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Second A-10 unit deployed in ISIS fight

Second A-10 unit deployed in ISIS fight
© Getty Images

A dozen A-10 attack jets have been deployed to the Middle East in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Air Force announced this week.

The deployment of 350 airmen and the 12 "Warthogs" come as Congress and the Pentagon battle over whether to retire the popular aircraft, which provides close air support for troops in combat.

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This is the second deployment of an A-10 unit in the fight against ISIS. 

Air Force leaders say the service can't afford to maintain the attack jet under defense budget constraints and that other aircraft can conduct the close air support mission. 

Opponents of retiring the aircraft — including members of Congress — say no other aircraft supports ground troops in battle as well as the A-10. They also argue that one envisioned replacement, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, won't be ready to perform the mission for years. 

"The A-10 Warthogs are the very best close-air-support aircraft in the United States military," Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), whose state hosts the Selfridge Air National Guard base, said in a statement. Selfridge is the home base for the 12 A-10s headed to the Middle East.
 
"Known as a tank-buster, the A-10 is ideal against ISIL, which uses tanks stolen from the Iraqi army," she said, using another acronym for ISIS. 

Supporters of the A-10 have also argued the jet isn't scheduled to be retired for another 13 years. 

The latest A-10 deployment will last about six months.