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Senators Stabenow, Peters Urge President Obama to Keep A-10 Fleet Running

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters today urged President Obama to reconsider the Obama Administration’s fiscal year 2016 budget proposal to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt II fleet, which is located at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. In a letter to President Obama, Senators Stabenow and Peters highlighted the importance of the A-10 fleet in military combat and requested that further research be conducted before a decision is made to retire the fighter jets. The letter reads in part: ‘Given the United States’ current military engagements, where the A-10 continues to show its unique capabilities for providing close air support (CAS), we believe it’s risky to retire the aircraft before a suitable alternative is in place…We request that you and the Air Force conduct further analysis of alternative CAS operational capabilities and provide additional information regarding how these options would compare to the A-10 before retiring such an important aircraft.’ Nearly 3,000 full-time civilian and military personnel work at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, in addition to 3,000 members of the Air and Army National Guard and the Reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces. The base contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to Michigan’s economy each year. The full text of the letter can be found below: Dear Mr. President, As members of the Michigan delegation, we have serious concerns about the proposal to divest from the A-10 in your FY2016 budget request. Given the United States’ current military engagements, where the A-10 continues to show its unique capabilities for providing close air support (CAS), we believe it’s risky to retire the aircraft before a suitable alternative is in place. At this time, no other aircraft is able to engage in the difficult, close proximity missions with the level of success as the A-10. In a letter to the Secretary of Defense last November, the Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs), who as you know are specialists in CAS, said that ‘F-15s, F-16s, and B-1s cannot replicate the CAS capabilities of the A-10, and we know from combat experience that the elimination of the A-10 before a viable replacement achieves full operational capability will cost American lives.’ Men and women serving in the Army and Marines Corps continue to recount how valuable the A-10 is for protecting troops under fire and saving lives. In January, Maj. Parvin and Capt. Cavazos received the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor for saving the lives of 6 marines in Afghanistan. These pilots flew through heavy layers of clouds and dusk to protect marines who had been ambushed by insurgents. Marines on the ground that night say they are certain they wouldn’t have made it out alive without the CAS supported provided by Parvin and Cavazos. We respect the difficult budgetary decisions you and our Armed Forces have to face while protecting our troops and achieving operational successes. However, retiring the A-10 before suitable alternatives, capable of the same level of operational engagement, are ready is unwise. Therefore, we request that you and the Air Force conduct further analysis of alternative CAS operational capabilities and provide additional information regarding how these options would compare to the A-10 before retiring such an important aircraft. Sincerely,

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