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Ernst stresses importance of A-10

The U.S. Air Force's A-10 "Warthog" is the only fixed wing close air support platform the U.S. military has at its disposal. U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is fighting efforts to retire the aircraft in the upcoming defense budget. (The Iowa Statesman photo/Bob Eschliman)

The U.S. Air Force’s A-10 “Warthog” is the only fixed wing close air support platform the U.S. military has at its disposal. U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is fighting efforts to retire the aircraft in the upcoming defense budget. (The Iowa Statesman photo/Bob Eschliman)

By The Iowa Statesman

 

Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) joined Senate colleagues and close air support experts at a press conference to support the effort to prevent the premature divestment of the A-10. The Iowa Senator stressed the importance of the A-10 as a resource for American men and women serving in harm’s way, and noted that the A-10 lacks a comparable replacement.

A-10 Thunderbolt II, more commonly referred to as the “Warthog” or just “Hog,” is an American twin-engine, straight wing jet aircraft developed by Fairchild-Republic in the early 1970s. It is the only United States Air Force production aircraft designed solely for close air support, including attacking tanks, armored vehicles, and other ground targets with limited air defenses.

“It is an extremely powerful platform,” Ernst said. “And bottom line, upfront, folks is that my colleagues and I are not here today to fight for a piece of equipment, what we are doing today is fighting for the very lives of our men and women that are serving on the ground in these dangerous areas.”

The A-10 was designed around a 30 mm rotary cannon that is its primary armament, and features a 1,200 lb. titanium armor airframe was designed to protect the cockpit and aircraft systems, enabling it to absorb a significant amount of damage and continue flying. Its secondary mission is to provide airborne forward air control, directing other aircraft in attacks on ground targets.

“I have heard over and over and over again from many colleagues that they would not be here today, with us, if it weren’t for the A-10,” Ernst said. “We do not have a comparable platform at this time. And bottom line again, we’re not fighting for a piece of equipment, we’re fighting for the lives of our American men and women; special operators, warriors, those that are danger close with the enemy.”

The press conference was held in anticipation of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s markup of the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act next week, and the likely consideration of the NDAA later this month by the full House of Representatives. Scroll down to see the video of her statement.