Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

Janine Davidson examines the art, politics, and business of American military power.

The Air Force’s Argument to Retire the A-10 Warthog Doesn’t Add Up. Here’s Why.

by Ben Fernandes Thursday, March 5, 2015
A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft from Bagram Air Base flies a combat mission over Afghanistan, in this handout photograph taken on June 14, 2009 and obtained on May 20, 2014. (Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson/Courtesy Reuters) A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft from Bagram Air Base flies a combat mission over Afghanistan, in this handout photograph taken on June 14, 2009 and obtained on May 20, 2014. (Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson/Courtesy Reuters)

The U.S. Air Force and the rest of the military desperately need to cut billions of dollars while minimizing the loss to combat capabilities. Eliminating platforms provides the greatest cost savings due to the fixed costs associated with each platform. The Air Force plan: retire the A-10 Warthog. As an Army officer relying on anecdotal experience and public evidence, I find this decision perplexing, as do Air Force ground controllers, Senator Kelly Ayote (R-NH), and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. I cannot find systemic evidence articulating the impact of losing the A-10 on the Air Force’s close air support (CAS) capability because the Air Force has failed to articulate this information. Instead the Air Force provides irrelevant or misleading information.

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With Final FY15 Defense Budget, the Devil’s in the Details

by Janine Davidson Thursday, December 18, 2014
U.S. Representative Buck McKeon (R-CA) (L) holds up a media release as he and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) (R), chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, hold a news conference to talk about progress between the two chambers on the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2014, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington December 9, 2013. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Representative Buck McKeon (R-CA) (L) holds up a media release as he and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) (R), chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, hold a news conference to talk about progress between the two chambers on the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2014, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington December 9, 2013. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)

After a process that could generously be described as touch-and-go, President Obama signed a $1.1 trillion dollar omnibus and continuing resolution spending package—the “cromnibus”—on Tuesday evening. It obligates $554 billion dollars for defense spending, which includes $490 billion for the base Pentagon budget and another $64 billion to the Overseas Contingency Fund (OCO). As Military Times reports, this marks an $18 billion dollar decrease from FY14—although the entirety of that reduction comes from a reduced OCO concurrent with the drawdown in Afghanistan. This top-line figure lines up almost exactly with President Obama’s original March request.

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If the Air Force Has Such a Good Argument for Divesting the A-10, Why is No One Buying It?

by Janine Davidson Tuesday, May 20, 2014
a10 divestment U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft are serviced on the flight line at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina in this handout photograph taken on December 2, 2005. A U.S. Congressional panel has rejected the military's proposal to retire the entire fleet of A-10 close-air support planes, as the annual defense policy bill continues to make its way through the House of Representatives. The White House said retiring the planes would save $4.2 billion through 2019. (Tech. Sgt. James Arrowood/Courtesy Reuters)

One of the most controversial proposals by the Air Force this year is its plan to divest the A-10 jet aircraft.  The “warthog,” as it is known, is a slow moving, low-flying, ear-piercingly loud jet airplane built around a giant “Avenger” Gatling gun, which has provided intimidating fire power for troops in contact on the ground for nearly 40 years.  By divesting an entire fleet, instead of just a few airplanes, the Air Force saves “billions, not millions” across the board in production and maintenance.

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