Unclear How 122nd Fighter Wing Will Be Affected By National Defense Budget Cuts (VIDEO)

By Rachelle Spence - 21Alive

February 26, 2014 Updated Mar 20, 2014 at 7:48 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- Everyone at the 122nd Fighter Wing is waiting to see how the base will be impacted by the proposed U.S. Department of Defense budget cuts for 2015.

On Monday, department officials reiterated that they want to retire all A-10 fighter jets, the type flown here in Fort Wayne.

U.S. Senator, Dan Coats of Indiana, says any decision to take the A-10s away, should be accompanied by a responsible plan to bring F-35 joint strike fighter jets to the base.

"We have the runway length. We have the capacity. We have the airspace. We have the training. If the decision does come down to retiring the A-10s, there's no reason we shouldn't be at the top of the list for the replacement," said Senator Coats.

It's no secret that Colonel, David Augustine, has been fighting for the new aircraft fleet as well.

"For us, it's very important. One of our strategic goals here is to bring the joint strike fighter to Fort Wayne," said Augustine.

While the swap may be a waiting game for those at the 122nd Fighter Wing, the Hoosier state's Washington delegation is taking a stand.

U.S. Senator, Joe Donnelly of Indiana sent a letter to the Air Force Secretary and Chief of Staff Monday morning, reading:

"I understand that the Air Force must cut costs and that to do this successfully, it must weigh significant changes to force structure and equipment. However, I strongly encourage you to consider the Air Force's existing investments in air guard personnel, training, and infrastructure."

Senator Coats also has a meeting planned with Adjutant General, Martin Umbarger, to look at ways the fighter wing can make its case that it should receive the new F-35s and ultimately, stay open.

The proposed 2015 budget is scheduled to be released March 4th.




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