State lawmakers respond to report on A-10s

Posted: December 19, 2012 at 10:19 a.m.

Arkansas’ congressional delegation said Wednesday that they were “disheartened” by a joint congressional committee report that backed a bill allowing the end of the Arkansas National Guard’s A-10 fighter mission.

On Tuesday, the House Armed Services Committee agreed on the $631 billion National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2013.

The defense-authorization bill allows for continued development of an avionics upgrade for older C-130 cargo planes at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville but also leaves the A-10 fighter mission on the chopping block.

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., wrote Wednesday morning on Twitter that he was “extremely frustrated” with the report. In a statement released Wednesday by Pryor and Republicans U.S. Sen. John Boozman, U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, and U.S. Rep.-elect Tom Cotton, the lawmakers said they were “disheartened” by the report backing the bill.

“Late last night, the National Defense Authorization Act’s (H.R. 4310) final conference report was released,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately, we now know that language which would have prevented the United States Air Force (USAF) from ending the 188th Fighter Wing’s A-10 mission is not included in the final bill.

“Together as a delegation, we have fought this uphill battle, knowing the odds were stacked against us. We are extremely disheartened by the USAF’s decision which was based on the capstone principle of maintaining one flying mission per state rather than on a detailed analysis of cost-efficiency.”

The delegation has been working more than a year to thwart an Air Force plan to move the 188th from flying A-10 jets to remotely piloting unmanned drones.

“But this is not the end of the road, and no final decisions have been made. We will continue to fight to ensure that the 188th — which has a remarkable history and record and excels by every metric possible — has a vital mission in the USAF as it is modernized,” the lawmakers said.