Retiring the A-10 jet from service will put combat troops lives at risk, Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.), John McCain (R., Ariz.), and Saxby Chambliss (R., Ga.) wrote in a Wednesday Real Clear Defense op-ed.
The A-10’s role as a close air support (CAS) aircraft has served as a major benefit for troops engaged in combat by providing extra firepower against enemy combatants.
According to the senators:
In a world that is more unstable and less predictable, the proposal to eliminate the A-10 before an adequate replacement achieves full operational capability is dangerously short-sighted.
Students of history understand that. Perhaps that is one reason why General Odierno has said "Obviously we prefer the A-10" and that multi-role aircraft are "not quite the same as the A-10 with … ground forces."
We have a responsibility to ensure our ground troops in the next conflict receive the best possible CAS so they can accomplish their missions and return home to their families.
When we fail to fulfill that responsibility, the cost is measured in the lives of our troops.
One incident the senators pointed to as an example of the A-10’s benefit was a dire battle in Afghanistan last July. U.S. troops were pinned down by enemy combatants and helicopters were unable to rescue them due to the conditions on the ground. An A-10 was called in and fired 2,300 rounds on enemy forces, saving 60 American lives in a single incident.