In military news, the retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, a plane known to many as the Warthog, continues to create controversy with Air Force leaders and lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Air Force officials wanted to retire the A-10 to make room for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter - the highly-expensive, stealth fifth-generation fighter - with many lawmakers and others in the military - especially ground troops - pushing back against the Warthog's retirement.
The United States Air Force now says that the A-10 retirement is more than likely to be pushed back. The reasoning given behind the delayed retirement of the Warthog was that there had been changes in the production rate of the F-35 Lightning II coupled with increased demand on that aircraft.
Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command, said "We will probably move the retirement slightly to the right. Eventually we will have to get there -- we have to retire airplanes. But I think moving it to the right and starting it a bit later -- maybe keeping the airplane around a bit longer -- is something that's being considered."
The Air Force's original plan was to retire about 164 A-10s next year with some of those planes remaining operational until 2019. The Air Force has said the move would have saved an estimated $4.2 billion over five years.
After the Air Force's announcement that they would delay the retirement of the A-10, not all of the plane's defenders were buying what they were selling. One of those sceptical of the Air Force's intentions was Rep. Martha McSally, R-Arizona. McSally is a retired Air Force colonel and A-10 pilot and the first woman to fly combat missions when the men-only restriction was lifted.
She called the delayed retirement announcement an administration ploy to continue "to whittle away at a critical capability."
"Over the last 3 years, the administration has already mothballed the equivalent of four A-10 squadrons, leaving us with only nine to carry out the critical missions for which the A-10 is best suited," said McSally, who flew the aircraft over Iraq and Kuwait during Operation Southern Watch and in combat missions over Afghanistan. "We just invested over $1 billion to keep this asset flying until 2028. Until there's a suitable replacement, we absolutely need to keep this life-saving capability in the air.
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