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We Don’t Want Them: Army Secretary Sides With Air Force Leadership

Given the choice between adopting the A-10 fighter jets to his branch of the military and resigning them to the scrap yard, Army Sec. John McHugh thinks the choice is obvious.

According to McHugh, there’s just “no chance” that the Army would ever consider adopting the jets, DOD Buzz reports.

“With our own aircraft fleet we’re taking some pretty dramatic steps to reconfigure and become more affordable, and the A-10 mission is not something we considered,” McHugh stated. “That’s an Air Force mission as it should be and I’m sure the Air Force feels the same way.”

Air Force Sec. Deborah Lee James again defended the decision before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee on Wednesday to once and for all scrap the A-10s in the 2016 budget. Near the end of 2014, Congress refused to let the A-10s die, but did compromise in allowing the Air Force to shift 36 out of the almost 300 A-10s into backup.

The A-10 remains popular among pilots and soldiers, primarily because of its ability to provide effective close air support, a fact which James appeared to acknowledge.

“[T]he A-10 has done a magnificent job, but so has the F-16 and the F-15E, and the B-1 bomber has been a contributor and there have been a number of aircraft that have contributed to the totality of close-air support,” James stated. “So to me, close-air support is not a plane, it’s a mission.”

Yet, on the replacement of the A-10 with the B-1, Sen. John McCain informed Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Walsh last year that he shouldn’t “insult my intelligence,” since the B-1 is incapable of matching the A-10 on close-air support capabilities.

Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire is calling out the Air Force on another seemingly bizarre tactic stemming from the leadership to ensure that the A-10 is scrapped. She sent a follow-up letter to James on Tuesday asking for an update on the investigation into Maj. Gen. James Post, which was first initiated on Jan. 28, after reports leaked of Post telling servicemembers that testifying to Congress about A-10 is treason. For Ayotte, it’s important that the Air Force respects servicemembers’ legal right to speak to Congress.

Every branch of the military has its mind preoccupied with sequestration at the moment, and the Air Force is little different. Currently, the 2016 budget places the Air Force at $10 billion over the caps, and James has emphasized that sequestration would hamper the Air Force’s ability to execute its national strategy.

However, a study released by the Heritage Foundation early this week indicates that the Air Force is operating at 92 percent of its capabilities, compared to the Army, which is listed at 76 percent, meaning that if sequestration hits, the Air Force might be the least affected. (RELATED: Report: US Military Capabilities Are Surprisingly Weak)

“We do it with the greatest of reluctance,” James added, referring to the controversial decision to remove the A-10 Warthog from the force. “It’s a budgetary matter. Every aircraft eventually gives way to the next generation.”

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