Despite multiple attempts by the US Air Force to retire the A-10 Warthog, the aircraft has carried out 11% of all airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria since Operation Inherent Resolve began in August.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James acknowledged the A-10’s contributions in the fight against ISIS during an address on Jan. 15. However, James was quick to point out that many aircraft aside from the A-10 are in engaged in the fight against the jihadist group as well.
“There are a number of strike platforms, of course, that are engaged in it,” she said. “[The] A-10 is one, but there’s also F-16s, F-15s, and so forth. They’re each contributing.”
Of these aircraft, the F-16 has carried out 41% of sorties, with the F-15E carrying out 37% of operations.
Defence News has noted an important caveat about these numbers. Whereas the F-16 has been engaged in operations against ISIS since August, the Air Force did not start deploying the A-10 until November.
That the A-10 was used in 11% of all operations in just three months signals the Air Force is frequently using the ageing aircraft against the group.
The A-10 is a heavily armoured aircraft that is slower and less manoeuvrable than a fighter jet but is perfectly suited to carrying out closer-quarter attacks against ground targets — the plane has been likened to a flying tank. The aircraft has a 30mm rotary cannon that fires armour-piercing rounds and is also equipped with surface-to-air missiles and cluster bombs.
Despite the Warthog’s effectiveness, the Pentagon is continuing its push to retire the aircraft by 2019 despite congressional opposition.
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