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Chuck Norris fighting A-10 cuts

Chuck Norris fighting A-10 cuts
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Chuck Norris is gearing up for a new fight — to save the A-10 attack jet.

The Air Force wants to save money by retiring the aircraft, which provides close air support and is affectionately known by troops as the "Warthog." It has also been referred to as the "Chuck Norris of airplanes." 

But Norris, a martial arts and movie star, writes in an op-ed published earlier this week, "Friends and fellow Americans, send a message to the White House and your representatives: 'Save our troops! Save the A-10 Thunderbolt!' "

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Norris's support could bolster efforts in Congress by lawmakers who have repeatedly rejected the retirement, and pledged to save the aircraft. The A-10 was used extensively to support ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and is conducting about 11 percent of airstrikes in the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 

"Its firepower capability, speed and accuracy, frequent war use, and the oft-painted teeth on its nose cone have made it one of the military’s most popular aircraft," Norris writes on WorldNetDaily. 

"But what you might not know is that its entire fleet right now runs the risk of landing in the U.S. airplane scrapyard, if the government has its way." 

The Air Force argues the Cold War-era A-10 should be retired, since it only performs the close air support mission, which could be done by other aircraft. Critics disagree, and say no other aircraft is as suited to supporting troops in battle as the A-10. 

Advocates for the aircraft say it can fly low and slow over targets, its pilots can lock eyes on their targets, presumably resulting in more accurate firepower and fewer friendly fire incidents than other aircraft. 

"In May 2014, the 300 planes in the fleet nearly suffered a collective fatality due to the Obama administration budget cuts, which desired to cut the program to the tune of about $4 billion over a five-year period," Norris writes. 

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"So Congress continued its program and use until 2015 with the help of a $635 million budget taken from its war fund. But the Warthog is back on the chopping block," he writes. 

Retiring the A-10 would save the Air Force $4 billion over five years, officials have said. This year, Congress allowed the Air Force to reduce its flying hours, and shift some of its maintenance crew to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which could potentially replace the A-10 but will not be ready for years. 

Norris said the Obama administration "missed the point and boat by concluding that the Warthog's utility was passé with fading wars in Afghanistan." 

"In underestimating foes like ISIS, who are spread out in terrain like al-Qaida and the Taliban, the A-10′s utility is warranted even more now than ever," he wrote. 

Norris, who said he and his wife, Gena, have partnered with the "Save the A-10" campaign, wrote that his support is personal, as a member of a military family and an Air Force veteran. 

His father fought in World War II, his brother served in the Army, and his other brother was killed in action in Vietnam "when he walked point alone and drew out enemy fire so others in his platoon could fight their way out to freedom."

Norris argued that the A-10 fleet has been upgraded and remains one of the "finest fighting machines around."

"The question is: Is the fleet of A-10 ready for retirement? I just celebrated my 75th birthday, but I’m nowhere near ready to head to the scrapheap. Some things improve with age, and the A-10 has done just that, too," he said.