Davis-Monthan Air Force Base has a bright future as a strong, active base. Thats the message from Arizona Senator Mark Kelly. He talked with KGUN 9 On Your Side about how the base is expected to evolve as the A-10 retires.

Davis-Monthan is a huge economic benefit to the community and there are businesses that are very relieved there are more assurances that the base will stay strong years into the future.

Nicks Sari-Sari store is full of Filipino specialtiesthe sort of food Air Force families might get a taste for as they travel the world in the service.

KGUN Reporter Craig Smith asked Nicolas Subong: Any idea just how big a share of your business comes from folks connected to the base or Air Force families?

Nick: I observed maybe around 20% of my sales here.

Craig: So that’s a lot

Nick: Yes. Yes. Yes. It’s a big help.

Flying the A-10 has been the heart of Davis-Monthans mission for the planes entire history. The business group DM50 works to keep Davis-Monthan an active part of our communityand economy.

Past President Linda Morales says for years DM50 worked to keep the A-10 flying.

And we see that the writing’s on the wall, that’s an aging aircraft. And we want to make sure there’s always a flying mission at Davis Monthan.

Senator Mark Kelly worked to convince the Air Force to place new missions at DM to sustain the base long after the A-10s retire.

He knows its important to Tucson and Arizona..

But more than that, it is important to our national security, especially as we transition to our near-peer adversaries, the Western Pacific in particular.

We talked with Senator Kelly at the Pima Air and Space Museum, near an HH-60 helicopter of the type that will be more active at DM, as it expands rescue training, and brings in a Special Operations Wing.

Kelly says the Air Force will equip DM with the new HC-37 electronic warfare aircraft as the larger HC-130s move out of that role.

Senator Kelly says the number working at the base could be the same as now, or higher; and there should be a boost from building to adapt the base to new missions.

But the big upside for the community is we will then have these missions that are more enduring, that are more focused on you know, the adversaries that we are currently concerned about Russia, China in the western Pacific.

The Senator say it may take four or five years to move people and equipment and put up buildings and infrastructure to help the new missions succeed.