17:12 GMT26 February 2020
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    The A-10 close air support jet is still believed to be one of the most powerful warplanes in the US Air Force. There is no replacement for the aircraft yet, and Washington’s plan to scrap it could pose a threat to national security.

    The US Air Force has delayed its plans to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt II in favor of the Lockheed Martin F-35, The National Interest reported.

    There is still the need to scrap the venerable A-10, but US senior military officials delayed the initiative due to the current global situation and outlooks for the future, Air Combat Command commander General Hawk Carlisle said.

    "I think if you look at what we'd like to do is probably a couple of squadrons maybe early, because we have F-16s coming out of Hill [Air Force Base], and we'd like to transition A-10s to F-16s in a couple of different places, but I think the majority of it we would move it a couple of years, two to three years, to the right," he was quoted as saying by The National Interest.

    Earlier, the US deployed A-10’s to a military base in Turkey because of their unique capabilities to attack enemy ground forces like those of the Islamic State (ISIL), the general pointed out.

    Congresswoman Martha McSally, a former Air Force A-10 squadron commander, opposed the plan to scrap the legendary aircraft.

    She said the move would create a threat to US national security.

    "As it has always been, the plan to retire the A-10 ahead of schedule is irresponsible and reckless. No plane in our inventory or under development can match the A-10’s unique capabilities to provide Close Air Support – capabilities that are in increasing demand," McSally said in a statement quoted by The National Interest.

    The US has invested over $1 billion to keep the aircraft flying until 2028.

    "Until there’s a suitable replacement, we absolutely need to keep this life-saving capability in the air," McSally said.

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    Tags:
    Middle East, Daesh, airstrikes, aircraft, A-10 Warthog, US Air Force, United States
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