Friday, October 31, 2008
Senior Airman Benjamin Connery, 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron A-10 crewchief, helps Maj. Erik Knauff, A-10 Pilot, buckle into his Thunderbolt II at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, on October 18, 2008. Pilots and crewchiefs must hold a great deal of trust in eachother, forming a cohesive team to help coalition forces on the ground. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse) Hi-res
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Air Force Times
By Bruce Rolfsen - Staff writer
Posted: Monday Oct 27, 2008 12:42:34 EDT
With more than one-third of Air Force A-10 Thunderbolts grounded because of wing cracks, the service is considering temporarily reassigning aircraft and even reassigning airmen.
The groundings began Oct. 3, when orders went out not to fly 127 jets that were built with "thin wings" until the wings had been checked and repaired, if needed. The number of grounded A-10s is likely to grow as more aircraft are inspected for cracks near the main landing gear.
Lt. Col. David Trucksa, a Warthog subject matter expert with Air Combat Command headquarters, said the full extent of the wing problems won't be known until end of October, when inspections are completed.
But Trucksa said he doesn't expect the problem to end soon.
"It will be a long time — a year," he said. "It's not short-term like the F-15 Eagle."
In November 2007, the service grounded all F-15s after an F-15C broke apart in flight while on a training mission over Missouri. Inspectors traced the problem to cracked beams inside fuselages that were thinner than what specifications called for, and it took three months to get all but a few of the fighters back in the air.
While F-15s sat on flight lines, the only experience pilots got was in simulators. As the jets returned to flight, it took squadrons another month to requalify all their pilots.
Trucksa said the situation for A-10 pilots is not as severe because A-10 pilots can still fly. Grounding the entire fleet is not anticipated.
According to the Ogden Air Logistics Center in Utah, which oversees the health of all 356 Thunderbolts, 65 jets were grounded as of Wednesday, awaiting inspections and 96 were grounded awaiting repairs. The initial grounding had the greatest impact on active-duty units in the U.S., where about 50 percent of the A-10s could not be flown, according to information from the units and Ogden.
Of the remaining Warthogs, 48 were inspected and returned to flight, and an additional 147 A-10s with a differently designed "thick wing" were deemed flyable but faced later inspections once all the "thin wing" A-10s are checked.
Depending on the severity of the cracks, the grounded aircraft will be repaired at their home base or delivered to a depot for more extensive work.
When the inspections are completed, the command will assess the impact on each A-10 unit and look at what steps should be taken, Trucksa said.
Those include temporarily reassigning aircraft so that flyable A-10s are more evenly spread across the service and temporarily sending A-10 pilots who need flying time to units less severely impacted, Trucksa said. Pilots preparing for combat deployments would get first dibs on those temporary reassignments.
The command is also keeping watch on how the grounding could impact combat operations in Afghanistan. Since 2002, A-10s have been a near continuous presence at Bagram Air Base. So far, there has not been a need to send replacement A-10s or change deployment schedules to make up for the jets grounded at Afghanistan, Trucksa said.
Air Forces Central filled the gap with F-15E Strike Eagles stationed at Bagram and carrier-based Navy jets already in the region flying Afghanistan missions.
One option not on the table is delaying flyable A-10s from going through the fleetwide cockpit and avionics upgrade, Trucksa said.
All A-10s are getting digital cockpits and new avionics. The upgrades enable the jets to release satellite-guided bombs, and cuts the time a pilot needs to find and attack a target.
Trucksa said the advantages of having all A-10s configured as "C models" outweighs delaying the conversion, expected to finish in 2010.
The A-10 grounding was prompted by inspections at Ogden, where A-10s go through depot-level repairs. The Ogden inspections involve removing panels and checking parts that aren't touched during base-level phase inspections.
When Ogden inspectors looked at the wheel trunnions in the "thin wing" jets, they found cracks that had not been anticipated. While A-10s were designed to last for 8,000 flying hours, many have passed the 10,000 hour mark.
The initial 244 A-10 jets were built with wings that used thinner sheet metal than the wings used in later editions of the jet.
The Air Force knew the thin wings wouldn't last for 16,000 hours and had signed a $2 billion contract with Boeing to build 247 new sets of wings to replace the thin wings. Boeing is in the engineering phase of designing the wings, and delivery of the first wings is expected in December 2010.
Air National Guardsmen Brian Prichard from the 172nd Fighter Squadron take off in A-10 80-0263 during the Hawgsmoke 2008 competition at the Great Plains Regional Training Center in Salina, Kansas. The plane begins a local area orientation flight and competes in the first event, 'Time On Target'. (Photo via National Guard Bureau)
At least the following 25 A-10s participated in Hawgsmoke 2008:
47th Fighter Squadron, 917th Wing (BD)
79-0145 (47th FS CC)
103rd Fighter Squadron, 111th Fighter Wing (PA)
172nd Fighter Squadron, 110th Fighter Wing (BC)
80-0264 (110th FW CC, door art 'Malleus Die')
184th Fighter Squadron, 188th Fighter Wing (FS)
78-0586 (no unit markings, ex CT)
80-0188 (188th FW CC)
303rd Fighter Squadron, 442nd Fighter Wing (KC)
78-0605 'Thunderbolt of Green Ridge'
78-0615 (ex CT)
78-0632 (ex MA)
79-0119 'Thunderbolt of Windsor'
79-0122 (442nd FW CC)
82-0653 'Thunderbolt of Salina'
(Don Logan and Mark de Greeuw contributed to this list.)
Monday, October 27, 2008
Master Sgt. John Double, 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron A-10 production superintendent, inspects a GBU-38 at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Oct. 18. Sergeant Double was nominated as the warrior of the week for his outstanding leadership and ability to "make things happen." (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse) Hi-res
Sunday, October 26, 2008
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/23/2008 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- An Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in a ceremony here Oct. 17 for extraordinary achievement while participating in a nighttime combat search and rescue mission over Afghanistan in the summer of 2007.
Maj. Daniel Clayton, 51st Operations Group chief of standardization and evaluation, received the Air Force Combat Action Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross from Col. Michael Newman, 51st OG commander.
"Major Clayton is a kind of combat leader we should all aspire to be," Colonel Newman said. "He flawlessly executed a highly complex CSAR mission in the most testing of circumstances. It was my honor to present the DFC to him."
On the evening of May 30, 2007, Major Clayton, then assigned to the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, was notified that a CH-47 helicopter had been shot down in southern Afghanistan.
"I was in my room asleep at the time, when Capt. Ryan "Gilligan" Cleveland came and woke me up," Major Clayton said. "I dressed as quickly as I could and ran straight to our operations desk to get briefed on the situation."
After receiving a briefing on all the specifics of the situation and getting mission materials, Major Clayton and his wingman, Capt. Ryan "Rhino" Hill, rapidly dressed in their life support equipment, grabbed all their flying gear and maps, and were sped out to their aircraft.
Once airborne, Major Clayton took on-scene command, as the rescue mission commander, and began coordinating all airborne efforts during the recovery operation, which lasted more than six hours, under the continuous threat of hostile surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery.
"During the mission, Rhino and I coordinated the joint efforts of multiple assets including; A-10 aircraft, F-15E aircraft, AH-64 helicopters, AC-130 aircraft, a KC-10, a special operations team, and the ground recovery team with 30-plus HUMMVs and 100-plus personnel," he said. "Under our control, this combined force continuously engaged Taliban insurgents attempting to reach the crash site and attack friendly forces."
Major Clayton added the situation was challenging -- mentally, physically and emotionally, but nothing like what the ground forces endured.
"Just after takeoff was the first time that night I had really thought about the severity and importance of this mission; though it was one I had been specifically training for throughout the course of my seven-year A-10 career," he said. "I can only imagine the courage and fortitude those men and women on the ground had that night, they are the true warriors in our nation's fight against terror."
"No one who supports or provides cover for our heroic soldiers ever wants to hear about a friendly or coalition aircraft being shot down," he added, "but every A-10 pilot wants to be the pilot overhead -- to make sure all friendly or coalition pilots, aircrew, or recovery personnel are located, protected and extricated from such a dire, stressful and dangerous situation."
According to Major Clayton, the nature and mentality of the mission changed when it was determined that there were no survivors from the downed aircraft.
