US Air Force aims to retire 310 aircraft by March 2024

Fiscal 2024 budget calls for removing F-22 Raptor fighters, KC-10 tankers and up to three A-29 Super Tucanos used for experimentation

The US Air Force (USAF) intends to decommission 310 aircraft between April of this year and March of next year, a period that encompasses the fiscal year of 2024.

The country’s defense budget includes investments in new aircraft such as the B-21 Raider bomber, the F-15EX Eagle II fighter and the KC-46A aerial refueling plane, but also lists what is called “divestment”, aircraft that are at the end of their useful life or are no longer part of the USAF’s plans.

At the same time, the US Air Force intends to remove from service very important aircraft in the past, but which are at the end of their careers, such as the KC-10A Extender, a tanker aircraft based on the DC-10 airliner.

The last 24 trijets in operation should be retired by the beginning of next year, thanks to the incorporation of more KC-46A.

USAF Kc-10, KC-46 and KC-135 (USAF)

Two combat aircraft will have their fleet significantly reduced, the A-10 Thunderbolt, with 42 units withdrawn from service, and the F-15C/D, whose 57 fighters will stop flying within the plan to remove it from the inventory in 2026.

Despite having met resistance from Congress, the USAF also proposes to retire 32 F-22 Raptor stealth fighters from Block 20. These jets have no combat capability, serving only for training purposes.

Three A-29s dismissed

The list also includes a B-1B Lancer bomber, two E-3 Sentry, three E-8C, two EC-130H (electronic warfare), four EC-130J (psychological warfare), 52 T-1A Jayhawk (training version of the Raytheon Hawker Beechcraft executive jet), 37 HH-60G helicopters and 38 MQ-9 Reaper drones.

US Air Force A-29 Super Tucano (Sierra Nevada Corporation)

The Air Force will also take from its inventory three A-29 Super Tucanos turboprops, supplied by the partnership between Embraer and Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC).

The dismissal of the Brazilian plane was, however, already known, since the AT-802 plane was selected for the Armed Overwatch program, in August 2022.

The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) had received the three A-29s and two AT-6C Wolverines and they were used in evaluations for anti-guerrilla missions and close air support.

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Therefore, it no longer made sense for them to remain in the force. The most likely destination is for the USAF to transfer the three aircraft to an air force that already operates the model, in the US government’s military aid program.

F-22 Raptor and F-15C Eagle (USAF)