The plane is one of the oldest and ugliest ones left in our fleet, but it might be irreplaceable.
Not many machines from the 1970s find themselves in rotation nowadays. The A-10 Thunderbolt II first flew in 1975, and it might take its last flight in 2015. The plane has always been called "ugly" by aviation experts, but it was one of the most powerful planes on the market. It packs a punch that no other plane has been able to replicate in the last forty years. In fact, according to CNN, the A-10 was one of the "most important post 9/11 aerial fighters in the United States arsenal."
Better known to some as the Warthog, this plane has been used with Iraqi insurgents, the Taliban, and even recently in the battle against ISIS. However, operating the plane is not cost effective, so it may soon hit the scrap yard. Budget sequesters are putting a strain on the Air Force funds, and the Pentagon no longer sees the benefit in the A-10. Many members of Congress agree, thinking they should invest in more technological achievements. One of the main goals is to use the funds that were used for the A-10 and move toward the 5-35 Lightning, which has been riddled with setbacks. Though it won't be a replacement, it will still help to fill out their fleet.
The main purpose of the A-10 was to carry massive 30mm GAU-8 Avenger multi barrel cannons, which are typically shot at tanks. Most missions were considered "air support missions" and the A-10 was the only plane designed to do just that. The plane buys time for troops to move or coordinate their missions. As of its size, it is able to fly low and stay in a relatively small place, unlike many other planes that need space to fly.
One of the remaining supporters of the A-10 is the Arizona congresswoman and retired A-10 squadron commander McSally. "This is a mission where we show up when Americans' lives are at risk," McSally said. "When they're on the ground, they need help, under fire, and we show up right on the front lines and deliver the firepower so they can live to fight another day."
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She is currently trying to save up money to save the plane.