The Air Force’s next-generation close-air-support platform should be able to provide instant firepower on demand, the service’s top officer told reporters June 15.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh compared the desired capability to the convenience and flexibility of a soda machine. “Imagine the … flying Coke machine and just having a Coke machine overhead, and you put your quarter in and you get whatever kind of firepower you want when you want it,” he said at a Defense Writers Group breakfast in Washington, D.C. “In the perfect world, that’s close-air support of the future.”
For years, the Air Force has been trying to kill the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the service’s close-air-support workhorse. Officials have cited budget constraints and the need to save money to invest in other platforms as reasons to get rid of it. Congress has kept the plane alive, but service leaders are already thinking about what comes next.