TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Is the Air Force truly committed to keeping the A-10 in the air? Reports this week question whether the service will make some critical repairs---and without those repairs about a third of the planes will have to be grounded.
A-10s are critical to Tucson Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the one-point-five billion dollars the base puts in our economy.
The A-10 may not be especially sleek but ground troops say it's beautiful when it brings its' big gun to take out anyone that puts them in danger.
But about a third of the A-10s are in danger. Some of them are 40 years old and their age is catching up with them.
“The issue here is metal fatigue where a piece of metal will flex and flex until it loses strength over time and maybe even breaks. The concern is after years and years of hard flying, the wings of the A-10s are becoming weak so they will have to be replaced.
171 A-10 already have new wings. 110 still need them or they will be grounded as unsafe.
Congresswoman Martha McSally flew A-10s in combat and commanded an A-10 unit at Davis-Monthan. She says she called the Air Force Secretary when she heard the reports and was assured the Air Force will continue wing replacements, though that requires Congress to agree on paying for the program.
She says the A-10 is flying important missions now from the MIddle East to Europe to Korea.
"It is absolutely paramount that we keep the A-10 in the air to support our troops and to keep Americans alive and keep them at Davis-Monthan which is so important for our military but also so important for our base and our economy."
With the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance, Amber Smith thinks about what the A-10 and Davis Monthan contribute to our economy, and how DM makes other Arizona bases more effective.
"The synergy of those installations with each other is extremely important and there is no better place in the country for flying missions so any threat to those missions we are extremely concerned about.”