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In a time of conflict and bloodshed, it is essential to make sure that as many lives as possible could be saved. Therefore, the design of transportation devices, including land, water and air transportation, should be aimed at increasing the chances of people’s survival. Despite having a rather basic design, A-10 has proven to be one of the aircraft that promote the pilot’s safety in the most efficient manner. Therefore, keeping the A-10 is crucial for saving as many lives as possible in combat environments.
The necessity of retaining the A-10 model as a means of saving people during a battle or an air attack is predetermined by the specifics of the aircraft’s design, particularly, the horizontal stabilizer. The choice of the specified course of action is both ethically adequate and economically reasonable, since caring about the safety of people is the key priority of any authority and since revamping an already existing and nearly impeccable aircraft is cheaper than promoting the production of new and non-tested concepts.
In order to prove the significance of keeping the A-10 as a tool for reducing the number of victims during wartime or in any other environment involving combat, a qualitative study will be carried out. General research with an overview of several essential sources will be conducted. The data collected in the course of the research will be analyzed with the help of the analytic induction method. Although the specified approach is comparatively old, it allows for a detailed analysis of the existing sources and a better understanding of the subject matter. Only trustworthy peer-reviewed academic sources were chosen for the review. However, seeing that the subject matter can be defined as an aircraft with a comparatively old design, the use of sources that date back to the 20th century was considered as an option. As far as the use of theory is concerned, the study will view the issue from the perspective of two key theories, i.e., the Utilitarianism theory of ethics as a means to address the safety issue and the cost-benefit theory as the framework for analyzing the economic implications of reconsidering the current safety measures.
Researches show that the so-called “Warthog” and its 21st-century colleague, “Thunderbird,” are among the safest aircraft that has ever been designed for carrying out war missions (Beaumont, 1997). The history of the aircraft is rather basic; originally designed to counter the Soviet tanks, the A-10 aircraft over the years established itself to be amongst the most proficient fleets for asymmetrical warfare and the most efficient aircraft in accomplishing Close-Air-Support (CAS) missions (Lomberg, 2014).
When it comes to defining the properties of the aircraft, which allow it to facilitate the safety of the pilot, one must mention the fact that the aircraft has been designed in a way that provides close-air support. The specified characteristics of the plane have been tested successfully in battles in Iraq and Afghanistan (Lomberg, 2014). Unfortunately, the above-mentioned advantages of the plane have been questioned after superficial scrutiny. Despite the obvious significance of the use of A-10 for military missions, the question concerning the reasonability of the A-10 use was raised in 1976 and has been supported ever since (Warwick, 2007).
Nevertheless, evidence shows that the aircraft is required for facilitating the safety of war pilots. While passing an amendment thwarting Obama Administration’s A-10 retirement proposal, Representative Candice Miller expressed his concern for what is happening in Iraq and the Middle East, eliminating the A-10 fleet will be the absolute wrong move (Trimble, 2014). On the one hand, the idea of abrogating the use of the specified vehicle seems absurd seeing that it helps improve the efficacy of the U.S. military forces’ responses towards the threats of an international level (Bruce, 2003). On the other hand, several pieces of evidence have shown that the “warthog” could use a significant update. Particularly, the costs for maintaining the aircraft in good shape are truly ample (Drew, 2015). In his column ‘House Votes to Block A-10 Retirement,’ Stephen Trimble reported that the overall annual cost of A-10 fleet operation amounts to $ 900 million (Trimble, 2014). Presenting the USAF’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, Gen Mark Welsh said that it made perfect sense to retire the A-10 fleet for an estimated saving of $ 4.2 billion through FY 2019 (Hammerdinger, 2014). The average cost of one A-10 Thunderbolt is $ 13 million in 1994 dollars; under the same benchmark, an F-35 jet already scaled a cost of $ 28-38 million in 2012. Recent estimates show F-35’s cost further escalating to $ 110-150 million per plane excluding weapons systems and $ 300-350 million per plane including its weapons systems (Weinstein, 2012).
In fact, most of the assumptions regarding A-10 made by the U.S. Air Force seem to be rather inconsistent (Lamothe, 2015). For instance, the USAF’s claim about phasing out older planes and getting rid of inventory lacks logic, as the places in question only need minor updates. Air Force wants to retire the capable A-10 fleet including some F-22 and F-16 fighters but it somehow finds sense in not retiring the older 59 McDonnell Douglas KC-10 tankers (Everstine, 2015). At a National Press Club interview, Gen. Mark Welsh conceded that the “Air Force can do the job without KC-10 but would do it in an ugly way” (Hammerdinger, 2015). Without A-10, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter can assume aerial superiority and can perform CAS duties, yet it cannot perform the same functions as F-10 Warthog does in a manner as efficient (Starosta, 2013).
