A few more “badass airplanes with a big gun,” as U.S. Rep. Martha McSally has called A-10s, might get new wings and be saved from the scrapheap.

McSally is optimistic that $103 million in funding she helped to secure for aging A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog” ground-attack jets in the National Defense Authorization Act will save more from mothballs.

The Pentagon has already spent about $1 billion on upgraded electronics and stronger wings to keep 173 Warthogs flying.

However, 110 additional A-10s do not have the upgrades and could be grounded for safety reasons without additional funding from Congress.

The $103 million in funding, along with $20 million included in the latest omnibus spending bill, is the minimum necessary to restart the production line that would build new wings for the planes. It is unclear how many planes would get new wings under the initial funding.

The House Defense Appropriations bill and the NDAA also have $17.5 million for the next fiscal year for other necessary A-10 upgrades and $6 million for safety inspections.

A total of 83 A-10s call Davis-Monthan Air Force Base home.

A retired Air Force colonel and the first American woman to fly in combat, McSally has been fighting to keep A-10s from being retired to D-M’s Boneyard since taking office in 2014.

“The A-10 Warthog, which I flew, is a one-of-a-kind aircraft that is critical on any battlefield to keep our troops alive and rescue anyone trapped behind enemy lines,” she said.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@tucson.com or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson


Reporter with the Arizona Daily Star. I cover politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona.