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  • Report Finds That The Air Force Might Be Exaggerating Savings From A-10 Retirement

    One of the chief justifications given by Air Force officials for retiring the A-10 fleet is $4.2 billion dollars in savings over the course of five years.

    But a Thursday report from the Government Accountability Office found that the Air Force has no way of confidently making the savings claim because of incomplete estimates that “may overstate or understate the actual figure.” In fact, the Air Force didn’t take into account that removing the A-10 Warthog would place extra burdens on other aircraft tasked with completing the close-air support mission. Alternatively, the estimate did not include costs associated with A-10 software upgrades, were the service to keep the Warthog in play, making the $4.2 billion figure suspect. It could be higher, and it could also be lower.

    Additionally, retiring the A-10 would produce a significant capability gap, especially since the F-35 won’t be able to duplicate A-10 close-air support efforts for at least a few years, though Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh has insisted that a combination of the B-1, F-16 and F-15 can compensate in the interim.

    The GAO report is the latest hit to the Air Force’s plans, as critics continue to pile on and allege foul play in terms of trumped-up cost savings estimates and overly aggressive attempts to remove the fleet.

    Close-air support isn’t the only area in which the A-10 excels. Analysts at GAO noted that the A-10 is the only aircraft currently conducting a specific type of search and rescue mission. The Air Force has also admitted that the A-10 is the Air Force’s most superior platform for warding off small boats bent on attacking U.S. ships.

    “Today’s report confirms what I have worked to highlight over months of hearings: that retiring the A-10 without a replacement would create dangerous capability gaps and put American lives at risk,” GOP Rep. Martha McSally, a retired Air Force colonel and ardent supporter of the A-10, said in a statement.

    Though Congress has successfully opposed the Air Force on this matter, Boeing thinks the service will eventually win out and so is planning to sell the aircraft to U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. (RELATED: Boeing Plans To Sell The A-10s Abroad Because The Air Force Doesn’t Want Them)

    The GAO did not recommend any action.

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