Air Force secretary: A-10s in Fort Wayne ‘5 or 10 years at least’

Video courtesy Sen. Joe Donnelly’s office

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The Air Force has committed the A-10 fighter jet to the Fort Wayne Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing for “the foreseeable future, which is five or ten years at least.”

In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly questioned Air Force Secretary Dr. Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein on the Air Force’s commitment to the 122nd’s air combat future. Both officials made that commitment.

Here is the exchange:

Dr. Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force, testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, June 6, 2017.

Donnelly: “I want to make sure that this commitment to maintaining a manned air combat mission at Fort Wayne will be kept.”

Wilson: “Senator, the A-10 is at Fort Wayne and we have no intention of removing it. It’s there for the foreseeable future and they’ll have that manned combat mission. We have no intention of changing that.”

Goldfein: “The reality is we need that wing flying the A-10 right now, and so we made a decision in this budget to keep the A-10.”

Donnelly: “My question is how long does ‘right now’ last?”

Wilson: “We’re keeping the A-10s for the foreseeable future, which is five or ten years at least.”

Last week, Donnelly and U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (IN-3rd) held a roundtable discussion hosted a roundtable for federal officials to meet with state and local stakeholders to discuss the long-term future of the 122nd Fighter Wing and the Fort Wayne Air National Guard Base. Donnelly said then that there was nothing that had happened to cause concern or spark the meeting, but said it was all about planning ahead for the future.

Over the last three years, the military has tried twice to retire the A-10 fleet, but Congress denied the request both times. In the 2018 Pentagon budget plan sent to Congress last month, though, the Air Force proposed to keep all 283 A-10s flying for the foreseeable future.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.