Former aviators launch ‘Mach 1′ fighter pilot caucus on Capitol Hill

4 Home lawmakers, all former army pilots, have banded collectively to kind the Mach 1 Caucus, a workforce that may advocate for fighter jets on Capitol Hill.

The quartet — comprised of Republican Reps. Mike Garcia of California, Scott Franklin of Florida, and Jake Ellzey and August Pfluger of Texas — is “devoted to coverage points vital to the fighter pilot neighborhood and educating different members on these points,” in line with a caucus press launch on Wednesday.

Garcia, Ellzey and Franklin are former Navy aviators with time within the F/A-18, F-14s and extra; Pfluger flew F-15s and F-22s within the Air Power. Collectively, they symbolize websites together with the secretive Air Power Plant 42, a categorized manufacturing facility in Palmdale, California; Goodfellow Air Power Base, Texas, which trains airmen in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and main protection contractors within the Dallas-Fort Price space; amongst others.

“Air energy has been integral to each battle since WWI, and we must not ever take without any consideration the innovation and forward-thinking approaches to struggle that airmen are liable for,” Pfluger stated.

Caucuses are volunteer teams of members that symbolize industries, coverage pursuits and constituencies of their states, from algae to sweet to actuality (the digital and augmented sort). Whereas some determine extra prominently in legislative negotiations, just like the Congressional Black Caucus, most are largely symbolic.

Garcia first teased an unofficial fighter pilot caucus over the summer time, when Ellzey gained a July 27 runoff election to exchange the late Republican Rep. Ron Wright in Texas’ sixth congressional district.

“Jake & I had been fighter pilots within the ‘Tophatters’ squadron & flew in fight ops collectively,” Garcia tweeted in July. “I stay up for as soon as once more combating alongside my wingman Jake.”

The “Tophatters” of Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 14 function F/A-18E Tremendous Hornets out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, California.

A number of congressional caucuses already again army aviation, such because the Air Power Caucus, Airborne ISR Caucus, Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, Lengthy-Vary Strike Caucus, Navy and Marine Corps Caucus and Particular Operations Forces Caucus.

Mach 1 members would push for insurance policies that span fighters throughout the Air Power, Navy and Marine Corps, and extra broadly than the F-35 Lightning II. They’d additionally endorse concepts that have an effect on the army at giant, like guaranteeing “correct” pay raises for troops, Garcia spokeswoman Molly Jenkins stated.

Their group comes because the Air Power plans to purchase a brand new fleet of 76 F-15EX jets, rethinks its intent to buy 1,763 F-35As and considers a future with out the F-22.

“The work performed inside this caucus won’t solely profit the fighter pilot neighborhood itself however will assist advance our nation’s nationwide safety,” Garcia stated within the launch. “I stay up for working in Congress to enhance insurance policies impacting our supersonic neighborhood.”

Rachel Cohen joined Air Power Instances as senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in Air Power Journal, Inside Protection, Inside Well being Coverage, the Frederick News-Put up (Md.), the Washington Put up, and others.