Flake drops A-10 bomb on constituents

Senator Jeff Flake is making the customary rounds of Arizona during D.C.’s summer recess, and on a rare trip to Southern Arizona, he dropped a bomb on the residents of the 6th poorest metropolitan area in the country. In one of the few free opportunities to hear from their senator, Tucsonans were told that the Air Force plans to phase out the A-10, which will result in an estimated loss of 5,000 jobs.

In one of the few opportunities to hear from the Senator without paying a cover charge, Flake confirmed for listeners of the James T. Harris radio show that one of their worst fears was true: the A-10 has been marked for elimination in the next 1 to 2 years.

Flake told Harris’ audience that the plan to eliminate the A-10 and the KC-10, an air refueling tanker and cargo aircraft, have been in the works for a while. This claim left many residents wondering why the Senator had not given them a heads up and an opportunity to defend the A-10 critical mission set.

When asked by Harris if he had any concerns about the proposed phase out’s effect on national security, Flake flippantly responded that he doubted the Air Force “would make a decision that would harm the national security.” Flake then claimed that the F-35 would provide an alternative to the A-10, ignoring the fact that the F-35 would not provide an alternative source of jobs for Tucsonans who lost the F-35 last year to Luke Air Force base in the Phoenix area.

Luke, understandably, fought hard for the F-35, but the plane is still a theoretical concept due to technical problems and massive cost overruns.

Air Force and legislative personnel say the planned phase out is part of a deal cutting that will leave the country at risk and cost far more than the 5,000 jobs at Davis Monthan Air Force Base and the surrounding area. But, they say, there is still time to stop the process if Flake and others will listen to the facts.

They say that the cuts to phase out the A-10 in the Program Objective Memorandums (POMs) for the upcoming fiscal years are intended to spare the B-1 Bomber. The B-1 bargaining chip is for a future bomber. KC-10 retirement is to force the purchase of more Boeing KC46 tankers, another program far from ready for prime time. The B-1, an aging limited use aircraft, is the perfect bargaining chip in future negotiations for defense spending.

POMs include decisions as to what defense programs live or die.

In the case of the A-10, any decision would also determine which soldier lives and dies as A-10s provide ground cover for the boots on the ground.

Despite this vital service to service men and women, the reasoning by Air Force officials is that the aging B-1 can be trotted out to U.S. senators and representatives as a solid example why they need more money down the road. Because the operating cost of one B-1 is the equivalent of 24 A-10s, the sturdy A-10 is not a compelling bargaining chip.

The Air Force will argue that the A-10 is a single purpose aircraft and as a result, is expendable. The decision makers in D.C., like Flake, will likely have only the information provided by the powers that be upon which to make an “informed” decision. What they will not be told is that the A-10 is critical to combat operations and the KC-10 crucial to mobility, say experts.

Unlike the loud single engine F-35, the A-10 is quiet and highly maneuverable. Unlike the F-35, the 30 millimeter GE GAU-8 Avenger cannon used by A-10s can have a devastating effect on the enemy. The 25 millimeter cartridge used by the F-35 is only marginally better than a 20 millimeter and does little damage. So little in fact that a few years back when a F-16 pilot inadvertently shot at a school in New Jersey, witnesses reported only hearing the “…sound of someone running across the roof of the building.” No damage was reported at all.

Bottom line for pilots: the 30 millimeter is far superior.

Supporters of Davis Monthan and the A-10 mission say it is not too late to save the life-saving attack plane. They are urging local officials and the public to call upon Flake to come to the defense of national defense.

Unfortunately, Flake is using the summer recess to sell immigration reform as his national defense plan. The irony is not lost on the residents of the area, who have seen the illegal entrants change over the years from poor people looking for opportunity to hard core drug runners taking advantage of a country who lost all interest in national defense.

Just recently, officials report a low flying A-10 near Ajo surprised a cartel convoy that was being confronted by a lone border agent. The curious A-10 made numerous low passes over the confrontation. The result, the cartel fled south. A border patrol source says there is no doubt the arrival of the A-10 saved the border agent’s life.

While Flake is trying to sell the border residents on the idea of drones overhead as part of their future, he is trying to convince them that the loss of the A-10, a source of their livelihood, is a thing of their past.

Related articles:

Warthog fans rally after Flake revelation

Flake hopes to clarify A-10 issue


  1. If stupidity and “who gives a crap” attitudes of our so called leaders came in bags of penny’s, our economy would be in great shape! We are being overwhelmed by Trojan horse politicians. We need input from the great pilots and the ground troops that consider the A-ten a flying Angel.

  2. More people including myself should have listened to the campaign ad of his opponent when Flake said<"I lied" with a grin! What a pathetic way to be as a man .I can tell you there was No shortage of people gladly signing a recall petition for him. Read pages of people that supported him! Sir , you and Obama are not dictators and we don't want your stupid Amnesty!

