Republicans who serve on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee vowed Tuesday to block the Pentagon’s plans to retire the A-10 “Warthog” attack jet.
“If it’s just money, let’s find money to make sure it keeps flying,” South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham, who serves on the committee, said during a press briefing Tuesday. “I respect those who wear the uniform, but we have an independent duty to make sure what they’re advising us makes sense. In the case of the A-10, the Air Force position makes no sense.”
The committee plans to vote on the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) next week, which authorizes Pentagon spending and activities. Graham, Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH vowed to prohibit the Air Force from taking any steps to retire the aircraft.
Supporters of the A-10 note the versatile plane played a large role in protecting soldiers during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the Air Force wants to retire the plane in favor of newer aircraft like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Pentagon says other aircraft could perform air support just as adequately as the aging A-10, which was first introduced to the military in 1977. The Air Force estimates it could save $4 billion over the next five years with the transition.
But Graham and others argue the F-35 is not ready and continues to experience problems during tests.