Changes at Davis-Monthan
In the last few weeks, the United States Air Force has announced sweeping changes for Davis Monthan Air Force Base (DM). Included in these changes is the retirement of the A-10 Warthogs over the next 5 years. The Air Force has tried a number of times to retire the plane in the past, but the late Senator John McCain and former Senator Martha McSally fought to keep the plane flying. The Air Force is now moving forward with its retirement, with initial cuts being made at DM in Fiscal Year 2024. In recognition of DM’s unique capabilities, the Air Force is planning to bring additional units and a new Wing to DM.
DM has a community of approximately 46,000 people, composed of approximately 11,000 total force airmen, 5,800 dependents, and 29,000 retirees. The base has 34 unique mission partners including, but not limited to the 355th Wing, where the A-10s are assigned, along with two Rescue Squadrons. From the most recent economic study, DM brought $2.6 billion of economic benefit annually to southern Arizona, making it the third largest employer in the area.
The Air Force is planning to bring additional Rescue units to DM that will be assigned to the 355th Wing. In addition, the Air Force has announced the formation of a new Special Operations 492nd Power Projection Wing to be based at DM. Establishment of the new wing will require substantial construction on base, bringing positive economic impact to the Tucson area. When these changes are complete, the DM community will remain at approximately the same size as it is today. Arizona’s current legislative representatives have voiced support for these changes at DM in an open letter to the Air Force.
The DM50 was formed in 1986. This group of businessmen and women from southern Arizona have supported Davis Monthan, including working with the Air Force and our elected officials to maintain the current strength level of the base. Our members have met with various Air Force officials and our elected officials to get new units to DM to fill in for the A-10 divestiture. These proposed Air Force plans for DM will ensure that it will remain an integral part of our community for many years to come.
Some individuals have asked our membership why we are not supporting the A-10 mission. The answer is simple: our mission is to support DM and its flying missions, not to specifically support the A-10. It is up to the Air Force to decide when to retire an airframe. We believe that the new missions the Air Force will bring to DM will be flying for the next 30 years. The A-10, with airframes ranging from 40 to 50 years old, is going to be out of the Air Force inventory in about five years. With the new missions coming to the base, DM’s economic impact on southern Arizona will remain in place for decades. The DM50 supports these mission changes. We believe this is in the best interest of southern Arizona and the continuing strength of DM.