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Precipice at Hand?: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) doesn't believe USAF has a viable plan to sustain the Air National Guard fighter fleet. In remarks during the House Armed Services Committee's 2011 defense bill markup Wednesday, she maintained that "under current plans, the Air National Guard will have no aircraft to defend the nation's largest 10 cities or the nation's capital by 2017." In her view, "we're at the point of really approaching a precipice." In response to Congressional requests last year for USAF reports on the fighter gap issue, Giffords said lawmakers received "a PowerPoint presentation" about "making old aircraft new again," and, she continued, the Air Force response to a request for "a steady state plan for the ASA [air sovereignty alert] mission" was "lukewarm and wavering support." The committee advanced new amendments from Giffords and Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) addressing ASA and fighter recapitalization issues. (For more on markup, see below, and from Thursday's column: Backing F136 and Add On Pay, Boost Readiness)

Committee HR 5136 Markup Summary
Summary Tables
Chairman Ike Skelton's statement