Arizona lawmaker vows to defend Air Force's 'Warthog'

Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) vowed to keeping funding for a warplane the Pentagon has wanted to retire.

The Defense bill signed into law by President Obama on Thursday includes funding for the A-10 "Warthog" fleet, which the Air Force had wanted to retire. 

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Barber declared victory in a statement released on Friday, and said he would push back against efforts going forward to retire the plane.

“This is an important step to protect the A-10 and keep it flying in Tucson’s skies," he said in the statement. "With the president’s signature on this important legislation, we know that the A-10 will continue its missions without the threat of being retired in 2014.

“There is more work to do. I will continue the fight to protect the A-10 with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle," he concluded. 

A-10s were built at the height of the Cold War, but the Pentagon has been looking to phase them out to save money for other priorities. 
 
Defenders of the planes say the Air Force should have a specific replacement in mind before funding is cut.
 
According to a story by NPR, experienced infantrymen are among its biggest proponents. Many have been in fights in Afghanistan and other places where the Warthog's heavy armor and big guns have allowed it to get close to enemy fire without fear of being shot down.

Barber said he introduced a bill last month that would prohibit the Department of Defense from spending any money to “retire, prepare to retire, or place in storage any A-10 aircraft.”

But the NDAA didn’t go that far; the bill simply prohibited retirement of the aircraft through December 2014.