The Department of the Air Force announced plans June 30, 2021, to move close air support and rescue missions, including A-10 Thunderbolt II and HH-60 Pave Hawk weapons schools and test squadrons, to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., beginning in fiscal year 2022.
The proposed plan would transfer rescue and attack missions, aircraft and personnel to Davis-Monthan as part of the Air Force’s vision of making the base the Center of Excellence for close air support and rescue missions.
Moving the A-10 and HH-60 aircraft squadrons, one maintenance squadron and all the supporting personnel from Nellis AFB, Nev., will result in a small personnel increase at Davis-Monthan AFB.
“The Air Force plans to modernize and maintain 218 of the current fleet of 281 combat-capable A-10s,” said Lt. Gen. David Nahom, Plans and Programs deputy chief of staff. “While the active duty combat squadron at Davis-Monthan will close, the Air Force plans to bring the A-10 and HH-60 weapons school and operational test squadrons from Nellis Air Force Base to Davis-Monthan.”
The first phase of the proposed plan, released as part of the Department of the Air Force’s fiscal year 2022 budget request, is contingent on congressional approval of the retirement of 42 A-10 aircraft, 35 of which are at Davis-Monthan AFB. Retiring these aircraft will create the fiscal and manpower flexibility required to design and field the future force needed to meet combatant commander requirements. Retiring the older A-10s in 2022 would allow Davis-Monthan to receive the new missions.
The A-10 Weapons Instructor Course and Test and Evaluation operations will transition in 2022. The HH-60 WIC, Test and combat-coded units to include the 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron, 66th Rescue Squadron, 58th Rescue Squadron, the 34th Weapons Squadron, and the 855th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron will move beginning in 2024.
“Under this plan, Davis-Monthan will play a critical role in reshaping U.S. airpower as home to the Air Force’s close air support and rescue Centers of Excellence,” said Acting Secretary of the Air Force John P. Roth. “This realignment will consolidate all A-10 and HH-60 test, training, and weapon school activity at one location, allowing Airmen in these mission areas to train together for future threats.”
The Air Force will complete the required environmental analysis before the moves.
The A-10 Thunderbolt Advanced Continuation Kitting wing replacement contract, which was awarded in August 2019, included the purchase of wings for 218 aircraft. The Air Force has invested $880 million in A-10 re-winging and avionics modernization efforts, enabling the fleet to fly well into the 2030s.