There have been years of worry about what would happen to Davis Monthan Air Force Base when the Air Force retires the A-10 thats DMs main mission. Now local leaders are applauding a plan that should keep the base active for many years to come.

The A-10 has been the symbol of DM since the planes arrived there 47 years ago. The plane is so good at protecting troops on the ground that Congress held back efforts to replace the Warthog with planes better able to survive a modern battlefield.

Now Congress has agreed to retire the A-10s over the next six years. That led to worries DMs impact will shrink from the 16 thousand jobs and $2.6 Billion dollars it adds to the regional economy now.

The DM 50 works to keep the base a strong part of Southern Arizona. DM50 President Linda Morales says the Air Force is sharing a proposal to keep DM as busy as it is nowmaybe even busier.

Were very optimistic and very excited that there is this plan and that it’ll be a durable mission and they’ll be you know, we’re hearing this is gonna be around a 30-plus year timeframe.

The Air Force is proposing expanding Search and Rescue operations that are already at the base and adding a large Special Operations Unit that may fly aircraft like the V-22 Osprey. The Osprey can take off like a helicopter and then tilt rotors forward to fly with the speed of a fixed-wing.

Air Force Special Operations also uses planes like the AC-130 gunship.

Chamber of Commerce President Michael Guymon says keeping Davis-Monthan busy preserves jobs off the base when thousands of workers, military and civilian spend their government paychecks outside the DM gates.

There’s an economy that is built off of individuals who are paid, and then there’s spending money in the community.

A few blocks north of the base, Mama Louisas has been feeding hungry airmen since 1956, when Sabrejets were still flying from DM.

Suzanne Elefantes family has been serving food there for 52 years. Shes a member of the DM50and shes relieved to know theres a plan that should keep Davis-Monthan healthy, strong and a good neighbor

And you see them in their fatigues, but you don’t see them without their fatigues because you don’t know who they are, but they do a lot in our community. They coach our baseball and soccer teams, they bring their families to dine. So they’re very active in our community. They do a lot of giving to the community.

Theres no firm timeline yet, but the Air Force is already preparing to do the environmental study required to bring in the new units.