"Our task changed from a rescue mission to a recovery mission after that," he said. "Tragically, that changed everyone's frame of mind and perspective on the situation, knowing there were five American families who would never see their loved ones again, five more U.S. servicemembers whose lives had been taken from them while trying to protect the freedoms of Afghan citizens."
"On this night, our mission was even more pronounced as we knew how important it was to protect the ground troops while they recovered their fallen comrades and continued taking the fight to the Taliban insurgents."
Although Major Clayton appreciates and respects the recognition he has earned, he says he is not the only one who deservers it.
"This story should not be just about any of the aviators, but the true American heroes that night," he said. "The five U.S. troops who lost their lives, and all the Soldiers and Airmen who risked their own lives going into a hostile environment to retrieve their comrades-in-arms' remains, simultaneously continuing the clearing operation in a secluded Afghan village of any further remnants of a resurgent Taliban force."
"They are the ones who deserve the recognition, the awards and medals. It was an honor and a privilege to support them and ensure they all safely made it out of that situation. Those of us in the air were just doing our job to support them the best we could."
Caption: Col. Michael Newman, (left), 51st Operations Group commander, pins the Distinguished Flying Cross medal on Maj. Daniel Clayton, 51st Operations Group chief of standardization and evaluation, during a ceremony Oct. 17. Major Clayton, an A-10 pilot, earned the medal for his actions and leadership during a combat search and rescue operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lakisha Croley) Hi-res
Saturday, October 25, 2008
The Hawgsmoke 2008 team from the 190th Fighter Squadron, 124th Wing, Idaho Air National Guard, accept the trophy for the top team Oct. 17 in Salina, Kan. From left: Capt. Ben "Holiday" Rhoades, 1st Lt. Ryan Brown, Lt. Col. Tony "Sumo" Brown and Lt. Col. Ron "Chester" Hedges. They were crowned Hawgsmoke champions after four days of competition among teams from 14 Air Force A-10 squadrons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. David Kurle)
CONGRATULATIONS FROM THE WARTHOG NEWS!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs
10/22/2008 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Examine most successful business or sports teams, and you may find their foundation is based on flexibility, agility and teamwork. The success of airpower in Iraq and Afghanistan incorporates these three traits on a daily basis, through the interaction with coalition forces and U.S. sister services.
Before an aircraft can be sent on a mission, a plan is developed to decide where and how the airpower is going to be used. These plans, which take months to develop, feature an overall plan with specific objectives, and they always take into account the long-term impact airpower has throughout the area of operations.
"For centuries, military strategists have observed that in any war, no strategy survives first contact with the enemy. In irregular warfare, this is even more true," said Lt. Col. Michael Kometer, the strategy division director at the Combined Air and Space Operations Center in Southwest Asia. "Insurgents are looking to catch their enemy in a situation that puts the insurgent at an advantage -- surprise allows them to have the initiative.
"Airpower's flexibility allows us to rapidly swarm to a scene with overwhelming firepower that transforms the situation from surprise and initiative on the insurgent side into a significant advantage for our forces," he said.
This success does not happen by chance. With strategic objectives in hand, a plan is developed to carry out those missions. The planning process builds an air plan, known as the master air attack plan, and is formed with the inputs and guidance from the joint and coalition forces operating throughout the theater and gets published in the form of a daily Air Tasking Order. When talking of the theater, the emphasis is in Afghanistan and Iraq, where upward of 400 combat sorties are flown a day, from both land and sea based locations, and include airlift, air refueling, airdrop, intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance and strike/close-air-support sorties.
"What we do is a coalition effort even in the planning process," said Lt. Col. Rick Bell, the CAOC Combat Plans deputy director. "There are liaison officers from coalition and sister services in this cast because they are the experts in their fields. Everything is focused to achieve maximum effectiveness with the maximum efficiency in a unity of effort environment."
In Afghanistan, Airmen from many nations are embedded in all five regional commands, and they provide a link in integrating and synchronizing airpower with ground maneuvers, said British Group Capt. Andrew Huggett, an International Security Assistance Force officer detached from Kapul to the CAOC. "We work extensively through planning and execution phases with liaisons on the land and air sides to gain cohesive integration in operations. This integration is developed over the course of time."
Navy, Marine Corps and special operations liaison officers also reside in the CAOC and the Army provides a Battlefield Coordination Detachment commanded by a colonel to combine ground activities into the planning and execution cycles.
"Each day's Air Tasking Order and the operational plan behind it maximizes available combat power and leaves very little on the table for a reason," said Lt. Col. Marc Cherry, a deputy director in the Combat Operations Division in the CAOC.
"We owe it to our men and women of all services and engaged nations who are fighting on the ground to give the most we can every day," he said. "To ensure flexibility, we add extra fuel into the plan and place additional strike and electronic warfare aircraft on alert. While these provide flexibility to handle emerging situations on the ground, they are also there to preserve the plan in the event of (inclement) weather or maintenance issues."
Officials from the Central Command CAOC publishes the Air Tasking Order 12 hours prior to the start of air operations and runs for an additional 24 hours. During that 36-hour period, the combat operations team is responsible for orchestrating changes to the plan based on the reality of the current situations in the theater. The Air Tasking Order is built for flexibility based on the needs of the moment and varying factors. In fact, during execution, the members of the operations division spend a good part of their day retasking airborne assets to new tasks due to events that drive changes during every Air Tasking Order cycle.
One such factor is weather. Visibility is very important when trying to identify drop zones for supplies or for aligning weapons to designed targets. The visibility, or line of sight, can be interrupted by high winds causing sand storms so strong that traveling on roads becomes impossible. Aircraft escorting convoys are at a disadvantage during such events, but adaptive planning can use unmanned aircraft systems, such as the MQ-1 Predators, which have visibility through sandstorms, as an additional set of eyes and as protection for convoys. If aircraft are diverted from their original plan of action, their mission tasks are realigned in real time within real time execution within the tactical air control system.
Several elements are at play, said 1st Lt. Nicole Zayas, a CAOC airspace manager deployed from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. "Initially those planes are flying at a prescribed altitude, over a certain location, at a known time. However, if an aircraft needs to make a change, due to operational needs or situation, adjustments are made to the Airspace Control Order to help ensure the airspace is clear for flying within the theater. What we're doing is basically fine-tuning the existing plan throughout the Air Tasking Order execution period."
This allows her to track the changes and keep the aircraft deconflicted in an often saturating airspace. The ability of those in the planning process to restack priorities in real time is what breathes the flexibility of airpower into the day's air plan.
"In a perfect world, what we plan and what is executed would be the same, but the enemy gets a vote. Because of this, we make a plan so we can respond versus react," said Colonel Bell, deployed from Langley AFB, Va. "We are able to adapt our plan all the way throughout the actual execution process -- that is what is good about the air planning cycle."
One more feature of agile airpower is the importance of tankers. High-speed aircraft can respond quickly covering hundreds of miles in minutes. But this quick response would not be possible without the ability to deliver fuel to planes while they remain airborne. This prepositioning of tankers is the key to providing flexibility for combat aircraft to engage longer in one area or to divert to assist in different combat areas throughout Iraq or Afghanistan. U.S. Air Forces Central and coalition tanker aircrews deliver about 600,000 gallons of fuel through the air each day to an average of more than 300 receiving aircraft.
"Without the tankers, we could not support flying jets longer," said British Wing Commander Chris Peace, the chief of combat operations. "They are a real force multiplier."
The ability to respond quickly is a top priority when troops become suddenly engaged with the enemy.
When a "troops in contact event" event occurs, a request from a ground commander for air support will result in the tactical air control systems' response to immediately identify and direct the aircraft best suited and nearest to that engagement area to respond.
Not any aircraft can respond, as once again several factors come into play. Fuel reserves of planes are one issue and so is the type of firepower the aircraft has available. Time becomes a crucial factor in saving lives of American and coalition forces.
"I'm consistently amazed by our ability to adjust to such a wide variety of situations," Colonel Cherry said. "By shifting the mission of a pair of strike fighters and a quick repositioning of a tanker, there is nowhere in Iraq or Afghanistan that we can't bring the effects of airpower to bear within a few minutes. It's great to see in action."
Of course, there are times when a ground commander will call in to identify a special target. This target could be a harden compound home to a known terrorist or moving cars transporting several insurgents fresh from an attack on coalition forces.
