After saying "the F-35 will replace the A-10" only to have the A-10 skunk the shit out of the F-35, the Air Force is now saying "We like the A-10, but we need something that we can fly for less than $5k an hour."
For comparison, you can barely keep a Reaper in the sky for that. and that's if you lie through your teeth.
Nor is Reaper cheaper to operate, despite initial appearances. Air Force flying hour cost data shows Reaper to cost only $3,624 per hour to fly in 2011 for what the Air Force terms “operational” flying hour costs. That compares to the much higher hourly cost to fly A-10s or F-16s: $17,780 per hour for the newly modified A-10C and $20,809 for an F-16C. However, because each Reaper flies a large number of hours in the air, the math suppresses the per-hour Reaper number. If the calculation is for total maintenance costs over the course of a year for a Reaper unit, the relationship changes: at a per year cost of $5.1 million, per individual Reaper, and at $20.4 million per CAP, the Reaper shows itself to be well above the cost to maintain and operate over a year for an individual A-10C (at $5.5 million) or an F-16C (at $4.8 million). Annual operating unit cost for a Reaper unit is about four times the annual cost to operate an F-16 or an A-10.
EDIT: A fuckin' T-38 is $9k an hour!
The A-10 costs between $19,000 and $20,000 per hour to fly. Welsh said he would like to see an aircraft that cost between $4,000 to $5,000 per hour.
Stopped reading right there... Predictably KB has already provided the exact information I was going to ask about, and the disconnect between the USAF and reality is as wide as ever.
Everyone but the Air Force brass loves the A-10. I get that the airframes are older than dirt and probably need to be replaced (then again, we still fly B-52's), but why don't we just dust off the old A-10 plans, digitize them, maybe do a bit of modern CFD magic on the aerodynamics, and crank out some new Super-Warthogs?