  3. Elimination of the A10 and failure to pursue the F35 program only play into the hands of the Tucson Mayor and Council’s desire to close DM.

    Tucson,,,the town to dead to die!

  4. Start writing Tucson’s obituary now in addition to the obit for soldiers who will die in foreign lands without the formidable support of A-10 flight crews, support staff, and aircraft.

  5. Good catch. I didn’t see anything about this in the Arizona Daily Star, but the Star did report a $2 break in trash fees for people in Ajo.

    • Mr Duhamel,

      It is so great that that crack Daily Star staff is every where, thanks for letting us know.

  6. stupid is – last year they finished a ‘huge’ remodel and rebuild of the A-10’s, which in purpose would keep them – build them up – so they could function until 2020 and maybe a bit more… they can now fly higher – to keep out of AA way – they can now drop ‘smart technology’ weapons – their airframes are ready for the long run in rebuilt wings to handle the jinking flying that the A-10 is famous for. The A-10 can ‘linger on site’ – keeping in contact with the fight on the ground – it does and will continue to save American soldiers lives – if it’s flying. They also just consolidated a larger number of A-10 personal and planes here to Tucson from another state – So why did they WASTE ALL THIS MONEY – restructuring and rebuilding – so they could in ‘months’ trash the entire thing! It’s ready to work now – we don’t have to design it or rebuild it, we just have to use it and fly it and fight with it.. and it does a great job of what it was designed to do.

    PS – The F-35 is NOT READY for prime time – The Brit’s are right now deciding to go forward or not on purchase of this aircraft – the “Phx” based F-35’s are “years away” at best – there are still LOTS of design issues, not to mention cost issues in the building and deployment of the F-35 ; It might not happen at all! And the tankers… that make all of these fly and become possible in combat – that’s a decades old problem and KC-135’s are still pumping gas in many a place.

    The bottom line is the “United States” has lost the ability to govern itself in effective manner – and that will and is costing us all – we just don’t realize how deep a price that is going to cost us – but we’re going to find out soon.

  7. “Just recently, officials report a low flying A-10 near Ajo surprised a cartel convoy that was being confronted by a lone border agent. The curious A-10 made numerous low passes over the confrontation. The result, the cartel fled south. A border patrol source says there is no doubt the arrival of the A-10 saved the border agent’s life.”

    This usage alone sounds like a win-win scenario… The lack-of-leadership COT council loves those call center jobs!

    Is now a good time to invest in Procter & Gamble (manufacturer of “Head and Shoulders”) stocks to rid ourselves of disgusting Flakes?

  8. The Flake, Mayor Jonny & the COT councildummies won’t rest until there’s nothing LEFT of Tucson but rattlesnakes, tumbling tumbleweeds & dust devils.

    Get a clue, and leave DM and our freedoms alone! We happen to appreciate jet noise!

  9. I Hate Our Senators. How About Giving It To The Arizona Air Guard. Or Better Yet Since The AirfOrce Doesnt Want It. Let THe Army Guard Operate Them It Will Be A Great Addition To THe Longbow

    • It does not sound like the Air Force are the ones selling out the A-10 it is the likes of Flake.

      • Do not be fooled. The air-to-air mafia that controls the Air Force has always despised the A-10 and they are always looking for a good excuse to can it. The money required to maintain the entire A-10 fleet is mere peanuts compared to even a few F-35s. However, the billions of taxpayers dollars involved with the F-35, the corporate defense industry, politicians, and bought-and-paid-for leaders of the Air force, will ensure the F-35 succeeds at the expense of any real combat capability or concerns for actual combat support to the Army and Marines. It is the 18-year-old soldier/marine who has the most to lose if the A-10 is removed from the fleet.

    • As cool as that sounds.. and amazing as it would be..
      The Key West agreement forbids the use of Combat aircraft in the Army’s Arsenal.

      • Which is why the KWA and associated agreements (whose names I forget offhand) should be tossed in the trash. Let AF keep the strategic bombers, haulers (cargo and fuel), and fighters, give the A-10 (and any other tactical strike aircraft the AF may have, though I think the ‘Hog is the only remaining A/C in that category; not counting the F-35 because it’s a) trash, and b) not even going to be available for years to come) to the Army.

  10. I have said many times we need an A10 to go down and hit the spy positions for the cartels along the border. Couple minutes of 30 MM and they would thing twice about coming back. It is our country and we should protect it.

