The chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees reported out the final conference agreement of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, on Tuesday. Specific provisions in the NDAA will protect the A-10 while making “significant reforms” to the Department of Defense.
“The A-10 is the finest close-air support aircraft in our nation’s arsenal that currently plays an important role in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, as well as in NATO’s efforts to deter Russia’s aggression in Eastern Europe,” said Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I am proud that the NDAA once again prevents the Obama Administration from prematurely retiring this important weapon that continues to protect American service members and our allies in combat.
According to McCain, the “legislation includes some of the most significant reforms to the Department of Defense in a generation, and identifies $11 billion in excessive and unnecessary spending resulting from bloated headquarters and administrative overhead, delayed or troubled weapons programs, and unjustified budget requests. It reinvests those savings in providing critical military capabilities for our warfighters, meeting unfunded priorities of our service chiefs and combatant commanders, and supporting critical national security priorities.”
While McCain has never fought to bring money to Arizona, as he faces Republican Primary challengers, he made sure to note the “Arizona-related” provisions in the Act:
The NDAA once again prevents any premature retirement of the A-10, which continues its vital role of protecting American service members and our allies in combat. Despite the Obama Administration’s repeated attempts to retire the A-10 fleet, the NDAA prohibits the Air Force from retiring any A-10 Warthogs and fully funds the flight hours, pilot training, fuel, and maintenance for all A-10s for the upcoming year. The NDAA also requires the Secretary of the Air Force to maintain a minimum of 171 combat-coded A-10 aircraft, many of which are stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB) in Tucson, and directs the Government Accountability Office to conduct an investigation and review of the A-10’s close-air support mission.
The NDAA prevents the Air Force from following through on its proposal to retire seven EC-130H Compass Call electronic attack fleet airplanes stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. These jamming and surveillance aircraft are critical to protecting our air men and women from sophisticated electronic attacks in conflicts across the Middle East such as Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as against potential threats in the Pacific and Europe.
Additional NDAA provisions related to Arizona:
- Fully funds Army’s request for 64 Apache helicopters to be remanufactured in Mesa;
- Increases the military’s budget to purchase 49 additional Tomahawk missiles, which will be manufactured at Raytheon in Tucson;
- Increases the military’s budget by $140 million to purchase additional anti-tank missiles, which will be manufactured at Raytheon in Tucson;
- Allows the transfer of approximately 125-200 unneeded mobile homes from the Department of Defense to Native American tribes – for which the Navajo and other tribes have long advocated – at no cost to the American taxpayer.
The NDAA provides funding for military construction projects in Arizona, including:
- $16.9 million at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson for C-130 storage and cleaning facilities;
- $50.6 million at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma for aircraft maintenance facilities;
- $33 million at Luke AFB for an Air Force Squad Operations Facility;
- $13.2 million at Luke AFB for an aircraft maintenance hangar;
- $5.5 million at Luke AFB for a bomb maintenance facility;
- $5 million at Luke AFB for a fuel offloading facility; and
- $3.8 million at Fort Huachuca for communications facility renovations.
The NDAA also includes several measures related to Arizona’s border security operations across the U.S.-Mexico border, including:
- $45 million for Operation Phalanx, which would increase border security operations by the National Guard along the southern border and could result in an approximately 60 percent increase in aerial surveillance of the region;
- Up to $75 million in additional assistance to Customs and Border Protection operations to secure the southern border, which may include the deployment of personnel, surveillance assets, and intelligence support;
- $50 million to address U.S. Southern Command’s unfunded priorities to increase surveillance and interdiction operations in Central America, a primary transit point for illicit trafficking into the United States; and
- Enables the Secretary of Defense to transfer excess defense articles and equipment to the Department of Homeland Security for border security activities.