Apr 30, 2015

USAF: Keeping A-10 means F-35 delays, F-16 cuts

If not allowed to retire the A-10, the Air Force says it will have to send F-16s to the boneyard and delay plans for the F-35 because there aren't enough airmen to maintain both fighters.
If lawmakers succeed in passing a bill requiring the Air Force to keep the A-10 in its fleet for another year, too few maintenance personnel would available to stand up the first operating unit of the F-35 at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and even fewer to continue maintenance of the F-16, the service told congressional staff in a recent briefing. The base is expected to begin receiving F-35s later this year.
The Air Force plan, if authorized, would be to move F-16s from Hill to replace retiring A-10s at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and Fort Wayne Air National Guard Base, Indiana.
But if that plan is blocked, the Air Force cannot move the F-16s from Hill. Meanwhile, the Falcon units would lose maintenance personnel to the new F-35 units, causing the F-16s to "lose deployable capability," according to an Air Force talking paper obtained by Air Force Times.
Thus, moving forward with the F-35 "requires the retirement or transfer of assigned Hill AFB F-16s in late FY15/early FY16, " the paper says.
The Air Force wanted to move the F-16s to the bases as soon as possible. But the requirement to keep the A-10s at the bases would prompt the service to move the F-16s to the boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.
The Utah base will be the first operational location for the F-35s, with it expected to have 72 of the jets. The base currently has 48 Block 40 F-16s.
The Air Force has said it needs 1,100 trained maintainers to reach initial operating capability for the F-35.

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