In direct response to Rep. Martha McSally’s consistent calls for funding for more A-10C Thunderbolt wings, the United States Air Force switched gears and announced that it would be including funding for additional wings in their FY19 budget request. This news comes days after the Air Force deployed a squadron of A-10s to Afghanistan—the first time in three years.
Last year, the Air Force announced that it would have to permanently ground three of nine A-10 squadrons unless Congress funded new wings for 110 aircraft. To prevent this grounding, McSally ensured that $103 million to restart wing production was included in the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by President Trump. In December, she led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to House and Senate leadership as well as high ranking appropriators requesting that they include funding for new wings for the A-10 fleet in any final FY18 spending package. She has been in communications with Air Force Secretary Wilson over the past several weeks, as recently as last Friday, to personally urge her to keep the entire A-10 fleet intact and include funding for the wings in their budget request for FY19.
“The Air Force knows that the A-10 is a vital asset and critical in the fight against ISIS, the Taliban, North Korea, and Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. In fact, the Warthog is currently one of the most utilized aircraft across multiple theaters. I’m pleased to see that this aircraft’s indispensability is accurately reflected in the Air Force’s budget request for FY 2019,” said McSally in a statement from her office. “We simply cannot afford to ground three A-10 squadrons. It would leave a huge hole in our capability and troops on the ground would be without cover. That’s why I fought to ensure that full funding to restart its wing production. I will continue to work towards funding for these wings until that production line is turned on.”
Congress has clearly willed over recent fiscal years that the A-10C fleet be sustained in its entirety. This wing funding was a top Air Force Unfunded Priority List item specifically added into both the FY18 House and Senate defense authorization bills, the FY18 NDAA conference report (which has been signed into law by President Trump), and the FY18 House defense appropriations bill, which passed the House in July.
McSally has also been urging House leadership and appropriators to include funding to restart the wings in any government funding agreement for FY2018.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson is one of the premier training centers for A-10 pilots.
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