Ukraine doesn’t want A-10s, but another country might, Air Force secretary says

by Braxton Taylor

Despite previous calls from Ukraine for more attack aircraft, a top Pentagon official said the country isn’t interested in ex-U.S. Air Force A-10 Warthogs. 

“Ukraine hasn’t expressed much interest. I think they, rightfully, are concerned about their survivability,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday. 

After years of pushback from Congress, the Air Force has started to get rid of its half-century-old A-10s, which service officials say are too vulnerable to survive in modern conflict. But lawmakers have suggested that these aircraft could be sent to Ukraine, and some Ukrainian officials have signaled that A-10s could be useful. 

Kendall said he wasn’t aware of any “active interest.” 

“One country at least has expressed some interest, but the problem is once that aircraft goes out of the U.S. inventory, there won’t be any base support for it. So any country that picks it up and tries to sustain it would have a very hard time. It’s also a very old aircraft, about 45 years old. Replacement parts are very hard [to find],” he said. 

The secretary did not say which country is interested in the retired Warthogs. 

Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine, there’s been much discussion about Kyiv’s potential use of A-10s. Some argue the twin-jet would be a sitting duck for Russian SAMs. But Luke Coffey, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, says the plane could be effective if Ukraine had the right complement of systems and capabilities, like F-16s, to accompany it. 

“This idea that they wouldn’t be effective on the battlefield in Ukraine, I don’t subscribe to because this plane was literally designed to destroy Soviet armor and Russian armor. Yes, it’s a bit dated, but so are the ATACMS, so are the HIMARS,” Coffey said. 

Ukraine is desperately awaiting promised F-16 fighter jets to counter Russia’s air force, which has been launching upgraded bombs that glide to their targets from planes. 

Funding to provide Ukraine with much-needed aid, including more ammunition, air defense systems, and artillery, has been stalled in Congress for months, but House Speaker Mike Johnson signaled today that there will finally be a vote. 

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