(Chris Hondros/Stringer/Getty Images)
Everybody’s favorite close air support aircraft the A-10 Warthog has seen its fair share of action. Since 1977 this amazing jet has been tearing through the skies and tearing up just about everything that gets in its way. It can take a beating and come back for more but over 100 of them are at risk for being grounded over a serious issue involving its wings.
The A-10 is basically a gun with a plane built around it, meant for the harshes of fights so it is equipped with powerful armor. The vast majority of A-10s have flown beyond their expected service life and their wings may begin to experience structural integrity issues. What’s even worse is that replacement wings are currently unavailable to planes that need them the most and an estimated 109 Warthogs face imminent grounding.
“We’re trying to work through to see if we can get to the point where we will not have to ground airplanes waiting to get wings, but as it stands right now, we will have to ground airplanes while we work through getting additional wings.”
– General Ellen Pawlikowski (Commander of Air Force Materiel Command)
It is ironic that after all the attempts to bring down the A-10 by enemy fire and even by politicians, its undoing is from itself. New wings could extend the service life of an A-10 up to 16,000 hours and keep them flying for the foreseeable future. Congress rejected motions to prematurely end the A-10’s use, but its own wear and tear could put an end to them once and for all if replacement wings aren’t issued.