  11. The A-10 has proven itself to be one of the most effective and durable weapons systems in the entire history of the Air Force. Its worth to our ground troops cannot be denied–not by Flake–not by any “Air Force official”–and certainly not by our enemies, who have been on the receiving end of this magnificent machine. The F-35 is not capable of replacing the A-10. No question about that. Therefore, this decision to eliminate the A-10 is going to become one of the biggest blunders of our nation. Sadly, the men and women who will suffer the most from this misguided political decision will be our men and women on the ground. Like those who died at Benghazi, when our brave men and women need it the most, help will not be forthcoming from this corrupt cabal masquerading as a government. America, where have you gone away to?

  12. Why do we support the Republican Party? Please remind me again? FLAKE, McCain, Kyle, Brewer, next Martha McSally. Washington trained Progressives.

  13. Have to laugh at the handwringing from the old Pueblo, the reliable safe haven for Democrats and Big supporters of Obama. Democrats in general and Obama in particular have been very hostile to defense. Explain to me why anyone should lift a finger to save Tucson from policies it so clearly supports. Funny how we hate defense spending unless it is in our community..then it becomes essential.

    • So true. It is a very left leaning town. National defense and economics have never been strong suits of liberals.

  14. While I do not support the Santa Rita mine, it may be the economic savior for the economy of Tucson.

    We have no control over the military and our senators.

  15. This is also a direct result of DM supporters failure to show up en masse at the F-35 hearings. The Congress and the BOS get the idea. We are not serious about getting defense dollars into our economy. Go back to sleep now.

  16. Cody – I think your wrong about the F-35 supporters – it doesn’t matter – the decision was made long before it ever got here – the F-35 in droves to Phx. AFB – IF IT’S EVER REALLY DELIVERED – 3 of the current units operational in Florida are “British” if they don’t buy and there is question – then who will buy this aircraft? Israel has a number of them ordered – and waiting along with everyone else. Its still NOT an accepted aircraft…

  17. McCain & McFlake. Two peas in a pod. They are already backing
    McSally. Guess her name fits. Don’t let the Republican establishment
    pick our candidates anymore. Send money to SACPac NOT the
    Republican party.

  18. I have to laugh a bit… If you’re a true conservative, you don’t believe in pork and you don’t believe in having Congress decide what weaponry is and isn’t appropriate to be deployed by the military.


    How is this Flake’s fault? Is he supposed to now lobby for a pork project, and tell the military what they should and shouldn’t keep in service?

    Won’t argue the issues around the F-35’s readiness or the viability of the A-10, but frankly, it’s not Congress’s job to micromanage what the Pentagon ultimately decides is appropriate. All Congress can do is approve or deny the funding.

    • The problem is that political generals, due to needing congressional approval for a promotion, are usually not much better than lapdogs for the politicians, and will say what they think makes the pols happy.

      And that’s even before you get into the whole “Fighter Mafia” thing in the USAF, where if the designation doesn’t start with “F” it’s considered useless.

  19. Get rid of the A-10’s? Bad move. Besides choppers they are direct support for boots on the ground. A-10’s saved my life twice during the 2004 Battle of Fallujah. I am very thankful.

  20. I’m confused… What does McSally have to do with this? We’re talking about the 25+ year veteran and former A-10 pilot? The one who wasn’t elected to office by the people who are complaining right now? Maybe keep the conversation focused on the relevant people in office who are the ones actually failing you.

  21. Well thank god we have Ron Barber looking out for the military and community that he so dearly loves. No doubt his statement defending the town and base will be out any day now…surely.

  22. The A-10 was originally on the chopping block in the early 90’s. This should not have been a big surprise. I personally don’t think other aircraft are can do the job as well as the A-10. What surprised me more was the statement that they (Air Force) chose to save the B-1. I think the last 10 years, advancement of technology make bigger, long range bomber as not as multi use as the newer aircraft

  23. Lets put this in perspective why we have lost our base as we know it. SPECIAL INTERESTS and NIMBYS SPECIAL INTERESTS and NIMBYS SPECIAL INTERESTS and NIMBYS SPECIAL INTERESTS and NIMBYS SPECIAL INTERESTS and NIMBYS SPECIAL INTERESTS and NIMBYS . Every time we lose out as a community blame SPECIAL INTERESTS and NIMBYS SPECIAL INTERESTS and NIMBYS . Repeat again SPECIAL INTERESTS and NIMBYS SPECIAL INTERESTS and NIMBYS . When does it stop when you vote out people who support SPECIAL INTERESTS and NIMBYS SPECIAL INTERESTS and NIMBYS .

  24. I must say, as an Active Duty AF pilot, this article and the COMMENTS above prove how clueless our nation truly has become.

  25. I might not be one to keep up with current politics except what my husband tells me due to the fact you can’t believe everything you hear. Right? Common sense. Ok, so being the wife of an A-10 pilot, taking away the jet is taking away his life, his commitment to his country, and a commitment to our safety. Go ahead and replace it, like we do every four years with the promise of new hope, lower taxes, and equal rights but you can’t replace our freedom. I feel for our country, I love our nation, but I do not want to see my husband suffer because his lively hood and love of his country doesn’t want to foot the bill on nessecary cost. What a bunch of bullshit our current government is. Yeah I said it. I’m a fighter pilots wife and proud!

