Surrender dates for the Taliban in Afghanistan are scheduled to occur in three weeks in Kabul. The cause of the sudden coalition victory? Relentless CAS by the Army’s newest pilots driving a Korean War era warhorse.
For years the Army has requested more CAS capability from the USAF yet the “Air Power” service and its lobbyists remain intent on killing the A-10 in favor of aerial combat birds like the F-22 and F-35. The Army remained relentless in its needs for CAS support, even saying, “just give us the damn planes, we’ll fly ‘em,” although they empathetically denied interest in piloting the A-10.
Two years ago, the Air Force quietly answered the Army’s bitching by refurbishing old Douglas A-1 Skyraiders from the Tucson, AZ boneyard near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. According to an anonymous Air Force source, the planes “…were going to sell them to our third-world allies anyway so might as well send them off as a friendly joke before they get shipped overseas.”
Turns out, the joke is on the Air Force
“No school like the old school,” said an Army pilot who only wished to go by his callsign “Elvis.” “My Daddy flew these planes in ‘Nam and when the MILPER went out about the opportunity, I couldn’t resist. I love this plane. Long range, big guns, big bombs, and our ground-pounders love the time on target.”
The Army quietly trained pilots at secret locations in Arizona and New Mexico, with extremely low population density, and terrain that mimicked the terrain of Afghanistan and Iraq. After a 18 months of rigorous selection and training, the “Spad” pilots were let loose to rain down scunion on the enemy. One captured Taliban fighter put it best, “All hell rained down upon us. Even Allah could not stop the bombs.”
Special Forces commandos in particular are in love with the Vietnam-era plane. “Sweetest sound was hearing the turboprop roar, bombs dropping, followed by a “BRRRRT” from a supporting “Hog” (A-10). One plane is good but in tandem they are music to my ears,” said a forward deployed operator.
Congressional hearings are set next week to determine what role, if any, the Air Force played in the victory over terrorists.
True Story: the A-10 has more air-to-air kills than the F-22 and F-35.