In this case, it's a coordinated team effort between the planners in the CAOC working with the Battlefield Coordination Detachment planners plans in advance to meet the ground battlespace owner's intent to strike validated target sets. During the planning process, intelligence officers identify the target, weapon experts choose the proper munitions and legal officers ensure the target meets all established criteria to allow the mission to proceed to meet the military objective. The aims of this process are to ensure military targets are neutralized and to avoid risk to non-combatants.
As mentioned, intelligence officers are involved on a daily basis working within the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Division to assure airpower has all the necessary assets for a successful mission. This can take place in many formats, but one that is generating great public interest is unmanned aircraft systems. The Predator gathers surveillance imagery with on-board radar and video camera providing up-to-the-minute information to the combined teams from national leadership down to patrol sized units of action. This is most often delivered in the form of real time video displayed through satellite links to ground tactical units on a computer screen, and interpreted by a coalition or Air Force joint terminal attack controller, a specially trained air/land battlefield integration.
The JTACs' job in the field are to communicate the needs of the ground commander to the pilots who have the task of putting bombs on target. JTACs can see the total ground and air picture with their special data link equipment that is "pumped" to them in the field through the tactical air control system. JTACs work with the Air Support Operations Center staff, which prioritizes aircraft missions to provide airpower to integrate into the ground force scheme of maneuver. JTACS also work with the Air Support Operations Center staff to call in air support to come to the rescue in the event of the ground forces being engaged by the enemy. When events on the ground change when encountering the enemy, especially in the case of an emergency, JTACs coordinate with the ASOC through the tactical air control system for urgent air support. This is a further example of how agile the flight plan can be within a 24 hour period.
"The Air Support Operations Center and JTACs in the field operate in a decentralized fashion in real-time" Colonel Kometer said. "This makes our overall response very fast. The current ops floor at the CAOC can manage and flow other forces, like aligning tankers and future aircraft flows to support that decentralized execution within the Air Tasking Order cycle, which enhances our overall successes every day."
Global position satellites also assist in the ATO every day. When a Global Positioning System-guided weapon is going to be used, exact coordinates measured to within feet are derived and transmitted to the weapon. When released, GPS-guidance signals are used to guide the weapon directly to the specified target.
The modern technology and use of GPS also allows pilots to bring needed supplies to communities and individuals in many locations, including the very rough mountainous terrain located in Afghanistan. Many people think of food relief, but C-130 Hercules aircraft and C-17 Globemaster IIIs bring in many products that assist with the development of the infrastructure, such buildings and plumbing materials. In addition, coalition aircraft have also delivered a daily average of more than 40,000 pounds of troop resupply during 2008.
"Airlift missions are regularly rescheduled, but also routinely rescheduled in Air Tasking Order execution, in order to adapt to changing requirements by our troops on the ground," said Lt. Col. Johnny Roscoe, the Air Mobility Division director. "An aircrew may arrive at the squadron believing they will perform a routine air-land re-supply mission and be told they are now flying a sortie to airdrop food and water to ground forces who have exhausted their supply. They may also be re-tasked to fly a critical aero-medical evacuation mission moving injured troops to an Air Force theater hospital. Either way, our airlift and airdrop aircrews are very flexible and adaptive to meet the needs of the daily dynamic and changing environment."
There is not a day where the Air Tasking Order plans are not changed to adapt to on-going operations.
"What many people take for granted just how great a job Airmen from all nations every day in their daily mission sets." said Lt. Gen. Gary North, the U.S. Air Forces Central commander, who also serves as the U.S. Central Command's Combined Force Air Component Commander. "There are many days when as much as 45 percent of the air plan is changed, and that has gone as high as a 63 percent change. And the reason we are so successful is because of the ability of our servicemembers -- Air Forces Central, sister service, coalition and civilian personnel -- to work as a team to ensure the mission is accomplished every day. It truly is a intricate daily orchestration that our folks execute so very well."
Recently, Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz issued a joint statement on the new mission of the Air Force including a list of Air Force priorities. One of those is to "partner with the joint and coalition team to win today's fight."
This partnering is demonstrated every day by the flexibility, agility and teamwork of airpower delivered every day on the war on terrorism.
(Staff Sgt. Tammie Moore of the Air Forces Central news team contributed to this story.)
Note: I decided to post this news article because it is also related to ongoing A-10 combat deployments at Bagram AB, Afghanistan.
Minutes after four A-10 "Warthog" jet planes landed and taxied to a stop Wednesday at Salina Municipal Airport, an old black limousine motored up.
Out popped the driver, nicknamed "Zero," carrying cold cans of Bud Light for the pilots from the Michigan National Guard 110th Fighter Wing, Battle Creek.
Zero got to work unloading luggage and golf clubs from travel pods on the aircraft and crammed them into the 1988 limo, owned by the 303rd Fighter Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.
The greeting was part of the pomp Wednesday as 30 of the fighters from Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units across the United States arrived for Hawg-smoke 2008, a bombing and strafing competition at the airport and the Smoky Hill Weapons Range west of Salina.
The 442nd Fighter Wing at Whiteman, which includes the 303rd, is hosting about 100 pilots and 400 support crew members.
"One day we were sitting around and decided we needed a limo as a mascot. We all pitched in and bought it on eBay," said Zero. His real name is Capt. Chad Carlton of the 303rd.
Besides the friendly battle for bragging rights -- the winner puts on the next Hawgsmoke in two years -- there is the always-serious side of perfecting the squadrons' role in fighting wars and protecting the peace.
"Everything we do here is to build on what we need to do in the field," said Maj. Preston McConnell of the 303rd. He's been an A-10 pilot since 1998, having flown missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"On any given day, anyone in this field can go out and win it. The key to any one of these competitions is to not make a mistake," McConnell said.
But this gathering is more than networking and honing expertise. It's a convention-like atmosphere through Saturday at the airport, the Kansas Regional Training Institute, and a golf course that wasn't named.
On Wednesday, the Salina Airport Authority's new hangar was like a reunion hall, but roughly the size of a football stadium. In fact, some airmen were tossing the pigskin.
For Hawgsmoke, the 442nd has outfitted the hangar with a gift shop. Snacks and meals are available, along with meeting rooms, a lounge with a television, a medical clinic and areas for the news media.
Only a small part of what goes on today through Saturday at the airport is open to the public -- only at certain times and in only in one, designated area. None of today's competition at the weapons range is open.
"Whenever you have low-flying aircraft firing live ordnance, that's an obvious hazard," said Maj. David Kurle, chief of public affairs with the 442nd Wing.
It serves the country
Hawgsmoke is another training mission where skills are honed for battle, McConnell said.
"Everyone loves what they do. It's something bigger than themselves. It serves the country," he said.
But there are elements built into Hawgsmoke for relaxation, networking and camaraderie among those with a common bond.
"Professionals have got to take breaks, too ... pass along information and get together with our friends," he said.
It's a balance of fun and games, and the serious military side.
"The skills we use here are the same ones we use every day," Kurle said.
The goal is to protect freedoms, he said, including those being expressed several hundred yards to the north, where the Salina People for Peace were demonstrating. Their posters and actions caught the attention of military personnel Wednesday while they were escorting media on the tarmac.
"We like it when people use their First Amendment rights as long as nobody gets hurt," Kurle said. "That's all I care about."
Original caption: A 1988 limousine, a mascot of the 303rd Fighter Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, is used to greet A10 pilots arriving Wednesday for Hawgsmoke, a bombing and strafing competition at Salina Municipal Airport and the Smoky Hill Weapons Range. The 442nd Fighter Wing, which includes the 303rd, is hosting the event that is staged every two years at a different site. (Photo by Tim Unruh / Salina Journal)
Note: Sorry that I overlooked this interesting news story in the last couple of days.
Wed 05:00 PM 10/22/2008
by Jeff Garretson
Add a new line on Henry Diehl's resume ...Hay Bale Artist!
KSAL's Storm Chaser - Henry Diehl, who is a member of Fire District No.3 also farms and ranches in the Northeast corner of Ellsworth County, recently made a big splash in his field by arranging round hay bales to salute the A-10 Thunderbolt pilots. "I've had three fly overs since I put the sign up, which is cool," he said. Diehl's sign caught the attention of some of the visiting A-10 crews that were in Salina last week for the Hawgsmoke 2008 competition.
