Says leaving troops without close air support is not an option
Washington, D.C.-Idaho Senator Mike Crapo today joined Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) and six other colleagues to send a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter following the U.S. Air Force's efforts to place 18 A-10 Thunderbolts on backup aircraft inventory (BAI) status. The senators are concerned the move will negatively impact the readiness of the A-10 fleet and request Secretary Carter reconsider this effort as well as the Air Force's broader efforts to divest the A-10.
"We must not overlook the unique close air support capabilities that the A-10 provides in keeping our men and women in uniform safe," said Crapo. "The Air Force's continued effort to do away with the Warthog, whether through fleet divestment or moving the aircraft into BAI status, could have profound effects on our nation's military readiness and leave troops without proven, combat-effective close air support. I urge Secretary Carter to carefully scrutinize Air Force efforts to divest or otherwise dismantle the A-10 platform given the importance of this aircraft to soldiers on the ground."
Notably, the effort to transition 18 A-10s to BAI status comes on the heels of the announcement that the Air Force will again seek to retire the A-10 in Fiscal Year 2016. In part, the senators write, "Despite the growing need for the CAS capabilities that the A-10 provides, as evidenced by the deployment of A-10's to fight ISIS and deter additional aggression in Europe, the Air Force continues to attempt a 'back-door' divestment of the A-10 using a BAI plan."
Crapo has previously voiced concerns about plans to divest the A-10 and reduce our nation's closeairsupport capabilities, including during the visit of Air Force Secretary Deborah James to Idaho last week.
For the full text of the letter, click here .