May 22, 2015
USAF shifting maintainers from A-10 to F-35
The service is moving 18 A-10s to backup status, under a compromise approved in the fiscal 2015 Defense Authorization Act. That frees up a small number of airmen to get the F-35 ready. However, the service needs at least 1,100 maintainers to reach the August 2016 milestone.
The Air Force is standing up the first operational base of F-35s at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, with training now beginning at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The service needs its maintainers ready to start training by late summer to have them ready to get the F-35 to initial operating capability by August 2016.
The 2015 law lets the Air Force move up to 36 A-10s to "backup" non-flying status. The service said earlier this year it was moving 18 to that status, all of these are from active-duty squadrons, and the service could sideline the rest of the authorized 36 this year if it needs to. The service has 283 total A-10s.
Despite the maintenance manning issues, the service is still confident it will reach initial operating capability on time.