Small Wars Journal

Air Force Boss Wary of Proposal for New Close-Air Support Jets

Air Force Boss Wary of Proposal for New Close-Air Support Jets by Valerie Insinna, Defense News

While some Air Force officials have begun thinking about replacing the A-10 Warthog, including a new proposal that would involve buying two aircraft types, the service's top civilian leader on Tuesday questioned the affordability of such an endeavor.

During a Defense One event Tuesday morning, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said she had not been briefed on any potential options or an acquisition strategy related to a new close air support (CAS) aircraft, dubbed A-X. One of the options the service is perusing is the purchase of two CAS aircraft meant to augment and eventually replace the A-10.

"So far I have read about this in the news. I have not actually seen a proposal on any of this that has come forward to me. So it sure is pre-decisional. It hasn't been decided on,” she said. “Where would we get the money? Not at all clear to me.”

The Air Force met with aviation experts last Wednesday to discuss a proposal that would involve buying two close air support aircraft, Aviation Week first reported last week.

The first, called OA-X, would support the A-10 in near-term operations, not replace it outright. The service would likely use an existing, off-the-shelf design like the Beechcraft AT-6 or Embraer A-29 Super Tucano to cheaply carry out CAS missions in low-threat environments. A second aircraft, called A-X2, would then be fielded to replace the Warthog and operate in medium-threat environments…

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