Ukraine Says It Doesn’t Want U.S. A-10s (Updated)


Ukraine is saying thanks but no thanks to a suggestion the U.S. Air Force donate its unwanted A-10 Warthogs on the war-torn country. Air Force Magazine is reporting Ukraine would much rather have F-16s. “We have been requesting combat aircraft from our partners for a long time now,” Yuriy Sak, adviser to Ukraine’s minister of defense, told Air Force Magazine by phone from Kyiv on July 21. “We need Western-standard fighter jets. We need Western-standard combat aircraft.” He said he needs “fast and versatile” aircraft rather than the somewhat ponderous Warthog.

Last week the Air Force floated what it thought was a politically irresistible way to get rid of at least part of its fleet of A-10s. The New York Times is reporting Air Force brass wanted to donate some or all of the close support “cannon with wings” aircraft to Ukraine and training its pilots to fly them. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said he’s considering the idea but it’s still in the discussion phase.

From an operational point of view, the Air Force brass thought the A-10 was well suited to Ukraine’s needs given the grinding war against Russia has morphed primarily to a game of inches on the ground with tanks leading the charge. A-10s were designed specifically for this kind of conflict and carry weapons to kill tanks and give close support to ground troops. The Air Force has long considered this kind of battle obsolete and said the A-10 is irrelevant and extremely vulnerable in the types of conflict it envisions in the future. The Ukrainians seem to agree.

“They are a great support machine, very durable, very deadly. And the enemy cannot hide even behind tank armor when it meets A-10s,” he said. “But then, at the same time, they are slow. And, to operate them efficiently—and we know this from our pilots—they are really vulnerable to the enemy’s air defense.” Sak said the A-10s would likely be easy targets for Russian antiaircraft systems already in use in the Ukraine conflict.

USAF wants the money it spends to keep the A-10s flying used to support modern aircraft better suited to modern conflicts. Kendall said sending Ukraine U.S. aircraft is on the table but he wouldn’t discuss details.

“Older U.S. systems are a possibility,” Kendall said. “As Ukraine, which is pretty busy dealing with the right-now problem, tries to sort out what its future will be longer term, we will be open to discussions with them about what their requirements are and how we might be able to satisfy them.”

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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    • Careful now…the newest form of virtue signaling is letting everyone know that you are willing to see unlimited US tax dollars and if necessary, nukes exploding around the world in order to support Ukraine. And….whatever you do, don’t EVER discuss the fact that pushing Baltic countries into joining NATO and the threat of NATO military bases on Russian borders played a role in the current Russian aggression. Just fly your Amazon purchased Ukrainian flag on the front porch and keep telling yourself that Finland has enormous strategic value to the US and is worth millions of US lives to protect if Russia invades now that Finland will be a NATO member.

  1. A10’s were NOT ment for this type of conflict.

    The airspace will be contested and without adequate counter-air fighters, they will be chewed up and destroyed.

    Surface counter air is not enough to protect A10’s from fighters.

    Yes, Ukraine in known to be corrupt, but they choose their leaders and are mostly peaceful when left alone, if they want different leadership, they should have the right to choose not have that take from them.

    As for the expansion of NATO, countries that join together for common defense may be enough to deter a country that is aggressive and expansionist. That is worth lives, when they came for my neighbor, I did nothing because it wasn’t my business or I didn’t like them, now they come for me, who will help me?

    Again, the A10 will be wiped out in that conflict. If the Air Force doesn’t want them, give them to the Army. They know how valuable they really are.

    • Well, I don’t think protecting uninhabited Taiga forest on the border of Finland/Russia is worth Nuclear war. You really think we need Finland to protect our country? Any direct armed conflict between the US and Russia would end in mutual destruction.

      • Where dose your freedom begin? The Taiga Forrest? Finland? Poland? Germany? New York?

        The direct armed conflict will be with the Brave Service men of our Country protecting your rights to do nothing and complain.

        When someone moves into your neighbors house and invites their friends to move into yours, will you do nothing?

        • Ridiculous argument. Should we or should we not launch a war with Russia if they invade Finland and claim 10 miles of forest land in Finland? Yes or no?

          • Stupid to get closer to a direct conflict with Russia by supplying them with aircraft and associated weapons. We invaded a sovereign country south of us because of small arms imports that we felt threatened us. What do you think Russia will do if we hand over A-10’s?

      • Here’s where I think you are right: Perhaps allowing Finland into NATO is too confrontational and inflammatory.

        Here’s where I think you are wrong: Containing aggression of nuclear powers when they misbehave is MORE important than if they are not nuclear powers. Which is why we, and the others, are doing the right thing by supporting Ukraine from this invasion. Putin used everything except the weather to try to justify this invasion. Arguing as if NATO expansion was the real reason is a stretch.

        Lastly, from a realpolitik standpoint, it certainly seems correct to let the Ukrainians teach the Russians a lesson.

        • So are we (USA) going to continue to give Ukraine 100’s of billions every 6 months or so for years? Is Ukraine worth the economic destruction of the US? I doubt Russia will be taught a lesson. They are in this for the long run. This will end with Russia being given most of the Donbas region which is occupied by millions of ethnic Russians who never wanted to leave Russia and Zelenskyy will personally pocket billions stashed away in his personal bank account from skimming off the billions in aid.

          • …and don’t forget about those laundered dollars that will filter back into the pockets of the Biden crime family.

  2. Hmm, USAF wants “modern” aircraft better suited to “modern” conflicts. Except that all conflicts since the early 90s (Gulf 1, Kosovo, Gulf 2, Iraq, Afghanistan, ISIS, Ukraine), the A-10 works perfectly. Oh, and the A-10 was designed based on lessons learned on the needs for ground attack aircraft learned in Korea and Vietnam. What “modern” conflicts have occurred where these “modern” aircraft do a better job?

  3. First off, this “A-10 needed” is just a MSM invention. If you read what they need, they are requesting AIR SUPERIORITY and FIGHTER BOMBERS.

    STOP THE MADNESS! Stop quoting “Media sources” and go look at their requests. They are looking for F-16’s and F-18’s.

    Once air superiority is achieved, they’ll let us know if they need anything else.

    • The Ukrainians wisely want to use their limited resources to get better air superiority, while the Air Force brass want to use Ukrainian resources to solve their political issues.

      It does put the lie to the position that the AF is playing 3D budget chess when it tries to rid itself of the A-10 without a true replacement. Somebody in Congress needs to grow a pair and tell the Army they can start planning to replace the A10 themselves.

      No more stupid agreements on who gets what toys. Mission first, egos last.

  4. The army doesn’t want them since they can get the air force to do the close air support on the USAF budget.

    I suspect if the a10 didn’t exist and work so well the army would have to do something else for close air support, on the army budget,

    that is the basis for the argument.

  5. Send them that “Assault Airplane with the thing that goes up”, shoots fast enough to blow your head off your neck, and never runs out of bullets so deadly that they should only ever be used by the police, without body armor.

  6. So it is as suggested earlier in this forum – need air superiority to avoid A-10s getting shot down.

    My modest understanding of the war by Russia on Ukraine is that both sides have significant ability to shoot down aircraft, so Ukraine uses its aircraft cautiously.

    What Ukraine could use is missiles capable of hitting Russian airplanes launching missiles from over Russian territory. US does not like that notion, thinking it would be interpreted as US involvment in the war.