In a recent Aviation Week article, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldstein hints that the Air Force may move away from the single mission close-air support (CAS) platform. The Air Force may scrap a direct replacement for the A-10 and instead move in the direction of a family of systems for close-air support (CAS) missions. Gen. Goldstein goes on to say, The Warthog was not always his first choice to protect soldiers in battle. The Air Force is planning on flying the A-10 until mid-2020. Read more below:
The U.S. Air Force is looking closely at the future of close-in warfare, but the service’s top general says that future may not include a direct replacement for the A-10 Warthog.
The Air Force has for years contemplated building a follow-on, dedicated close-air support (CAS) platform to replace the Warthog when it reaches the end of its service life, but that effort now appears to have stalled. When asked whether the service is taking steps to develop a single-role “A-X,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said “not yet.”
So does that mean a single-mission CAS platform will eventually go away? “Maybe,” Goldfein says.
“I don’t disagree that a single-role platform sets an incredibly high bar for the rest of the force,” he said during a wide-ranging interview with Aviation Week July 16. “But remember, [combatant commanders] have got the entire spectrum of conflict that I’ve got to support, from the highest end, the lowest end and everything in between, and I’ve got a certain amount of money that I’ve got to use to build the best Air Force that money can buy.”
Goldfein spoke with Aviation Week on an Air Force C-40 during the flight back from his visit to the Royal International Air Tattoo, the world’s largest military air show, at Royal Air Force Fairford, England.
As the air component commander in Afghanistan, Goldfein saw firsthand how the Air Force now relies on a family of systems, not just the A-10, for the close-air support (CAS) mission. The Warthog was not always his first choice to protect soldiers in battle: in the mountainous terrain of the east, an MQ-9 Reaper was the best choice to quickly navigate the peaks and valleys; in the volatile west, where operations could quickly take a turn for the worse, the multirole F-15E would give maximum agility; for the north, a B-1B bomber—with its endurance and large payload—worked best.
Read more here.