Ayotte & the A-10: Hold on, Air Force
President Obama has nominated Deborah Lee James to be the next secretary of the Air Force. One senator is standing in the way of that nomination: Kelly Ayotte. Good for her.
Last week, Ayotte placed a hold on James' nomination pending the answer to questions about the future of the A-10 Thunderbolt, popularly known as the Warthog. That troop-support aircraft, developed in the 1970s, has proven highly effective in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the Air Force wants to phase it out to make way for the new F-35, which does not have the same functionality.
Unable to get answers from the Air Force about its plans for the A-10, Ayotte blocked James' nomination.
Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh told a congressional committee last week that the A-10 might be phased out to save money, even though it's a great plane. Ayotte said at James' confirmation hearing that she had been given a slide from the Air Force that showed the A-10 being divested entirely by fiscal year 2015, The Hill newspaper reported. When she asked James if the decision had already been made, James did not know.
A lot of Air Force National Guard units use the A-10, which has saved lots of lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. Ayotte is right to use her hold power to press for answers about its future. We are surprised she was the only senator to do so.