    • Greatly appreciate your husband’s service, ma’am, and pilots’ wives seriously need to be heard & recognized as well! Totally in agreement that this government is messing in all the wrong areas when it comes to what’s best for America & Americans.

  26. You can now listen to the interview via the link at the top of this article. If you didn’t hear it, it’s very telling.

  27. For the government (congress, DoD, executive branch et al) to turn off the Warthog without having a viable, in service replacement on AF ramps is tantamount to them trading your freedom and our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines lives for a cheap BS promise that we all know they won’t fullfill. Inevitably the cost over runs will limit the purchase or outright cancel the F-35 and on some future battlefield (maybe on our back yard) troops that needed top cover won’t get it and they will die. Unfortunately it won’t be Flake or one of his own with their azz on the line when this comes to pass. How do I know all this? 26 years of military service watching our “leaders” make these bone head decisions (7 of them on the Warthog at DM and deployed)! Keep the Hog get rid of the flakes!!!

  28. The A-10 was almost killed off before, then Gulf War I happened, and it became a star. Give’m to the Marine Corps, who are adept at keeping surplus aircraft in fighting trim (like the UH-30’s and Cobras), and would love the CAS capability.

  29. I agree with many of the articles points, but I would like to point out that the F-16 that accidentally shot up that school A) Did so in the middle of the night when only the janitor was there AND B) Was using hollow practice rounds, no explosive rounds. The 25mm cannon on the F-35 is a more advanced version of the gun on the Harrier and AC-130 gunship and will provide decent tank busting ability.

  30. The A-10 is a ground support aircraft. The Army and USMC are on slate to be downsized because our government will not be putting “boots on the ground” anywhere across the globe. No more counter-insurgencies. Period. This is a deliberate strategic level decision. They will instead spend money on the Navy and Air Force. Therefore the A10 is not needed to support wars we are not willing to fight with ground troops that we will not have by an Air Force uninterested in the Close Air Support mission set. Makes sense actually.

  31. This artical is rather ironic for several reasons: First and formost is the fact that for the last half a century or more our DoD has gradually given up nearly all control of military acquisitions and appropriations to those in our government who know the least about national defense, and have the least at stake as a result of bad decisions; they being politicians and special interest groups. Second, although this article focuses on the combat proven A-10, for which there is no viable replacement for its mission currently flying, or even on the drawing board. Yet, our elected geniuses and the stooges who take their orders from them in the Pentagon have waved their hands and deemed the F-35 to be the A-10s replacement. Aside from the fact that the F-35 was designed as a stealth supercruise multi-role single-engine fighter and the A-10 was designed as an armored flyng tank killer that has proven for thirty plus years to not only do just that, but fulfill a myriad of other ground support roles that no other aircraft in our inventory can do…In layman’s terms, comparing the F-35 to the A-10 in “Close Air Support” aircraft terms is a little like comparing an electric powered Tesla sports car to a Mack truck…as a viable replacement for Mack trucks. The other great irony in this report that is rather glossed over is that it mentions phasing out the KC-10 tanker, the only heavy long range air refueling tanker we curently have (the KC-135 carries less than a third of the KC-10 ‘s fuel load and the only reason they are still flying is that we simply don’t have anything else….sorry KC-135 guys). So here is what I see is the great irony in this…Even if the F-35 were magically a viable mission repliacement for the A-10, the F-35 burns fuel at four to six times the rate of the A-10! The dirty little secret about both the F-22 and the F-35 is that they are both enormous gas hogs and have proven to be hugely tanker intensive, even just during their developmental test phases. One of the more overwhelming reasons we have yet to actually use our F-22s in combat is that they are so overwhelmingly tanker intensive, to the point that combat planners have not been willing to risk diverting large numbers of tanker assets away from other mission critical functions, like providing gas to A-10s overhead convoys that are being attacked in order to put F-22 into the fight. So, if we get rid of our KC-10 tankers (we only have 59 of them, by the way), how do we plan to provide enough gas to these magical, unproven F-35s that eat four to six times the fuel of an A-10? Will it be with new KC-46 (Boeing 767) tankers? Simple math says that’s not going to work, since they thoeretically will carry less than one third the fuel load of a KC-10, and we’re only buying 100 of them. I say ‘theoretically,’ because the first one hasn’t been built yet and isn’t projected for delivery until 2017, and since the program has already incurred a cost overrun of over $300 million, due to Air Force incompetence and Boeing corruption, we’ll be lucky to get half of them. But what do I know?

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