Following the same logic, one may assume that KC-10 stands out to be a fit case for retirement but USAF seems to be inclined to promote KC-10 as the prime choice for safety and efficacy in an air battle (Drew, 2014). Schogol reports in his article that ‘A-10 provides the type of close-air support that ground-pounders love and the Taliban dread’ (Schogol, 2012). The army knows that they do not have anything close to A-10 for close-air operations but they still prefer to cut the budget by grounding the A-10 fleet. Adm. James Winnfield, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reported in a personal interview that A-10 is very good at providing close-air support but the Air Force needs an aircraft that can do more than one mission (Schogol, 2012). As Lt. General Christopher Bogda said in his attempt to support the F-35 program, “the Joint Strike Fighter will consolidate several magic bullet mission requirements into one of the three variants- (i) conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) (ii) short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) and (iii) the carrier-based CATOBAR” (Lomberg, 2014, par. 1). Highlighting all the positive aspects of the F-35 program, the Air Force Officials themselves retreated on several occasions stating that A-10 is practically the best available option for CAS operations (Lomberg, 2014). The F-35’s only defense is that there may be a need in near future to strike distant targets and return to safety, which A-10 cannot do. Furthermore, the Air Force went on to convince the stakeholders involved that, while the US was busy fighting the Iraq, Afghanistan and other counterinsurgency battles, other countries developed capabilities to counter US’s long-range air attack, which could reduce its supremacy in air-to-air combat, thereby triggering an urgent need for long-range aircraft like the F-35s. However, the chances of the U.S. to face the need to engage in air-to-air combat are rather low; therefore, the specified goal is no more urgent than the war against terrorism that the US is already engaged in (). The battle at hand is an asymmetrical one, which needs better utilization of the already available A-10 fighter planes. Given that the insurgency of ISIS and the war against terrorism expanding at a rapid pace, there remains no sense in retiring the A-10 Warthog, which represents an opportunity for the U.S. military.
Finally, the outlook of the politicians, Governors and the House Panel on the A-10 Warthog needs to be considered. As reported by Stephen Trimble, the House Armed Services Committee has already blocked the A-10’s retirement until Comptroller General certifies the CAS abilities of the F-35 aircraft (Trimble, 2014). The US House Representatives have also voted to block USAF’s A-10 retirement proposal and the Amendment was approved by 300-114 votes (Trimble, 2014). The house Panel overseeing combat aircraft also blocked the immediate retirement of A-10 directing the Defence Department to review the F-035 program following a fire in the F-35 trial (Mehta, 2015). Recently, the House and Senate negotiators have approved $ 334 million through a compromise defense authorization bill to keep the A-10 warthog flying through the fiscal year 2015 (Albon, 2014). A-10 Team received a $ 48 million sanction to produce 107 precision engagement modification kits to transform the A-10 aircraft from the analog mode to the digital one, thereby transforming it from clean weather, visual only attack aircraft to an all-weather multi-mission precision delivery platform (Fabey, 2006). Earlier, realizing that A-10 is going to stay, the USAF sought sanction of about $ 2 million and ordered 242 replacement wing kits from Boeing for the existing fleet. Overall, the politicians also seem to be in favor of continuing the production of the A-10 Warthog.
The “Warthog,” therefore, can be deemed as an essential tool in reducing the number of accidents in the course of a military conflict. Numerous characteristics of the plane, such as the opportunities for integrating the latest tools for night vision, a more adequate design of the cockpit, etc., make it rather evident that the dismissal of the aircraft as one of the most efficient and, which is even more important, safest tools for attacking during combat is highly unreasonable.
It would be wrong to assume that the “Warthog” has an impeccable design; like many other aircraft, it has several disadvantages in its properties, yet it still proves to be by far the safest vehicle in terms of protecting the pilot from dying in an accident. Therefore, a-10 must not be rejected as a supposedly old vehicle; instead; it should be updated according to the latest technological advances so that the safety of the aircraft should be comparable to other technical properties, such as its maneuvering ability, its speed, the apartment, ability to carry low and high drag bombs, etc.
Moreover, the fact that the A-10 Thunderbird can be enhanced with the latest technology and at the same time retain its basic properties shows that once remodeled, the aircraft may become the ultimate means of performing a certain mission and keeping the pilot safe. The opportunities, which will be opened once the state authorities allow engineers to “change the A-10 from a clear weather, visual only attack aircraft into an all-weather, multimission precision weapons delivery platform” (Schogol, 2012, p. 1), are truly ample. The redesign of the aircraft is likely to make the U.S. Air Force practically undefeatable; therefore, it must be considered immediately, permitted and encouraged as the key tool for enhancing the military power of the United States.
The specifics of the A-10 aircraft allow for reducing the number of victims during air combat significantly, which is why the aircraft should be retained as one of the means for keeping safe as many denizens of the population as possible. A detailed study of the existing sources has shown that retiring the cheapest and most successful legacy system like the A-10 to save $ 4.2 billion and introduce the costliest fifth-generation F-35 fighter in its place is unreasonable, especially with the existing budgetary constraints. War is not just killing and eliminating enemies, supporting fellow soldiers and saving lives is also an important, if not most important, aspect of war (Bruce, 2003). Thus, A-10 warthog deserves to live because it can save lives.
Albon, C. (2014). Conference bill provides $334m to keep a-10 flying through FY-12. Inside the Pentagon, 30(49), 1–2.
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Bruce, R. T. (2003). The article claims death of A-10, but units live on. Air Force Times, 26, 1–3.
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