Regarding the April 11 front-page article “Attack plane’s next battle: Surviving Pentagon’s cuts”:
The Air Force said mothballing its A-10 Thunderbolt II fleet is a money and mission issue. Regarding the money, the projected savings of $3.7 billion over five years amounts to a small portion of the Air Force’s budget. Air Force leaders could find that savings in other areas and hold on to this aircraft, which has a sterling combat record. The A-10 costs less per hour than the other Air Force fighter aircraft; it makes no sense to divest the A-10 to save money and then use more expensive aircraft to cover missions.
The Air Force says the A-10 does only close air support and other aircraft can fill that role, but this “single-mission” appellation is inaccurate. Some combat missions the A-10 has carried out include suppression of enemy air defense, battlefield air interdiction and intelligence surveillance reconnaissance. Additionally, the A-10 is the only Air Force jet that can effectively do combat search and rescue. When a stealth F-117 was shot down in Kosovo, the non-stealth A-10s located the downed pilot, protected him and escorted choppers in to extract him. The A-10 is the best platform for vehicle convoy escort, a mission used thousands of times in Afghanistan. I protected Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s civilian vehicle convoy from attack during one such mission. Ask our Special Forces which jet they prefer to protect them in air-on-demand missions. They will say the A-10.
Robin Stoddard, Tucson
The writer, a retired Air Force pilot, is an A-10 simulator instructor.