U.S. REP. RON BARBER CALLS ON CONGRESS TO PASS DEFENSE BILL AND PROTECT A-10
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today called on his colleagues to support comprehensive defense legislation that includes language he pushed for to protect the A-10 from being retired.
“A-10 pilots are trained at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, to fly a plane that is unsurpassed in its ability to provide support for our troops on the ground,” Barber said in remarks on the floor of the House today. “In today’s military environment, the A-10 is best suited to continue this very important mission for decades to come.”
Video of Barber’s complete remarks can be seen here:
Barber called on his colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, to pass the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act – a sweeping bill that will fund most programs and operations within the Department of Defense.
Barber is a member of the House Armed Services Committee which drew up the act. Since the beginning of the year, he has been pushing for language to be included in the NDAA that protects the A-10 – an attack aircraft whose pilots are trained at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson.
Barber has consistently noted that the A-10 plays a crucial role in protecting soldiers and Marines on the ground – a role that cannot be suitably replicated by any other aircraft in the military inventory.
Last week, Barber introduced legislation that would prohibit the Department of Defense from spending any money to “retire, prepare to retire, or place in storage any A-10 aircraft.”
That prohibition would remain in effect until the Air Force certifies that it has a sufficient number of fully operationally capable F-35s to replace the retiring A-10s to meet combatant commander close air-support requirements. The legislation also requires the non-partisan Government Accountability Office to verify the Air Force’s certification.
The NDAA, which will be voted on later today, incorporates similar language, making the prohibition on retiring A-10s effective through December 2014. The prohibition could be extended in NDAA legislation in future years.
Last month, Barber and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, led a letter to top Pentagon officials enumerating the strengths of the A-10 and the many reasons why it should be kept as part of the Air Force fleet. The letter also was signed by 19 other members of the House and 12 other members of the Senate.
The A-10 is the main aircraft stationed at D-M, 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 September remarks on the floor of the House.
New electronics have been installed on A-10s and over the past few years, 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 sequestration cuts, the Air Force is considering getting rid of all A-10s in a money-saving move.
The Department of Defense funding bill includes:
- Funding for numerous weapons programs manufactured by Raytheon Missile Systems which is based in Tucson and is the largest private employer in Southern Arizona. The budget funds Javelin and TOW anti-tank missiles as well as Patriot, Tomahawk, Standard Missile 3 and Joint Air-to-Ground missiles;
- Funding for the Iron Dome missile-defense system which has been developed by Israel in cooperation with Raytheon. Barber has pushed to have Iron Dome co-produced in the United States, which could lead to jobs in his Southern Arizona district;
- Funding for university partnerships and research, some of which will be conducted at the University of Arizona;
- A prohibition on the implementation of any enrollment fees to the TRICARE for Life program;
- Improved health care programs for troops, their families and military retirees, including more money for cancer research, medical facility upgrades and suicide prevention;
- New provisions to combat sexual assaults;
- Increased funding for service members and veterans living with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013
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