Senate to vote on future of A-10 aircraft
A Senate vote Tuesday could be key for the future of the A-10 Thunderbolt, which the Air Force wants to retire over the objections of infantry troops and lawmakers. An annual defense policy bill scheduled for a vote by Senate Republican leadership – and facing staunch Democratic opposition — would require the service to maintain 171 of the A-10s and bar it from spending any money on retirement efforts over the coming year.
The House passed the measure Thursday but Democrats rallied against it. Republicans were unable to get enough votes to protect the bill from a threatened White House veto. The Air Force hopes to save money by retiring the 1970s-era aircraft and make way for advanced aircraft such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which remains in development. But supporters of the so-called Warthogs, especially former A-10 pilot Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., said there are no good replacements for now and phasing it out could risk U.S. security and lives on the battlefield.
“These aircraft are critical to our local economy as well as our current military efforts in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, where A-10s are deployed to train with our NATO allies and deter Russian aggression,” McSally said in a released statement. “We absolutely cannot afford to see these capabilities sidelined prematurely, and I will continue to work tirelessly to prevent that.”