TUCSON, ARIZ. - Business boosters get anxious whenever there’s talk of the Air Force retiring the A-10. The warthog is the main mission for Davis Monthan Air Force Base --estimated to have a three billion dollar impact on the local economy.
But the Air Force is talking about keeping the A-10 active for at least another twenty years.
The A-10’s been flying since the 1970s. The Air Force has been talking on and off about retiring the Warthogs and turning the ground support mission over to newer, sleeker , stealthier aircraft like the F-35.
That raised fears that if the A-10 retires, without another large mission to replace it, Davis-Monthan’s three billion dollar impact would crash.
Now an article in Air Force Magazine quotes the three star General over plans and programs as saying the Air Force wants to keep flying A-10s to the year 2040 and maybe beyond.
Lieutenant General David Nahom says, planes like the F-35 can use their stealth to destroy sophisticated radar and air defense systems. But when that threat is down, the A-10 and it’s big gun are cost-effective ways to protect troops.
He says plans to reduce the A-10 fleet free up money.
“...that we can now invest back into the A-10; the wings and all the structural things, as well as the avionics, to make sure it can integrate into the digital battlefield of the future. And we have those investments all paid for and ready to go.”
General Nahom says the Air Force wants to maintain seven squadrons of A-10 with a mix of Air Force, Air Force Reserve and National Guard.
Right now Davis-Monthan has three A-10 squadrons with about 24 planes each.
Ted Maxwell is a retired Two-Star General who flew with the Air Force and Air National Guard. Now he works to ensure the welfare of local military bases through the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance. He expects the Air Force to always want to keep D-M a busy base for fighter aircraft.
“When it comes from a tactical perspective for the Air Force there is no better place to train than in the West, and in the West, no better place to train than southern Arizona, because of our unrestricted airspace, our training ranges, the access, we can take off out of Davis mountain and easily get to those ranges.”
And he says community support is a strong factor too and he expects that to help keep Davis-Monthan active and strong.