Monday, January 14, 2013

Update: 122nd Fighter Wing and 127th Wing A-10Cs safe from cuts under new defense bill

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

As already reported here, the 122nd Fighter Wing (Indiana ANG), Fort Wayne, and their associated 163rd Fighter Squadron got green light to keep and continue flying the A-10C Thunderbolt II ("Warthog") well into the future. Released by 122nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs on the wing's official Facebook page already on January 4, 2013: "The 122nd Fighter Wing is pleased to announce that with Wednesday's historic signing of the National Defense Authorization Act by President Obama, we will continue to have Fighters at the Fort! The signing of the National Defense Authorization Act by the President allows the 122nd Fighter Wing to keep and continue flying the A-10C Thunderbolt II in Fort Wayne well into the future." Source

Another winner is the 127th Wing (Michigan ANG), Selfridge ANGB, with their associated 107th Fighter Squadron. Unfortunately, at least so far I could'nt find any official statement from the 127th Wing. But on their official Facebook page they posted the following news article:

Detroit Free Press wrote:

An A10 fighter jet from the 127th Air National Guard unit based at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township makes contact with a KC135 Stratotanker during a refueling exercise Tuesday, March 27, 2012, above Michigan's thumb area. (Photo by Mike Brookbank / Detroit Free Press)

By Todd Spangler
Detroit Free Press Washington Staff
5:24 PM, December 19, 2012

WASHINGTON – Congress is poised to add an extra layer of protection for aircraft at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in legislation expected to be finalized this week.

A final version of the defense authorization bill for the current fiscal year retains the A10 fighter aircraft and KC135 refueling tankers based at Selfridge, in Harrison Township. Both the U.S. House and Senate are expected to pass the legislation this week and send it to the president to sign.

Today, U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, a Republican from Harrison Township, said the legislation protects the 107th Fighter Squadron that could have been cut as part of Pentagon changes suggested earlier this year. It also creates a commission to study the future of the nation's air power, with a report due in February 2014.

"I strongly believe that the Air Force should not make or propose any additional dramatic cuts to the Air National Guard in advance of the issuance of that report," Miller said.

The proposed changes – which included moving the A10s from Selfridge – were placed on hold this summer, pending approval of the 2013 defense budget. U.S. Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, a Democrat from Detroit, rejected any effort to eliminate the 107th Fighter Squadron and said in July that he was confident the Senate would reject "any such attempt."

Last winter, the Air Force proposed phasing out the A10s as part of a five-year, $9-billion cost-cutting plan.

Meanwhile, Levin wrote to Gov. Rick Snyder today, encouraging him to argue for additional Air National Guard aircraft to be placed in Battle Creek.

While the defense-authorization legislation adds an unmanned aerial vehicle operations unit at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, there is also the chance the base there could get a portion of the 32 additional C130 and C27 troop and cargo transport aircraft.

"For that eligibility to translate into actual aircraft for Battle Creek ANGB, I urge you to join me in making the case to the leadership of the Air Force and National Guard Bureau that basing of C130 and/or C27 aircraft at Battle Creek ANGB would be very much in our national security interest because it would make full use of the great facilities and tremendous talent the base has to offer," Levin wrote the governor and the Michigan National Guard adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais.


Additional info: Air Force Times reported:

Air Force Times' top stories of 2012
Staff report Posted: Thursday Jan 3, 2013 9:40:23 EST

From a new chief of staff to the MTI scandal, here's the biggest stories from 2012: [...]

The skirmish over A-10s
The Air Force planned to retire 102 A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft this fiscal year, roughly 29 percent of its A-10 inventory, but Congress made the service restore two of the five squadrons it wanted to eliminate. Three of the squadrons the Air Force wanted to stand down came from the Air National Guard and a fourth from the Reserve. Ultimately, Congress passed a defense budget that eliminated the A-10s at the Guard's 188th Fighter Wing at Little Rock, Ark., and the Reserve 917th Fighter Group at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. However, the Indiana Air National Guard's 122nd Fighter Wing and the Michigan Air National Guard's 127th Wing kept theirs. [...]

Brouhaha over Guard cuts
Air Force leaders such as then-Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Secretary Michael Donley endured a civil war between the active-duty force and the Air National Guard from February onward over proposed cuts to personnel and aircraft. In the end, Congress reversed most of the Guard cuts. Most of the airmen and a good deal of the aircraft that the Air Force wanted to cut this fiscal year came from the Guard because the service felt the active-duty force had taken most of the hits in previous drawdowns. But the Guard felt it was being unfairly targeted, and state and federal lawmakers fought for every local Guard unit slated to lose people or aircraft. By July, it was clear that the Air Force's plan was "simply not executable," Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said at his confirmation hearing. By December, lawmakers agreed on a budget that restored 4,100 airmen from the Guard that had been slated to be cut. Congress also created a National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force that will look into the appropriation of force structure. [...]


Please note: I'm still in the process to further update this post. Sorry, but it's not easy to try related online sources, including Google News, and putting pieces together. An official statement from 127th Wing Public Affairs would be great!

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