WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US military will keep its fleet of veteran A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft operational for at least another four years, US Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told reporters on Tuesday.
"We’re going to keep them until 2021, and then as a discussion that we’ll have with [Defense] Secretary [Jim] Mattis and the department and the review over all of our budgets, that is what will determine the way ahead," Goldfein said according to a report in Defense News.
The US Air Force has repeatedly tried to retire its entire force of slow but heavily armed and armored A-10 aircraft. The new F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike jets, the most expensive combat aircraft project ever, was supposed to replace the A-10 in its ground support role.
President Donald Trump has already intervened to try and reduce the costs of the F-35 program by at least $700 million and repeatedly promised during his election campaign to slash the costs of expensive US weapons systems while making them more effective.
The US Army has championed the A-10, also known as Warthog, against the Air Force which operates it and the aircraft has been repeatedly saved from being scrapped by interventions from Congress.