US Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ) seeks to upgrade the venerable A-10 ground support attack airplane, even as Congress and the Pentagon are making moves to spend money on other projects.
After indicating its intention to eliminate up to three squadrons of the 1970s-era warplane, the US Air Force appears to again be moving to retire the fleet, as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is ramped up to take its place.
McSally, however, a former Air Force pilot who has flown the A-10 "Warthog" in combat, is seeking additional funding to keep the old fleet flying, and is asking for new replacement wings for the squadrons that have not yet already received them.
If the Air Force has its way, however, three grounded A-10 squadrons will reduce the fleet total of nine to just six — not enough, she says, to cover ongoing missions in the Iraqi and Syrian conflicts, as well standing ready in South Korea and deployed in Europe.
Decrying the Pentagon move to eliminate a large percentage of an A-10 fleet currently in demand around the world, McSally stated: "How are you going to maintain something like that with six squadrons?"
"It doesn't make any sense to me," she added, cited by Stripes.com.
When it comes to the Warthog, the US Air Force changes its mind consistently, signaling in February that it would keep the entire A-10 fleet flying until at least 2021, in the wake of a previous announcement that the aircraft would begin to be phased out starting in 2018, to be completely retired by 2022.
McSally, in echoing the popularity within the US Air Force of the Warthog, suggested that it could be several years at least to get funding for the remaining 110 A-10s to be upgraded with replacement wings, if the funding can be found.