Rep. Ron Barber challenged US Air Force officials on Thursday, pressing them for answers on plans to retire the A-10 by 2019.
During a subcommittee hearing of the House Armed Service Committee, Barber questioned the vice chief of staff of the Air Force, Gen. Larry Spencer, about the proposal.
Barber centered whether the Air Force violated last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which prohibits the military from taking any steps to retire the A-10 for a one-year period.
“It has since been reported that the Air Force may have not allotted any flight hours for the A-10 weapons school, canceled A-10 modernization and ended the normal sustainment process for FY2015, which begins October 1,” Barber told Spencer. “This would clearly demonstrate complete disregard for the congressional intent of the law.”
Barber was the lone Democrat who spoke about the A-10 at a press conference held earlier today.
Sens. John McCain, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jim Risch of Idaho and Reps. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri and Jack Kingston of Georgia were part of the press conference designed to lend support to aging attack fighter.
Barber, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has been criticized by his former - and likely future - political rival, former Air Force colonel Martha McSally.
The former A-10 pilot, who is again running for the Republican nomination in Congressional District 2, says Barber ignored early warnings from the Air Force that the A-10 was going to be decommissioned.
“Barber was asleep at the switch while the obvious threat of the A-10 retirement grew on his watch,” she said last month.
Under the current proposal, the Air Force would to entirely phase out the A-10 by 2019.
In response to attacks from McSally, Barber has documented meetings over the past year with Department of Defense officials and produced several letters he sent to military officials along as well as a direct plea to President Obama.