Gareth Jennings, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
29 May 2018
The US Air Force (USAF) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to re-wing about 100 of its Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support (CAS) aircraft.
Released on 25 May, the RFP for the A-10 Thunderbolt Advanced Wing Continuation Kitting (ATTACK) programme calls for the re-winging of 112 aircraft over five annual ordering periods, with the option for two more years after that.
This ATTACK effort adds to the 173 aircraft that were upgraded under the previous Wing Replacement Program (WRP) that ran from 2007 through to 2018, with Boeing as prime contractor. Despite the USAF’s announcement midway through the WRP that it was to prematurely retire the A-10, it was deemed cheaper to continue with contracts awarded under the A-10 Thunderbolt Lifecycle Program Support (TLPS) than to cancel them.
Speaking earlier in 2018, Air Combat Command (ACC) chief General James Holmes said the USAF now aims to maintain a fleet of 285 aircraft (the sum of the WRP and ATTACK programmes) out into the 2030s. There are approximately 350 A-10s in the inventories of the active USAF, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard, although a number have already been sent for mothballing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.
As a legacy platform, the A-10 is supported equally by Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Responses to the ATTACK RFP are due by 23 August, with a contract expected in fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019). The approved budget for FY 2018 contains USD103 million for the project, while USD79 million has been requested for FY 2019. To date, no funding for FY 2020 and beyond has yet been identified.
The issuance of the ATTACK RFP is the surest indication of the USAF’s intention to reverse its decision to retire the A-10 so as to free up resources for the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
A-10 Thunderbolt: Details