/ Modified may 6, 2014 10:55 a.m.

House Armed Services Begins 'Save A-10' Work in Congress

National Defense Authorization Act discussion begins Wednesday; the future of the aircraft is tied to such bill.



On Wednesday, the U.S. House Armed Services Committee will begin work on the National Defense Authorization Act, and the future of the A-10 is tied to the bill.

The Air Force and the White House both want to retire the plane.

More than 80 A-10s are based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson.

Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-California, is proposing the Air Force only be allowed to spend money on retiring the A-10 if the plane is put Type-1000 storage.

Type-1000 storage means the planes could be quickly put back in service if the military finds a need for them.

The mothballing of the A-10 is a controversial proposal. U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, D-Arizona, is fighting the move. He sits on the House Armed Services Committee, which means he will have the opportunity to vote on the chairman’s A-10 storage proposal. Barber called that plan, “unacceptable.”

He said it will have the same effect as officially retiring the plane.

“If you put it into storage, you really don’t maintain the pilots, nor do you maintain the maintenance crews that keep the aircraft flying," Barber said. "Those skills are lost very quickly.”

In the Senate, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, is leading the fight to keep the A-10 flying. In recent days, she sent a letter to the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee explaining the need for the A-10. Seven other members of the Senate signed that letter.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, was not one of the signatories of that letter. He did, however, issue a statement with Ayotte calling the plan to put the planes in storage “short-sighted and dangerous.”

The A-10 is regarded by many as the best plane for helping ground troops pinned down by enemy fire; a mission called close air support.

The Air Force has tried to retire the A-10 a number of times including before the first Gulf War and again last year.

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