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Apaches, A-10s Staying Put—For Now

December 2, 2014

The following article is from the December 2, 2014 issue of NGAUS Washington Report

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The Air Force will not retire A-10 fighter aircraft and the Army will not transfer AH-64 Apache helicopters from the National Guard in the current fiscal year.

Those are two important highlights of the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act hammered out by House and Senate negotiators Monday. The bill now will go before both chambers for votes. If it passes both, it will be sent to the White House for the president’s signature. The House could vote as soon as Thursday on the bill. The Senate will wait for the House vote before it considers the legislation.

NGAUS has seen only a summary of the bill, not the entire piece of legislation. The entire bill will be posted on www.ngaus.org when it is available.

The bill provides about $575 billion for defense, including nearly $64 billion for overseas contingency operations, along with a 1 percent pay raise, freezing basic pay for general and flag officers.

The Army will not be allowed to transfer any Apaches helicopters from the Guard during the current fiscal year, but does allow the service to transfer up to 48 in fiscal 2016. Under its Aviation Restructuring Initiative, the Army wants to move all Apaches to the active component, a move opposed by NGAUS.

Opponents of the Apache transfer have put their faith in the creation of a panel to study the necessary future structure of the Army. That panel, known as the National Commission on the Future of the U.S. Army, was approved,  with four members appointed by the president and four appointed by Congress. NGAUS has supported this. The committee will study the necessary force structure of the Army and will make its report to Congress by Feb. 1, 2016.

The Air Force wants to retire all of its A-10 aircraft as a cost-saving measure, including 100 during the 2015 fiscal year. The bill prohibits any retirements, but does allow up to 36 aircraft to be put in “backup inventory status.” It also requires a report on the close-air support capability of the Air Force done by the Government Accountability Office. NGAUS opposes the retirement of the A-10.

The compromise bill also requires a $3 increase for pharmacy co-pays for retail prescriptions and mail-order nongeneric prescriptions.

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