Air Force CoS’s Conflicting Statements on the F-35

Photo meme of the A-10

Yesterday Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh called the proposal to test the F-35 against the A-10 for close air support missions a “silly exercise.” He claimed no one in the Air Force has ever said the F-35 would replace the A-10 in the critical role of close air support.

“So the idea that the F-35 is going to walk in the door next year when it becomes IOC and take over for the A-10 is just silly. It’s never been our intention and we have never said that,” said Welsh. Perhaps he has forgotten we live in the age of Google.

From September 18, 2013:

Gen. Welsh on the A-10, “If we have multiple-mission airplanes that can do the mission – maybe not as well, but reasonably well – you would look at eliminating the single-mission platform.”

He said this in February 2015:

"We have to look at different ways to do the close air support mission with new airplanes like the F-35."

From May 1, 2015:

“Air Force officials have consistently maintained that other aircraft, including the developing F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, will be able to perform close-air support missions.”

From the Joint Strike Fighter’s official website:

“The F-35 is designed to replace aging fighter inventories including U.S. Air Force A-10s and F-16s, U.S. Navy F/A-18s, U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers and F/A-18s, and U.K. Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers. With stealth and a host of next-generation technologies, the F-35 will be far and away the world’s most advanced multi-role fighter. There exists an aging fleet of tactical aircraft worldwide. The F-35 will solve that problem.”

General Welsh should bear in mind this is the information age…

Photo of Dan Grazier

By: Dan Grazier, Jack Shanahan Military Fellow

Dan Grazier is the Jack Shanahan Military Fellow at the Project On Government Oversight

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