Editor’s Note: There’s not a whole lot to say this one. What are the facts? The A-10 is indeed the most effective Close Air Support aircraft on the face of the earth, and its pilots are the grand masters of that discipline. It is still a devastating and effective weapon in today’s fight. Even so, the F-15Es and F-16s are being used to fly Close Air Support. Those aircraft are being relied on heavily in current operations for that purpose. McCain referencing CAS while using the attack on Daesh oil convoys (not CAS) as an example only muddies the waters. Saying F-15s and F-16s aren’t being employed is simply not true. But as always, click on the video link at the bottom and draw your own conclusions.
Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, lit into Air Force leadership on Thursday, saying the service was ignoring the facts about the effectiveness of the A-10 “Warthog.”
McCain slammed Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force Chief of Staff, saying the general was being “disingenuous” and that his answers were “embarrassing.”
The exchange became heated, with McCain repeatedly interrupting Welsh before finally cutting the conversation off by saying “Enough general, OK?”
Welsh said he wishes the service could keep the A-10, but that the limited funding, resources, and maintainers available means the Air Force will need to shift personnel from the Thunderbolt II to the new F-35 Lightning II.
“We have X amount of people and X amount of dollars,” he said.
“And you have X amount of missions and the A-10 is carrying out those missions, general,” McCain cut in.
The close-air support (CAS) role of the A-10 would be taken over by the F-15E Strike Eagle until the F-35 starts deploying after it reaches initial operating capability near the end of this year, Welsh said.
But that answer didn’t satisfy McCain, who questioned why the Air Force wasn’t using the F-15 for CAS now.
“You have nothing to replace it with, general,” the Arizona Republican said. “You have nothing to replace it with. Otherwise you’d be using the F-15s and the F-16s which you have plenty of. But you’re using the A-10 because it’s the most effective weapon system.”
The article in its entirety can be viewed right here.
(Featured photo by Douglas Graham/Roll Call/Getty Images)