The US Air Force is considering retiring three squadrons of A-10Cs. Addressing the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee last week, Lt Gen Arnold Bunch said the USAF could retain six squadrons of A-10s through to 2030. The six squadrons equates to 171 combat-coded A-10s, from the 283 in current service in the fleet.
The reduction is thought to be linked to the fact that only 173 A-10s have received structural enhancements that will enable them to remain in long-term service and the USAF is unlikely to fund further work. In June 2007, Boeing received an initial contract to begin manufacturing new Enhanced Wing Assemblies (EWA) for the A-10 fleet. The new wing is based on those fitted on late-production A-10s and rated for 16,000 flight hours. Early A-10s have so-called ‘thin skin wings’. The project was cut to 233 shipsets, and in the event Boeing only ever received orders for 173 EWA sets. The first EWA was delivered to the Ogden ALC in March 2011 and, following installation, the upgraded aircraft flew for the first time in November and was formally rolled out at Hill AFB in February 2012.
The reduction to six A-10 squadrons would mean that the USAF can suport these units under existing EWA re-winging plans and would not need to extend this contract.