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.
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ATLANTA — A fan’s poor judgment on Wednesday got him kicked out of a game at SunTrust Park. But it’s the security guard’s actions that have some crying foul. It all happened during the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 12-5 win over the Atlanta Braves. But video shows there were no winners in what happened next. The video shows the Braves’ Rio Ruiz hitting a ball down the right field line. A fan dives down to scoop the ball up and immediately realizes, as security jumps the barrier, that he has done something wrong. The call was fan interference and he was escorted out of the stands.
Just moments before this, however, he hands the ball to a small boy who jumps up and down with excitement. But that moment would be short-lived. The security guard turns around and snatches the not-so-foul ball out of the child’s hands. The ousted fan can be seen pleading with the security guard to let the child have the ball but he appears to be unsuccessful. Even the commentators are heard on the video joining with the fan.
“Have some common sense there, fella, give the ball back to the young man,” one announcer says on-air. “Give the ball back to the kid. He’s not the one that messed up.”
A Braves spokesperson told 11Alive news the team later gave the child a ball signed by Freddie Freeman. The man, identified as the mother’s boyfriend, was eventually brought back to the seats and was allowed to stay for the rest of the game. The family has been invited back for the boy’s birthday. James Boles, an attorney for the fan who gave the ball to the boy, Chet Zoeller, issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying,
My office has been retained to represent Mr. Chet Zoeller in relation to the incident that occurred involving a Sun Trust Park security guard at the Braves games on May 24, 2017. Mr. Zoeller made every effort to be compliant with Sun Trust security throughout the incident. Despite his efforts a souvenir was taken from a small child and unnecessary force was used against Mr. Zoeller by a Sun Trust security official. Contrary to statements issued on behalf of the Atlanta Braves, Mr. Zoeller is very disappointed by the lack of response from the Braves organization and will continue to seek an appropriate remedy.
Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Gift Ngoepe (61) drives in the go ahead run with a double against the Atlanta Braves during the tenth inning at SunTrust Park (Photo: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)
By Charles Odum, The Associated Press
Gift Ngoepe doubled to drive in Andrew McCutchen for the go-ahead run before the Pittsburgh Pirates hit three straight homers during a seven-run 10th inning to beat the Atlanta Braves 12-5 on Wednesday night. Pittsburgh’s Jose Osuna hit a bases-loaded, two-run single off Jose Ramirez in the ninth to tie it at 5. After Ngoepe’s double, the Pirates put the game away with Josh Harrison’s two-run single, followed by homers from David Freese, Osuna and Jordy Mercer – all off Josh Collmenter (0-2). Freese’s homer was a two-run shot.
McCutchen snapped a 0-for-15 slump with a pinch-hit single to lead off the 10th. The last time the Pirates hit three straight homers was Sept. 13, 2013 against the Cubs. Adam Frazier hit a three-run homer in the second. Felipe Rivero (2-1) pitched a scoreless ninth.
For Terrence Morrissey, being in debt took a constant mental toll.
It robbed me of my piece of mind, robbed me of my dignity, said Morrissey, of Langley. He didn t want anyone to find out: What a failure I am. He s not alone. A survey by a British Columbia insolvency trustee found high levels of anxiety, stress and even suicidal thoughts among debt-ridden respondents. Sands & Associates found that debt was constant worry for almost two-thirds of contacts it surveyed.
You have this little fear all the time, Morrissey said.
Morrissey, a retired security officer, a former longtime manager with Hertz Rent a Car and a self-published author, found himself with about $70,000 in consumer debts at age 79 through admitted misspending with credit cards. And while Morrissey wasn t clinically diagnosed with a mental illness, the Sands & Associates survey found that 28 per cent of respondents had suffered from diagnosed depression, which was contributed to by debt worries, and 18 per cent who said debt pushed them to dark thoughts of suicide.
I had an idea but I didn t know it was that severe, the non-financial impact of debt, said Blair Mantin, a partner in Sands & Associates and a licensed insolvency trustee. The survey is the latest piece of research about the potential stress caused by the increasing amount of debt that consumers are carrying. A Manulife survey released Tuesday showing that one-third of British Columbians would have difficulty handling mortgage payments if they rose between six and 10 per cent.
Mantin said his firm wanted to look into the psychological stress of debt with its annual survey because the stigma around debt isn t something that is talked about, despite signs of tension around higher debts that Canadians are carrying.
The suicide metric was absolutely sobering, Mantin said of the survey results, because in 10 years of insolvency work he had only occasionally dealt with clients who confided they d thought of harming themselves.
I thought, that s the exception, it can t be a significant part of our client base,’ Mantin said. But no, it s between one-in-five or one-in-six. The survey, conducted among 1,300 British Columbians, is a limited snapshot of people that have been in touch with Sands & Associates over debt troubles, mostly clients, However, Mantin said he believes it speaks to broader anxieties about debt.
It s probably less than 10 per cent of the population who will have to do a bankruptcy or consumer proposal, Mantin said. But I d say it s a very high proportion of people who will feel some stress in their life, to a varying degree. Respondents to the Sands & Associates 2017 survey were 55 per cent female and 45 per cent male. About 40 per cent were between ages 40 and 54 and 22 per cent were 55-64.
Just over one third of respondents reported having consumer debts of $25,000 to $49,999. While those under age 30 had a bit less debt, at $10,000 to $24,999, Mantin said it was the group that felt more stress.
It might be worse than experiencing (debt) problems later in life, he said. However, debt can creep up on consumers of any age. Mantin said Sands & Associates hopes its latest survey gets people talking about resolving their debt with less stigma. Morrissey declared bankruptcy, and not for the first time. He said the lesson in his story is not to ignore debt problems and get help sooner rather than later, because it can lift that tremendous psychological weight.
Take control of it, stop spending it, pay it off and move on, Morrissey said.