Diehl is no stranger to having A-10's buzz by his farmstead. According to Henry, he made his first hay bale salute to the Thunderbolts back in 1985 when the pilots were training nearby for a "Gunsmoke" now (Hawgsmoke) competition. Diehl tells KSAL News, "They'd come down pretty low and make a buzz or rock their wings as they went by. It was great fun back then."
While Diehl was on standby with his fire truck at this years Hawgsmoke competition held at the Smoky Hills Bombing Range, he got a chance to meet one of the old pilots who flew over his farm. "Turns out the 'Top Gun' that year (1985) was Lt. Colonel Roger Disrude, who saw my sign and won," he said. Diehl and the retired Lt. Colonel had a chance to relive the story of those training days and competition while current day pilots listened in at Hawgsmoke 2008.
Original caption: Diehl's sign caught the attention of some of the visiting A-10 crews that were in Salina last week for the Hawgsmoke 2008 Competition (Photo courtesy of Henry Diehl)
Edition Date: 10/22/08
BOISE, Idaho — A competition between A-10 pilots from around the world is over and a team from Idaho came out on top.
Four pilots from the Idaho Air National Guard's 190th Fighter Squadron placed first out of 14 rival air crews at the Hawgsmoke competition in Salinas, Kan., held once every two years.
They scored highest in competitions meant to determine the best performance for ground attack and target destruction.
"This win validates the training we do here in Idaho," said Maj. Gen. Larry Lafrenz, commanding general of the Idaho National Guard.
The A-10 is officially known as the "Thunderbolt II," though it's ungainly appearance has earned it the nickname "Warthog" among those who fly it.
Since it was designed more than 30 years ago, it's been a military mainstay for missions to destroy enemy ground vehicles including tanks.
Edition Date: 10/22/08
A team of four pilots from the Idaho Air National Guard's 190th Fighter Squadron took top honors last week in the biennial "Hawgsmoke" competition, earning bragging rights as the best ground attack and target destruction.
The team placed first out of 14 four-pilot air crews from U.S. Air Force installations over the world. All of the teams fly the A-10 ground-attack aircraft, also known as the "Warthog."
The competition was held last week in Salinas, Kan. As winners of this year´s competition, the Idaho Air National Guard will host the next event in 2010.
The 190th Fighter Squadron returned in August from a deployment to Afghanistan. They faced some challenges leading up to the competition, according to Lt. Col. Tim Marsano, a spokesman for the Idaho National Guard.
The team of four pilots planned to practice eight sorties, but two of the pilots who were selected had to drop out and then 10 of the 12 A-10s were grounded for maintenance only two weeks before the competition.
The squadron selected two of the most recently trained A-10 pilots to fill the vacated team positions and worked out a deal to share jets with another unit, according to Marsano. They practiced only one sortie as a team before heading to Salina.
Maj. Gen. Larry Lafrenz, commanding general of the Idaho National Guard, congratulated the citizen airmen.
"This win validates the training we do here in Idaho, the great men and women in our ranks and some of the world´s best aircraft," he said in a press release. "It all came together for this competition."
There are 1,300 citizen airmen in the Idaho Air National Guard. Most are traditional members who serve one weekend a month and two weeks a year.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Already on October 1, 2008, a short video clip 'Flexibility In Air Power' was released on 455th Air Expeditionary Wing's public website. Source. Unfortunately, with Windows Media Player I get no access to this stuff. As I noticed some days ago, the afpims stuff could be restricted to U.S. service members only. Anybody with a smart solution to post this stuff in an open source? If yes, please e-mail me. (Screenshot picture)
Note: This video clip must be related to the 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, currently deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom to Bagram AB, Afghanistan.
Check: Warthog Deployments
Today, USAF released a short Hawgsmoke 2008 video clip. Check the Latest Videos section on Air Force Link or in related sections on other USAF public websites (Screenshot picture).
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs
10/17/2008 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Approximately 1,200 logisticians heard first-hand at the national Logistics Officer Association conference about Air Force priorities, urgent warfighter needs and sustainment initiatives that will affect their profession.
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition Sue Payton and Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, took the stage together Oct. 13, the first day of the three-day conference in Columbus, Ohio, to provide the most current Air Force perspective on acquisition and logistics.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz also spoke Oct. 13, and Ms. Payton noted his emphasis on acquisition excellence. She said the Air Force must rebuild and shape the acquisition work force, attract proven engineering and management talent in supervisory roles, and continue to improve processes and skills.
Acquisition reform is not the issue, Ms. Payton said.
General Carlson outlined external challenges within the Air Force environment - rising JP8 fuel costs, Congressional budget pressure, the average age of Air Force aircraft - as well as challenges within the acquisition environment - funding instability, key personnel turnover, protests.
Kicking off the final day of the conference, Lt. Gen. Terry Gabreski, vice commander of AFMC, briefed on the "Future of the Sustainment Enterprise." She outlined some key challenges logisticians must confront as they take on the Chief of Staff's priority to "reinvigorate the Air Force nuclear enterprise." Among other issues and initiatives she also discussed, General Gabreski looked ahead to synchronizing field and depot maintenance and the challenges of increasing aircraft availability to warfighters.
The Logistics Officer Association is an organization that strives to enhance the military logistics profession. The conference provided an open forum to promote quality logistical support and logistics officer professional development.
Ms. Payton began her joint presentation with General Carlson by showing a slide containing a crude drawing of an attack against American and allied forces.
"This drawing is a map taken off of a dead Taliban sub commander who had set up a bloody ambush in Afghanistan against one of our convoys," Ms. Payton said. "What the enemy did not know was that we had received a tip and subsequently had an A-10 fly over the area. Using the advanced targeting pod, the A-10 was able to video enemy ground activity and relay that info so we could stop the convoy and save lives.
"What's the significance of keeping these A-10s and other aircraft flying and equipping them with the latest capabilities?" Ms. Payton asked the crowd. "Every day, you are making a difference in prosecuting this war and getting us closer to a point where we can stand down as Iraq and Afghanistan start to stand back up again."
Among the urgent warfighter needs are LITENING and SNIPER pods -- an operational precision targeting pod system used with a wide variety of combat aircraft - in conjunction with a rover receiver. The objective is for video viewed by a pilot to be immediately, real-time down-linked to a ground station in the form of a laptop computer held by the joint terminal attack controllers. This capability gives troops greater situational awareness.
Another urgent need is a laser Joint Direct Attack Munition. JDAM is a tail kit that turns an unguided dumb bomb, already in the warfighter's arsenal, into an accurate smart munition. Guidance via laser and the global positioning system would allow the munition to engage and destroy moving targets.
General Carlson said an A-10 re-wing effort is one major sustainment initiative under way.
"The problem involves thin wings that are beyond economic repair limits," General Carlson said. "The solution is to replace 242 wings at a cost of $1.1 billion through fiscal 2016." [...]
Saturday, October 18, 2008
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/17/2008 - SALINA, Kan. (AFNS) -- The Hawgsmoke 2008 bombing and gunnery portion of the competition took place Oct.16 as A-10 Thunderbolt IIs attacked targets on the nearby Smoky Hill Range, dazzling the spectators who gathered to observe.
It was Day 3 of the event and members of the press, community leaders and other distinguished visitors were able view the weapons portion of the competition from a hilltop vantage point at the Kansas Air National Guard's 34,000-acre range facility. The range is operated by the 184th Intelligence Wing.
"I've lived in Salina a couple of years, but I'm overwhelmed with the amount of support we've received from the city," said Lt. Col. Jeff Maddex, the 184th IW's range commander. "This was all coordinated across two states, Missouri and Kansas, and required a lot of communication. It's really great to see it all come together."
For many of those invited to attend, it was their first experience with the A-10. For others, like Aaron White, a Marine veteran of Desert Storm and Somalia and a member of the Salina Chamber of Commerce, it was a glimpse into the past.
"This brings back memories for me [when] I got to call in air support on some armaments during training once," Mr. White said. "I expected Marine air support, and to my surprise they sent an A-10. I was very impressed. I remember thinking this should be a Marine plane. It's mean and ugly, just like us."
As the A-10s closed in on their appointed gunnery targets, smoke surrounded the plane, warning the viewers of the deep, belligerent roar soon to follow as the Warthog unleashed its super- sonic wrath on the goal beneath.
"The noise intrigues me more than anything. I can't imagine being on the receiving end of it," said Rob Exline, a visitor from the UMB Bank board of directors. "I didn't know what to expect from today but it has absolutely lived up to my expectations. This is all very exciting for Salina."
