By Courtney Albon
The Army has not shown interest in operating the Air Force’s A-10 fleet should the service move forward with an option to divest the close-air-support aircraft, according to congressional correspondence obtained this week by Inside the Air Force.
The Air Force announced in mid-September that it is seriously considering a plan to divest its entire A-10 fleet to cut costs over the course of the fiscal year 2015 future years defense plan. According to recent correspondence between Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps officials have been briefed on the Air Force’s plans.
Ayotte requested the information after placing a hold on the confirmation of Air Force Secretary nominee Deborah Lee James, noting concerns about a possible capabilities gap should the service reallocate the A-10 mission to other aircraft in its inventory. She lifted the hold earlier today.
The Army does not fly any A-10s but its troops have the most to gain from the A-10’s close-air-support mission. According to the document, neither the Army nor any other military services have shown interest in the platform.
“Consistent with every budget development cycle, the Air Force briefed the Army and Marine Corps as well as other Department of Defense components on the Air Force’s FY-15 budget recommendations. . . . There has been no interest to Air Force leaders by the other services in taking, maintaining and operating the A-10,” the document states.
Air Force leadership first briefed the Army and Marine Corps on September 17 and then, on September 20, briefed the under secretaries of the Army and Navy, according to the correspondence. The Office of the Secretary of Defense and senior leadership of the two services were also briefed last spring on the Air Force’s sequester-level force-reduction plans — which included the possibility of A-10 retirement. The Marine Corps, part of the Navy Department, often benefits from the A-10 as well.
The Air Force anticipates that getting rid of the A-10 fleet will save the service approximately $3.5 billion between fiscal years 2015 and 2020, the document states, noting it would be more cost-effective to divest an entire fleet than to retire just a portion of it.
“These savings assume any proposed force-structure divestments would occur across the FYDP in accordance with an orderly drawdown; i.e. the divestment would start in 2015, but the last airframes would not divest until 2019,” according to the document. “These larger savings are possible because of the fixed costs associated with maintaining any fleet of aircraft.”