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Thu, Feb 04, 2016

A-10 Survives The Budget Chopping Block

Carter: Plane Will Continue To Serve Through 2022

After years of budget uncertainty, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Tuesday that the A-10 has officially been taken off the budget chopping block.

Carter made the announcement in a speech that offered a preview of the defense budget expected to be released next week.

The Air Force Times reports that Carter said the DOD is "also investing to maintain more of our 4th-generation fighter and attack jets than we previously planned — including the A-10, which has been devastating ISIL from the air. The budget defers the A-10’s final retirement until 2022, replacing it with F-35s on a squadron-by-squadron basis so we’ll always have enough aircraft for today’s conflicts."

The Air Force has tried for several years to retire the A-10, but supporters in Congress have consistently blocked those attempts.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that there are about 300 A-10s still in active service with the Air Force. Among its staunchest supporters are Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ), a former A-10 combat pilot. Both have argued that there is no other airplane in the Air Force inventory that fulfills the close air support role of the A-10, and retiring the plane would put U.S. ground troops at risk.

In a statement, McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said “Secretary Carter’s announcement today that the Air Force will not prematurely retire the A-10 is a credit to the brave airmen from ... military installations across the country who are providing unmatched close-air support in critical missions throughout the world. Not only has the Air Force decided to keep the A-10 flying through at least 2022, but it has also pledged to replace it on a squadron-by-squadron basis – ensuring we won’t be left with a capability gap as we confront a complex array of conflicts and crises.

“For the last several years, I’ve been proud to lead efforts along with Senator Kelly Ayotte on the Senate Armed Services Committee to prevent the Air Force from prematurely retiring the A-10 fleet. There is no weapon in our arsenal that offers more effective close-air support to American ground troops serving in harm’s way than the A-10 aircraft. I look forward to seeing our A-10 pilots continue to make important advances in the fight against ISIL in the Middle East, boosting NATO’s efforts to deter Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, and supporting vital missions for U.S. national security wherever they are needed.”

(Images from file)

FMI: www.mccain.senate.gov, www.af.mil/AboutUs/FactSheets/Display/tabid/224/Article/104490/a-10-thunderbolt-ii.aspx

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