Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday that the Air Force should retire the slow-flying A-10 Thunderbolt II and provide the 1970s-era attack jet, known as the Warthog, to allies and partners in need.
“The most obvious example is Ukraine, which is preparing to mount a counteroffensive against Soviet-era tanks and entrenched Russian positions,” the Florida Republican said in a statement.
He said African nations fighting terrorist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram, and Latin American countries battling drug cartels and paramilitary rebels, could also make use of A-10s.
“Phasing out the A-10 by transferring it to allies and partners is the smart thing to do,” Mr. Rubio said. “Not only would it help America adapt to the challenges of the 21st century, it would also help our friends confront their own challenges without deep U.S. intervention.”
The Air Force has tried to mothball the A-10 Warthog for years but has been stymied by Congress over what to do with the rugged attack aircraft that was beloved by ground troops for its close-air support in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Pentagon says the planes wouldn’t survive a fight against adversaries with modern air defenses, like Russia and China.