Chuck Norris roundhouse kicked his way into the debate involving the pending retirement of the Warthog, the nickname for the A-10 Thunderbolt, a close air support jet originally manufactured by Fairchild and, subsequently, Northrop Grumman. The Warthogs are planned for retirement in 2015 in favor of the developing F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, one of the most expensive procurement projects ever undertaken by the United States military. In an online exclusive for WND (formerly WorldNet Daily), the frequently “meme-d” action star argued that the Warthog’s low-flying and tactical close air support accuracy is not replaceable by other high-performance, high-altitude, and technologically advanced models in the military’s aircraft fleet.
As a veteran of the Air Force, Norris notes that despite the age of the A-10 fleet, the Warthog remains a fully capable, combat-ready aircraft as a result of numerous upgrades over the years. Some modifications include the Low-Altitude Safety and Targeting Enhancement program (which added computerized weapons-aiming equipment, an autopilot, as well as a ground-collision warning system), GPS navigational system and an advanced multi-function display (MFD), and Precision Engagement upgrades (which include fire control systems, electronic countermeasures, smart bomb delivery capability, LITENING and Sniper advanced targeting pods, situational awareness data link, and many other modern technological updates).
The Air Force currently maintains 300 units of the A-10 in its fleet, the closing of which would only cover the costs of 30 units of the pending F-35 fighter jets. Although the budget cuts of 2014 nearly shuttered the A-10 program that year, the Warthogs were advocated by Congress for deployment in the September air campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, postponing the end of the fleet’s service.
The aircraft inspires many impassioned pleas from its proponents. Tyler Rogoway of Foxtrot Alpha also argues that the Warthog has many uses aside from close air support and battlefield interdiction, including forward air control, strike control and reconnaissance, combat search and rescue, and anti-maritime roles. Rogoway also states that the Warthog is significantly cheaper to run than other aircraft in the USAF’s repertoire. The A-10’s operating cost is currently at $18,000 USD per hour, while the F-15C fighter jet requires approximately $40,000 per hour.
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