relied heavily on chaff, flares, maneuver, armor and redundancy, and tactics to minimize exposure. Again, this was in a permissive threat environment.

The nature of the A-10's mission dictated that it fly low and slow compared to fighters, and that was reflected in the A-X requirements. During DESERT STORM aircraft flying below medium altitude encountered losses that were heavier than expected, and that resulted in a policy for Coalition aircraft to prefer flying at medium altitude.
Interestingly enough, later in the war A-10s in Kuwait were allowed to fly at low altitude again - and this increased their effectiveness.

In Iraq and Afghanistan A-10s are clearly operating at low altitude and using the cannon.

Offline TaiidanTomcat

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2013, 08:35:22 am »
As for specialization; I have heard it said it is for insects. Insects have done pretty well in my opinion and most generalists fail to excel at any one role.

Here is the full quote BTW:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert A. Heinlein

Its a giant knock against specialized

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Offline yasotay

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2013, 11:38:52 am »
Ha!  I knew it!  Surgeons and lawyers are insects.

Online Triton

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2013, 01:16:39 pm »
And probably the United States Air Force would rather break them up than allow the Army to have them. I can't say that I am surprised considering that the Air Force has been trying to get rid of their A-10s for years. And if the Air Force has better platforms to perform the CAS mission, why does the Army covet the A-10? Why does the Army not agree with the Air Force's position on the A-10? A reasonable person would presume that if the A-10s were truly obsolete the Army would not want them either.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2013, 01:36:38 pm by Triton »

Offline mithril

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2013, 08:20:08 am »
why does the army want the A-10?
simple. the A-10, to invert an old airforce saying, has "every pound for air to ground"

it'll never be suddenly retasked to go intercept some enemy fighter. it'll never be reassigned from CAS duties to nursemaid some AWACS. it'll never be told to load up on recon pods and overfly wherethefuckarewe-stan. it'll never need to fly with a large part of its stores dedicated to air to air missions.

it's a pure air to ground specialist. which means that unlike the F-15's, F-16's, and others, it'll never be told to do something else when a non-ground-support mission comes along. while the Airforce would never ignore the CAS duties, the army just wants to know that when they call in for CAS, there will be a plane ready to respond RFN.. and that it'll be able to do the CAS job every time they call for support.

Offline Skyblazer

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2013, 08:48:31 am »
The Air Force “has to have a fifth generation force out there” of stealthy, fast and maneuverable aircraft, and the low and slow A-10 just didn’t fit in, Clarke said.
The problem lies in the length of time that will necessarily take place between the moment such a realization is made and the beginning of operational service of that new "stealthy, fast and maneuverable aircraft." You don't just retire an aircraft until there is something better to take its place when it's gone. If the A-10 goes to retirement in the mid-2010s, that means another 20 years, judging from the typical timeline of other defense programs of that scope, and a further 5 years at least to take into account the usual political hassle that plagues most such programs. That means 2040 at best...
Also, by retiring both the F-117A and now A-10A, the USAF will be practically deprived a great amount of ground attack capability, since the Strike Eagle cannot be used in the same type of missions as these two. Makes me wonder why such thinking happens now, when it was obvious even 10 years ago, and probably much before that, that the A-10A would not fit the Air Force's requirements for 21st century CAS anyway.

Offline kcran567

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2013, 06:31:43 pm »
As for specialization; I have heard it said it is for insects. Insects have done pretty well in my opinion and most generalists fail to excel at any one role.

Here is the full quote BTW:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert A. Heinlein

Its a giant knock against specialized
Ok then, If you ever win the lottery (or maybe you already can afford) A Ferrarri or other sports car of you're choice, make sure you get one that has a pickup bed in the back to haul around concrete. That way you can haul concrete uphill in you're brand new ferrarri. Or how about this, lets mount a large 20 foot cell phone tower on you're new Ferrarri. According to you specialization is only for insects. Or how about an F-22 that can also carry 6 paratroopers and a drogue refuelling device. No thanks, A dedicated CAS should have certain abilities that other aircraft do not. Specialization is good. Like finding the best person for the job. Do you want a plumber to help deliver you're wife's newborn? I didn't think so.

