The Air Force was planning to start mothballing the A-10 fighter in 2018 and retirement of all A-10s by 2021. But last month Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said that the retirement of the A-10 would likely have to be delayed further as the military continues to rely on the low-and-slow attack plane for close-air support (CAS) missions flown against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. Even more telling, the Air Force Material Command (AFMC) is bringing the depot line for A-10 maintenance and repair back up to full capacity.
The A-10 is a heavily armed and armored attack plane with a long loiter time—and the GAU-8 Avenger 30-millimeter gatling gun that holds 1,350 armor-piercing rounds and is significantly more useful than a stealthy, fast, software-laden fighter like the F-35 for close air support.
To keep the A-10 fleet of 283 aircraft flying, Hill Air Force Base in Utah, where most of the A-10 maintenance and repair work is done, is continuing to prepare for increased capacity. According to Aviation Week, the A-10 division at Hill has improved the aircraft availability rate from about 63 to 68 percent in the past year, accounting for 87,000 flight hours worldwide in fiscal year 2015.
The Air Force has been pressured by a group in Congress with widespread public support to keep the A-10 fleet maintained and flying CAS missions until an adequate replacement has been realized.
SOURCES- Popular Mechanics, Aviation Week