Dr. Michael Gilmore, Director of Operational Testing & Evaluation, revealed this week that his office would conduct a series of close air support (CAS) test flights pitting the proven A-10 against the F-35.
The immediate response from Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh was to dismiss the tests as “silly.” A chorus of critics emerged in the days since Gen. Welsh’s remarks and he has now reversed himself saying he supports the tests.
The Project On Government Oversight’s Center for Defense Information is pleased that the Air Force is now committed to operational testing for this critical mission. But years of experience shows the wisdom in remaining vigilant. Similar commitments have been made in the corridors of the Pentagon before, only to be reneged later when attention shifted elsewhere. Congress may need to require this test to ensure it happens.
The close air support mission is vital to our national security. Precision CAS also saves the lives of our troops in situations when they find themselves outnumbered and outgunned on the battlefield.