- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2015

Threats on the national security horizon have prompted the return of the A-10 Thunderbolt II to Germany just two years after the aircraft was removed.

Growing concern over Moscow’s military involvement in Ukraine, the rise of the Islamic State group in the Middle East, and a host of other issues convinced the U.S. to send 300 airmen and 12 of the ground-attack planes on a six-month operation in Spangdahlem, Germany, NBC News reported.

“Today we focus on numerous and emerging threats to regional security and stability: threats from Russia, ISIS, and others throughout Europe and North Africa,” 3rd Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson said at Spangdahlem Air Base on Wednesday, NBC reported.

“Instead of having to be permanently based forward, we have these assets now that will routinely rotate over to other theaters around the world as needed,” he added.

The announcement of the A-10’s presence in Germany comes shortly after the Air Force was accused of giving USA Today cherry-picked data to smear the popular aircraft. The Air Force has been locked in a debate with members of Congress over how best to phase out the aircraft and make way for the F-35 stealth fighter.

“Those cooked statistics excluded — and kept classified — data that is essential for a basic understanding of [accidental battlefield deaths],” Mandy Smithberger, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information at the Project for Government Oversight, wrote Feb. 9.

SEE ALSO: Islamic State using MANPADS against A-10 Warthogs in Iraq: report

The Air Force denied that it was trying to undercut the the aircraft’s reputation.

“The A-10 is an effective platform. There’s no denying that. However, with the fiscal realities of the day, we have to be responsible and take a look at actions that may help us ensure an affordable Air Force in the future,” Lt. Col. Christopher Karns, a spokesman for the Air Force at the Pentagon, told Miitary.com Feb. 10.

The “Warthog” has been used since the 1970s. The aircraft is currently being used as part of the U.S.-led coalition’s efforts to destroy the Islamic State group.

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