Offline TaiidanTomcat

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #23 on: October 06, 2013, 07:22:22 pm »
And if the Air Force has better platforms to perform the CAS mission, why does the Army covet the A-10? Why does the Army not agree with the Air Force's position on the A-10? A reasonable person would presume that if the A-10s were truly obsolete the Army would not want them either.

It doesn't "covet the A-10" It uses a mix of CAS aircraft from all services up to an including strategic bombers and UAVs. The USMC "coveted" the Iowa-class battleships... what happened?


The problem lies in the length of time that will necessarily take place between the moment such a realization is made and the beginning of operational service of that new "stealthy, fast and maneuverable aircraft." You don't just retire an aircraft until there is something better to take its place when it's gone.

Aircraft are retired without direct replacement all the time. There is no direct replacement for the A-10 and there never will be. There was also no direct replacement for the SR-71.

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If the A-10 goes to retirement in the mid-2010s, that means another 20 years, judging from the typical timeline of other defense programs of that scope, and a further 5 years at least to take into account the usual political hassle that plagues most such programs. That means 2040 at best...

adding to the above. The USAF will never again invest in an attack only manned fighter.

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Also, by retiring both the F-117A and now A-10A, the USAF will be practically deprived a great amount of ground attack capability,

 The USAF has an incredible amount of attack capability and has been showing it off since 1991 and its namely thanks to the emphasis on multi-role aircraft (F-16s have done and continue to do a majority of strike missions for fighter class aircraft, and of course the F-22 which replaced some F-117 squadrons is vastly more capable in more roles than the extremely specialized F-117)

It also still has big bombers:

 
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Tough targets in Serbian territory could only be reached by the B-2 bomber, which made its combat debut by flying directly from its base in Missouri. The B-2 successfully struck heavily defended fixed targets and mobile targets such as an SA-3.

Afghanistan presented another showcase for range and payload. B-1s and B-52Hs ended up dropping about 70 percent of the total tonnage during the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom in the fall of 2001.

...

A new appreciation for the bombers emerged during the ongoing operations when B-52Hs and B-1s proved the value of turning range into loiter time, allowing the aircraft to stay overhead with large weapons loads to support varied ground operations.

On missions in 2004 and 2005, it was common for aircraft to drop just one weapon, or none at all. By the fall of 2006, strikes increased as larger formations of Taliban fighters emerged in Afghanistan. One B-1 crew told of releasing eight 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions, plus six 500-pound bombs, on a single mission that fall.

...

There’s another wrinkle. The days of fighters (or bombers, or unmanned systems) operating alone are over. In 21st century scenarios, all these platforms will need to share information and achieve a tactical dependence to get the job done. Heavily defended airspace will present challenges that call for platforms to work together in new ways.


http://www.airforcemag.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2007/November%202007/1107bombers.aspx

And lets not forget the AC-130

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since the Strike Eagle cannot be used in the same type of missions as these two.

The Strike Eagle is perfectly capable of performing A-10 missions, and has done so in combat many times, along with having more speed and Air to Air capability and other helpful things superior avionics and all weather capability. OTOH the A-10 is severely lacking in F-15E capability

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Makes me wonder why such thinking happens now,

budget cuts are forcing the early retirement. the original plan was to have them serving into the 2040s but that is not possible now. So the USAF has to make hard choices. Not surprising it is picking a next generation 21st century multi-role aircraft, an advanced new bomber that will hopefully replace multiple types, and new aerial refuellers, rather than a 1970's era specialized attacker that has seen its job largely supplanted by other types already.

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why does the army want the A-10?
simple. the A-10, to invert an old airforce saying, has "every pound for air to ground"

it'll never be suddenly retasked to go intercept some enemy fighter. it'll never be reassigned from CAS duties to nursemaid some AWACS.

Yep, exactly it can do anything except for tasks that other fighters can also do too. An F-16 can launch a HARM, kill a fighter BVR, and deploy ordnance in support of troops in contact all in one mission, and when the coast is clear, you can send in the A-10. Again an AC-130 is also dedicated to grunt support.

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it'll never be told to load up on recon pods and overfly wherethefuckarewe-stan.

This is actually pretty funny since the A-10s current mission in Afghanistan is using its pods to scan for IEDs and other signs of trouble before troops pass through (from altitude of course), and only deploying ordnance when asked, and only using the gun as a last resort.

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it'll never need to fly with a large part of its stores dedicated to air to air missions.

