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Public Statements

Letter to Secretary of the Air Force Mark Fanning, Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh - Save A-10 Thunderbolt II

U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, in a bipartisan letter signed by eight colleagues, urged the Air Force not to divest itself of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, calling the attack jet "a combat-proven workhorse" that "provides a critical capability."

Barber, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, also spoke on the floor of the house this week, calling the A-10 "unsurpassed in its ability to provide close air combat support for our troops on the ground."

The A-10 is the main aircraft stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, where the 355th Fighter Wing flies 82 of the planes. But because of across-the-board indiscriminate spending cuts known as sequestration, which Barber has adamantly opposed, the Air Force is considering retiring the aircraft.

The A-10 is nicknamed the "Warthog" and has been highly praised by ground troops. "One Army commander told me, whenever he heard the Warthogs show up, he knew that their day was about to get better," Barber said in his remarks in the House.

Barber also supported the A-10 this week in a letter to Eric Fanning, secretary of the Air Force, and Gen. Mark Welsh III, Air Force chief of staff. The letter was signed by eight of Barber's colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats.

"The A-10 Thunderbolt, as you know very well, is unsurpassed in its ability to provide close-air combat support for service members on the ground," Barber wrote.

"In Operation Desert Storm, the A-10 was responsible for the destruction of 4,000 military vehicles and artillery pieces," Barber added. "In Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the A-10 has performed nearly one third of the combat sorties. In addition to close air support, the A-10 has also assisted in combat search and rescue operations, escorting helicopters and assets in and out of combat zones."

New electronics have been installed on A-10s and just last year, the Air Force began installing new wings on all the planes. The rewinging has been completed on all A-10s based at D-M. The new wings and electronics were touted as cost-effective ways to extend the life of the planes until at least 2028.

But with the Pentagon facing billions of dollars in cuts because of the across-the-board and indiscriminate sequestration cuts, the Air Force is considering getting rid of all A-10s in a money-saving move.

"Sequestration is a disgrace," Barber said in his House remarks. "I never supported it, and I implore my colleagues to work with me to end it. Our national security and the protection of our service members in combat areas must be paramount as we fund the Department of Defense."

Barber has repeatedly called on his colleagues in Congress to take immediate bipartisan action to reverse sequestration cuts and instead do the hard work of going through the federal budget to identify and cut programs that are ineffective, wasteful or unnecessary.

This week's House speech and letter are the latest moves Barber has taken to ensure the long-term viability of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the 162nd Fighter Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard, Fort Huachuca and Southern Arizona's military assets.

Before taking office, Barber handled military affairs for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and worked with civilian support groups throughout Southern Arizona to protect Arizona's installations and defense industry.

Since he took office in June 2012, Barber has worked closely with members of the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance, the D-M 50, the 162nd Fighter Wing Minutemen Committee and the Fort Huachuca 50 to help preserve and strengthen the military's role in Tucson and Sierra Vista.

In September 2012, Barber wrote to the secretary of the Air Force advocating for basing the F-35 in Southern Arizona, given its proximity to test ranges and near-perfect flying weather.

Early in 2013, Barber prevented sequestration cuts that would have ended funding for Operation Angel Thunder, the world's largest personnel rescue and recovery exercise, based at Davis-Monthan. Over the course of the last year, Barber and his staff have met with Air Force officials multiple times regarding the missions at Davis Monthan and the 162nd Fighter Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard.

Barber hosted SADA members in Washington with Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona earlier this year to meet with officials at the Pentagon and deliver the message of Southern Arizona's widespread support for our men and women in uniform and the military missions in Tucson and Sierra Vista.

Barber is a member of the House Armed Services Committee where he advocated for Southern Arizona's military installations in helping to write the legislation of the National Defense Authorization Act. Barber voted for both the Defense Authorization and Appropriation bills which included full funding for the A-10 through fiscal 2014. Both bills passed the House this summer.

Last month, Barber hosted Undersecretary of the Army Dr. Joseph W. Westphal for a two-day tour of Southern Arizona defense contractors and Fort Huachuca. Barber also facilitated meetings between Westfall and SADA members.

Honorable Eric Fanning
Secretary of the Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington DC 20330-1670


General Mark A. Welsh III
Air Force Chief of Staff
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington DC 20330-1670

Dear Secretary Fanning, General Welsh:

We write to express our deep concern regarding recent reports that the United States Air Force is considering divesting itself of the A-10 Thunderbolt II in the near future. We are opposed to any effort by the Air Force to deprive Combatant Commanders of a combat platform that provides a critical capability.

The A-10 Thunderbolt, as you know very well, is unsurpassed in its ability to provide close-air combat support for service members on the ground. In Operation Desert Storm, the A-10 was responsible for the destruction of 4,000 military vehicles and artillery pieces. In Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the A-10 has performed nearly one third of the combat sorties. In addition to close air support, the A-10 has also assisted in combat search and rescue operations, escorting helicopters and assets in and out of combat zones.

The A-10 has provided the Air Force with decades of exemplary service and with a new retrofit of the airframe's wing and electronics package, the A-10 can continue its close air support mission for decades to come. National security and the protection of our service members in combat areas must be paramount as we consider the needs of the Department of Defense. To deprive itself of such a combat-proven workhorse such as the A-10 would be a mistake and adversely impact the ability of the Air Force to support the warfighter on the ground.

As we continue the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan, we can ill afford to repeat past mistakes. The Department of Defense must maintain its ability to wage ground combat and support those at the tip of the spear. We believe divesting the Air Force of the A-10 at this point would deprive the Department of this capability. We request that you provide the proposed funding decisions for the A-10 Thunderbolt II program objective memorandum (POM) and the proposed future guidance and allocation of the airframe.

Sincerely,

RON BARBER

Member of Congress

CANDICE S. MILLER

Member of Congress

JACK KINGSTON

Member of Congress

C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER

Member of Congress

VICKY HARTZLER

Member of Congress

MIKE SIMPSON

Member of Congress

PAUL GOSAR

Member of Congress

ROB BISHIP

Member of Congress

AUSTIN SCOTT

Member of Congress


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