Secretary of Air Force visits Davis-Monthan, discusses future of base

Secretary of Air Force visits Davis-Monthan, discusses future of base

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, made her first visit to the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on Wednesday to inspect the facilities and meet with airmen and women.

She also spent an evening meeting with the DM50 and the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance (SADA), a group formed to promote and support the base. She said the groups impressed her with their commitment to the future of the base.

"The key message that they left me with that they support this base and they want to see future missions for the said," James said. "Whatever that mission is."

James reversed an earlier decision made by the Air Force to retire the A-10, the principle mission at the base, after this budget year. It has now been renewed until at least 2022, but still faces an uncertain long term future.

"It all really comes down to budget," James said.

The reason for any of these proposals to retire any of these aircraft was budget.

The congressional budget sequestration has been put on hold for at least a year providing a window for the extension, but James said the end of the sequester is the end goal.

It also give the Air Force and the community time to determine what comes next for the base. There have been discussions on whether to base the new F-35 jet fighter at Davis-Monthan, but there have been concerns about noise.

James said that will be a topic of discussion when she visits Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix, her next stop.

The F-35 is already deployed at Luke.

As far as other missions coming to Davis-Monthan, James provided reason for optimism for supporters.

"I think the future of this base is very bright," she said.

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