Ayotte acts to prevent Air Force from violating A-10 law

When Senator Jeff Flake was first asked by Tucson radio show host James T. Harris last summer if he was concerned about the Air Force’s plan to mothball the A-10, Flake responded that he was not concerned because the F-35 was going to replace it. Flake’s comments signaled to pilots that he did not understand the role of the A-10, the condition of the F-35,  or the determination of the Air Force to get rid of the Warthog as fast as possible.

Luckily for the residents of Southern Arizona, home of Davis Monthan Air Force, a Senator from across the country, New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, does understand the Air Force and the games they play. As a result, Ayotte has issued a warning to the Air Force that their apparent attempt to retire the A-10 “in violation of current law,” has not gone unnoticed and will not be tolerated.

In a letter dated January 24 to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, Ayotte alleges that the Air Force Air Combat Command (ACC) has issued orders intended to stop Suite 8 development, which “will prevent any new subsystems from being installed and integrated into the airframe’s avionics architecture,” and prevent the upgrades of the identification friend or fire beacon to levels required by 2015  (To read the letter click here).

Ayotte also asserts, “Without IFF Mode 5, combatant commanders will be unlikely to allow the A-10 to operate in contested areas,” essentially leaving the plane unusable after 2015, which just so happens to be the date the Air Force has set for the plane’s divestment.

“The Air Force appears to be taking steps to retire the A-10 in violation of the law before Congress has had a chance to receive and scrutinize the Department of Defense’s FY 2015 budget request as it relates to the A-10,” writes Ayotte.

Just last month, Ayottte fought successfully for the inclusion of language into the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which prevented the Air Force from retiring or preparing to retire, or “place in storage” A-10 planes, except those scheduled for retirement as of April 9, 2013.

“I ask you to reverse this action which I believe is in violation of the law,” concluded Ayotte.

Last week, despite volumes of evidence to the contrary, Flake maintained his claim that the F-35 will replace the A-10, but he did concede his earlier claim that there was nothing to be concerned about was wrong. “The problem is right now you don’t have anything to fill the A-10’s slot to provide close air support. The F-35 is a long way off,” Flake told a Tucson newspaper. “Ultimately, if the F-35 can take that place, fine.”

Still, Flake was in denial about the Air Force’s commitment to hurry the A-10’s demise. “In the interim,” he told the paper, “we probably need the A-10. I don’t think the A-10 mission will end quickly.”

Senator John McCain, a fellow member with Ayotte on the Senate’s Committee on Armed Services, has been silent on the subject of the A-10. McCain has great disdain for his constituents in Arizona and has done so little to represent them that just this weekend; he was censured by the members of the Arizona GOP.

In an article in the Wall Street Journal; Admirers Join Forces to Save ‘Warthog’ Jet, Major General Johnson said that if the A-10 were to be divested, “There’s a risk that attrition will be higher than it should be — that’s a clever way of saying more people will get hurt and die — and extreme risk is that you might not win.” With that simple statement, for the first time, we have an Air Force official saying that the USAF is accepting risk in terms of higher Army casualties, and even mission failure if they cut the A-10.

Supporters of the A-10 have been encouraging the public to call their representatives in support of the aircraft, which provides the close air support so desperately needed by the troops on enemy ground.

Senate contact numbers are:

Alexander, Lamar (TN)(202) 224-4944

Ayotte, Kelly (NH)(202) 224-3324

Baldwin, Tammy (WI)(202) 224-5653

Barrasso, John (WY)(202) 224-6441

Baucus, Max (MT)(202) 224-2651

Begich, Mark (AK)(202) 224-3004

Bennet, Michael F. (CO)(202) 224-5852

Blumenthal, Richard (CT)(202) 224-2823

Blunt, Roy (MO)(202) 224-5721

Booker, Cory A. (NJ)(202) 224-3224

Boozman, John (AR)(202) 224-4843

Boxer, Barbara (CA)(202) 224-3553

Brown, Sherrod (OH)(202) 224-2315

Burr, Richard (NC)(202) 224-3154

Cantwell, Maria (WA)(202) 224-3441

Cardin, Benjamin L. (MD)(202) 224-4524

Carper, Thomas R. (DE)(202) 224-2441

Casey, Robert P., Jr. (PA)(202) 224-6324

Chambliss, Saxby (GA)(202) 224-3521

Coats, Daniel (IN)(202) 224-5623

Coburn, Tom (OK)(202) 224-5754

Cochran, Thad (MS) (202) 224-5054

Collins, Susan M. (ME) (202) 224-2523

Coons, Christopher A. (DE) (202) 224-5042

Corker, Bob (TN) (202) 224-3344

Cornyn, John (TX)(202) 224-2934

Crapo, Mike (ID)(202) 224-6142

Cruz, Ted (TX)(202) 224-5922

Donnelly, Joe (IN)(202) 224-4814

Durbin, Richard J. (IL)(202) 224-2152

Enzi, Michael B. (WY)(202) 224-3424

Feinstein, Dianne (CA)(202) 224-3841

Fischer, Deb (NE)(202) 224-6551

Flake, Jeff (AZ)(202) 224-4521

Franken, Al (MN)(202) 224-5641

Gillibrand, Kirsten E. (NY)(202) 224-4451

Graham, Lindsey (SC)(202) 224-5972

Grassley, Chuck (IA)(202) 224-3744

Hagan, Kay R. (NC)(202) 224-6342

Harkin, Tom (IA)(202) 224-3254

Hatch, Orrin G. (UT)(202) 224-5251

Heinrich, Martin (NM)(202) 224-5521

Heitkamp, Heidi (ND)(202) 224-2043

Heller, Dean (NV)(202) 224-6244

Hirono, Mazie K. (HI)(202) 224-6361

Hoeven, John (ND)(202) 224-2551

Inhofe, James M. (OK)(202) 224-4721

Isakson, Johnny (GA)(202) 224-3643

Johanns, Mike (NE)(202) 224-4224

Johnson, Ron (WI)(202) 224-5323

Johnson, Tim (SD)(202) 224-5842

Kaine, Tim (VA)(202) 224-4024

King, Angus S., Jr. (ME)(202) 224-5344

Kirk, Mark (IL)(202) 224-2854

Klobuchar, Amy (MN)(202) 224-3244

Landrieu, Mary L. (LA)(202) 224-5824

Leahy, Patrick J. (VT)(202) 224-4242

Lee, Mike (UT)(202) 224-5444

Levin, Carl (MI)(202) 224-6221

Manchin, Joe, (WV)(202) 224-3954

Markey, Edward J. (MA)(202) 224-2742

McCain, John (AZ)(202) 224-2235

McCaskill, Claire (MO)(202) 224-6154

McConnell, Mitch (KY)(202) 224-2541

Menendez, Robert (NJ)(202) 224-4744

Merkley, Jeff (OR)(202) 224-3753

Mikulski, Barbara A. (MD)(202) 224-4654

Moran, Jerry (KS)(202) 224-6521

Murkowski, Lisa (AK)(202) 224-6665

Murphy, Christopher (CT)(202) 224-4041

Murray, Patty (WA)(202) 224-2621

Nelson, Bill (FL)(202) 224-5274

Paul, Rand (KY)(202) 224-4343

Portman, Rob (OH)(202) 224-3353

Pryor, Mark L. (AR)(202) 224-2353

Reed, Jack (RI)(202) 224-4642

Reid, Harry (NV)(202) 224-3542

Risch, James E. (ID)(202) 224-2752

Roberts, Pat (KS)(202) 224-4774

Rockefeller, John D., IV (WV)(202) 224-6472

Rubio, Marco (FL)(202) 224-3041

Sanders, Bernard (VT)(202) 224-5141

Schatz, Brian (HI)(202) 224-3934

Schumer, Charles E. (NY)(202) 224-6542

Scott, Tim (SC)(202) 224-6121

Sessions, Jeff (AL)(202) 224-4124

Shaheen, Jeanne (NH)(202) 224-2841

Shelby, Richard C. (AL)(202) 224-5744

Stabenow, Debbie (MI)(202) 224-4822

Tester, Jon (MT)(202) 224-2644

Thune, John (SD)(202) 224-2321

Toomey, Patrick J. (PA)(202) 224-4254

Udall, Mark (CO)(202) 224-5941

Udall, Tom (NM)(202) 224-6621

Vitter, David (LA)(202) 224-4623

Warner, Mark R. (VA)(202) 224-2023

Warren, Elizabeth (MA)(202) 224-4543

Whitehouse, Sheldon (RI)(202) 224-2921

Wicker, Roger F. (MS)(202) 224-6253

Wyden, Ron (OR)(202) 224-5244

In Arizona call:

Senator John McCain 202-224-2235 602-952-2410 www.mccain.senate.gov/
Senator Jeff Flake 202-224-4521 602-840-1891 www.flake.senate.gov/
Rep Ann Kirkpatrick(D1) 202-225-3361 520-316-0839 www.kirkpatrick.house.gov/
Rep Ron Barber(D2) 202-225-2542 520-881-3588 www.barber.house.gov/
Rep Raul M. Grijalva(D3) 202-225-2435 520-622-6788 www.grijalva.house.gov/
Rep Paul A. Gosar(R4) 202-225-2315 480-882-2697 www.gosar.house.gov/
Rep Matt Salmon(R5) 202-225-2635 480-699-8239 www.salmon.house.gov/
Rep David Schweikert(R6) 202-225-2190 480-946-2411 www.schweikert.house.gov/
Rep Ed Pastor (D7) 202-225-4065 602-256-0551 www.pastor.house.gov/
Rep Trent Franks (R8) 202-225-4576 202-225-4576 www.franks.house.gov/
Rep Kyrsten Sinema (D9) 202-225-9888 602-956-2285 www.sinema.house.gov/

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