House Dem: A-10 jets crucial to ISIS fight

Rep. Ron BarberRonald (Ron) Sylvester BarberKavanaugh nomination a make or break moment to repeal Citizens United Latina Leaders to Watch 2018 Principles and actions mean more than Jeff Flake’s words MORE (D-Ariz.) touted a planned deployment of a dozen A-10 "Warthog" fighter jets with 300 airmen to the Middle East in October as an illustration of the importance of the aircraft. 

“The decision to send A-10s to the Middle East in support of our military men and women executing a critical mission continues to demonstrate that this aircraft is irreplaceable,” Barber said in a statement Tuesday. 

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“I am committed to continuing the fight to keep the A-10 flying and to providing the kind of unmatched ground-attack option that our men and women in the armed forces deserve," he said. 

The Pentagon has sought to retire the Cold-era aircraft over the last several years, in favor of more advanced fighter jets, but lawmakers have fought to save it, due to its popularity among ground troops in battle. 

Some experts say the A-10 would be ideal in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, due to its ability to destroy ISIS tanks captured from the Iraqi army and provide close air support to protect Iraqi and Kurdish — and possibly U.S. — troops in battle.  

Barber said in his statement that he has been a congressional leader in fighting to keep the A-10 in service, and that about 80 of them are stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in his state. 

Last week, Barber and Republican colleague Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) continued their efforts to protect the A-10 in a final defense bill that is being worked out between the House and Senate, the statement said. 

Barber, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, faces a reelection fight against Republican challenger Martha McSally, a former A-10 pilot. 

The Arizona Democrat also touted Tomahawk missiles produced in Arizona by Raytheon Missile Systems that are currently being used in the fight against ISIS.

The Pentagon announced it had fired 47 Tomahawk missiles at ISIS targets in Syria in its initial attack Monday evening.  

“The Tomahawk is one of the most essential weapons in the American military arsenal,” Barber said. 

"I have fought to continue funding for this weapon and I know the Raytheon employees there are proud that for two decades, their product is often the first weapon used in the fight," he said. 

Barber also said he supported the president's actions against ISIS. 

“We must move quickly and decisively against ISIL. These terrorists have proven their ruthlessness and that they will stop at nothing to impose their brutality across the Middle East," he said, using an alternate name for the group. 

“It is especially significant that the initial attacks on Syrian soil were carried out with the assistance of five Arab nations which have partnered with the United States to destroy ISIL. This is a fight that the United States must not undertake alone," he said.