A 4-ship of A-10s from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona recently executed a flyover during the Air Force Academy’s home game against Fresno State. This time-lapse video chronicling the event from the perspective of #4 gives us a look inside one of the coolest jobs on the planet.
It also underscores a turning point in the volatile recent history of the Air Force’s Close Air Support workhorse. Provisions inserted in this year’s compromise defense appropriations bill, which has since been signed into law by President Obama, bar the Air Force from retiring the A-10 and require development of a suitable follow-on before sending the A-10 to the boneyard can be further contemplated.
This is something close to a total defeat for the Air Force bureaucracy, which has long sought to deactivate the A-10 to make budgetary room for its bloated F-35 program. But the politics of the initiative turned against the service as a result of an underhanded propaganda campaign littered with command abuses and suppression tactics, continuing demand for A-10 capacity in current operations, and pushback from legislators who understand how retirement of the A-10 would create gaps across multiple Air Force mission areas.
For the time being, it appears the A-10 will continue to provide world-class CAS in support of forces engaging in ground combat with our enemies. This is good news, though it remains to be seen whether the Air Force will accept Congressional intent and adjust its budget strategy for the coming years.
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