Proposed defense budget cuts would ground A-10 fleet

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Proposed defense budget cuts would ground A-10 fleet

By Justin Schecker. CREATED Feb 24, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The future of the A-10s is up in the air again after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel outlined Monday massive proposed cuts to the military.

The proposed defense budget for FY 15 would include the elimination of the A-10s, which is the main aircraft stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. 

A Davis-Monthan spokesperson tells 9 On Your Side the budget proposal will not affect day to day operations on the base. 
Congressman Ron Barber (D-2), who helped pass legislation protecting the A-10s in 2014, held a press conference renewing his fight to save the A-10s. He blames sequestration for the uncertainty of the A-10s future in the Air Force.      
"Right now there couldn't be an issue of greater importance to our future both economically as well as from a national security perspective than saving the A-10 and keeping it flying," Barber said. 
The Department of Defense will save $3.5 billion, roughly $700 per year, over the next five years by getting rid of the A-10 fleet, Hagel said.
"This makes no sense" because the Air Force invested millions of dollars to upgrade the A-10s with new wings and electronics so they could fly through at least 2028, Barber said.           
While Hagel said the A-10s are past their prime, Barber argued replacement aircraft, such as the F-35, will not be nearly as effective.
"The A-10 can fly slow and low and come in to protect our troops on the ground," he said, "and no other aircraft flying today can do that same mission."
Supporters of Davis Monthan fear the elimination of A-10s could leave the base on the chopping block during future budget cuts. In 2012 alone, the base had an economic impact of $1.6 billion. 
"Davis Monthan AFB is a premier base for the USAF with tremendous advantages, especially for flying missions," Southern Arizona Defense Alliance member Ron Shoopman said in an email. "That fact places heavily in our favor, however, in the face of dramatic budget cuts, preserving Davis Monthan and the other bases in our region must be the top priority for our community."
The budget Hagel outlined also reduces troop levels to their lowest since before World War II, slows the rate of pay increases and cuts subsidies to commisarries. 
The House Armed Services Committee will review all of the proposed military cuts when meeting this week, Barber said.
Justin Schecker

Justin Schecker

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Justin Schecker reports for KGUN 9 ON Your Side at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00. He joined KGUN9 in September of 2012 and spent his first year in Tucson covering overnight breaking news for Good Morning Tucson.