Boeing announced on May 25 that, in partnership with sub-contractor Korean Aerospace Industries and other key suppliers, it has delivered the first new wing set for the A-10C Thunderbolt II fleet to the US Air Force.
The wing set arrived earlier the same month at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, where the Air Force has started aircraft integration. Lt Col Jaclyn Melton, materiel leader for A-10 Programs in the A-10 System Program Office at Hill Air Force Base, said: “Boeing is working diligently to deliver greatly needed new wings for the A-10 fleet.”
Boeing was awarded a contract on August 21, 2019, for up to 112 new A-10 wing assemblies and up to 15 wing kits and is currently working to provide the USAF with 50 wing sets. Each wing set consists of outer wing assemblies, centre wing assembly, control surfaces and the fuselage integration kit. The upgraded wings are more durable, efficient and easier to maintain, extending A-10 flying life to 10,000 hours.
Dan Gillian, vice president of US Government Services for Boeing Global Services, said: “The A-10 serves a critical role for the Air Force and Boeing is proud to extend our legacy of supporting the Thunderbolt and its mission. In partnership with the Air Force and our established supply base, we have started full rate production and are actively supporting the customer’s installation schedule.”
The A-10 wing programme was previously a dry line, with tools and equipment housed in long-term storage. Boeing Global Services revived the tooling and activated the supply base within 12 months of contract award. The company’s previous experience with the A-10 includes delivering 173 enhanced A-10 wing assemblies under an earlier, separate contract. The USAF had announced on August 12, 2019, that it had completed installation of those wing assemblies on all 173 aircraft. Boeing had originally been awarded a $2bn contract in 2007 to manufacture news wings for 242 A-10s, but the contract had been allowed to lapse by the USAF after only 173 new wing sets had been produced.
In recent years there have been numerous attempts by the USAF to prematurely retire the A-10C, citing high maintenance and manpower costs in keeping it airworthy, but each effort has been thwarted by Congress. Instead, the USAF has been forced to keep the type operational, with the intention of keeping it in service through to the 2040s. Over 280 currently still remain in USAF service while in addition a further 51 A-10Cs and 49 older model A-10As are in storage with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.