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Will the Air Force Really Dump the A-10 Warthog and F-16?

A-10 Warthog Retirement
U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation pilot Stuart Milson, flies in formation with U.S. Air Force Maj. Kristin "BEO" Wolfe, F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team pilot and commander, and Capt. Haden "Gator" Fullam, A-10 Demonstration Team pilot and commander, at the 2021 Thunder over Michigan Air Show, Aug. 8, 2021, Willow Run Airport, Mich. The air show also featured the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Kip Sumner)

The U.S. Air Force is seeking to retire older aircraft in the near future amid its ongoing modernization push.

According to Greg Hadley of Air Force Magazine, “specifically, legacy systems like the A-10, KC-135, F-16, and C-130H are all primed for the chopping block, based off the USAF’s recent budget requests.”

Major Impact

However, if that occurs, it will surely have a considerable impact as about two-thirds of the Reserve’s 324 aircraft are C-130Hs, KC-135s, F-16s, and A-10s.

“What’s more, replacements for those aircraft are not necessarily on a one-for-one basis, at least not right away,” Hadley writes.

“The F-35 fleet is still being filled out. The KC-46 tanker has faced steep challenges, most of which have yet to be fully resolved. The Next Generation Air Dominance program may not be ready for years to come,” he continues.

Air Force Reserve chief Lt. Gen. Richard W. Scobee noted that there will likely be a gap between the old jets leaving and new planes entering service.

“In a perfect world, it would be heel-to-toe, you would have one butting up against the other. On a regular basis, I am reminded we do not live in a perfect world,” Scobee, who served as the Reserve’s director of plans, programs, and requirements back in 2013-14, said during a media roundtable at the AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.

“What I can do is if there is a year gap, from when one thing starts to another thing ends, I’d like them to be heel to toe, but I can gap a year. And the way I do that is I don’t own one of anything. I have to have at least two of anything that goes on,” he continued.

Teamwork Key

Currently, it is known that the Air Force Reserve boasts multiple units with F-16s, A-10s, and KC-135s. If one of those units loses its planes, Scobee noted that he is confident that others will step in to help.

“If you look at the fighters and those kinds of things, I’ll have another unit,” he said.

“So, what we’ll do is we’ll share airplanes, we’ll share flying hours, we’ll share the opportunities to turn wrenches, and we’ll be able to turn up some of the flying hours in order to keep people on the staff,” he added.

Scobee also touched on what is likely to be the biggest weapons systems change seen in years.

“What it really boils down to is we have a plan for how we go forward,” he said.

“As these changes occur, what we want everybody to understand is we have done this before. It’s not that new to us and we’ve been very successful. And everybody whose job may transition or change because of the new weapon system, we’re going to take care of them individually,” he continued.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Written By

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV.



  1. Tom McCarthy

    September 29, 2021 at 9:57 am

    Who needs airplanes when the Air Force has much more pressing issues like teaching Critical Race Theory and transgender issues?

  2. Lepke Buchalter

    September 29, 2021 at 1:03 pm

    If there’s a conflict, ground troops will miss the A-10 more than any other aircraft.

  3. John Jordan

    September 29, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    When the Chinese tank battalion commander is eating noodles in the golf course snack bar at Andrews AFB, then you will realize how much you miss the a-10. No F-35 or F-22 or any other platform will kill a tank.

  4. cricri

    September 29, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    beyond the technical specs, in asymetricals conflicts,
    no other plane has as much psychological impact as an a10 spewing its shells and rockets on ground forces

    stealth is good but when you have balls you have to show them

    (excuse my poor english, i’m french)

  5. MaxAmoeba

    September 29, 2021 at 2:36 pm

    Why not, because of the idiotic vaccine mandates we won’t have the pilots anyway.

  6. Michael Peinsipp

    September 29, 2021 at 5:45 pm

    1 .308 rd in the fuselag3 of an F35 and it is ruined.
    1 20mm rd that hits the A10 is just a scratch.
    AND the A10 can kill Tanks, other jests and Hoomans on the ground.
    A10 Warthog – Best friend a ground pounder will ever have…PERIOD.

  7. don stock

    September 29, 2021 at 6:19 pm

    The A-10 is the greatest on battlefield statement, psychological weapon we have. And it does real damage in reality. Ground troops love it. Is this move inspired by liberals?

    Don Stock

  8. jc

    September 30, 2021 at 8:10 am

    The average operating cost of an F-35 is what, nearly 100x that of the A-10? And it doesn’t do close air support as well as the A-10. So why would we do that? It’s easier to manage platforms and crew rest cycles if you have fewer different models in the inventory. In other words, we’re going to reduce our capabilities and exponentially increase our cost so it’s easier for lazy air force planners to manage operations instead of managing the different pilots licensed to operate different platforms within crew rest constraints and other considerations, in large because we can’t retain the pilots that we train, because of incompetence and toxic leadership at the top rungs of the air force.

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