- The A-10 Warthog, which first entered service in the late 1970s, will keep flying in Air Force service until 2040—or later.
- The A-10 will only be restricted to combat against enemies with little or no air defenses, ending the jet’s career as a tank killer.
The U.S. Air Force has decided to keep the A-10 “Warthog” close air support jet in service until 2040. The jet, designed to dominate Cold War battlefields, will still be flying 50 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. That’s the good news. The bad news? The service is downgrading the jet’s mission, from one flying over tank columns on the ground to bombing bandits and insurgents in lightly defended airspace.
The Air Force, Air Force Magazine reports, plans to cut 44 jets from the A-10’s standing fleet of 281 aircraft. The remaining 237 jets will fly on in seven squadrons split among three active duty, three National Guard, and one reserve squadron, respectively. Retiring a portion of the fleet will enable the service to fund upgrades designed to keep the A-10 flying along much, much newer planes, and tap into the Air Force’s new generation of networking and communications systems, boosting the airplane’s overall usefulness on the digital battlefield of the future.