After warning last year that lack of funding could force three of nine A-10C Thunderbolt squadrons to be grounded, the United States Air Force said that it would include funding for additional wings in its fiscal year 2019 budget request on Friday.
To maintain current levels, Congress included $103 million for required wing production in the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. The Air Force’s announcement that it would request additional funding in fiscal year 2019 came days after an A-10C squadron deployed to Afghanistan for the first time in three years.
U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), an Air Force veteran, has led the congressional charge to maintain A-10C Thunderbolt squadrons. McSally also urged Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to request additional funding in the coming fiscal year.
“The Air Force knows that the A-10 is a vital asset and critical in the fight against ISIS, the Taliban, North Korea and Russian aggression in Eastern Europe,” McSally said. “In fact, the Warthog is currently one of the most utilized aircraft across multiple theaters. I’m pleased to see that this aircraft’s indispensability is accurately reflected in the Air Force’s budget request for FY 2019.”
Funding for the A-10C fleet ranked atop the Air Force Unfunded Priority List in the House and Senate defense authorization bills.
“We simply cannot afford to ground three A-10 squadrons. It would leave a huge hole in our capability and troops on the ground would be without cover,” McSally said. “That’s why I fought to ensure that full funding to restart its wing production. I will continue to work towards funding for these wings until that production line is turned on.”