Hawgsmoke 2008 is all about the A-10 and its pilots, but today the Air Force made an impression on a small group of citizens.
After viewing these aircraft and pilots in action the visitors departed the damp grassy hilltop in central Kansas thankful they were not on a rocky hilltop in Afghanistan, dreading an on-coming storm front moving in from a U.S. Air Force-dominated sky. (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/17/2008 - SALINA, Kan. -- The 190th Fighter Squadron from the Idaho Air National Guard was named the Top Team for Hawgsmoke 2008 in Salina, Kan., Oct. 17 at an awards banquet capping off four days of competition among 14 A-10 Thunderbolt II squadrons from across the Air Force.
The 190th, part of the 124th Wing, based at Boise International Airport, Idaho, will be expected to host the next Hawgsmoke competition in 2010.
Hawgsmoke, held every two years, tests the skills A-10 pilots use in every-day training to employ the ground-attack aircraft in its primary role as a close-air-support platform. Aviators are tested on their times over targets; how well they place 30-mm cannon rounds, training bombs and the AGM-65 Maverick missile on simulated targets; the quality of their combat tactics; as well as their formation flying.
After being judged in each event, the scores are tallied and winners in each category are announced at the dinner on the last night of Hawgsmoke.
Approximately 50 pilots competed in Hawgsmoke, assisted by 400 combat support and maintenance Airmen.
Thirty A-10s, all from Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units, started arriving at the Salina Airport, Oct. 14 and flew for three days to get all 14 teams through the events. Pilots were forced to share aircraft from other units because of an Air Force time-compliance technical order that mandated inspections on approximately 130 of the Air Force's 360 A-10 aircraft. The order was issued approximately two weeks before the competition's start date.
This year's Hawgsmoke was hosted by the 442nd Fighter Wing's 303rd Fighter Squadron, which won the event at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., in 2006. The 442nd, an Air Force Reserve unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., selected the Salina Airport as the 2008 location because of its ample flight line and its proximity to the Smoky Hill Range, where the bombing and gunnery events were held.
"The City of Salina and the people here have been absolutely outstanding in their support of Hawgsmoke," said Lt. Col. Brian Borgen who served as the event organizer. "We couldn't have asked for a better location. We really owe Salina and our sponsors a huge 'thank you' for helping us plan and execute Hawgsmoke 2008."
Journalists and visitors from around the world traveled to central Kansas to cover and witness the competition, which concludes Oct. 18 when 28 A-10 pilots are scheduled take off and fly back to their home units.
The Hawgsmoke 2008 winners in each category were:
Top Maverick Missile Team: 303rd FS from Whiteman AFB, Mo.
Top Tactical Team: 303rd FS.
Top Strafe Team: 103rd FS, Pennsylvania Air National Guard from Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, Pa.
Top Bombing Team: 47th FS, Air Force Reserve Command, from Barksdale AFB, La.
Top Arrival Team: 81st FS from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
Top Pilot Award: Capt. Jerry Cook, 45th FS, Air Force Reserve Command, from Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.
Top High-Altitude Dive Bomb Award: Capt. Jerry Cook, 45th FS.
Top 30-Degree Dive Bomb Award: Maj. Bill Zutell, 103rd FS.
Top Low-Angle, High-Delivery Pop Award: Lt. Col. Bob Pugh from the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Test Center in Tucson, Ariz.
Top Strafe Award: 1st Lt. Nick Decker, 303rd FS.
All the awards were presented by Col. Mark Clemons, commander of the 442nd FW.
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/17/2008 - SALINA, Kan. -- Even though there was no flying on the third, and final, day of Hawgsmoke 2008, the United States Air Force's biennial A-10 Thunderbolt II bombing and tactical gunnery competition, the flight line at Salina Airport was still the scene of activity as maintainers serviced aircraft in preparation for their return home.
While the pilots waited for the results of the competition, A-10 maintainers turned to the tasks of any needed repair, aircraft return configuration and, in the hangar, packing equipment and cleaning up. Fortunately, because of daily maintenance and extensive pre-planning, repair needs were minimal.
There is a sometimes-heard adage on the flight line that the pilot's name may be on the jet but it really belongs to the crew chief. It is the maintainers that keep the jets in operating shape and, for many of them; it's a labor of love.
"I've loved it [here]," said Senior Airman Gentry Cline, a 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. "I've been really busy here and that's the way I like to do business."
Hawgsmoke 2008 also marked the first time that all three models of the A-10 occupied a flight line together. Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command A-10A, A-10A+ and A-10C qualified maintainers from Barksdale Air Force Base, La.; Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, Pa.; Whiteman AFB, Mo.; Boise, Idaho; Ft. Smith, Ark.; and Battle Creek, Mich.; joined forces to keep the jets flying.
"This is the first time I've gotten to see this many jets [from different units] all lined up," Airman Cline said. "I got to work with the other units and see how they did things. It was a little bit different but at the same time it was effective.
For the maintainers, the road to Hawgsmoke 2008 was fraught with obstacles. For all the units, the Air Force's announcement of a time-compliance technical order (TCTO) that required immediate inspection and repair of wing cracks on approximately 130 A-10s throughout the fleet. For the Whiteman Airmen, in addition to the TCTO announcement, those obstacles ranged from an Afghanistan Operation Enduring Freedom deployment from May to July of this year to a home station phase-one Operation Readiness Exercise in early October.
According to Chief Master Sgt. Rick Harter, Hawgsmoke 2008 maintenance NCOIC and the 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, since a phase-one ORE tests a units ability to deploy troops and equipment, they decided to use the opportunity to their advantage in getting their equipment to Salina.
"We decided that with the exercise, we'd coordinate that what we were taking to Salina would be used for the cargo processing for the ORE," Chief Harter said.
Instead of cargo palettes being marshaled on the Whiteman flight line in a row on the ramp simulating a cargo aircraft, the cargo was loaded on to a C-5A Galaxy aircraft and flown to Salina. Two requirements were met as a result.
In summarizing Hawgsmoke 2008 Chief Harter had nothing but praise for all of the maintainers in helping make the event a success. He said he was especially grateful for the level of support provided by the Salina Airport. From facilities to fuel trucks he said they more than exceeded his expectations at every level.
Even though Hawgsmoke 2008 is officially behind them, the A-10 maintainers look ahead to other challenges and opportunities. When asked if he'd want to come back in two years to support the next competition, slated to be hosted by the Hawgsmoke 2008 winners, the Idaho Air National Guard's 190th Fighter Squadron at Boise, Idaho, Airman Cline didn't hesitate to answer.
"Yes," he said. "Absolutely!"
Master Sgt. John Ezell, 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, left, assists Maj. Preston McConnell, a 303rd Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot after Major McConnell's arrival at the Salina, Kan., airport for Hawgsmoke 2008, the Air Force's biennial A-10 bombing and gunnery competition. Both Airmen are Air Force reservists bsed at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington) Hi-res
Friday, October 17, 2008
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/16/2008 - SALINA, Kan. -- Day three of Hawgsmoke 2008 continued Oct. 16 with a viewing of the bombing and gunnery portion of the competition at Smoky Hill Range near Salina, Kan.
More than a year of planning went into Hawgsmoke 2008, the United States Air Force's biennial A-10 bombing and tactical gunnery competition. Part of the planning included orchestrating a way for members of the press, community leaders and other distinguished visitors to view the weapons employment portion of the competition from a hilltop vantage point at the Kansas Air National Guard's 34,000-acre range facility operated by 184th Intelligence Wing.
"I've lived in Salina a couple of years, but I'm overwhelmed with the amount of support we've received from the city," said Lt. Col. Jeff Maddex, the 184th's range commander. "This was all coordinated across two states - Missouri and Kansas - and required a lot of communication. It's really great to see it all come together."
For many of those invited to attend, it was their first experience with the A-10. For others like Aaron White, a Marine veteran of Desert Storm and Somalia and a member of the Salina Chamber of Commerce, it was a glimpse into the past.
"This brings back memories for me [when] I got to call in air-support on some armaments during training once," Mr. White said. "I expected Marine air-support and to my surprise they sent an A-10. I was very impressed. I remember thinking this should be a Marine plane. It's mean and ugly, just like us."
As the A-10's closed in on their appointed gunnery targets, smoke surrounded the plane, warning the viewers of the deep, belligerent roar soon to follow as the warthog unleashed it's super- sonic wrath on the goal beneath.
