July 23 (UPI) -- A U.S. Air Force plan to transfer all A-10 Thunderbolt planes and HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters to Arizona was postponed on Friday, pending Congressional budget approval.
The Air Force awaits action on the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes retirement of 42 A-10s, the branch said in a press release.
The A-10 and HH-60 are close air support aircraft, which serve at low air speeds and altitude as weapons-delivery platforms, loitering near battle areas for extended periods of time and can operate in low ceiling and visibility conditions.
It was announced on June 30 that a "center of excellence" for the aircraft will be established at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., and their transfer from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
"The Air Force plans to modernize and maintain 218 of the current fleet of 281 combat-capable A-10s," Lt. Gen. David Nahom of the Air Force Plans and Programs office said in a press release at that time.
The plan is contingent, however, on Congressional approval of the budget, which includes the retirement of 42 of the oldest A-10s.
"The movement of these squadrons and personnel from Nellis AFB would free additional range and base capacity necessary to test and train warfighters in fifth-generation aircraft," the Air Force statement on Friday said.
It added that retiring the older A-10s would "create the fiscal and manpower flexibility required to design and field the future force needed to meet combatant commander requirements."
The postponed plans call for the A-10 Weapons Instructor Course and Test and Evaluation operations to transition in 2022, with test and evaluation squadrons of the HH-60 to move in 2024. Each is currently at Nellis Air Force Base.