Monday, March 30, 2009

Ten years ago: A-10s participated in Operation Allied Force

By Joachim Jacob

It's the 10th anniversary of Operation Allied Force, which was a bombing campaign by NATO in the former Yugoslavia as a response to Slobodan Milosevic's military action in Kosovo. The Kosovo Air Campaign began on March 24, 1999, and ended on June 10, 1999. For first-hand info about related A-10 deployments and A-10 combat missions please check out this very informative online-book: A-10s over Kosovo - The Victory of Airpower over a Fielded Army as Told by the Airmen Who Fought in Operation Allied Force; edited by Christopher E. Haave, Colonel, USAF, and Phil M. Haun, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF; Air University Press, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, December 2003

Related links:
NATO Operation Allied Force (DoD)
NATO's role in Kosovo (NATO)
Operation Allied Force (AFSOUTH)
Operation Allied Force - Lessons for Future Coalition Operations (RAND)
Operation Allied Force (
Kosovo Imagery (
Operation Allied Force - NATO Air strikes against Yugoslavia (
1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia (Wikipedia)
Operation Allied Force: The Air Campaign (Air University Library)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A-10C 'OT' with Sniper XR pod caught at Nellis

A-10C 82-0658 from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron (422nd TES), photographed over Nellis AFB, Nevada, on March 25th, 2009. Loadout: LAU-131 rocked pod on station 2, 'golden' AGM-65 Maverick on station 3, Mk.82 Air Inflatable Retard (AIR) dumb bombs on stations 4, 5, 7 and 8, empty LAU-117 launch rail for a Maverick on station 9, Sniper XR targeting pod on station 10. (Photo by Bruce Smith) Hi-res

The AN/AAQ-33 Sniper XR is the latest targeting pod to be introduced to the A-10 Thunderbolt II. Some of first related shots were published in Jake Melampy's The Modern Hog Guide - The A-10 Warthog Exposed, Reid Air Publications, 2007.

Related info:
Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (Lockheed Martin)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

March ORE tested wing's capabilities

Dressed in chemical warfare protective clothing, a 442nd Fighter Wing A-10 Thunderbolt II crew chief salutes an A-10, and its pilot, as it taxis out for an operational readiness exercise mission during the wing's March 2009, unit training assembly. The 442nd FW, an Air Force Reserve Command unit based at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, used the exercise to train its members to be able to continue to operate in all warfare environments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington) Hi-res

by Staff Sgt. Kent Kagarise
442nd Fighter Wing

3/27/2009 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The 442nd Fighter Wing was tasked to fly 111 sorties in 48 hours during their Operational Readiness Exercise, March 13 and 14.

It was a mission with many obstacles and required the efforts of many Airmen to keep the A-10 Warthogs flying their scheduled missions.

The flight line was a busy place with various teams doing a variety of jobs to overcome the odds.

"We've been busy going back and forth to the bomb dump, but it's all coming together. We only have five drivers so we gotta keep moving," said Staff Sgt. Zachary Dryer, line driver.

Although the pressures of the job were high, weapons load teams found a way to cope.

"We just don't stop. You keep a steady pace. 111 sorties in 48 hours -- can we do it? I'd say we have a good chance," said Tech. Sgt. Randall Kennedy, loader.

"The way I see it we don't have a choice," he said. "We gotta make it happen -- right?"

Tech. Sgt. Scott Avery, another loader, talked about the camaraderie built during a training exercise of this magnitude.

"From our stand-point things are going great right now. I love this stuff," Sergeant Avery said. "It's stress, but its good stress when you're working with a lot of guys who all know their job."

Staff Sgt. Nick McRoberts, an A-10 crew chief working with the loaders, explained how things had been pretty easy without having to go to mission oriented protection posture level four but added that he expected MOPP four at any moment.

"111 sorties in 48 hours for some might sound absurd," Sergeant McRoberts said, "but it's attainable."

"Non-broke aircraft come to us and we get [them] back in the air as soon as possible. That's our mission to accomplish," Staff Sgt. Richard Fennewald, a weapons load crew member said, "There are times where a guy can lose track of time. We keep a pretty positive attitude along with a sense of urgency and have a lot of fun with it."

A few A-10 crew chiefs huddled together in heated simulated bunkers on the flight line and discussed the day's events.

"The stress hasn't been too bad yet, but it'll pick up, you can bet on that," Staff Sgt. Donald Johnston, A-10 crew chief, said. "I'm looking forward to the chemical attacks at any second. So far the weather's been our worst enemy, but the heater in here sure helps,"

No matter the MOPP level, the A-10 crews were ready to adapt and overcome all forms of adversity.

"If we are in MOPP four and actively engaged in a launch or recovery, we'll drive on until the job at hand is done and then head for a bunker," said Staff Sgt. Jason McLendon, A-10 crew chief.

"Keeping a positive mental attitude is very important so we joke around a lot. All things considered it's a full day so at the end of the day it's all about resting up for tomorrow,' Sergeant McLendon added.