"The noise intrigues me more than anything. I can't imagine being on the receiving end of it," said Rob Exline, a visitor from the UMB Bank, board of directors. "I didn't know what to expect from today but it has absolutely lived up to my expectations. This is all very exciting for Salina."
Hawgsmoke 2008 is all about the A-10 and its pilots but today, the Air Force made an impression on a small group of citizens.
After viewing these aircraft and pilots in action the visitors departed the damp grassy hill-top in central Kansas thankful they were not on a rocky hill-top in Afghanistan, dreading an on-coming storm-front moving in from a United States Air Force-dominated sky.
An A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot from the 442nd Fighter Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., fires the plane's 30-mm cannon toward a target at the Smoky Hill Range near Salina, Kan., Oct. 16. Fourteen A-10 units from across the Air Force competed this week in Hawgsmoke 2008, a bienniel A-10 bombing and aerial gunnery competition hosted by the 442nd FW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington) Hi-res
An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 110th Fighter Wing, a Michigan Air National Guard unit based at Battle Creek, Mich., turns to engage a target at the Smoky Hill Range near Salina, Kan., Oct. 16. Fourteen A-10 units from across the Air Force competed this week in Hawgsmoke 2008, a bienniel A-10 bombing and aerial gunnery competition hosted by the Air Force Reserve's 442nd Fighter Wing, based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kent Kagarise) Hi-res
An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 917th Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command unit at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., turns to engage a target at the Smoky Hill Range near Salina, Kan., Oct. 16. Fourteen A-10 units from across the Air Force competed this week in Hawgsmoke 2008, a bienniel A-10 bombing and aerial gunnery competition hosted by the Air Force Reserve's 442nd Fighter Wing, based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John Vertreese) Hi-res
An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 917th Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command unit at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., turns to engage a target at the Smoky Hill Range near Salina, Kan., Oct. 16. Fourteen A-10 units from across the Air Force competed this week in Hawgsmoke 2008, a bienniel A-10 bombing and aerial gunnery competition hosted by the Air Force Reserve's 442nd Fighter Wing, based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington) Hi-res
Thirty-millimeter bullets fired from an A-10 Thunderbolt II impact a strafe pit at the Smoky Hill Range near Salina, Kan., Oct. 16. Fourteen A-10 squadrons from across the Air Force competed in Hawgsmoke 2008 Oct. 14 to 18. Hawgsmoke is a bienniel A-10 bombing and aerial gunnery competition, which was hosted this year by the 442nd Fighter Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John Vertreese) Hi-res
Distinguished visitors and news media watch A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft make strafing and bombing runs at the Smoky Hill Range near Salina, Kan., Oct. 16 as part of Hawgsmoke 2008. The four-day event is a bienniel gathering of A-10 squadrons from across the Air Force to compete in a bombing and aerial gunnery competition. This year's Hawgsmoke was hosted by the 442nd Fighter Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington) Hi-res
Thursday, October 16, 2008
October 15, 2008
Tuesday´s rain forced a change in location for tonight´s "Lost Hogs" Memorial Ceremony to honor pilots of the A-10 Thunderbolt II who died in combat or otherwise. Also, the event is no longer open to the public.
It´s part of Hawgsmoke, a gathering and competition of A-10 pilots this week.
The "Lost Hogs" ceremony was moved to the Salina Municipal Airport flight line or a hangar, which will prevent it from being a public event, said Maj. David Kurle of the 442nd Fighter Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, which is hosting the Hawgsmoke event.
Lost Hogs originally was planned for a public area near the Kansas Regional Training Center, but "it´s just a sea of mud out there," Kurle said.
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/15/2008 - SALINA, Kan. -- With the arrival of the last group of A-10 Thunderbolt IIs late in the afternoon, Hawgsmoke 2008 got into full swing Oct. 15 as pilots flew out to the Kansas Air National Guard's Smoky Hill bomb and gunnery range nearby for range familiarization flights.
Clearing skies signaled the end of nearly two days of rain at the central Kansas location, as maintenance crews received the new arrivals while launching and recovering the local flights participating in the United States Air Force's biennial A-10 bombing and tactical gunnery competition.
As soon as the pilots stepped from the jets they were greeted by the supervisor of flying and transported to Hawgsmoke headquarters for an array of in-processing steps designed to make their arrival orderly, convenient and brief.
After storing their flight gear at the Life Support section, the pilots met with representatives from maintenance debriefing, supervisor of flying (SOF), maintenance operations control (MOC), command post, personnel support for contingency operations also known as PERSCO, and lodging.
Maintenance debriefing gleaned the data provided by the incoming pilots regarding maintenance issues and passed problems along to the maintainers who focused on getting the jets ready to fly again. Most aircraft were back in the air after only a brief time on the ground.
"[For Hawgsmoke], debrief has been combined with MOC (maintenance operations center)," said Senior Airman Kimberly Byers, 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance debriefing. "We've been getting [the pilot's] information about the incoming jets and now we are working on the sorties for the actual competition."
For having such a large influx of aircraft and crews in a very short time, things went well for Airman Byers. Her only challenge was learning the nuances of how each unit handled the data differently.
Ensuring the mission identifiers were closed out as the aircraft arrived was the first order of business for the command-post controllers at the next stop for each team. There activities were going as planned.
"Things have been pretty much been going by the book today," said Staff Sgt. Adrian Walker, 442nd Fighter Wing command-post controller. "I think we're doing very well."
PERSCO checked in all new arrivals to maintain the personnel accountability of not only the pilots, but also maintenance and support personnel. At the final stop a lodging representative made sure each pilot had comfortable living quarters during the competition.
The whole process was well orchestrated and, as a result, the pilots could focus on getting oriented to the new surroundings.
Pilots from 14 active-duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard squadrons are participating in Hawgsmoke 2008 and will share flight time in 30 A-10s supplied by Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units.
As the first full day of Hawgsmoke 2008 ended, an A-10 "missing- man" formation flew over the "Hog" pilots gathered at the edge of the Salina Airport flight line for a memorial service, which commemorated all A-10 pilots who have perished over the years since the aircraft first flew.
An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 110th Fighter Wing, Michigan Air National Guard, takes off from the Salina, Kan., airport Oct. 15 for an orientation flight over the nearby Smoky Hill bombing and gunnery range. Thirty A-10s from Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units across the country have converged on Salina for Hawgsmoke 2008, which will pit active-duty, Reserve and Guard pilots from 14 squadrons against each other in a bienniel bomb and gunnery competition. The competition will last through Oct. 18. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. David Kurle) Hi-res
An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 917th Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command unit from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., touches down at the Salina, Kan., airport Oct. 15 for Hawgsmoke 2008. Fourteen A-10 squadrons from active duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units from around the world are competing in a bienniel bombing and gunnery competition, which is being hosted in Salina and at the nearby Smoky Hill Range. The competition will end Oct. 18 after determining a Hawgsmoke champion, which will host the 2010 event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. David Kurle) Hi-res
An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 917th Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command unit from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., touches down at the Salina, Kan., airport Oct. 15 for Hawgsmoke 2008. Fourteen A-10 squadrons from active duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units from around the world are competing in a bienniel bombing and gunnery competition, which is being hosted in Salina and at the nearby Smoky Hill Range. The competition will end Oct. 18 after determining a Hawgsmoke champion, which will host the 2010 event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. David Kurle) Hi-res
Capt Jeremy Stoner, an A-10 pilot from the 110th Fighter Wing, Michigan Air National Guard, prepares to shut down engines following his arrival at the Salina, Kan., airport Oct. 15 for Hawgsmoke 2008. Hawgsmoke is a bienniel competition for A-10 pilots from across the Air Force that tests aerial bombing and gunnery skills. This year's Hawgsmoke is hosted by the Air Force Reserve Command's 442nd Fighter Wing, based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The competition lasts through Oct. 18 and pilots will use the Smoky Hill Range near Salina to hit targets with 30-mm cannnon rounds and practice munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. David Kurle) Hi-res
Lt. Col. Daryl Newhart, an A-10 pilot with the 103rd Fighter Squadron, Pennsylvania Air National Guard, throws a shot glass into a firepit during a "Lost Hogs" memorial ceremony Oct. 15, part of Hawgsmoke 2008, at the Salina, Kan., airport. Hawgsmoke is a bienniel A-10 aerial gunnery and bombing competition, which is being hosted this year by the 442nd Fighter Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The Lost Hogs ceremony pays homage to all A-10 pilots who have passed away. In an A-10 tradition, pilots drink a shot as a toast to their fallen comrades then throw the shot glass into a fire pit after the names of all deceased A-10 pilots have been read aloud. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. David Kurle) Hi-res
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/14/2008 - SALINA, Kan. -- Two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs broke through the overcast skies of central Kansas today and crossed over the center point of the Salina Airport's north-south runway officially kicking off Hawgsmoke 2008, the United States Air Force's biennial A-10 bombing and tactical gunnery competition.
