Statement sent Friday to Gen. Norton A. Schwartz by Indiana representatives Marlin Stutzman, Dan Burton, Mike Pence, Larry Buschon and Todd Young:
As members of Indiana’s Congressional Delegation, we place great value in maintaining the security of the United States and write to you with concern over measures the Air Force may be taking in Indiana.
We all understand how essential innovation and adaptability are for the United States Air Forces, as well as the fiscal demands being placed on the Department of Defense (DOD). On February 1, 2012, your office released a paper titled “Air Force Priorities for a New Strategy with Constrained Budgets” which provides an overview of the Air Force’s measures in support for the newly released DOD Strategy. This report announces that 280 aircraft will potentially be eliminated, including 102 A-10 Warthogs. Amid speculation that the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne, Indiana may lose squadrons, we request specific information on these measures and the timing of their execution. Because our State and communities need to be prepared for the future, we submit the following questions:
1. If the A-10 squadron at Fort Wayne is eliminated, will the Air Force be able to fulfill the Close Air Support (CAS) role as effectively?
2. If the A-10 squadron is eliminated, what airframe will fill the void? Are either the F-22 or F-35 an acceptable replacement or will an existing legacy aircraft be sent to Fort Wayne?
3. The A-10 recently underwent a precision engagement upgrade in 2008, with the C block of that upgrade starting in 2011. As $2.25 billion was just spent to upgrade and extend the life of service of the A-10, is the Air Force weighing the value of such a significant investment?
4. The A-10 excels at ground attack, not just bombing, but strafing at low altitude. Because the A-10 was designed specifically for this type of attack, it has proven to be an extremely cheap and durable aircraft. Is the F-35 or any other platform as durable and able to withstand fire from the ground?
5. Should the A-10 squadron be eliminated in the 122nd Fighter Wing, will it be replaced with alternative air missions? If so, what budgetary and operational criteria will be used to determine the 122nd Fighter Wing’s missions going forward and when?
6. Following final determinations, when will final elimination or replacement take effect?
The 122nd Fighter Wing is essential to the Indiana National Guard and any cuts would have a deep impact on Northeast Indiana. It is critical that we receive detailed information to prepare our state and communities for what lies ahead. We would be glad to facilitate a visit to demonstrate the capabilities at the 122nd Fighter Wing. We look forward to working with you on this matter and anticipate a prompt reply to this inquiry.