BAFB A-10s to be retired as part of U.S. defense budget cuts
An A-10 pilot assigned to the 47th Fighter Squadron of the 917th Fighter Group, taxis an A-10 Thunderbolt II to the runway at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Jan. 11, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeff Walston/Released)
BARKSDALE AFB, LA (KSLA) -
Defense budget cuts could force the retirement of Barksdale's A-10s, cuts that could affect more than 550 personnel on the base.
Colonel John Breazeale, commander of the 917th Fighter Wing which oversees the 47th squadron, told KSLA News 12 the loss of the A-10s could have a $45 million impact on the Ark-la-tex.
"It will have a significant impact on a community that's supported us over the past 30 years," said Breazeale.
More than 150 members of the reserved unit are deployed to Afghanistan. They were told of the news of the A-10s while on their mission.
"We have to stay focused o the mission. Then we'll let the cards fall where they may."
The loss of the A-10s would not be immediate. There has not been a proposed date for the cuts to take affect but the cuts would be part of the 2013 budget proposal.
On Friday, the United States Air Force announced plans to refocus and reduce the size of its forces, and that includes a plan plans to retire five A-10 squadrons. BAFB officials have confirmed that will likely include 18 A-10 aircraft assigned to the 917th Fighter Group.
The Pentagon must cut $487 billion from the defense budget over the next 10 years, according to White House officials. The Air Force's share is reportedly about $54 billion and that number could increase.
President Barack Obama and military leaders reportedly want to reduce the number of troops, shut down bases and cancel weapons programs to achieve reductions in the deficit.
Officials with Barksdale Air Force Base tell KSLA News 12 that as part of their consolidation plan, the Air Force will retire older aircraft and consolidate.
The department plans to retire three more A-10s during next year's budget cycle. The three remaining A-10s are located at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
The Air Force tells KSLA News 12 that as part of closing the $54 billion dollar deficit, they will also deactivate the associate unit that hosts regular Air Force Airmen and flies A-10 aircraft.
"Our decision for the Air Force was that we were better off and the best choice -- course of action for us is to become smaller in order to project a high-quality and ready force that will continue to modernize and grow more capable in the future," said Michael Donley, Secretary of the Air Force.
The Barksdale Air Force Reserve Unit that flies B-52 aircraft will remain operational, according to officials. Copyright KSLA-TV 2012. All rights reserved.