The U.S. House of Representatives late June 26 passed an amendment to the fiscal year 2019 defense appropriations bill aimed at speeding up the installation of new wings on the Air Force’s aging A-10 Thunderbolt II close-air-support aircraft.

The amendment, offered by Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and approved by voice vote, adds $65 million to the Air Force’s budget request to buy more A-10 wings. 

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.)
Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.)

While the request would re-wing eight to 12 planes, McSally, a former A-10 pilot, asserted that a faster delivery rate is needed because the A-10 plays a key role in current military operations. In total, 109 A-10s need new wings.

“We are literally flying the wings off of these airplanes today, and our enemies won’t wait,” McSally said. “We must accelerate the A-10 re-wing to ensure that we maintain these critical missions and capabilities for our troops.”

McSally said the increase brings the appropriations bill in line the House- and Senate-passed FY 2019 defense authorization bills, which are now before a conference committee.

The Air Force, which recently launched a competition to replace the wings, plans to pick a winning bidder and award a contract in spring 2019 (Defense Daily, May 30).

Also during its deliberations, the House approved an amendment by Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) that would block a provision in the House defense authorization bill that would transfer all information technology contracting, acquisition and senior leader communication services of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to other Defense Department entities. But a House Armed Services Committee aide told Defense Daily that the amendment would have no impact because the transfer is not scheduled to occur until FY 2021.

In a statement of administration policy on the bill, the White House Office of Management and Budget expressed opposition to the transfer, saying it “would increase the cost of acquiring information technology, weaken the department’s ability to secure its cyber networks, and inhibit DISA’s mission to provide seamless communication to warfighters and senior leaders.”