Senate leaders vow to block A-10 cuts

Senate leaders vow to block A-10 cuts

Leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee vowed to follow the House committee’s lead and block the Air Force’s move to retire the A-10 Warthog fleet.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said at a Capitol Hill news conference that she will work with the committee to not only block the retirement, but block any move to put some of the fleet in backup inventory, as was allowed in last year’s bill.

“I want to make sure as we look at putting the language together on the Senate end that we preserve the A-10 and we preserve the capability,” Ayotte said at the Tuesday conference. “It can’t be that the Air Force is allowed again to diminish its maintenance capability or do a de facto retirement. I will make sure that the language is strong.”

The House Armed Services Committee, in its markup of the defense bill last week, provided about $682 million to keep the fleet flying and passed an amendment to block any changes to the A-10 fleet.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the Air Force’s arguments to retire the A-10 do not make sense when an aircraft that is important in close air support is flying today in Iraq and Syria.

“It’s bewildering almost to me to see that the Air Force continues to advocate for the elimination of the most important single instrument in protecting our troops on the ground,” he said.

The Ayotte-led news conference also included retired Air Force joint terminal attack controllers, including retired Master Sgt. Charlie Keebaugh, the head of the Tactical Air Control Party Association.

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