While Rep. Martha McSally’s experience as a former A-10 pilot was a strong selling point for voters in Arizona’s Congressional District 2, her latest request for $1 million in A-10 training, that will provide new campaign collateral, has USAF generals up in arms.
McSally is struggling to connect with the voters in Congressional District 2 (CD2). As a result, she has gone to great lengths to generate compelling propaganda. The venerable A-10 is beloved by nearly everyone but the USAF Fighter Mafia, so it the perfect vehicle for her to propel herself back into the hearts and minds of CD2 voters.
According to sources, McSally’s retraining would cost approximately $1 million. But no expense is too outrageous when you are in the race of your life.
Because she is the race of her life, McSally has misrepresented the funding she secured to keep the A-10 alive. In June, McSally announced that “she has successfully secured full funding for the A-10 fleet.”
She boasted that “$103 million for new A-10 wings, $17.5 million for other necessary upgrades, and $6 million for safety inspections” were included in both the House Defense Appropriations bill.”
Experts say that although McSally was able to get the House to authorize up to $103 million in the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), for wings, this amount has not been appropriated and the amount falls short of what is needed to sustain the fleet.
Rather than keep up the fight she fought the A-10 community and the personnel they serve such as JTACS with success two years ago, Capitol Hill sources say that McSally and her team have settled for issuing press releases that leave out damning facts.
McSally is accused of just going through the motions. The accusation is based on the fact that $103 million will not cover the cost of new wings. The $103 million would likely only cover the basic contract with the manufacturer and maybe 3 sets of wings. Wings, for the aircraft that has decimated ISIS, cost between $7 – $10 million a set.
An email obtained by the ADI, shows that her staff knew full-well that the $103 million was just a gesture and not a real solution. In that email, the question was asked if Congress provides the funding, how would the USAF go about re-winging the A-10s. A description of the process was also requested: The response her staff received is as follows:
- The AF purchased new wings for 173 aircraft, the last of which will be installed in FY 18. These new wings along with some affordable service life extension programs and modifications ($3 to $5 M per aircraft), will enable them to fly into the foreseeable future. The FY18 PB at $340 million in the next five years to increase depot capacity and maximize the wing overhaul line.
- The last of the optional Enhanced Wing Assembly (EWA) ordering periods on the Boeing Wing Replacement Program (WRP) contract expired on 30 September 16, therefore a new contract will be required to EWA behind on the 173 aircraft. A new contract could cost as much as $10 million per aircraft and would be late to need. Between 50 and 70 aircraft will ground in the FY 19–23 timeframe before a new wing contract could reach full rate production. If a new WRP were purchased by the AF it would take a year to get through the acquisition process and breach contract award. If a contract were awarded in FY18, the first article would be delivered in FY22. The estimated schedule for completing installation of the 110 new wings is approximately 11 years after initial award, but most of these A-10s will be replaced at that point.
In other words, instead of the USAF funding a contract for the A-10, they are hoping the maintenance depot can make all the repairs — which is not the case. The depot cannot make all the anticipated repairs and thus will start grounding A-10s in the timeframe of 2018-2019.
If McSally sticks only to issuing press release, and not doing the real work of getting funding, the A-10 will be a thing of the past. The fact that she has asked the USAF to expend $1 million on a propaganda stun like requalifying her to fly the A-10 while misrepresenting the future of the plane should led to an investigation.
In her June press release, McSally told the truth when she stated: “The A-10 Warthog, which I flew, is a one-of-a-kind aircraft that is critical on any battlefield to keep our troops alive and rescue anyone trapped behind enemy lines. It is currently in the demilitarized zone protecting against North Korea aggression, destroying ISIS in the Middle East, and regularly deployed to Europe to support NATO and allies in the face of Russian aggression. It is crucial to keep the A-10 fully funded and upgraded until there is a proven, tested, replacement.”
McSally knows the USAF’s long term sustenance of the A-10 is deficient. Unfortunately, Arizona voters are only hearing her victory chants instead of the true state of the A-10 fleet.