Hill Air Force Base has won a huge $185.7 million, 10-year contract to maintain and upgrade the A-10 “warthog” aircraft, used in close air support of ground troops.
“This announcement is welcome news for Utah, our national security, and our country,” said Utah Sen. Mitt Romney on Tuesday after the announcement.
“Hill Air Force Base plays a vital role in maintaining a fighting force to carry out our country’s national security strategy, supporting our country’s military readiness, and bolstering our capacity to deter foreign aggression,” Romney said. “With this funding, Hill Air Force Base will be better equipped to continue carrying out these objectives for many years to come.”
Sen. Mike Lee added in a Tweet, “The A-10 Warthog is an exceptional plane and in a league of its own when it comes to close air support for our troops on the ground. This is great news for #HAFB.”
An Air Force press release said Northrup Grumman Systems in Clearfield is awarded the contract with Hill Air Force Base, which for years has overseen maintenance of the A-10. The contract is for work through 2030.
The Air Force had tried to retire the A-10 back in 2014, contending that would save billions of dollars and that other aircraft such as the F-35 could perform the same missions. It also said it had become too vulnerable to new types of weapons.
However, fans of the aircraft in Congress, including Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, blocked that move by contending that the plane is irreplaceable when ground troops need close air support.
The aircraft proved itself so valuable in Afghanistan that the aircraft is here to stay through the mid-2030s, and it is also getting an overhaul to keep it relevant, including new weapons, a new cockpit layout and new tactics, according to The Drive, a technology magazine.
A Hill Air Force Base fact sheet says the A-10 “has excellent maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude and is a highly accurate and survivable weapons-delivery platform. The aircraft can loiter near battle areas for extended periods of time and operate in low ceiling and visibility conditions.”
The A-10 is officially called the Thunderbolt but is more popularly called the warthog for its ungainly but aggressive look, according to military.com. It is perhaps best known for the 30mm Gatling gun mounted on the nose, designed to fire armor-piercing rounds against tanks or other high explosive incendiary rounds.