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Senator Lifts Hold on Air Force Nominee


Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., has released her hold on President Obama’s pick for Air Force secretary put in place weeks ago due to her concerns about the services’ plan to retire the A-10 Warthog plane.

Air Force officials have been working to provide responses to A-10-related questions raised at a Sept. 19 confirmation hearing for Deborah Lee James, Obama’s nominee for Air Force secretary.

It appears the service's answers to the questions have satisfied Ayotte.

“Senator Ayotte has released her hold on Deborah Lee James’ nomination following a careful review of responses from the Air Force regarding potential plans to retire the A-10,” officials with Sen. Ayotte’s office told in a written statement. “The Senator remains concerned that prematurely retiring the A-10 could put our troops at risk, and she will continue to engage with the Air Force and Pentagon officials in order to ensure our ground forces have the close air support they need to accomplish their missions and return home safely.”

Obama nominated James to succeed Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning, who stepped in after Michael Donley retired.

“Senator Ayotte supports Ms. James’ nomination and looks forward to working with her once she is confirmed,” Ayotte’s office stated.

Air Force leaders have said they plan to retire the A-10 because of budget restraints and the aircraft's limited performance in contested airspace. The service plans to replace the A-10 with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the F-16 fighter jets.

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