The Air Force stated this week that it’s sending 12 more A-10s to fight against the Islamic State in the Middle East.
This new deployment will last around 6 months and require 350 airmen, The Hill reports. Although the Air Force is dead set on retiring the A-10 fleet as soon as possible, the service continues to rely on the aircraft to provide close-air support.
In a recent op-ed at the New York Times, Republican Rep. Martha McSally, a former Air Force colonel who logged 325 combat hours, pointed out that aggressive moves to kill the A-10 will certainly result in the loss of American lives. (RELATED: Retired Air Force Colonel Rep. McSally: Don’t Kill The A-10)
Congress and the Pentagon are still squabbling over the fate of the A-10. The Air Force maintains that due to budget constraints, it can’t possibly advance the F-35 joint strike fighter program while holding on to the A-10. Officials argue that retiring the A-10 will provide the service with $4 billion dollars in savings over a five-year period. Additionally, maintenance crews need to be moved over to the F-35.
Members of Congress, on the other hand, say that the A-10 is irreplaceable, and even if the F-35 could duplicate the capabilities of the A-10, it won’t be ready to deploy for years. Some representatives have questioned the Air Force’s unusually quick pace in trying to sideline the A-10, since technically it isn’t scheduled for retirement for another 13 years.
That quick pace resulted in error. Air Force Maj. Gen. James Post III threatened troops with treason if they testified to Congress about the capabilities of the A-10. An ensuing investigation resulted in the removal of Post from his position. (RELATED: Air Force Removes General Who Intimidated Airmen Into Keeping Silent About The A-10)
On Wednesday, a group of legislators from the House Armed Services committee sent a letter to chairman Mac Thornberry and ranking member Adam Smith, asking the two not to forget the A-10 in the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“Cutting back a one-of-a-kind capability with no clear replacement is an example of a budget-based strategy, not the strategy-based budget we need to meet our defense needs,” the legislators wrote.
“We recognize the challenges imposed by sequestration, but we believe that the A-10 Warthog should be sustained until a suitable replacement exists.”
Thornberry is expected to release his take on the defense bill by Monday.
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