So it might be 2040 before the Air Force's fleet of A-10 Warthog attack jets is replaced by the F-35 and whatever drones emerge in the coming years.
Check out this solicitation for tooling necessary to keep the jets flying until 2040.
Here are the basics:
The Government is contemplating to contract for engineering services on behalf of the A-10 Systems Program Officer (SPO). The services contemplated include the following:This would put the invaluable Hog up there with workhorse jets like the B-52 Stratofortress and KC-135 Stratotanker as planes that will serve until 2040.
1 - Develop plan to identify available A-10 Tooling that will be needed to support and sustain the A-10 Aircraft until 2040. 2 - Prioritize tooling based on need and critical nature of tool. 3 - Develop Teamcenter product structure and workflows to properly link and manage the engineering data, scanned data and physical tools with the Air Force Global Logistics Support Center and A-10 production facilities. 4 - Digitally scan the tools according to the priority list and validate prior to linking to engineering data in the A-10 Teamcenter Database. 5 - Develop CAD/CAM interface data by reverse engineering (scanned data) where needed.
This may be due to the fact that the A-10 is such a unique and cost effective weapon. It's a relatively simple plane that's tough as nails and can do everything from kill tanks to loiter low and slow over a battlefield dispatching enemy insurgents.
While it's pretty easy to see the F-35 performing the ground attack and fighter missions of jets like the fast-moving F-16s, it's harder to see the JSF rolling in slow and unleashing a torrent cannon fire on a beehive of enemies. Do you really want to risk getting a stealth jet all shot up on CAS runs?
Furthermore, could this be a sign that the service is considering slowing of reducing its F-35 buy in favor of keeping more Hogs in service and while focusing on using the JSF to replace F-15s and F-16s, (at least initially)? This last one may be a stretch, but who knows?
Thanks to tipster Brandon for spotting this.