The Air Force is clamping down on information about a recent report in which they are planning to mothball the A-10. According to family members of Davis Monthan Air Force Base, those in command have commanded that no one is to discuss the matter.
Out of concern for one wife of an A-10 pilot, a local Tucson radio host, cancelled an interview with the pilot’s wife as they were to discuss the Air Force’s plan. The base officials have contacted service men and women and have ordered an end to leaks.
The pilot’s wife told AZDI that her husband is “amazing. He can do anything,” she said. “He will be just fine if the A-10 goes away, but this isn’t about the pilots. This is about the plane and the boots on the ground that count on it.”
She added that when the pilots first learned of the Air Force’s plans for the A-10, they walked around wondering what would become of them, but that didn’t last long at all. Almost immediately, they began wondering what would happen to ground troops. She said people then began questioning if the Air Force leaders were insane. Nothing can beat the A-10, they said. The pilots believe that nothing can protect the ground troops like the A-10.
While the A-10 pilots processed the information, the general public was told nothing. The people of Tucson were told nothing of the plans, which would devastate a large local economic engine.
When Arizona Senator Jeff Flake appeared on a Tucson radio show, revealing in a cavalier manner that the Air Force was phasing out the A-10 and replacing it with the F-35, it was a revelation that shook not only the boots on the ground around the world, but the community of Tucson.
Following Flake’s revelation, a nationwide effort began in order to save the A-10. Boots on the ground have joined A-10 pilots and crews to save the plane that has frequently saved them.
The grassroots movement caused Flake’s office to advise media they were going to “push back” and spin the Senator’s comments. Then, they proceeded to force the Air Force to clamp down on their members and families.
Those activities have not stopped the wives of A-10 pilots from organizing. They created the Facebook group Stand for Protecting Heroes, Keep the A10 in the U.S. Military. Fans of the A-10 warthog are circulating a petition in hopes of gathering 100,000 signatures by September 16. The Save the A-10 Thunderbolt II from retirement due to budget cuts petition (sign here) asks signers to “Tell the Obama administration to reconsider the retirement of the A-10 attack aircraft.”
The A-10 pilot’s wife says she hopes Congress will listen. She has prepared a speech for them if they care enough about the issue. She wants to tell them all she knows about the A-10 and wants them to know that Air Force leadership is touting the F-35 because they know congressional members are not informed. Her fear is that Congress will rely on biased information provided by the fighter pilot leadership within the Air Force who have no time for attack planes.
Many in the Air Force community know the Air Force leaders are selling the concept of “winning wars in the sky”; however, they want leadership to “brief the facts,” not what they want the facts to be. “Brief the facts,” they say, and the A-10 will not go away.
They argue that if one attempts to only win a war in the sky, our nation’s enemies would deliberately place the lives of civilian men, women and children in harm’s way. They also pointed out if you put another plane out there to do the job of the A-10, you would risk the lives of those pilots who are flying planes in missions for which they were not designed.
While Flake and his office back pedal, the wives and community members are organizing. They know they do not have time for the DM-50 to hold parties, puff up chests and pretend to wield influence they squandered long ago. The DM-5o is the same group who did little and lost the F-35.
They may have been warned to remain silent, but that won’t stop the A-10 pilots’ wives; they are made of the A-10 stuff. They may not be the most glamorous, but they are tough, resilient, and determined.