Boeing has floated the idea of selling refurbished A-10 Warthogs to other nations as the US Air Force seeks to retire the venerable attack airplane.
The company is currently extending the service life of the air force’s A-10 fleet through a re-winging programme, and it recently delivered its 100th modification with more than 70 modifications left on contract.
At a Boeing-sponsored media event in San Antonio, Texas, today, the company’s chief engineer of off-Boeing programmes, Paul Cejas, suggested the US government might pursue international sales of upgraded A-10s. Dozens of A-10s are currently in near-flyaway storage at the air force’s boneyard facility in Arizona, and could be brought back into the operational fleet at any time.
Cejas says he has no exact customers in mind, but Boeing has "begun early discusssions."
“It’s something we would be interested in, but again, it depends where the air force goes with retirements," he says. “If we go that path we would be looking at a modification. It all depends on what the air force does. We have no jurisdiction, and we’ll support whatever they need and we’re positioned for that.”
Congress has long protected the A-10 from retirement, and fiscal 2016 looks to be no different.
Cejas said it would not be fiscally efficient to cancel the re-winging programme this far into the contract, and Boeing would support any potential sale opportunities abroad should the Pentagon and choose to go that route.
Boeing’s current re-winging contract lasts into the first quarter of 2017 and there are options for more upgrades.
Boeing is the closest thing to a prime contractor for the Fairchild Republic A-10, officially called Thunderbolt II. The company owns the technical data package for modification and upgrade, Cejas says. As of March, there were 283 aircraft in the US active inventory.
No other nation currently operates the A-10, called the "best close air support platform ever" by the general in charge of Air Combat Command.