The close air support mission is larger than any one aircraft, said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commander of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force. “I think the A-10 is a great platform, but I also know the challenges the Air Force is facing in these constrained times,” said Wissler, referring to the Air Force’s decision to divest the A-10 fleet. Wissler, who leads US marine forces in Japan and the Pacific, previously spent three years as the Marine Corps’ top programs and resources official. He told reporters in Washington, D.C., on Friday that he knows acutely the pressures USAF is facing. “They have made very hard decisions about what they have to do to maximize their war fighting capability,” he said. Wissler also noted that marine air assets are tied to a joint air tasking order in any fight, which gives the joint air commander access to all assets, regardless of service. “I’ve never been in a situation where I said to my air officer, OK get me a Marine Corps jet,” Wissler said, “I called everyone … I didn’t care if it was a marine at the other end, I cared whether it was a guy who could put a bomb on target.
The Collaborative Combat Aircraft will be operational in the late 2020s, several years before the Next-Generation Air Dominance family of systems, Air Force officials told the House Armed Services tactical aviation panel. The CCAs will first be “shooters,” then electronic warfare platforms, then sensors, in that order, they added.