Two members of Congress are cheering reports that the Air Force is delaying plans to retire the A-10 Warthog. “It appears the administration is finally coming to its senses,” Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), a retired A-10 pilot, said in a release. “With A-10s deployed in the Middle East to fight ISIS, in Europe to deter Russian aggression, and along the Korean peninsula, administration officials can no longer deny how invaluable these planes are to our arsenal and military capabilities,” McSally said. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he would welcome plans to keep the A-10 flying through Fiscal 2017. “With growing global chaos and turmoil on the rise, we simply cannot afford to prematurely retire the best close air support weapon in our arsenal without fielding a proper replacement,” McCain said. Air Force officials had no comment on the issue, saying details of the Fiscal 2017 budget proposal will be released in early February. But Air Combat Command chief Gen. Hawk Carlisle said in November that though the Air Force needs to retire the plane, they would likely have to wait because of F-35 delays.
A majority of panelists convened by the Atlantic Council to assess the situation in Ukraine believe that Russia will have enough forces—and recent practice in Belarus—to invade Ukraine within a month. A senior Air Force official concurred, saying the service expects the conflict soon.