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Warthog attack plane finds new life in Trump administration

The Warthog is sitting pretty. Once on the brink of forced retirement, the A-10 attack plane with the ungainly shape and odd nickname has been given new life, spared by Air Force leaders who have reversed the Obama administration’s view of the plane as an unaffordable extra in what had been a time of tight budgets. In the 2018 Pentagon budget plan sent to Congress this week, the Air Force proposed to keep all 283 A-10s flying for the foreseeable future.

Three years ago, the Pentagon proposed scrapping the fleet for what it estimated would be $3.5 billion in savings over five years. Congress said no. The following year, the military tried again but said the retirement would not be final until 2019. Congress again said no. Last year, officials backed away a bit further, indicating retirement was still the best option but that it could be put off until 2022.

Now the retirement push is over, and the Warthog’s future appears secure.

“The world has changed,” said Maj. Gen. James F. Martin Jr., the Air Force budget deputy, in explaining decisions to keep aircraft once deemed expendable. The Air Force has similarly dropped plans to retire the iconic U-2 spy plane amid prospects for bigger budgets under President Donald Trump. It also reflects the relentless pace of operations for combat aircraft and surveillance and reconnaissance planes that feed intelligence data to war commanders. The service had complained for years that its inventory of aircraft was getting dangerously small and old. Gen. Mark Welsh, who retired as the top Air Force officer last year, was fond of describing the service as having 12 fleets of aircraft that qualify for antique license plates in the state of Virginia.

The A-10 is a special case. Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona who flew the A-10 in combat and commanded a squadron in Afghanistan, speaks of it with obvious affection.

“The A-10 is this badass airplane with a big gun on it,” she said she told Trump in a recent conversation, explaining why the Warthog is unlike any other attack aircraft. The “big gun” to which she refers is a seven-barrel Gatling gun that is nine feet long and fires 30mm armor-piercing shells at a rate of 3,900 rounds per minute. Also armed with Maverick missiles, the A-10 is effective not only in a conventional battle against tanks and other armored vehicles. It also provides close-air support for Iraqi and other U.S. partner forces taking on Islamic State fighters in the deserts of Iraq and Syria. A number of A-10s fly missions in Syria from Incirlik air base in Turkey.

McSally is among members of Congress for whom elimination of the Warthog carried political risks back home. Sen. John McCain, a fellow Arizona Republican, joined her in strenuously arguing against the plane’s early retirement. Arizona’s Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is home to an A-10 unit; retirement of the aircraft might have made Davis-Monthan more vulnerable to closure. A veteran of combat in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and beyond, the plane entered service in 1976. It is among Cold War-era icons like the venerable B-52 bomber that have exceeded expected lifespans and are likely to remain central to U.S. air campaigns for years to come.

Specially designed for the Cold War mission of attacking armor on the front lines of a potential European war with the Soviet Union, the A-10’s air crews considered it so ugly they called it the Warthog. Its official nickname is Thunderbolt II. The plane has been out of production since 1984 but has received many upgrades over the years, most recently with new electronics.

Budget lets Lt. Gov. Dan Forest choose his guards

State lawmakers are moving to require a security detail for the lieutenant governor, but their plan isn t an expansion of state trooper protection. It s a long-standing practice for troopers to guard North Carolina s No. 2 statewide elected official. What s notable is that the lieutenant governor would, by law, pick the people guarding him rather than taking who he s assigned. The Senate and House budgets create the Lieutenant Governor s Executive Protection Detail. The officeholder, now Republican Dan Forest, would choose three members of the Highway Patrol to be part of the detail. He would be able to remove a member without cause.

Former Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, a Democrat and now a community college president, said he was assigned two troopers for most of his term, with a third coming on when he ran for governor. The two lieutenant governors before him had protective details as well, Dalton said. Decisions on who is part of a protective detail rest with the Highway Patrol commander, said Pam Walker, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety, and assignments are made based on skills, training, and experience. Rep. Allen McNeill, an Asheboro Republican and co-chairman of the House budget committee on public safety, said the budget provision originated in the Senate and the House kept it intact. McNeill said he was not privy to all the reasons for it, but understood that when the Cooper administration came in, Forest s troopers were replaced.

Let him pick his own people, McNeill said.

Jamey Falkenbury, Forest s spokesman, said lieutenant governors in the past have been able to choose members of their detail.

There were instances where we were beginning not to be able to decide who we were able to choose, Falkenbury said.

Top Local Story – Newnan Times-Herald

Portions of the bypass that did not need to be resurfaced while citizens (and taxpayers) are dodging holes on Clark Street and Temple Avenue half the size of Rhode Island. It does appear that the streets will eventually be repaved… one patch at a time.

President Trump should continue to withhold his tax returns because it drives the alt-left completely insane. If he released them, they would just move on to some other irrational demand. Maybe if Paul Ryan had just said, “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it, it would have passed with no problem. To the female security guard at a local shopping center, when you start threatening teenagers and kicking them off the property, you need to remember one thing. Those teenagers tell their parents what you said and did, and those same parents who shop on a weekly basis there have no problems taking their business elsewhere.

It is poetic justice that a sinkhole is appearing in front of Mar-a-Lago. For every dollar he cuts from the poor, may the hole get bigger and engulf the whole place. No harm done. I’m so sick of hearing how the word snowflake is offending folks, that’s what’s wrong with this world today. We ve got a bunch of grown crybabies getting their way too much. I got a better name for all of you. I wish the Newnan Police would enforce the no right turn on red rule at the intersection of Bullsboro and Millard Farmer. I have been in too many near misses when I am making the left from Bullsboro onto Millard Farmer. I have also been treated to aggression and horn honking when I obey that sign.

I am extremely proud that the White House budget considers the taxpayer. So tired of working two days a week to pay federal taxes that go to welfare and food stamps for many that should be working.

If your brake lights come on before your turn signals, you’ve done it wrong.