GOP lawmaker: Air Force A-10 moves are ‘overkill’

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) on Sunday chided the Air Force for moving nine A-10 “Warthogs” at a base in her district into backup status that reduces their flying time.

“To have nine come out of this one base is, I think, overkill,” McSally, a retired Air Force colonel and A-10 fighter pilot, said while visiting Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, according to Arizona Public Media.

She said the move has her worried about the future of the southern Arizona base.

Davis-Monthan has been home to around 80 Warthogs, roughly one-third of the Air Force’s A-10 fleet. With more than 10,000 employees, the base is the district’s third-largest employer and pumps well over $1 billion into the local economy annually.

The Air Force has attempted to retire its A-10 fleet in recent years in a bid to cut costs, but lawmakers in both chambers rejected the proposal when they drafted their annual defense policy bill last year.

However, they did allow the service to move up to 36 “Warthogs” into inventory status, pending a review by the Pentagon and the Defense secretary. The bill also permitted the Air Force to move maintenance personnel from the A-10 program to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

The service began implementing its plan last week, shifting 18 attack jets into backup status.

McSally, who won one of the most-watched races in the country in 2014, campaigned on being able to keep the A-10 flying. The freshman lawmaker received a spot on the influential House Armed Services Committee, which could allow her to insert language into this year’s annual defense policy bill that would stop or undo the Air Force’s plan.

Last week, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) led a group of eight Republican senators on a letter to new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter asking him to halt the Air Force’s moves until he and Congress can “fully scrutinize” the plan.

In addition to the nine planes shifted into backup at Davis-Monthan, six were grounded at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia and three at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

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