(September 26, 2017) Three squadrons of A-10 Thunderbolts could be grounded unless the Air Force receives the money to equip them with new wings. Even then, the time it takes to award a contract and get the ball rolling toward replacement may require some airplanes to be taken out of service.
That’s the word from Gen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski, the commander of Air Force Materiel Command, who spoke last week to Defense News while at the Air Force Association’s annual conference outside the nation’s capital.
“We’re trying to work through to see if we can get to the point where we will not have to ground airplanes to get wings,” she said, “but, as it stands right now, we will have to ground airplanes while we work through getting additional wings.”
Currently, 109 of the 281 A-10s need wings replaced to extend their lives to 16,000 hours, Defense News reported.
To buy time, the Air Force might remove wings from mothballed A-10s now in the boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, but that would “give us a few more hours, not as many as new wings do.”
The service’s current projections are that a few aircraft will need to be retired in fiscal 2018 with about 70 more reaching the end of their service lives over the next several years.
“What we will have to do is, we will have to manage the fleet in order to provide sufficient jets, particularly for the squadrons that are deploying in support to operations,” Pawlikowski said. “But aircraft availability will be impacted due to the fact that we will not have sufficient wings to maintain the current aircraft availability.”