Friday, June 12, 2009

Last of grounded A-10s are expected to be cleared for return to flight status by the end of the month

In his Daily Report for June 11, 2009, wrote:

Home Stretch: About 60 of the Air Force's A-10s ground-attack platforms are still not flying due to concern over wings cracks, but are expected to be cleared for return to flight status by the end of the month, two Air Force generals told lawmakers Tuesday. In a joint written statement presented to the Senate Armed Services' airland subcommittee June 9 (see above), Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford, military assistant in the service's acquisition shop, and Maj. Gen. Marke Gibson, director of operations on the Air Staff, said the inspect and repair program that the Air Force put in place last fall after the issue came to light has whittled the number of grounded A-10s from about 240 down to the 60 or so. "We anticipate these will all return to flying by the end of the June," they wrote. While the Air Force has an initiative in place to install new wings on 242 A-10s which have the comparatively thinner skinned wings that are more susceptible to cracking, the wing installations are not scheduled to begin until Fiscal 2011.

Note: The following excerpt is from the combined statements of Lieutenant General Mark D. Shackelford, Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition (SAF/AQ), and Major General Marke Gibson, Air Force Director of Operations for Air, Space And Information Operations, Plans And Requirements (AF/A3O), presented to the Senate Armed Services Commitee, Airland Subcommitte, United States Senate, on June 9, 2009:


[...] IV. Status of Combat Aircraft Acquisition

The following information provides updates on Air Force combat aircraft modernization:


The A-10 provides the Joint Force Commander lethal, precise, persistent, and responsive firepower for CAS and combat search and rescue (CSAR). It has performed superbly in OPERATIONS DESERT STORM, ALLIED FORCE (OAF), OEF and OIF. However, the age of the A-10 and high operations tempo have taken a toll on the fleet. In the Fall of 2006, the Air Force Fleet Viability Board (FVB) recommended that the Air Force upgrade 242 thin-skin center wing A-10 aircraft with thick-skinned wing replacements; this program is currently designing the new wing and installs will begin in FY11. Last fall, approximately 240 A-10s were grounded due to wing cracks. An inspect and repair program was implemented that has reduced the number still grounded to approximately 60; we anticipate these will all return to flying by the end of June 2009. Additionally, A-10 landing gear failures have resulted in a program for replacing failure-prone parts. The Air Force is currently upgrading 347 A-10s to the "C" configuration through the Precision Engagement (PE) modification and anticipates completion by the end of FY11. This modification enables J-Series weapons, such as Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) and Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD); integrates a digital data link and advanced targeting pods with video downlink; replaces monochrome cockpit displays with color multi-function displays; installs new pilot throttle and stick controls; adds a moving map capability and a mass-memory upgrade; and doubles current DC power. Additionally, we have integrated beyond line of sight radios into the A-10 for faster communication with ground units, forward controllers, and C2 centers. [...]


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