The plane Iraq feared

April 01, 1991

There is a plane the soldiers truly love, the taxpayers should like and the enemy really fears, but it is not being built anymore because the Air Force didn't want it in the first place. Americans who debriefed Iraqi officers said it was one of the two planes they most did not want to see coming (the other was the B-52).

The plane is the A-10, which was made in Maryland. What the Air Force doesn't like about it is that its mission is to support ground troops instead of engage in high-speed aerial combat.

The Air Force long has shied away from its ground support role, forcing the Army to turn to the more-vulnerable helicopter. But if the Gulf War is any indication of what most combat will be like in the 1990s, there will be more need for close air support and pinpoint attack missions than there will be for high-flying, highly maneuverable fighters.

The A-10 is built sturdy so it can survive the pounding it might take. It does not need a lot of high-tech gadgets because it flies slowly enough so the pilot can see what he is doing. Because it doesn't need all those gadgets, it costs less than the supersonic models the Air Force does like but that can't do the job as well.

By resuming A-10 production, we can get more and better weapons for less.

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