Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hawgsmoke 2008 to continue despite Air Force A-10 inspections

by Maj. David Kurle
442nd Fighter Wing public affairs

10/6/2008 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- "Hawgsmoke 2008," an A-10 bombing and gunnery competition scheduled Oct. 15 to 18 in Salina, Kan., will continue despite an Air Force time-compliance technical order (TCTO) requiring immediate inspection and repair of wing cracks in the A-10 fleet, which was issued Friday.

The issuance of a TCTO was prompted due to an increase in fatigue-related wing cracks currently occurring in A-10 aircraft Air Force-wide. The inspections will occur on A-10s with thin-skin wings, installed during original manufacture, to ensure the operational safety of the aircraft.

The inspection for wing cracks currently affects approximately 130 of the approximately 400 A-10s in the Air Force's operational inventory.

"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, 442nd Fighter Wing commander. "We are really looking forward to Hawgsmoke and would like to thank the community of Salina for their outstanding support throughout the planning stages."

"Safety is paramount and this TCTO will ensure we provide the safest possible aircraft to our A-10 pilots," he said. "We have plenty of aircraft to support Hawgsmoke and maintain the 442nd Fighter Wing's combat readiness."

The 442nd Fighter Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command unit based here, is playing host to the event, which will pit A-10 pilots and maintainers from across the Air Force to determine a single-unit "Hawgsmoke Champion." The event got its name from the A-10's nickname "warthog."

While the wing originally expected approximately 70 A-10 aircraft to attend the event, the inspections have reduced that number to between 25 and 30 airplanes. Organizers expect as many as 14 teams of pilots will compete.

"The TCTO inspections have forced us to reduce the amount 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."

The inspections are a necessary step in addressing the risk associated with A-10 wing cracking - specifically with thin-skin wings. This risk is of great concern to the Air Force and is representative of a systemic problem for the aging Air Force fleet.

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.

It is not known how long the inspections will take.


No comments:

Post a Comment