GAO: Air Force Hasn’t Fully Assessed Cost of A-10 Divestment

The Air Force hasn’t fully assessed the cost savings associated with divesting the A-10 fleet, according to a Government Accountability Office report, released June 25. The report also states that divesting the Warthog fleet “will create” gaps in the close air support mission even though USAF has other CAS-capable aircraft in its inventory. The Air Force’s Fiscal 2015 budget request estimated divesting the A-10 fleet would save $4.2 billion over its five-year budget plan, but GAO found that estimate was “incomplete and may overstate or understate the actual figure.” For example, the service did not take into account the potential cost of upgrading the A-10s if they kept flying or the potential need to extend the service lives of the F-15 or F-16, which would take on more of a CAS role until the F-35 entered the fleet. The GAO report noted that the F-35 will have “limited” CAS capability “for several years.” The report also suggested that divesting the A-10s would limit training opportunities for joint terminal attack controllers. “While the complexities of the Air Force’s difficult budgetary decision is fairly represented in the report, the context in which that decision was made can only be understood by better assessing the risks to air superiority and global strike that retaining the A-10 fleet presents,” said Secretary Deborah Lee James in a response attached to the report.