Wouldn’t It Be Great to Give A-10s to Ukraine?
Imagine Warthogs battling the Russians
After War is Boring published a story earlier this month on one Canadian citizen’s proposal that Canada buy America’s A-10s Warthogs instead of stealthy F-35s, an alert WIB reader made an even more intriguing suggestion.
Since the U.S. Air Force plans to retire its twin-engine A-10 tank killers, why not give them to Ukraine?
The idea of Canada buying A-10s admittedly is a bit wacky. Fairchild designed the Warthog to pulverize Soviet tanks before they could overrun Western Europe. It’s unlikely Canada will need to defend against a Russian armored force rolling across the Yukon or Saskatchewan.
What Canada really needs are maritime patrol and strike aircraft to protect Arctic resources and shipping lanes.
On the other hand, Russian tanks are exactly what Ukraine fears. Perhaps Moscow will be satisfied with annexing the strategic Crimean peninsula. But if Russia decides to send a couple of mechanized brigades to seize eastern Ukraine or force regime change in Kiev, Ukraine’s under-funded military wouldn’t stand a chance.
Maybe a couple of dozen thickly-armored A-10s sporting powerful 30-millimeter cannons would help dissuade Russian president Vladimir Putin from expanding his land-grab.
But on close inspection, the idea is actually a pretty bad one. If the U.S. were to sell or donate A-10s to Ukraine, then it would also need to send some F-15 fighters as escorts. The small number of operational Ukrainian Su-27s and MiG-29s wouldn’t be able to protect the slow Warthogs for very long.
And how well would a 40-year-old attack plane do against the latest Russian air-defense weapons?
Worse, if Ukraine can’t maintain much of its Soviet- and Russian-made arsenal now, imagine how hard it would be for the country to keep the aging A-10s in working condition.
Providing such powerful weapons to Ukraine might even provoke a Russian invasion.
Still, it’s a gratifying idea, however unrealistic. Putin was a Soviet KGB officer during the Cold War, when the A-10 was one of the most famous symbols of U.S. power.
A few Warthogs wouldn’t change the balance of power between Russia and Ukraine. But oh my, wouldn’t it be fun to see the look on Putin’s face when he learned that Ukrainian A-10s were ready to fight him?