Nothing’s certain yet, Bieter said. But based on those conversations and others he’s had with people in and around the military, he came away with the impression that the Air Force could delay its move — scheduled for this year — to ground the 22 A-10s based at Gowen Field, the Idaho Air Guard base south of Boise, for a few years.
Mostly, Bieter was in Alabama to attend the annual National Security Forum at the Air Force’s Air War College. The three-day event, to which Bieter received a personal invitation from Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, briefed about 160 people from around the country on a variety of national security topics.
“We got a whole lot of context,” Bieter said. “We talked about Syria, Pakistan, Russia, China and parts of the Middle East. A CIA presenter talking only about the CIA.”
News broke early last year that the Air Force was planning to decommission the A-10, a 40-year-old design meant to support ground troops, over the next five years. One proposal was to move the Idaho Guard’s air fleet operations from Gowen Field to Mountain Home Air Force Base.
Another proposal was to keep the fleet in Boise and replace the A-10s with F-15Es, a high-speed jet designed in the 1970s that can hit air and ground targets, or F-35s, a cutting-edge, single-seat stealth fighter that can carry out a variety of missions, including air-to-air combat, air-to-ground strikes, electronic attacks, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, according to Lockheed Martin, the plane’s manufacturer.
A move to the F-15 or F-35 is also uncertain, Bieter said.
Sven Berg: 377-6275; Twitter: @IDS_SvenBerg