Senators Isakson, Perdue: A-10 Weapon System Critical to National Defense

Join Representatives Carter, Scott in fight to protect critical close-air support from proposed divestment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) today voiced their opposition to an Air Force proposal to divest of the A-10 Thunderbolt II that could jeopardize the United States’ close-air support capabilities and the safety of American service members.

At a press conference led by U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ), Senators Isakson and Perdue joined their Senate colleagues along with former Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, including Master Sergeant Tim Stamey from Georgia, to emphasize the increased risk that divesting the A-10 without an equally capable replacement would have on our ground troops who rely on this critical close-air support.

“The A-10 is an important mission at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Ga., and plays a crucial role in support of our national defense,” said Senator Isakson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “The close-air support provided by the A-10 is unmatched by any other aerial platform, and to divest of this aircraft without an alternative ready and in place would put U.S. troops at increased risk in current and future conflicts.”

“The A-10 is our best close-air support platform,” said Senator Perdue. “I will work to make sure that the Air Force knows that we are united and committed to this platform so we don’t have a gap in supporting our ground troops. It’s being used now, and it has been used for years, because of its proven capabilities and its cost-effectiveness. Georgians know that we must keep the A-10 in place to help fulfill the mission of close-air support as we combat this global security crisis.”

The Department of Defense and Air Force have recently discussed plans to retire a percentage of the A-10 fleet in order to transition maintainers in support of F-35A initial operational capability.

Today’s press conference comes ahead of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s scheduled vote on the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) next week and the likely consideration of the NDAA later this month by the full House of Representatives.

You can view Senator Isakson and Perdue’s remarks at today’s press conference online here.

The Georgia senators are joined by U.S. Representatives Austin Scott (R-GA-08), and Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA-01), both of whom represent Moody Air Force Base in their districts in Georgia, in voicing their opposition to the U.S. Air Force’s proposal. Scott, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Carter fought to secure language in the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act to authorize $682.7 million to keep the A-10 flying for another year and specifically prohibits the Air Force from taking any moves to retire the platform.

“The A-10 is providing the close air support needed to finish the fights we are in now,” said Congressman Austin Scott.  “As terrorist threats continue to grow abroad, our troops abroad on the ground need a weapons system they can count on. Divesting in the A-10 without a suitable replacement ready to take its place would put our warfighters in jeopardy.”

“My colleagues and I have worked diligently in the House to ensure no moves are taken to retire the A-10 aircrafts stationed at Moody Air Force Base,” said Congressman Buddy Carter. “The A-10 strikes fear on the battlefield which is why the Air Force continues to deploy it in the fight against ISIS and we cannot afford to retire it now without a viable alternative. As discussions continue, I strongly urge my colleagues in the Senate to take our lead and join the fight to keep the Warthog flying.”

This Congress, members of the Georgia congressional delegation, led by Isakson, have held a number of meetings with key officials from each of the Armed Services – including Moody Air Force Base – to discuss the importance of Georgia-based military equities and assets that play a critical role in our national defense.

# # #