Dont confuse need with can't Thats part of the problem, what happens when enemy fighters stand between you and the troops you need to help? It may need to fly with AAMs that aren't defensive Sidewinders. It may need to fly into SAM belts, It may need to all of those things in one sortie in fact.

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it's a pure air to ground specialist. which means that unlike the F-15's, F-16's, and others, it'll never be told to do something else when a non-ground-support mission comes along.

Which is funny because it relies on those F-15s and F-16s that might be doing other missions to protect it from enemy radar and aircraft.

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while the Airforce would never ignore the CAS duties, the army just wants to know that when they call in for CAS, there will be a plane ready to respond RFN.. and that it'll be able to do the CAS job every time they call for support.

keeping in mind the US Army has its own fleet of armed helicopters, UAVs, and of course the Marines and Navy who also give help when called.



Ok then, If you ever win the lottery (or maybe you already can afford) A Ferrarri or other sports car of you're choice, make sure you get one that has a pickup bed in the back to haul around concrete. That way you can haul concrete uphill in you're brand new ferrarri. Or how about this, lets mount a large 20 foot cell phone tower on you're new Ferrarri. According to you specialization is only for insects. Or how about an F-22 that can also carry 6 paratroopers and a drogue refuelling device. No thanks, A dedicated CAS should have certain abilities that other aircraft do not. Specialization is good. Like finding the best person for the job. Do you want a plumber to help deliver you're wife's newborn? I didn't think so.


Am I Robert Heinlein? Also I have called the hyperbole police, they are here to arrest your Strawman.

There is a massive public misconception with the USAF, the A-10, and multi-role vs Specialized aircraft. A big part of this is focusing on one small part of the machine, and not the large machine itself. Multi role aircraft are being bashed for providing the safety the A-10 depends on, and if that support isn't available, than neither is the A-10. And don't give me that its armored its invincible crap, because its not, and the Air Force knows it. If its too dangerous, they don't send them. If the A-10 was the ONLY Aircraft that could provide CAS it might be a different story, but the USAF has more CAS capable aircraft than it ever has in its history, and those aircraft can also do other things. So on one side its a 2 way street, and on the A-10s side its a one way street. So no I would not hire a plumber to deliver a baby, however if my doctor could also fix my plumbing and I could only afford to keep one, I would fire my plumber and keep my multi-role Doctor. See my point? I also don't recall ever advocating a transport refueler F-22, but its funny you picked the F-22, which is another aircraft that was considered very specialized and was severely curtailed in favor of (wait for it) a multi role fighter in the F-35

The USN has and will continue to have nothing but Multi role aircraft, as will the US Marines save for the prowler which is being replaced by a multirole aircraft in the F-35.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2013, 08:18:38 pm by TaiidanTomcat »
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Offline GTX

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #24 on: October 06, 2013, 07:50:17 pm »
In my opinion people get too enamoured with particular aircraft such as the A-10 and make up all these ridiculous arguments as to why they need to be kept or even conspiracy theories behind their removal.


It's a good thing those in power aren't swayed by them or else our frontline combat aircraft might still be canvas with open cockpits...if we made it into the air at all!

Offline FighterJock

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #25 on: October 09, 2013, 09:04:54 am »
What can I add to the debate?  Except that it is an stupid mistake to even think about retiring the A-10. 

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #26 on: October 09, 2013, 10:48:32 am »
"Sen. Ayotte To Air Force: Get Me A-10 Answers; Keeps SecAF Nominee Hold"
By Colin Clark   on October 08, 2013 at 6:22 PM

Source:
http://breakingdefense.com/2013/10/08/sen-ayotte-to-air-force-get-me-a-10-answers-keeps-secaf-nominee-hold/

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CAPITOL HILL: While the federal government remains supine and Congress fails to pass appropriations bills, at least one lawmaker is engaged in a classic use of senatorial privilege: placing a hold on the nomination of a senior administration official.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who has made clear her unease with what appears to be the Air Force’s intent to scrap the entire fleet of the beloved and ugly 326 A-10 close air support jets, told the service today she would not let the nomination of Air Force Secretary nominee Debbie Lee James proceed. Why? Answers to questions she posed to the service about the A-10 were “insufficient.” She has sent follow-up questions to the Air Force.

