Air Force general backs A-10 retention

2014-04-16T00:00:00Z Air Force general backs A-10 retentionBy Joe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A top Air Force official had one word to describe the proposed cuts threatening to ground the A-10 fleet.

“Heinous.”

Rep. Ron Barber relayed the comments from Gen. Michael Hostage, the commander of the Air Combat Command, shortly after the pair toured Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to discuss the fate of the iconic attack aircraft known as the Warthog.

The commander of the Air Combat Command, Hostage oversees the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan which flies more than 80 A-10s.

Barber, flanked by community leaders, asked Hostage to come to Tucson to see the overwhelming community support for the air base and the A-10.

Last week, Barber wrote to Air Force officials asking them to consider reassigning F-16 squadrons from Luke Air Force Base to D-M when squadrons of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters arrive.

After the tour with Hostage, Barber said he is still working with senators and key members in the House for a legislative solution.

Barber continues to blame the budget sequester as the true motivation for mothballing the A-10 fleet.

Former A-10 pilot Martha McSally, one of four Republicans vying to run against Barber this fall, accused the Tucson Democrat is playing political games using soldiers as backdrop as he runs for re-election.

“When it mattered most and he could have had an impact, Congressman Barber flat out ignored the threat to the A-10, denied it was at risk and was asleep at the switch to the point of skipping the committee hearing that shaped this crucial decision,” McSally said.

“Now he’s using active duty military to desperately play politics and cover his tracks. “

Barber has consistently disputed McSally’s assertions over the A-10 to the point of releasing a timeline of various actions he has taken since being elected into office in 2012.

The Tucson Democrat concedes he missed a committee hearing last year, but only to chair a subcommittee hearing on sequestration at the same time as the Air Force posture hearing.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com or 573-4346. Follow him on Twitter

@JoeFerguson

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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