Ayotte: If the Air Force cut their acquisition failures they could save the A-10

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) questioned the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Frank Kendall III, and highlighted the importance of improving Pentagon acquisition processes to save taxpayer dollars and to ensure that we provide our service members the support they need.

During the hearing, Ayotte pointed out that, from 2007 to 2013, the Air Force terminated twelve major acquisition programs—wasting $6.8 billion on weapons systems and programs that our service members will never use. Secretary Kendall responded to Senator Ayotte’s questions saying, “I regard the cancellation of a program after we spent a few years and a few billion dollars on it as almost pure waste and one of the greatest tragedies the department faces.”

Ayotte pointed out that, “if the Air Force had cut their acquisition failures on major defense acquisition programs just by 10 percent in the years…between 2007 and ’13, there would be the equivalent [of] more than enough savings to afford keeping the entire A-10 fleet [for FY15]…”

Senator Ayotte is Ranking Member of the Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee and has pushed the Pentagon to improve its acquisition processes. She has also led the effort in the Senate to prevent the premature divestment of the A-10—an airframe that the Army Chief of Staff, General Raymond Odierno has said, “…is the best close air support platform that we have today…And it’s performed incredibly well in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our soldiers are very confident in the system…”

In an article in POLITICO, Jeremy Herb writes, “The battle to preserve the 280-plane A-10 fleet, which the Air Force is prepared to retire, is shaping up as one of the biggest fights between Congress and the Pentagon. Already, backers in the House are readying amendments that could add between $400 million to $635 million in A-10 funding in the 2015 defense authorization bill.”

Contingency plans are being made in the form of A-10 amendments should House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon fail to include money for the A-10s in his chairman’s markup, which will be released Monday, according to POLITICO.

“If it doesn’t, we’re going to be offering some kind of approach to keep it flying,” Barber told POLITICO on Wednesday. “I talked to the chairman on the floor two days ago specifically about this. … He said we’re doing our best to get something in the base [bill]. But whether it goes in or not remains to be seen.”

Herb reports that McKeon “has indicated he’d like to restore funding for the A-10 fleet, which conducts close-air support missions. But with the Pentagon’s base budget capped at $496 billion, it could be difficult to find a way to do so. The Air Force’s decision to retire the fleet is meant to save $4.2 billion over the next five years.”

Barber is trying to save whatever he can and has set his sights on a smaller figure in order to keep the planes flying through fiscal 2015, according to POLITICO.

Chief Master Sergeant (retired) Chuck Wooten, a staunch supporter of the A-10 and candidate for Congress in Southern Arizona, which is the home of Davis Monthan Air Force base said, “Acquisition failures have been widely publicized and documented in the Air Force for some time and they have now created a crisis where the Air Force must now choose to retire a very unique airframe in the A-10 along with reducing pay and benefits to Airmen and their families to make up for the waste. In my experience as a senior Air Force leader, this is nothing short of a bureaucratic, colossal failure of leadership within the acquisition community and the Air Force should immediately complete a bottoms-up review of the acquisition processes and ferret out additional waste. The A-10 must remain in service.”

Master Sergeant (retired) Eric Brandenburg—an Afghanistan and Iraq combat veteran and former Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) who earned a Silver Star and five Bronze Star medals for actions during combat related to close air support— has said the following about the A-10: “The A-10 is a uniquely capable close air support aircraft and the best in DoD’s inventory. I am—like many of my former colleagues—alive today because of the A-10. If the A-10 had been divested the last time the Air Force wanted to do so, I would likely have not returned home from combat to my family. When our troops are in danger of being overrun, we must send the best assets to help them. If the A-10 is not available in future conflicts when our ground troops call for help, Americans will needlessly be injured and killed.”

A-10 pilot, Lt. Col. Tom Norris said, “Not only does the USAF treat taxpayer dollars like “free money,” as Senator Ayotte pointed out, but also treat our Sons and Daughters as expendable by trying to divest the best Close Air Support Aircraft in the world!”

Related articles:

Air Force brass taken to task for A-10 mothball plans

Army Vice Chief of Staff says A-10 is a “game changer”

A-10, D-M truth needs to be told, action needs to be taken

Air Force A-10 plans could cost Tucson up to $480 million annually


  1. Being a fan of both the Warthog and Chief Wooten, I’m compelled to agree with both jojo and Sara. Not only has Wooten been a staunch supporter of the A-10 from the get-go, but he’s the only candidate I’ve seen in years who possesses the ability to communicate with a truly broad spectrum of voters while keeping his integrity and focus intact. At age 70, I’m hoping not to face combat any time soon–but were that to happen, I’d certainly want to know an A-10 flight could be called in for close support if needed. And when it comes to close support on the political front, yeah, having Chuck Wooten in Congress is just as important. Were I to need assistance and put in a call to Wooten, I’d know help would be on the way if at all possible. Were someone like McSally to get the CD2 House seat and I put in that same call, I’d not even expect the call to go through.

  2. The waste has got to stop!!! Our fighting hero’s deserve better than that.
    We will only have peace through strength. Reducing the A 10 will show we are weak.
    I agree with JOJO. Chuck Wooten is the answer. He has already started working for us. We need someone in Washington who owes nothing to the elite. Chuck is a honest, hardworking conservative.
    Let’s get him elected. A vote for McSally is no better than a vote for Barber. Check him out for yourself
    Wooten 2014.com

  3. We have a choice in this primary election folks. Continue with the waste, fraud, and abuse and support the candidate the GOP elites and McCain are forcing down our throats (McSally) or go with a winner and a person who knows how to get things done Chief Chuck Wooten. Get people registered and let independents and libertarians know they can make a difference in who we send to congress. Chief Wooten cannot and will not be bought. His reputation is on the line and he has worked hard to keep his integrity and honor intact. Stop complaining and get to work folks. We have someone worth supporting.

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