“As Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee, Senator Ayotte’s central concern is that our troops have the close air support they need to accomplish their missions and return home safely. The A-10 has saved many American lives, and Senator Ayotte is concerned that the Air Force might prematurely eliminate the A-10 before there is a replacement aircraft-creating a dangerous close air support capability gap that could put our troops at risk,” a congressional aide said on background.

This isn’t really about the quality of the Air Force responses, which probably said no final decisions had been reached since the next fiscal year’s budget isn’t final yet. (I bet they even used that fabulous and most hated term that no decent person would ever use — pre-decisional.) This is all about the Air National Guard (which flies almost one third of the A-10 fleet) and deep-seated suspicion that the F-35A, due to replace the A-10 in its close air support role, just isn’t nearly as good as the Warthog at flying low and killing tanks, other military vehicles and even troops on the ground.

Thunder alley

Air Force Times recently ran this compelling account of a recent A-10 sortie:

In July, the A-10’s capabilities were evident when two pilots came to the rescue of 60 soldiers during a convoy ambush in Afghanistan.

The convoy came under attack while patrolling a highway. They became pinned behind their vehicles, facing heavy fire from a close tree line. The group didn’t have a JTAC, but a joint fire observer was able to communicate an estimated location to the A-10s.

“I flew over to provide a show of force while my wingman was looking for gunfire below,” the flight lead said, according to an Air Force release on the mission. “Our goal with the show of force was to break the contact and let the enemy know we were there, but they didn’t stop. I think that day the enemy knew what they were going to do, so they pushed even harder and began moving closer to our ground forces.”

One A-10 fired two rockets to mark the area with smoke. The wingman came in next and pulled the trigger on the Avenger cannon. The enemy moved closer to the friendly forces.

“We train for this, but shooting danger-close is uncomfortable, because now the friendlies are at risk,” the second A-10 pilot said. “We came in for a low-angle strafe, 75 feet above the enemy’s position and used the 30-mm gun — 50 meters parallel to ground forces — ensuring our fire was accurate so we didn’t hurt the friendlies.”

Of course, F-35 advocates would note that the plane possesses stunning sensors (far better than anything the A-10 will ever have) that allow the plane to operate at higher altitudes with excellent precision. They would also point out it can carry a heavier weapons load (18,000 pounds) than can the A-10 (16,000 pounds). Of course, the A-10′s 30 millimeter machine gun is one of the world’s most formidable ground attack weapons, far more potent than the F-35′s 25 mm gun, and the F-35 cannot carry nearly as much ammunition as the A-10 does (180 rounds vs. 1,170 rounds).

Then there’s the indelible impression the A-10 makes on ground troops. The good guys love the fact it flies low and slow. And they adore the impressive sound of the machine gun as it unloads its rounds into the enemy, not to mention the effect of the rounds that spew forth. The enemy hates all of those things.

A-10 pilots are also encased in a titanium tub that protects them from ground fire, allowing them to feel much more confident as they stare down at the enemy. We won’t really know how successful the F-35A is at its ground support role until JTACs guide some in and they have to do the dirty work the A-10 does so well.

The A-10 isn’t alone in facing the axe. The Air Force is considering scrapping its fleet of KC-10 tankers, F-15C fighter jets and the planned $6.8 billion purchase of new combat search-and-rescue helicopters.

The Air Force leadership made clear at last month’s Air Force Association conference that they wanted to cut weapon systems that have only one role, even if those systems perform that role fabulously well. It’s all part of the increasingly desperate push to find big enough savings to either forestall or meet the demands of the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration. The fight over the A-10 will only be one of many come February, when the new budget is rolled out.

Offline John21

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #27 on: October 09, 2013, 06:50:02 pm »
I started a thread on this same issue on spacebattles.com. While its sad to see the A-10 go, I can see why they are thinking about doing this.  I figured, why not retire the B-52 instead and give nuclear capability back to a percentage of our B-1B force? The B-1B can do the exact same missions as a B-52 and be quicker and more survivable to boot.

Here's the thread on spacebattles:
http://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/air-force-may-retire-a-10-warthog.270672/

Offline TaiidanTomcat

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #28 on: October 09, 2013, 11:26:11 pm »
What can I add to the debate?  Except that it is an stupid mistake to even think about retiring the A-10.

You were right that didn't add anything.
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Offline Skyblazer

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #29 on: December 17, 2013, 09:21:00 am »
Did someone say 2028?