A plan by the US Air Force to partially retire the A-10 Warthog fleet appears to be dead on arrival, based on comments made by top Senate and House members Thursday.
That was the unambiguous stance taken by Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., during an event rallying support for the A-10 on Capitol Hill.
“It’s wrong,” Ayotte said of the service’s plan, which would retire 72 A-10s as a stopgap measure to provide what the service calls needed maintenance crews for the F-35 joint strike fighter. “It’s wrong and it also contradicts the intent of both bodies.”
Ayotte and Barber have led support for the A-10, and they both sounded frustrated that the Air Force continues to try and retire the plane, best known for its close air support role in defending troops on the ground.
“One thing that the Air Force, I’ll give them this: They’re persistent,” Ayotte said, sounding frustrated. “And even when they have heard directly from both bodies they have continued to push this retirement, despite the fact that we are going to have a gap in capability at a time when the world has become even more dangerous for those who serve us on the ground.”
Barber was just as direct, saying the plan was “a non-starter with me, and I think it’s a non-starter with the members of the house who voted to keep the A-10.
“We’ve seen several attempts by the Air Force to go around our decisions, to make moves to divest even though we told them not to,” Barber added, his voice briefly displaying anger. “We will continue to tell them to listen to the will of Congress.
“The Air Force, they are persistent. But so are we. We’re not going to give up this fight until we prevail.”