The moment also marked the end of two years of exhaustive preparation for the 442nd Fighter Wing's 303rd Fighter Squadron, the event's host and an Air Force Reserve Command unit from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.
The 303rd FS earned the right to host the contest by winning Hawgsmoke 2006, held at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., that year, which pitted the 303rd's pilots against pilots from 16 other Air National Guard, Air Force and Air Force Reserve A-10 units from around the world.
Hawgsmoke tests A-10 pilots in flight leadership, target acquisition, weapons delivery and support and the amount of preparation and coordination to host the event is daunting.
"There is a lot more that goes into Hawgsmoke than the general public and most of the participants realize," said Maj. Les Bradfield, 442nd Operations Support Flight. "It's much more than just coordinating between an airport and a range."
Since the event is not being held on an Air Force base many of the organic support elements regularly used by A-10 units at a government-owned facility , and sometimes taken for granted, needed to created or cultivated.
Fortunately for the Hawgsmoke-hosting team, they struck gold with the facility at Salina's airport. The facility's supportive administration, and close proximity to the Kansas Air National Guard's Smoky Hill bomb and gunnery range where most of the competition happens. The airport, formerly Schilling AFB, is just a few miles from Smoky Hill and the airfield has a large amount of available open ramp space, which makes it ideal for parking and servicing the visiting A-10s.
"They are not used to this many aircraft coming in and staying for this long," Major Bradfield said. "We've been greasing the wheels, letting them know that we are coming, what rules we operate by and making sure they can facilitate that."
That preparation, airport and Salina community officials, along with great support from sponsors and the community at large have made the event possible.
One late wrinkle in the preparation was the Air Force's announcement of a time-compliance technical order (TCTO) that required immediate inspection and repair of wing cracks approximately 130 A-10s throughout the Air Force. The 442nd FW was required to inspect 11 of its 27 A-10s.
The order caused units to re-evaluate their ability to participate and caused some to cancel. Other Wing's with available A-10s, including the 442nd, stepped forward to provide aircraft for those that couldn't use their own jets.
Even though there were enough teams and aircraft to compete, the TCTO hampered some units in their ability to bring maintenance personnel to support Hawgsmoke 2008 as they worked at their home stations to inspect and repair A-10s. Still, the maintainers were able to meet the challenge.
"Everybody is [affected]," said Chief Master Sgt. Greg Wetzel, 442nd Maintenance Squadron. "Getting the rest of their fleet up to speed became a higher priority [but] we have enough people here to take care of everything. It's not really an issue."
Having the first two jets cross the airfield's center point is a source of excitement and relief for Whiteman's Citizen Airmen. It means that while the preparation has paid off and the competition is underway, there is still work to do as more aircraft arrive.
"We've only just begun," Major Bradfield said. "Having the 'iron' on the ground means the all of the work of the last two years, not only for the local community but for our own people, is starting to pay off."
Rainy arrival: Maj. Preston McConnell, a 303rd Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot, waits for his crew chief to signal chocks-in on the first A-10 to arrive at Salina Airport; Kan., for the Air Force's Hawgsmoke 2008; a biennial A-10 bombing and tactical gunnery competition. The event, hosted by the 442nd FW's 303rd Fighter Squadron, tests A-10 pilots in flight leadership, target acquisition, weapons delivery. The 442nd FW is an Air Force Reserve Command unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington) Hi-res
Marshalling in: A 442nd Fighter Wing crew chief marshals in the first A-10 to arrive at Salina Airport; Kan., for the Air Force's Hawgsmoke 2008; a biennial A-10 bombing and tactical gunnery competition. The event, hosted by the 442nd FW's 303rd Fighter Squadron, tests A-10 pilots in flight leadership, target acquisition, weapons delivery. The 442nd FW is an Air Force Reserve Command unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington) Hi-res
For more related pictures check the photo essay Munitions team readies ordnance for Hawgsmoke 2008
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/14/2008 - SALINA, Kan. -- In January Senior Master Sgt. Travis Stickels began planning to lodge approximately 500 Airmen and distinguished guests here for Hawgsmoke 2008, an A-10 bombing and aerial gunnery competition hosted this year by the 442nd Fighter Wing from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.
Sergeant Stickels' list of considerations seemed endless when planning to house more than 500 participants who would partake in the biennial event. In the end, Airmen from across the Air Force would occupy six hotels and one building at a Kansas National Guard training facility at the Salina Airport.
"In January we met with the Salina Chamber of Commerce, four hotels and the National Training Center here," Sergeant Stickels said.
Sergeant Stickels made sure parking lots had proper lighting, that security was adequate and even checked the condition of rooms in order to ensure the safety, security and comfort of Airmen.
Even when Hawgsmoke 2008 was underway, Sergeant Stickel's job hasn't ceased.
" I'm the point of contact for any changes. If an Airman must be moved for any reason I need to know for accountability," he said.
Since three-fourths of the people participating in Hawgsmoke are maintenance specialists, Sergeant Stickels had to work closely with Chief Master Sgt. Greg Wetzel, chief of the 442nd Armament Flight's. Chief Wetzel contacted all maintenance personnel to begin plans to lodge them together and preserve "team integrity," a necessity for the smooth execution of Hawgsmoke according to Sergeant Stickels.
"I've known Sergeant Stickels a long time and have worked with him in the past. It's no surprise to me that he was able to manage all of this. He does everything within his capability to make everything quick and easy," Sergeant Wetzel said.
Even here at Hawgsmoke, a job that began in January continues as Sergeant Stickels' personal-digital-assistant rings.
"I told you there were 138 people staying in that hotel. It just went up. There are 141 in there now," Sergeant Stickels said.
Without Sergeant Stickels Airmen at Hawgsmoke 2008 would be homeless. Sergeant Stickels holds the keys to a warm bed, at the end of a damp and cold duty day in the heart of Kansas.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
By John Andrew Prime
October 13, 2008 2:00 am
Pilots from Barksdale Air Force Base's 917th Wing will take part in the biennial Hawgsmoke competition, to take place this week in Kansas.
The competition to determine the best A-10 pilots and squadrons will be Wednesday through Saturday in Salina, Kan., with the 303rd Fighter Squadron, from the 442nd Fighter Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., the host unit.
"We'll be sending four of our pilots, and Detachment 1 will be using our planes, too," said Jessica D'Aurizio, spokeswoman for the 917th Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, whose storied 47th Fighter Squadron is the schoolhouse for A-10 pilots. Det. 1 is the unit's presence at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.
The local pilots who will take part are Lt. Col. Michael Schultz, Lt. Col. Ed Sommers, Maj. Michael Bachtel and Maj. Garret Povar, D'Aurizio said.
The bombing and gunnery competition will take place in spite of wing cracks that have grounded about 130 "thin wing" models of the service's roughly 400 operational A-10s.
That grounding, which won't be lifted until all the airplanes are inspected and repaired, is why the airplanes are being shared by units.
An order to identify and repair the fatigue-related cracks was issued about a week ago, and affects seven of the airplanes with the 917th Wing.
The airplanes are affectionately called the "Warthog" by the men and women who fly the tough little airplane, and the nickname is why the competition is called Hawgsmoke.
The airplane's official name is the Thunderbolt II, in tribute to its role as the successor to the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter of World War II. Ironically, the airplane has more a legacy tie to the German Junkers Ju-87 Stuka than the P-47.
During the first tactical and conventional gunnery competition open to A-10s, Hawgsmoke 2000, the 47th Fighter Squadron took first-place awards as the top Hawgsmoke Tactical Unit, for Top Overall Pilot and Top Overall Tactical Pilot. In 2002, it won honors as the Top A-10 Squadron in the world.
