Chuck Spinney: Killing the A-10 Hog (VII): Close Air Support Fly-off Farce

Corruption, Military
Chuck Spinney

Killing the Hog (VII): Close Air Support Fly-off Farce

Ask any battle-hardened American soldier or marine what the best close air support airplane is — especially if his unit is in close-quarters combat and in danger of being overrun — and his most-likely response would be the Air Force’s A-10 Warthog, affectionately known to grunts and pilots alike as the Hog.

Yet despite the nearly universal kudos from the grunts, the United States Air Force hates the A-10, with an enduring passion that dates from the A-10’s birth in the 1960s. This is partly because the A-10 was midwifed in controversy by an amazing alliance of mid-level AF officers and Defense Department civilians, as well as a sense of urgency resulting from congressional investigations into complaints about the Air Force’s support of grunts in Vietnam.  But the hatred runs much deeper: More fundamentally, it is grounded in the fact that the A-10 represents a highly visible — and painful — contradiction in the Air Force’s founding ideology of precision strategic bombing.

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A-10 @ Phi Beta Iota