A-10 Demo Team Announces Its Final Year As The Warthog’s End Draws Near

While still hard for many to believe — and accept — the A-10C Warthog ground-attack jet is coming to the end of its U.S. Air Force career. In the latest development, the A-10C Demonstration Team has called time on the aircraft’s public-facing role, announcing that this season will be its last.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce that the 2024 A-10C Demonstration season will be the final one,” the team announced on its Facebook page today.

A-10C Demonstration Team

“We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported our team over the last 40+ years. It is truly the end of an era. If you have the opportunity to come to any of our shows this season, please do so, as it will be your last chance to see the A-10C Demonstration Team in action.”

Stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona — where the first A-10A versions began to arrive back in March 1976 — the A-10C Demonstration Team showcases the Warthog’s unique capabilities at airshows across the United States, including formation flights with warbirds as part of the Heritage Flight Foundation.

Doing the honors for the final season in the A-10 cockpit is Maj. Lindsay M. “Mad” Johnson, heading up a 10-person team that includes maintenance and public affairs airmen. Prior to assuming the role, Maj. Johnson was an instructor pilot and flight commander with the 357th Fighter Squadron, also at Davis-Monthan.

Capt. (now Maj.) Lindsay “Mad” Johnson, A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team commander and pilot, performs an aerial demonstration during the Shop n’ Save Westmoreland Air Show, Pennsylvania, June 17, 2023. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Stephens

The closure of the A-10C Demonstration Team is a very visible sign of the Warthog’s impending retirement but was not unexpected.

Already, the 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan has begun divesting its Warthog fleet as the Air Force prepares to retire the type completely over the next three to five years.

Last month, the Air Force announced that a first Davis-Monthan A-10C — serial number 82-648 — had been retired to the ‘boneyard,’ heading to the adjacent 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) for storage on February 6. Warthogs from other Air Force units had already begun to arrive at AMARG beginning in April last year, as we reported at the time.

An A-10C arrives at the receiving ramp of the 309th Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, February 6, 2024. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Ross

“The A-10 has been the symbol of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base for many years, and it will continue to be a symbol for the airmen of DM, a symbol of their commitment, excellence, and service,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Scott Mills, 355th Wing commander and A-10 pilot. “For now, we’re divesting a single squadron during the summer-fall timeframe of 2024.”

With the A-10’s retirement, pilots and maintainers at Davis-Monthan will transition onto the F-35A stealth fighter, a highly controversial move and one that you can read about in more depth here.

While the F-35 is undoubtedly a highly capable successor, for proponents of the A-10, there will never be another aircraft quite like the Warthog.

An A-10C of the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron. Jamie Hunter

“The plane is unique in its diverse ability to support our ground team not only with precision munitions from a distance, like we’re doing as we speak in the Middle East, but also with scalpel-like accuracy using the GAU-8 gun under the most difficult environments imaginable,” said Col. Razvan Radoescu, 355th Operations Group commander, in a media release. “The plane, coupled with our high-level training standards, are the reasons so many of our joint and coalition forces returned home to fight another day — because they had A-10s overhead covering their six, or employing weapons to save their lives when nobody else could.”

“While the aircraft’s maneuverability and munitions, including the mighty GAU-8, make it overwhelmingly effective on the battlefield, it’s the pilot that makes it special,” Col. Mills added. “The pilot has been trained to care about and understand the young Army infantryman on the ground; they are the mission.”

While it will lose the A-10, Davis-Monthan will considerably expand its rescue capabilities, a mission that it currently executes with the HC-130J and the HH-60G/W helicopter, as well as the Warthog. It now expects to add examples of the MC-130J and the OA-1K light attack aircraft as it establishes the special operations-capable 492nd Power Projection Wing.

A-10Cs, assigned to the A-10 Demonstration Team, sit on the flight line at Wyoming Air National Guard, Wyoming, July 20, 2020. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kristine Legate

As for the wider A-10 community, the Warthog still finds itself meeting the needs of combat commanders in the Middle East, where the aircraft has, ever since Operation Desert Storm in 1991 established an awesome reputation.

Considering the Warthog’s extraordinary survivor status, it’s not surprising if it remains in action, or at least in theater and on call, until the bitter end.

While the Air Force has repeatedly tried in the past to get rid of its Warthogs, the aircraft and the proud airmen who operate it have until now, proven remarkably resilient. At the same time, Congress has also weighed in, repeatedly blocking the service’s divestment plans — until now, at least.

U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs assigned to the 355th Wing taxi in formation on the runway at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alex Miller)

The latest developments really do seem to signal the end of the A-10, at least in U.S. Air Force service. Beyond that, there will no doubt be more calls for the aircraft to be provided to Ukraine, a country that has shown interest in taking them ever since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Before serial number 82-648 left the 355th Wing for the boneyard, the Air Force in June last year had unveiled plans to withdraw the A-10 from another two locations, Moody Air Force Base in Georgia and Gowen Field Air National Guard Base in Idaho, as you can read more about here. Earlier this month, it was announced that Maryland’s Warfield Air National Guard Base would lose its A-10s and instead transition to a cyber wing mission, stating this fall.

A U.S. Air Force pilot assigned to the 190th Fighter Squadron, 124th Fighter Wing, Idaho National Guard, taxis his A-10C onto Lechfeld Air Base, Germany in preparation for Exercise Air Defender 2023, June 6, 2023. U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph R. Morgan

The latest plans, outlined in the 2025 budget request, anticipate 56 more A-10Cs being retired in 2025 — the largest number so far. Under the 2023 defense policy bill, the Air Force retired 21 Warthogs, with another 42 approved for withdrawal in 2024.

Whatever happens next in the A-10 saga, this year will be the last in which spectators will be able to catch the A-10C Demonstration Team. For those who want to pay tribute to this unique combat aircraft, the team’s full 2024 schedule is available here:

A-10C Demonstration Team

Contact the author: thomas@thewarzone.com

Thomas Newdick Avatar

Thomas Newdick

Staff Writer

Thomas is a defense writer and editor with over 20 years of experience covering military aerospace topics and conflicts. He’s written a number of books, edited many more, and has contributed to many of the world’s leading aviation publications. Before joining The War Zone in 2020, he was the editor of AirForces Monthly.