Friday, March 7, 2014

A Salute to the A-10


Last week the Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a proposed budget that would leave America with the smallest Army since before WW II.  The budget will, among other things, retire the A-10 Thunderbolt attack jet from the Air Force after nearly four decades of service.  (For more details on the A-10, complete with additional photographs, go here.)

Also known as the "Warthog" or just "Hog," the subsonic and heavily armored A-10 provided close air support for U.S. troops during Operation Desert Storm (Iraq 1991), Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan 2001-) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003).  Fortunately, the Hog never performed the mission for which it was originally designed, namely, attacking Warsaw Pact tanks spearheading an invasion of Western Europe.   Instead, the A-10 and other improvements to NATO defenses deterred any such invasion.  (For fictional accounts of the A-10's role in the Cold War, see Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising (1986) and The Hunt for Red October (1984)).  Hopefully future defense budgets here and in allied nations will make the investments necessary to deter any future adversaries.
Of course, Secretary Hagel's proposal to retire the A-10 is just that, a proposal.  Congress, possesses the sole power to "raise and support armies" (see Article I, Section 8, cl. 12) and to spend "for the Common Defense" (see Article I, Section 8, cl. 1).  Thus, Congress can appropriate funds to extend the service of the A-10.  Even if Congress does not act, other nations could purchase the retired A-10s, and one Canadian commentator is suggesting that our ally to the north do exactly that.

In the meantime, this blogger salutes the A-10 and its pilots with some photos taken during a fly-by at the Richmond International Raceway on April 30, 2011.