House votes to save A-10 fleet

The House on Thursday approved a proposal to scrap the Air Force's recommendation to retire the A-10 close air support planes.

Adopted 300-114, the amendment to the 2015 defense appropriations bill offered by Reps. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) and Candice Miller (R-Mich.) would prevent any elimination of the A-10, also known as the "Warthog," fleet.

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Air Force officials have said that retiring the plane would save $4 billion. But supporters of the A-10 fleet argued that there is no equivalent plane ready to to provide troops with close air support.

"With what's happening in Iraq and the Middle East, eliminating the A-10s is the wrong move," Miller said during House floor debate.

Barber said he had heard from many constituents who urged him to prevent the plane's retirement.

"When I talked to soldiers who came home from Iraq and Afghanistan, they have said over and over again, keep the A-10 flying," Barber said. "The House must ensure the A-10 is protected because it protects our troops."

The House Appropriations Committee was the first congressional panel to support eliminating the A-10 fleet. Both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees both included provisions to prevent the plane's retirement in their 2015 defense authorization bills. 

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee, said the savings from scrapping the A-10 would lead to development of a more modern aircraft.

"The money that we will save will allow us to procure the next generation of aircraft," Frelinghuysen said.

Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.), the Defense subcommittee's top Democrat, said undoing the provision in the bill would ultimately cost more federal dollars.

"The A-10 is a wonderful aircraft," Visclosky said, but "the fact is there is no offset in this amendment."

Kristina Wong and Martin Matishak contributed.