Among the new military budget cuts recently announced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is the retirement of beloved tank-busting A-10 Warthog aircrafts.
According to The Associated Press, Hagel said eliminating the Warthog
would save $3.5 billion over the next five years.
The Air Force currently has more than 300 Warthogs available to provide low-flying air support for ground troops.
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On the battlefield, the A-10 Warthog would fly below the clouds to engage enemy soldiers and tanks in close proximity to friendly forces, per PBS NewsHour.
The cockpit is protected by a titanium shell and bulletproof glass. The aircraft's .30-millimeter Gatling gun fires nearly 4,000 rounds per minute.
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte called the retirement of the A-10 a "serious mistake" and is threatening to fight against the move.
Hagel told the AP that while it was a "close call" to end the use of the A-10, the Air Force will not hurt from the decision, considering the addition of Lockheed Martin's new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The A-10 had not been in production "in years," with Hagel calling the aircraft outdated, despite its successful use in supporting ground troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Critics say officials are cutting too much from the military budget too quickly.
"We have been cutting and cutting for the last five years," Sen. Jim Inhofe, of Oklahoma, told The Associated Press. Inhofe is the ranking Republican on the Senate's Armed Services Committee.
The Air Force has given Northrop Grumman two contracts totaling $24 million in November, one to continue maintenance of the A-10 until at least 2028.
The military reductions include shrinking the Army's number of active-duty soldiers from 522,000 to between 440,000 and 450,000. It will be the lowest number of soldiers in the Army since just before World War II.
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