The United States plans to deploy ageing A-10 attack planes to the Middle East as a replacement for more advanced combat aircraft that will be shifted to the Pacific and Europe as tensions with China and Russia intensify, a news report says.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday the move, scheduled for April, is part of a broader plan that also calls for retaining modest naval and ground forces in the Middle East region, according to American officials.

Pentagon spokesman Brigadier-General Patrick Ryder told the Journal the “global force management process is dynamic, and the secretary of defence makes decisions based on threats to our forces and our national security interests”. Ryder declined to discuss the specifics of the move.

The news report said some US officials have criticised the plan to switch out the advanced fighter aircraft for the older A-10 jets, saying it could weaken American military power in the Middle East.  The air force’s A-10 close air support attack plane is known as “the tank killer”.

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