The F-35 joint strike fighter, as part of its alleged multi-role capability, was supposed to replace the now-40-year-old A-10 “Warthog” close support aircraft — a venerable jet armed with a rapid-fire 30mm cannon capable of loitering over a battlefield and providing powerful support for ground troops, which is exactly what it has been doing in the US’ various ventures in the Middle East in recent years. Indeed, the schedule was that the A-10 was going to be mothballed from 2018. But not merely has the F-35 been delayed by many years and had repeated, major problems, there’s a real question about whether it can perform anything like the role of the A-10. Congress has repeatedly called for the USAF to retain the Warthog, and so widespread is the concern that the Pentagon decided to schedule a test of the F-35 versus the plane it is supposed to replace. Then the USAF decided not to wait for the test: the Warthog is going to be kept “indefinitely”, with repair facilities ramped back up and new investment in the airframe to keep it operational despite its age. Remember, the point of the F-35 is supposed to be that it can perform the same role as several other planes, thereby significantly reducing costs. That’s not much help if you have to keep one of your stalwarts in action while overspending by billions on a jet that can’t do anything right.