TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona Senator Mark Kelly attended the A-10 pilots graduation ceremony on Friday. With his 25 years of experience in the navy as a pilot flying in combat, he has been very vocal about the value of the A-10 Warthog and has been working to keep the aircraft in the skies.
“I’ve flown close-air support mission. I flew an airplane that did not do that mission very well. This airplane does that mission better than any airplane that’s ever been built,” Sid Kelly.
Amid talks to retire the A-10 for several years, President Joe Biden released a budget proposal to partially retire the aircraft. In opposition, Kelly continues to express his support for the A-10 and says he will continue to find ways to protect it.
“I’m working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure that all of my colleagues understand that if you want to support our troops on the ground, and you want to do what’s in the best interest of our national security. Until there is a replacement with an airplane that can do the job- the close-air support job that the A-10 can do, we got to have the A-10,” said Kelly.
The retirement of the A-10 has the potential to eliminate an entire squadron, which will no doubt affect how troops are supported, but it’ll also affect Tucson’s economy.
“The number of airplanes is often connected to the number of jobs. So it's an economic issue, this airplane is an economic driver for the area. My job is to represent Arizona as best I can in the United States Senate,” said Kelly.
And Kelly says as someone who’s flown in combat, it makes no sense to ground a proven performer.
“It's unacceptable to me to get rid of an airplane when we don’t have a replacement. The F-16, the F-35, those airplanes do some things really, really well. Outstanding. But it does not do the close-air support mission the way this airplane does,” said Kelly.