General Welsh Criticizes A-10 Supporters, F-35 Critics by Stew Magnuson, National Defense Magazine
Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh has heard one too many times that his service doesn't care about close-air support missions.
"Really? I'm kind of tired of hearing that," he said Sept. 15 at the Air Force Association conference.
The Air Force has averaged about 20,000 CAS sorties per year for the last seven years. "At what point do we get a little bit of acknowledgement for that?" Noting that airmen who require protection serve on the ground, as well as his own son who is a Marine Corps infantry officer, Welsh characterized the notion that the Air Force puts a low priority on close-air support as "silly."
He has answered those who have told him to his face that the Air Force doesn't care about CAS by taking out his phone and showing them a picture of his son.
His comments come during a public debate over the retirement of the A-10 Warthog, a Cold War era aircraft that the service wants to retire to make way for the F-35 joint strike fighter. Congress so far is not allowing that to happen. While he did not wade into the specifics of the arguments, he ran a short video of a former A-10 pilot who is now putting the F-35 through close-air support test and evaluation…