Looking at a Smaller Number

The Air Force likely will not be able to place a total of 36 A-10s in backup status as Congress authorized in Fiscal 2015, said Secretary Deborah Lee James. Instead, it will probably have to make do with moving a smaller number of A-10s to the backup aircraft inventory, she told reporters at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 13. “It turns out that there is really probably no sensible way to take the full 36 and put them in BAI unless you would take down an entire unit,” said James. “We know that this is not the desire of the Congress,” she added. Lawmakers rejected the Air Force’s plan to retire the A-10 fleet this fiscal year as a cost-saving move. Instead, they added language to the Fiscal 2015 defense authorization legislation that allowed the service to shift 36 A-10s to a backup role once the Pentagon certified that this move was needed to avoid degraded fleet readiness and a delay to fielding the F-35A strike fighter. “We are grateful that we did get some flexibility,” said James.