- The Washington Times - Friday, October 28, 2016

The iconic A-10 Thunderbolt’s time in Air Force limbo appears to be over with the announcement that depot lines are nearing full capacity for the purpose of sustaining it “indefinitely.”

Ground troops will brief a sigh of relief with the recent assurance of Air Force Materiel Command chief Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski that resources to perpetually maintain and repair the aircraft are in place. In short, plans to completely scrap the “Warthog” — and its famous 30 mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun — in favor of the newly minted F-35 stealth fighter jet have been thwarted by performance in the field and lawmakers in the nation’s capital.

“We’ve turned on the depot line. We’re building it back up in capacity and supply chain,” Gen. Pawlikowskitold Aviation Week Oct. 24. “Our command, anyway, is approaching this as another airplane that we are sustaining indefinitely. My approach from a sustainment perspective is to approach this as if we’re just going to continue to keep these airplanes operating. We will wait as the [budgetary] dust settles as far as what the strategy will be; that discussion continues to go on and I think it always will as we look at the fact that our demand signal for our airplanes continues to be high.”

The military website went on to say that A-10s, which have been in use since the 1970s, logged 87,000 flight hours worldwide in fiscal 2015 in support of U.s. missions around the globe.

“The Air Force has been at war for a long time, and every time we think things are going to slow down for us something else happens,” Gen. Pawlikowski said. “We struggle with, how do we find that balance between modernization and the sustainment of what we have?”

Next on the Air Force’s agenda will be to figure out what CAS platforms it will need in the decades ahead, the general added.

Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s A-10 division at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, will handle the bulk of the maintenance work on the fleet of 283 aircraft.

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