Goodbye to the Warthog: The Post-A-10 Era begins
An A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft heads to the 309th Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Feb. 6, 2024. All DM A-10s will be stored at the AMARG as the Air Force retires the planes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sgt. Nicholas Ross)

Goodbye to the Warthog: The Post-A-10 Era begins at SAt Davis-Monthan Air Force Base; it’s time to say goodbye to the Warthog, the famous A-10 aircraft. This marks the beginning of a new era in military aviation. Let’s explore this transition.

Since its deployment in the 1970s, the A-10, affectionately known as the Warthog, has distinguished itself for its unparalleled tank-killing capabilities in Operation Desert Storm, its precision in providing close air support during World War against Terrorism and its ability to protect pilots thanks to its robust construction.

An A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft heads to the 309th Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Feb. 6, 2024. All DM A-10s will be stored at the AMARG as the Air Force retires the planes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sgt. Nicholas Ross)

A fundamental transformation is underway nearly half a century after the formidable A-10 Thunderbolt II made its inaugural appearance at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. This transition marks the beginning of a new chapter as the base begins the retirement of its iconic attack jets.

Built in 1982, the A-10 with the tail number 82-648 journeyed from the 354th Fighter Squadron to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, known as “The Graveyard.” This event, which took place on February 6, marks the beginning of the retirement process for 78 A-10s stationed at Davis-Monthan, a process that is expected to take place over the next three to five years.

Col. Scott Mills, an accomplished A-10 pilot and commander of the 355th Wing, articulated the deep connection between the A-10 and the base, emphasizing its iconic significance. The A-10, he noted, is not simply a piece of military hardware but a symbol of the unwavering commitment, excellence and service of Davis-Monthan Airmen.

Since its deployment in the 1970s, the A-10, affectionately known as the Warthog, has distinguished itself for its unparalleled tank-killing capabilities in Operation Desert Storm, its precision in providing close air support during World War against Terrorism and its ability to protect pilots thanks to its robust construction.

Goodbye to the Warthog: The Post-A-10 Era begins
Goodbye to the Warthog: The Post-A-10 Era Begins

Col. Razvan Radoescu, commander of the 355th Operations Group, highlighted the integral role of the A-10 in ensuring the safety and success of joint and coalition forces. The aircraft’s presence in the skies and the Air Force’s rigorous training standards have been instrumental in countless missions, providing critical support when no other platform could.

However, as the A-10 fleet ages and the Air Force shifts its focus toward aircraft capable of operating in contested airspace, there are plans to retire the entire Warthog fleet by 2029. This strategic decision underscores the evolutionary nature of air war and the need for modernization.

With the phasing out of the A-10s, Davis-Monthan’s Warthog squadrons will be inactivated, starting with the 354th Fighter Squadron this coming summer and fall. Pilots and maintainers who have dedicated their careers to the A-10 will move on to other Air Force fighter squadrons, and many of them could join the ranks of the F-35 Lightning II squadrons. This transition marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new horizon in air combat capabilities.

Transition to advanced combat and support missions

An A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft heads to the 309th Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Feb. 6, 2024. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sergeant Nicholas Ross)

Goodbye to the Warthog: The post-A-10 era begins
Goodbye to the Warthog: The post-A-10 era begins.

“Perhaps the biggest draw for future maintainers will be in the F-35 community,” said Col. Clarence McRae, commander of the 355th Maintenance Group. This statement underscores the continuing need for qualified maintenance personnel in the Air Force, regardless of the aircraft.

“Airplanes will continue to break down, and we will continue to fix them,” McRae added, underscoring the timeless nature of aircraft maintenance amid the evolution of military aviation.

At Davis-Monthan AFB, the transition of the A-10 mission to new operating paradigms is significant, marked by the introduction of the 492nd Power Projection Wing. This innovative unit is designed to embody the entire spectrum of Air Force Special Operations Command missions, including strike, mobility, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations, along with air/ground coordination. This broad mission set represents a strategic evolution in military capabilities, emphasizing versatility and integrated operations.

The composition of the 492nd Force Projection Wing is remarkably diverse, bringing together specialized units from various locations across the United States. These include:

An MC-130J Commando II squadron from Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico, known for its infiltration, exfiltration and resupply capabilities in hostile or denied territories.
An OA-1K Armed Overwatch squadron from Hurlburt Field in Florida is equipped for close air support, precision strikes, and ISR in support of special operations.

The 21st Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Army Airfield in North Carolina and the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington are both units that specialize in air/ground coordination, precision combat, and personnel recovery.
Additionally, the activation of the 492nd Theater Air Operations Squadron at Duke Field, Florida, will further enhance the wing’s operational capabilities.

Davis-Monthan will also host five HH-60W helicopters from the 34th Armament Squadron and the 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron, which will be flown from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. These state-of-the-art helicopters are critical to combat search and rescue operations, bolstering the base’s ability to execute critical missions.

This extensive restructuring and expansion of Davis-Monthan’s mission profile will unfold gradually over the next five years. The transition is contingent upon the completion of an environmental impact analysis, ensuring that the base’s new operating landscape conforms to sustainability and community standards.

This change not only signifies the phasing out of the A-10’s historical legacy but also heralds a new era of multidimensional warfare capabilities, placing Davis-Monthan at the forefront of modern military operations.