As Military.com reported yesterday,
The venerable A-10 tank killer aircraft is taking a hit of its own as part of the Defense Department’s decision to eliminate six of the Air Force’s tactical air squadrons and one training squadron.... Three of the five A-10 squadrons going away will be Guard units. Air Force leaders plan to eliminate one Reserve and one active duty squadron.
It wasn't pretty, but that's what made the A-10 Thunderbolt II all the more endearing. That and the 30mm Avenger Gatling cannon that fired uranium-depleted shells that effortlessly turned tanks into confetti. Not to mention the rocket pods, JDAMs, cluster bombs, incendiary bombs, Maverick missiles, and sidewinder missiles, to name a few.
In fact, as Military.com reporter Michael Hoffman points out, "the A-10 Thunderbolt II—better known as the 'Warthog'—is known as the infantryman’s favorite Air Force aircraft because of its ability to fly low and slow over a battlefield providing close air support." Just go to YouTube and type in A-10 and you'll see everything from flight demos to the A-10 in action to the test-firing of its cannon. Tom Clancy referred to it as the "devil's cross" in Red Storm Rising. And yes, it even inspired the Cobra Rattler, which every 10-year-old in the mid-1980s had to have. (The G.I. Joe version was also VTOL, which was clearly not feasible, unlike the F-35, which has had no problems...)
Speaking of the Joint Strike Fighter, Hoffman writes, "Air Force leaders plan to phase out the A-10 and allow the F-35 Lightning II to take its mission sets once it enters the Air Force fleet in numbers. But the F-35 program has experienced problems and Panetta announced in his budget 'preview' that the Pentagon would delay it once again."
Regarding the airmen in those targeted squadrons, Air Force chief of staff General Norton Schwartz told the press, "What we are doing is remissioning the units. In other words, for example, a unit that was operating manned aircraft might transition to a remotely piloted aircraft mission. And so, their fundamental skills will still be employed but in a different way.” As for the aircraft, no word on how many will be scrapped, sent to museums, or sold to Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world.