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Lawmakers say Air Force plans to cut A-10 flights and training are illegal

Apr. 8, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
KC-135s refuel Idaho's A-10s in mid-flight
Two senators say Air Force plans to stop A-10 flights and training in October are against the law. (Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur / Air Force)
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Two key senators say Air Force plans to stop A-10 flights and training in October are against the law.

Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., in an April 4 letter to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, say they have learned the service has not allotted any flight hours for the A-10 weapons school, has canceled A-10 modernization and has ended the normal sustainment process for fiscal 2015, which begins Oct. 1. However, the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act blocks the Air Force from retiring or preparing to retire the A-10 in calendar year 2014. This means that the AIr Force’s plans for the beginning of fiscal 2015, while still in calendar 2014, are against the NDAA, the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers ask the Air Force to confirm that the service has not allotted flying hours for A-10 units at Osan Air Base, South Korea; Moody Air Force Base, Ga.; Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.; and the Idaho Air National Guard beginning Oct. 1.

“If so, we request that you reverse these actions to ensure the Air Force is in full compliance with the law and Congress’ intent,” the letter states.

The Air Force’s fiscal 2015 budget proposal calls for the retirement of the service’s entire 343-jet A-10 fleet, with the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units currently flying the jet slated to get a replacement manned flying mission while active-duty units would close after the attack jet leaves.

Ayotte leads congressional opposition to the cuts. She earlier held up the nomination of James on account of the A-10 proposed cuts.

The Air Force has repeatedly said that it would save $3.7 billion by cutting the entire fleet, along with infrastructure and depot maintenance, and that other aircraft would cover the close air support mission.

The Air Force on Tuesday said it is working on a response to the letter, but did not have additional information to release.

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