Air Force Warthogs have new wings, adding decades to service life

Dale Benoit, 576th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, inspects newly applied paint on a new A-10 Thunderbolt II wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, July 3, 2019. The aircraft was the last of 173 A-10s to receive new wings under the Enhanced Wing Assembly program.



Note: This article has been corrected.

The Air Force finished installing new wings on 173 of its 281 A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft, which will allow the upgraded “Warthogs” to fly into the 2030s, the service said.

Airmen at the Ogden Air Logistics Complex on Hill Air Force Base, Utah, finished the Enhanced Wing Assembly replacement program, an eight-year project, installing new wings on 162 aircraft. Eleven more wing sets were installed at Osan Air Base, South Korea.

The wings should last for approximately 10,000 flight hours without major inspection and were fitted with better wiring harnesses, an Air Force statement said Monday.

Boeing was awarded a $1.1 billion contract in 2007 to build the replacement wings but struggled to deliver the wing sets on time, said Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, then-commander of Air Force Materiel Command, to Defense News in 2017.

Performing upgrades on the roughly 40-year-old airframe proved difficult, the statement said.

New parts had to be made for the fuselage, and spare parts were transported from the Air Force’s “Boneyard” with help from the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

Making sure the workers had all the parts they needed to complete the upgrades “required a really significant team effort,” Stephen Zaiser, 571st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron director, said in the statement.

The A-10 has participated in operations in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Air Force froze all plans to retire the A-10 in late 2015 after congressional members, including the late Sen. John McCain, expressed support for the aircraft.

The Air Force has also been looking to field a new light attack aircraft since 2009; however, the effort was put on hold in January as Air Force leaders looked to collect more data.

Twitter: @chrisbdennis

Correction: The Air Force installed new wings on 173 of its A-10s and not all of them as reported in an earlier version of this article.

Lt. Col. Ryan Richardson, 514th Flight Test Squadron commander and A-10 test pilot, lands following a flight check on an A-10 Thunderbolt II at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, July 25, 2019. The aircraft was the last of 173 A-10s to receive new wings under the Enhanced Wing Assembly program.

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