The U.S. Air Force, which recently launched a competition to replace the wings on some of its aging A-10 Thunderbolt II close-air-support aircraft, plans to pick a winning bidder and award a contract in spring 2019, a service spokeswoman said May 30.
The Air Force released a request for proposals May 25, setting an Aug. 23 deadline for bids. The service had previously indicated that it would issue the RFP sometime in the current quarter (Defense Daily, April 12).
Boeing, which has built A-10 wings before, said it intends to submit a proposal.
“Boeing stands ready with a demonstrated understanding of the technical data package, tooling, supply chain and manufacturing techniques to offer the lowest-risk option and quickest timeline for additional wings for the A-10,” Donald McPartland, Boeing’s A-10 program manager, said.
Several other potential bidders had no immediate comment.
The A-10 fleet consists of more than 280 aircraft, the majority of which have already received new wings. When the Air Force was considering retiring the fleet, the wing production contract expired, leaving more than 100 aircraft without new wings. But the Air Force now intends to keep flying the A-10.
The fiscal year 2018 omnibus appropriations act, which Congress passed in March, contains $103 million to restart wing production and build wings for four planes.
The Air Force’s FY 2019 budget request would re-wing another eight to 12 planes. But Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in late April that the service was looking into speeding up the delivery of new wings to help prevent any aircraft from being grounded (Defense Daily, April 24).
Lawmakers are pushing for faster deliveries, saying the A-10, also known as the Warthog, plays a key role in current military operations.
The House and Senate versions of the FY 2019 defense authorization bill would both add $65 million to the Air Force’s budget request to buy more A-10 wings. The House version also calls on the Air Force to consider awarding a multi-year contract to achieve cost-saving efficiencies.