Air Force Chief Says A-10 Should Be Replaced With ‘Flying Coke Machine’

Jonah Bennett | Contributor

The A-10 platform needs to be replaced by a “flying Coke machine,” Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh said Wednesday.

At a Defense Writers Group breakfast in Washington, D.C., Welsh said the new aircraft intended to take the place of the A-10 needs to be as flexible as a coke machine, National Defense Magazine reports.

“Imagine the … flying Coke machine and just having a Coke machine overhead, and you put your quarter in and you get whatever kind of firepower you want when you want it,” Welsh said. “In the perfect world, that’s close-air support of the future.”

That close-air support of the future, the Air Force maintains, is not the A-10, an aircraft much-loved by service members and much-despised by Air Force leadership looking to reallocate resources to the development of the F-35.

“We don’t think this would take that long to do and we don’t think it’s that complicated of a design problem,” he said. “The technology is available to us. We can develop it.”

“We need something to keep doing at much lower cost the types of things we’re doing in the counterinsurgency fight today,” Welsh added. He then said the A-10 costs about $20,000 per flying hour and he wants the next platform to cost only $4-5,000 per flying hour.

Even given all that, however, Welsh remarked that finding a replacement platform for the A-10 is “not the highest priority,” as the Air Force is focused on procuring other platforms, like the F-35, the KC-46 tanker and the B-21. Potential alternatives to the A-10 consist of the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano and the Beechcraft AT-6, among others.

Congress has pushed back against the Air Force’s attempt to sideline the A-10 platform every step of the way.

Welsh is retiring a the end of June.

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