Barber reopens push to keep A-10 cuts out of Air Force budget

Rep. Ron Barber, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, renewed his fight to keep the A-10 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson.

The Pentagon’s budget preview included a plan to retire the A-10, but that “just doesn’t make sense in terms of cost effectiveness or certainly in the safety of our troops on the ground,” the Southern Arizona Democrat said at a news conference in Tucson Monday.

Barber helped put language in the Defense Reauthorization Act a couple of months ago that would prohibit the Air Force from retiring the A-10 this year. Barber said he will push for similar language to be included in the new budget authorization and says the chances of saving the A-10 are “very good.”

The A-10 is the most effective close-air support for troops on the ground, Barber said, and the F-35 is not a ready replacement. “The A-10 can fly slow and low, and come in to protect our troops on the ground,” he said, “and no other aircraft that’s flying today can do that same mission.”

Additionally, the Air Force spent more than $1 billion to improve the A-10 fleet, upgrading the electronics package and replacing wings. “We have given the A-10 another 15 to 20 years of flying time, and now we’re going to take it out of commission?” Barber said. “Makes no sense to me.”

He said the proposed savings would be $700 million a year for five years.

Barber said Congress should end sequestration and across-the-board budget cuts in favor of “more prudent and responsible ways” to cut spending, such as eliminating waste and fraud.

Becky Pallack

By Becky Pallack