Thursday, October 22, 2009

A-10 Thunderbolt II in RED FLAG-Alaska

by Airman 1st Class Janine Thibault
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/20/2009 - EIELSON AFB, Alaska -- What the A-10 Thunderbolt II, from Osan AFB, Korea lacks in beauty, it makes up for in usefulness proving its worth over and over as it continues to provide the support necessary to accomplish combat missions.

Affectionately called the "Warthog" or simply "Hog" within the A-10 community, it does not pretend to be pageant material. The A-10 not only looks it but is a resilient as well as rugged aircraft.

The most recognizable feature on the A-10 is the large weapon mounted to the end of the nose, which the body of the Warthog was built around.

What makes the A-10 an essential asset to operations is its capability and effectiveness in rugged conditions. This is due to the survivability of the plane which lets it fly in inhospitable conditions thanks to redundant features.

During RED FLAG-Alaska, Staff Sgt. Justin Archer, a dedicated crew chief of the 51st Maintenance Squadron said, for the maintenance crew, the job does not change for RF-A. Every A-10 Airman performs their duties as expected as the job of the maintainers continues as it would in Osan AFB.

"The goal for the 51st AMXS/MXAA is to make sure the jets are flight worthy, fix what's broken, inspect and get the plane in the air on time," said Sgt. Archer in reference to the training they receive during RF-A.

The training they receive at RF-A come more from other maintainers as they share their experiences.

The Warthog has a unique purpose to fit its design. The build and features of the plane allows it to accomplish low flying combat search and rescue missions, close air support, interdiction attack, and escort fixed-winged aircrafts. The primary tasks of the A-10 are CSAR and CAS.

The Hog, although an older plane, has evolved with the times accordingly. The A-10 has flown in Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and continues to prove its worth still.

Capt. Rick Mitchell, an A-10 fighter pilot from the 25th Fighter Squadron, learned important lessons during the recent RF-A.

"You must have interoperability to be successful in flight. It really is one team, one fight. You need unity to be able to accomplish the operation successfully," he said.

He expanded on that key point saying, for the A-10 to be effective it needs support. It also needs to provide support to planes that need the capabilities of the Warthog. Teamwork goes beyond the U.S. Forces and he has seen this here at RF-A.

"Ultimately, the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force is also out there working with the United States Forces," he said to emphasize joint operations.

Whether the job is to get the A-10 into the sky on time and in working order, or to fly the plane and train, the A-10 Airmen brought added support to Red Flag and gained from its unique experiences.

Staff Sgt. Justin Archer, a dedicated crew chief from the 51st Maintenance Squadron in Osan AB, Republic of Korea, fixes a broken part from the A-10 Thunderbolt II behind him. Sergeant Archer, a Binghamton, N.Y. native has served in the Air Force for 12 years. Sergeant Archer and the other maintainers are on a tour of duty here at Eielson for the RED FLAG-Alaska exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janine Thibault) Hi-res


Related news photo releases:
25th Fighter Squadron A-10s participating in RED FLAG-Alaska 10-1

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