A-10 & U-2 Fleets Slated for Retirement
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has announced a new round of military budget cuts - including the retirement of the A-10 Warthog ground attack aircraft and the venerable U-2 spy plane that has operated since the 1950s.
Additional cuts include retiring half of the Navy's Cruiser fleet, reducing overall numbers in the Army, closing and consolidating bases as well as other personnel and benefits adjustments. The full budget and its impacts will be unveiled on March 4th.
Budget staffers have been eyeing the unmanned Global Hawk as the natural replacement for the U-2. Both operate primarily out of California's Beale Air Force Base.
There will likely be a fight to keep these assets in the Air Force inventory. Senator Kelly Ayotte, whose husband was an A-10 pilot, has already signaled her displeasure with these proposed cuts.
Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II is slated to fill the air-to-ground role that has been the benchmark of A-10's mission. One thing is for certain, the F-35 will have big shoes to fill when it comes to the combat proven A-10 - as seen in the battle damage photos in the gallery of an A-10 that was able to make it back to base after being severely damaged.