During the Cold War, Western military planners were faced with a tough dilemma: How to counter and deter the overwhelming Soviet advantage in armor and tanks in Eastern Europe, short of using or threatening to use nuclear weapons? The A-10 was the answer - designed and purpose-built to counter the Soviet armor advantage, it is primarily and intentionally a defensive weapons system, designed to destroy attacking tanks, armor and artillery - basically, a flying tank killer.
Since the Cold War, the A-10 has proved itself to be a remarkably effective warplane. Stories abound of its legendary survivability in combat, with the pilot shielded by armor and able to fly home even after taking heavy damage - and its effectiveness in close-air-support missions on the battlefield is second to none. It is however no match for the current generation of air superiority fighters, and not an offensive threat to any modern air force.
The U.S. Air Force, therefore, has A-10's that it wants to mothball, and instead focus resources on supporting the F-35. Why not send them to Ukraine? Such was suggested in retired General and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (NATO) Philip Breedlove and Ambassador Paul Volker's excellent article "Six Ways to Help Ukraine Survive Right Now".
So far, the U.S. government has rejected plans to send any jets, more notably Polish MIG-29s, to Ukraine, for fear of escalating the conflict.
But the A-10, and its Soviet counterpart the Su-25 Frogfoot - which are in service and ready to go in Bulgaria - are different: their only real use in this conflict would be to destroy attacking tanks, armor and artillery - the latter of which is being used primarily at the moment not against military targets, but to terrorize and destroy Ukrainian cites. In combination with shielding air defense systems, they could perform exactly the role they were designed for - defend against and destroy enemy armor - and give the Ukrainians a fighting chance to save their own country - quite possibly avoiding the need for a greater, more dangerous escalation if the West comes to face a stark choice between allowing Ukraine to fall under even more brutal, ruthless and massive attacks, and direct military involvement.
Rather than fight World War III, let's do Cold War 2.0 - we know how to win that one. The A-10, combined with other jets, better air defense, more supplies and the efforts already underway, can be part of a smart, steady and effective strategy - as it was during the Cold War - to provide the absolute maximum defensive and deterrent capability to allies like Ukraine without escalating the conflict to levels that threaten us all.
Welcome to the discussion.