Sources have confirmed that that the Air Force is trying to ensure the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) language on the A-10 will allow the USAF to park a large number of A-10s. The plan would specifically reassign aircraft from “full combat ready status” to “battlefield reserves status.”
Because squadron personnel manning is calculated on the number of Primary Aircraft Authorization (PAA) aircraft, Backup Aircraft Inventory (BAI) aircraft have zero manning attached to it. This means that perhaps half, or more of the squadron personnel would move out of A-10 units if the USAF succeeds.
By making this change, the USAF could reallocate personnel to other areas such as the F-35 or other programs.
The current language passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee would not allow the Air Force to reduce manning in A-10 units in FY 2015 and therefore would eliminate any benefit from this conversion from PAA to BAI. Unfortunately, the House-passed NDAA would not prevent this reduction in manning and would provide the Air Force the incentive and opportunity to make this move.
So as the two bills are “conferenced,” supporters of the A-10 say that it is important that the final language reflect the SASC A-10 language not the House language.
Senator Inhofe (Oklahoma), Senator Levin (Michigan), Representative Smith (Washington State), and Representative McKeon (California) are the primary individuals to decide what is in the final NDAA.
Experts suggest that A-10 supporters, who live in Oklahoma, Michigan, Claifornia and Washington, should call the respective member’s front office phone number in DC and express their support for the A-10. Inhofe and Levin have been supportive in the past but should be encouraged to “push for the SASC A-10 language to be included in the final NDAA, and oppose the Air Force’s BAI plan.” For those who do not live in the states, they are encouraged contact family or friends whom these members represent and ask them to contact their member. If you have a member who serves on the SASC or HASC, contact their front office phone number and express your support for the A-10 and ask them to support the SASC-approved A-10 language in the final NDAA.
FY 2015 SASC-Passed NDAA:
SEC. 134. LIMITATION ON AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS FOR RETIREMENT OF A-10 AIRCRAFT.
(a) Limitation- None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available for fiscal year 2015 for the Air Force may be obligated or expended to make significant changes to manning levels with respect to any A-10 aircraft squadrons, or to retire, prepare to retire, or place in storage any A-10 aircraft, except for such aircraft the Secretary of the Air Force, as of April 9, 2013, planned to retire.
(b) Rule of Construction- Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or otherwise affect the requirement to maintain the operational capability of the A-10 aircraft.
FY 2015 House-Passed NDAA:
SEC. 132. PROHIBITION ON AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS FOR RETIREMENT OF A-10 AIRCRAFT.
(a) Prohibition- None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available for fiscal year 2015 for the Department of Defense may be obligated or expended to retire A-10 aircraft.
(b) Comptroller General Study-
(1) STUDY- The Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a study evaluating the platforms of the Air Force used, as of the date of the study, to conduct close air support missions.
(2) REPORT- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report on the study under paragraph (1), including–
(A) the cost per airframe carrying out the close air support missions described in such paragraph;
(B) the capabilities of each platform evaluated under such study; and
(C) a determination by the Comptroller General with respect to whether such airframes other than A-10 aircraft are able to successfully carry out such close air support missions.