(WASHINGTON, D.C) Arizona Senator Mark Kelly and Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02) led a group of bipartisan lawmakers in a letter to Senate and House Appropriators, urging them to fully fund the current A-10 fleet without retirements as authorized in the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and provide resources to advance the A-10 re-winging effort.
Co-signers of Kelly and Kirkpatrick’s letter include Sens. Sinema (D-AZ), Stabenow (D-MI), Warnock (D-GA), Ossoff (D-GA), Van Hollen (D-MD), Peters (D-MI) and Reps. Gallego (D-AZ), Stanton (D-AZ), O’Halleran (D-AZ), McClain (R-MI), Moore (R-UT) and Hartzler (R-MO).
“The A-10 is an invaluable close air support asset to American ground troops with unmatched mission capable rates. As you are aware, the President’s Budget calls for a reduction in fleet size of 63 total aircraft over two fiscal years. While we support the imperative of modernizing the force, the Air Force has yet to provide reports as mandated in the FY17 NDAA, showing the competence of other aircraft to assume the Close Air Support, Combat Search and Rescue, and Forward Air Controller mission sets currently fulfilled by the A-10,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
“…Due to these concerns and unaddressed capability risk mitigation, we strongly urge you to restore the A-10 program in the Defense Appropriations bill, as authorized in the FY22 NDAA, to avoid creating an unfunded mandate for the Air Force. […] With notable increases in the NDAA-authorized defense budget and surplus post-Afghanistan funds, we believe these are sensible investments to keep a proven fleet flying until a suitable replacement that can effectively protect our ground troops is identified,” they continued.
Senator Kelly, who has flown close air support missions in combat, has continued to be vocal in his opposition to the Administration’s proposal to partially retire the aircraft. In December, Kelly — a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee — both helped shape and voted to pass the bipartisan defense bill which included key provisions to protect the A-10. In April last year, Kelly introduced the bipartisan A-10 Resolution recognizing the A-10 aircraft as a critical component of America’s national security and the most effective and cost-efficient Close Air Support attack aircraft in the Department of Defense (DoD) inventory.
Read the full letter here.
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