The school graduates about 40 students a year from active-duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units worldwide.
"After talking to most of the other A-10 wings in the Air Force, we have more than enough teams committed to competing at Hawgsmoke to continue with the event," said Col. Mark Clemons, the 442nd's commander. "Safety is paramount, and this (repair order) will ensure we provide the safest possible aircraft to our A-10 pilots. We have plenty of aircraft to support Hawgsmoke and maintain the 442nd Fighter Wing's combat readiness."
Hawgsmoke pits A-10 pilots and maintainers from across the service to determine a single-unit "Hawgsmoke Champion."
Wing officials originally expected about 70 A-10 aircraft to attend the event, but the inspections have reduced that number to 25 to 30 airplanes, which is why Barksdale's pilots are "hot-rotating" the airplanes. Organizers expect as many as 14 teams of pilots to compete, and it will be official policy to share the aircraft.
"The inspections have forced us to reduce the number of aircraft, but we are still expecting 250 to 300 people," said Lt. Col. Brian Borgen, Hawgsmoke coordinator. "We will basically share the limited number of aircraft among the pilots from all the teams."
Air Force officials say the A-10 wing issue is representative of systemic problems for the aging Air Force fleet. It isn't the first airplane threatened by the inevitable weakening of metal subjected to continual flight stresses. The useful C-141 Starlifter transport suffered fatigue problems that limited the type's service ceiling at first and then finally resulted in the fleet being eliminated from service.
The A-10 is a ground-attack aircraft designed to support ground forces in combat. It can carry 16,000 pounds of ordnance and is equipped with a 30-mm cannon capable of punching through tank armor.
Maj. David Kurle of 442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs contributed to this story.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Elements of the 75th Fighter Squadron are currently deployed as 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram AB, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. This deployment is part of USAF's AEF 5/6 (Cycle 7) rotation (September - December 2008). The aircraft package of probably 12 A-10Cs left Moody AFB, Georgia, on September 8th, 2008. It is the squadron's first combat deployment out of Moody AFB, Georgia.
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft sit in a hangar prior to departure for a deployment here Sept. 8. The 75th Fighter Squadron is deploying from Moody AFB for the first time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany Barker)
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Four A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft sit at the end of the runway before take off here Sept. 8. The 75th Fighter Squadron is deploying from Moody AFB for the first time in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany Barker)
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- An A-10C Thunderbolt II pilot prepares to taxi out of the hangar while a crew chief watches here Sept. 8. The 75th Fighter Squadron is deploying from Moody AFB for the first time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany Barker)
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- An A-10C Thunderbolt II pilot prepares to taxi out of a hangar here Sept. 8. The 75th Fighter Squadron is deploying from Moody AFB for the first time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany Barker)
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- An A-10C Thunderbolt II pilot smiles at a crew chief before preparing to taxi out of the hangar here Sept. 8. The 75th Fighter Squadron is deploying from Moody AFB for the first time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany Barker)
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Mobility bags sit in a common room prior to the 75th Fighter Squadron's first deployment out of Moody AFB here Sept. 8. The A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft and personnel deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany Barker)
Maintainers respond to A-10 Grounding
ACC maintainers expedite TCTO actions
Already online are some related USAF shots:
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- After identifying structural cracks on thin skinned A-10s and A-10C Thunderbolt II models the Air Force has issued a systematic identification of certain affected airframes by corresponding tail number here Oct. 4. The inspection is necessary for the safety of aircrews and to bring our aging A-10 fleet back to health. The A-10 is a valuable asset to joint warfighters because of its unique capabilities to deliver precision-guided weapons at high altitudes and provide low altitude close air support. (U.S. Air Force Photo taken by SrA Javier Cruz)
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- After identifying structural cracks on thin skinned A-10s and A-10C Thunderbolt II models the Air force has issued a systematic identification of certain affected airframes by corresponding tail number here Oct. 4. The inspection is necessary for the safety of aircrews and to bring our aging A-10 fleet back to health. The A-10 is a valuable asset to joint warfighters because of its unique capabilities to deliver precision-guided weapons at high altitudes and provide low altitude close air support. (U.S. Air Force Photo taken by SrA Javier Cruz)
Thursday, October 9, 2008
September 22, 2008 11:37 AM
By Bill Devlin
They’re back home.
About 140 members of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard's 111th Fighter Wing returned to the Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Horsham on Saturday night after a two-month deployment in Afghanistan.
They had been stationed at the Bagram Air Field.
Capt. Christine E. Munch said six of the unit's A-10 Thunderbolt II fighters will arrive Tuesday afternoon, with another six A-10s and 50 troops arriving in the following days.
The 111th Fighter Wing’s mission in Afghanistan was to provide day and night air-to-surface support to ground units and conduct combat search and rescue.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
By Michael Strand
A decision by the U.S. Air Force to temporarily ground nearly a third of its A-10 fleet because of safety concerns will mean fewer aircraft and Air Force personnel at next week's "Hawgsmoke" bombing and gunnery competition to be held in Salina -- but the event will go on as planned.
The Air Force announced over the weekend it was grounding roughly a third of its A-10s after discovering a potentially dangerous cracking in the wings related to long-term metal fatigue.
The grounding affects about 130 of the 400 A-10s in the Air Force's operational inventory, said Maj. David Kurle, chief of public affairs for the 442nd Fighter Wing, which is based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. The 442nd is hosting the event, and decided to bring it to Salina this year.
"We're still doing Hawgsmoke," Kurle said Monday afternoon.
The Air Force ordered that all A-10s with the original "thin skin" wings be inspected and repaired, after finding an increase in wing cracking among the attack aircraft, which are designed to provide close support to ground troops. The aircraft, officially known as the Thunderbolt II, has been nicknamed the "Warthog" because of its ungainly appearance and sturdiness.
Because many of the A-10s won't be ready to fly next week, Kurle said, many pilots will end up sharing aircraft with wings not covered by the order.
Hawgsmoke organizers had expected about 70 A-10s from around the world to participate in the competition, Kurle said, but that is expected to be cut to 25 to 30 aircraft because of the inspection order.
Far fewer personnel, too
The total number of Air Force personnel, including not only pilots but also ground crews, will be about 250 to 300 -- instead of the 700 originally expected, Kurle said.
Sharing aircraft isn't unique, Kurle said. Air Force units in Germany and South Korea often have shared aircraft at Hawgsmoke competitions, rather than take the days required to fly their own back to the United States.
"It's a smart use of resources," Kurle said. "The plan is to share a lot more aircraft than we had."
The first A-10s entered service in 1975, and the oldest ones in the 442nd Fighter Wing are 30 years old, Kurle said.
The aircraft was designed to take heavy punishment and remain in the air, with titanium armor protecting the pilot and much of the flight systems. The armor is designed to protect the aircraft from armor-piercing and high-explosive projectiles up to 23 mm.
"When the Air Force builds an aircraft, they're looking at 10 years of life," Kurle said. "That they're still in use is a testament to our maintenance folks."
Thu 03:35 PM 10/02/2008
The Salina area will have a chance to see some of the best fighter pilots in the world up close and personal in a couple of weeks. Hawgsmoke 2008, a "Top Gun" type of combat air competition, will be based out of the Salina Municipal Airport October 14th through October 17th.
Hawgsmoke is a biennial bombing and tactical gunnery competition, and reunion of the A-10 Thunderbolt II community. Active duty, guard, and reserve squadrons from around the country, and the world, will compete.
The public is welcome to view the apron activity of Hawgsmoke 2008 during set viewing times and dates. Members of the public that would like to be admitted into the viewing area will need to pick up a pass at the M.J. Kennedy Air Terminal prior to Hawgsmoke. Passes are free and can be picked up in the main lobby of the Terminal building Monday, Oct. 6 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Tuesday, Oct. 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ; Wednesday, Oct. 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ; Thursday, Oct. 9 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. ; and Friday, Oct. 10 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The times that members of the public can view Hawgsmoke apron activity are Thursday, Oct. 16 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ; Friday, Oct. 17 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. ; Saturday, Oct. 18 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The gate to the public viewing area will be located just west of Arnold Court at 2734 Arnold Court.
The defending champions, who will be the hosts of the event in Salina, are the 442 Fighter Wing from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Literally hundreds of people, including pilots, crew, and spectators will converge on Salina. They will stay both at the barracks at the airport industrial area, and at Salina motels.