As budget pressures force the Defense Department to rethink long-term spending plans, Air Force officials are openly admitting that their venerable fleet of A-10 Warthogs could be on the chopping block because the heavily armed planes simply do not top the priorities list.
The biggest strike against the A-10 is that it has only one job — to protect ground troops taking fire. And while considered critical by Army and Marine Corps combat units, close-air support has never been a favorite mission for Air Force pilots — who typically prefer high-flying sleek and stealthy aircraft to the slow-moving and aptly named Warthog.
“The A-10 is not a sexy airplane,” said Gordon Adams, a defense analyst at the nonpartisan Stimson Center who oversaw national security budgets during the Clinton administration. “It just happens to be a highly functional one for its mission.”
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