Air Force May Mothball F-16s if A-10 Stays
The US Air Force will reportedly ship perfectly good F-16s to the desert — and potentially slow down the F-35 program — if it is forced to keep the A-10 beyond the date it wants it retired:
The House Armed Services Committee inserted $683 million into the 2016 defense bill to stop the Air Force from retiring the A-10 Warthog.
However, Air Force leaders said the service will have to mothball F-16s and delay the deployment of the F-35 in response to the move by the committee.
The HASC logic basically says the Air Force needs the A-10 right now, as evidenced by its current use in Iraq and other places, and the decision to retire it is based on budget rather than mission need. For its part, the Air Force says the A-10 isn’t the only aircraft that can perform that role:
“Other platforms such as F-15Es, F-16s, AC-130s, B-52s and B-1 bombers have been performing close air support missions,” an Air Force official said.
On the Senate side, Senator Kelly Ayotte — married to a retired A-10 pilot — has said those aircraft cannot “replicate” what the A-10 can do.