The TacAir Question

The Senate on Tuesday expressed its mostly collective frustration when lawmakers voted 91 to 7 to pass an amendment to the 2010 defense spending bill that would temporarily prohibit USAF from retiring legacy fighters next year until it tells Congress how it will sustain the air sovereignty alert mission. Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), who along with fellow National Guard Caucus chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) sponsored the measure, asserted in a brief floor debate that the retirement plan would “result in a lack of aircraft to meet the vital ASA mission,” for which the Air National Guard maintains 16 of the 18 nationwide alert sites. Leahy said that he and Bond had “for months … repeatedly questioned” USAF and DOD leadership about “a concrete plan” to “address a looming shortfall in available aircraft.” He continued, “But, after numerous requests, … we still do not have a plan.”