The nature of the budget cycle forces the Air Force to plan its force structure two years ahead of time, he added. Often, the assumptions planned in the budget request change, and the USAF must be agile enough to adjust to new requests.
"What happens is that life gets in the way of the perfect plan," Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told Defense News. "So when we made the decision on retiring the A-10, we made those decisions prior to ISIL [Daesh], we were not in Iraq, we were coming out of Afghanistan to a large extent, we didn’t have a resurgent Russia."
Delaying the A-10 retirement plan is a key policy shift that the Pentagon will reportedly lay out next month in its fiscal 2017 budget request, according to a press report.
Top officials had already said that the Air Force could shelve the A-10 retirement for a few years to meet commander’s demand for the close-in attack jet. The Warthog is still believed to be one of the most powerful warplanes in the US Air Force and beloved by troops for its Gatling gun. There is no replacement for the aircraft yet.
According to Air Combat Command chief Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, the service needs more close-air support planes to protect troops on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, and for possible missions in Libya and Yemen.
The US will have to invest over $1 billion to keep the aircraft flying until 2028.
Earlier, The National Interest reported that Washington could delay the A-10 retirement plan as it poses a threat to national security.
The reported decision to postpone the plan comes after years of debate between Congress and Air Force policymakers. Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee and an A-10 advocate, welcomed the reports that Washington will delay the retirement plan.
"With growing global chaos and turmoil on the rise, we simply cannot afford to prematurely retire the best close-air support weapon in our arsenal without fielding a proper replacement," he said in a statement.
The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is a single-seat two-engine close-air support jet. It was designed for destroying tanks, armored vehicles and various ground targets. The jet entered service with the US Air Force in 1976, and its production was ended in 1984. Armed with a massive 30-mm rotary gun, the Warthog is one of the most effective and powerful attack aircraft in the USAF. The Air Force has long planned the retirement of the A-10, especially in the light of growing expenses for the F-35 program.