Arizona Sen. John McCain reiterated his support of the A-10 "Warthog" close-air support jet in a Capitol Hill press conference today, as the Senate Armed Services Committee moves toward its markup of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act next week.
“Obviously, if we did away with the A-10 capability it would reduce dramatically the ability of the United States Army and Marine Corps from receiving what is a critical element in the battlefield equation,” McCain said of an Air Force plan to retire the A-10, a mainstay at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
McCain, an Armed Services Committee member, said he's confident the Senate will back a measure adopted by the House Armed Services Committee that would save the A-10 at least through 2015, when A-10 retirements would begin.
The House panel in its markup of the 2015 NDAA last week added an amendment sponsored by Rep. Ron Barber, a Tucson Democrat, to keep A1-0 operations funded by shifting $635 million of its funding under the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget.
But that funding shift is unacceptable even to some A-10 supporters, including Senate Armed Services Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican and ardent A-10 supporter who also sits on the SASC, said the panel will work to find alternative funding to forestall the Air Force's plan to mothball the A-10 by 2019, since Levin opposes the use of overseas war funding, the Air Force Times reported in its account.
The House committee markup of the NDAA is awaiting a floor vote in the lower chamber.