Dressed in chemical warfare protective clothing while participating in an operational readiness exercise, Staff Sgt. Greg Guebert, a 442nd Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels specialist, unwinds a refueling hose to be attached to an 442nd Fighter Wing A-10 Thunderbolt II as crew chief, Tech. Sgt. Pete Melby, 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, waits by the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington) Hi-res

Covered in protective plastic while participating in a simulated chemical warfare exercise, a 303rd Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot leaves the flight line following a training mission during the 442nd Fighter Wing's unit training assembly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington) Hi-res

Driving a motorized bomb loader while participating in a simulated chemical warfare exercise, Tech. Sgt. Randall Kennedy, a 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew chief, raises an inert training bomb into position to be secured to an A-10 Thunderbolt II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington) Hi-res

While participating in a simulated chemical warfare exercise, Master Sgt. Ken McKee, a 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew member, signals to fellow crew member, Tech. Sgt. Randall Kennedy, as they move an inert training bomb to be secured to a 442nd Fighter Wing A-10 Thunderbolt II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Huntington) Hi-res


442nd Fighter Wing maintainer earns AF-level award

by Senior Master Sgt. Mark Mock
442nd Maintenance Squadron

3/27/2009 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Air Force reservist, Master Sgt. Brian Bass, a structural maintenance supervisor in the 442nd Fighter Wing's 442nd Maintenance Squadron, was recognized by the Air Force as he was awarded the "Hog Star" award, Jan. 27, at the annual World Wide Review conference held at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

The award was for a single individual of outstanding contribution to the overall improvement for the combined Air Force.

Sergeant Bass was requested by the A-10 Systems Program Office Engineering and the Chief of Air Combat Command to participate on three different validation/verifications for the center wing crack repair designs.

"I believe the reason I was selected is that the 442nd has continually been observed as the lead participant providing changes and improvement inputs to the SPO Engineering at Hill AFB," Sergeant Bass said. "Our involvement at A-10 product improvement working group conferences and for the new Boeing wing designs."

According to Sergeant Bass he was able to provide 30 years of field level experience and capability to the engineers that would normally not be visible to them.

"The 442nd never has been a unit to brag on themselves," Sergeant Bass said. "Our expertise and aircraft speak for themselves and always has.

Sergeant Bass, an Air Reserve Technician, was selected from nominees throughout the Guard, Reserve and active duty forces.

Master Sgt. Brian Bass, 442nd Maintenance Squadron, earned the Air Force's "Hog Star" award for outstanding contribution to the overall improvement for the combined Air Force. (Courtesy photo) Full size


Thursday, March 26, 2009

End of an era - The last A–10 leaves the 110th Fighter Wing

110th Fighter Wing members line up in the snow to watch the last A–10C jet, serial number 80-0258, take its final flight from the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base on Thursday, February 19, 2009. The jet will arrive to its new home, Selfridge Air National Guard Base joining the rest of the fleet which started leaving back in November. (Photo by Master Sgt. Dale Atkins - extracted from PDF file) Full size

Click to enlarge

By Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Stein

On the morning of Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009, the 110th Fighter Wing's last A–10C took off for Selfridge Air National Guard Base to serve with the 127th Wing. The departure of the aircraft, tail number 258, marked the end of an era at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base and the beginning of a new one for Selfridge. This particular A–10 had a lot of history with the 110th Fighter Wing as it lost part of an engine to an enemy missile during the 110th's 2003 deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Unlike the November fini–flights, and the upcoming farewell ceremony in July, the event was not attended by family and friends, local politicians or the media. It was just attended by those around the base who wanted to watch 18 years of history taxi out to the runway and make a final take off.

Col. Ronald Wilson, the 110th Operations Commander, was present with his new C–21 patch on the uniform, and while he is prepared for the new missions ahead it is hard to shake off around 3000 flying hours in the A–10 including close to four years of
active duty, and three major confl icts abroad with Kosovo, Iraq and most recently Afghanistan.

"Guys who fly the A–10 have a unique mission," said Colonel Wilson, "we provide close air support and no other aircraft can do as great a job." His fini-flight took place last November and he said that climbing out of the cockpit for the very last time was tough. "That flight was a quiet one with many of the pilots reflecting on their experience with the A–10" said Colonel Wilson.

The building that holds the 110th Operations Group is filled with A–10 memorabilia that includes models, pictures, the warthog mascot and more. As the C–21 gains more time on this base the A–10 related items will likely live on in a hallway somewhere in the building. There was talk of giving some of it to Selfridge, but it was determined they have their own memories to make.

The dining facility happens to hold a piece of 258. When the 110th Fighter Wing took the A–10 over to support Operation Iraqi Freedom, Maj. Gary Wolfe was piloting the aircraft when an enemy surface–to–air missile struck the engine. He managed to get the aircraft back to Talil Air Base and a small part of that moment is on display and will remain there now with the actual aircraft across the state.

When Battle Creek first received the A–10 Warthog in 1990, times were different. "The aircraft was camouflaged, nothing was digital, pilots were still looking at paper maps, and eventually things got upgraded from the A–10A to the A–10C," said Colonel Wilson.

"Battle Creek was the only unit to go to one theater of operation and move to another. We did this most recently when we were in Iraq for 10 days and found out we had a new mission in Afghanistan. We have done these three times and are the only unit to ever have done so," said Colonel Wilson.

As the last A–10 took off one might think it quietly closed the final chapter of a story and mission like no other, but the farewell ceremony coming up in July will give the A–10 the necessary dedication it deserves.

A–10C Pilot Major Shawn Holtz takes his final 'step' to the the last A–10C jet, serial number 80-0258, at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base. Major Holtz flew the aircraft to its new home, Selfridge Air National Guard Base on February 19th, 2009. (Photo by Master Sgt. Dale Atkins - extracted from PDF file)

Note: This news article appeared in 110th Fighter Wing's base newspaper Jetstream Journal, April 2009 public online PDF issue. Source

From my archives: Damaged A-10 80-0258 at Tallil AB, Iraq, in early 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo) Hi-res

Note: If I remember right, at least a second USAF shot of damaged A-10 80-0258 was released by USAF. Give me time to search my harddrive and the web to recover this close-up picture.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rare A-10 Thunderbolt II MXG special markings

A-10C 78-0633 from the 190th Fighter Squadron, 124th Wing (Idaho ANG), over Nellis AFB, Nevada, on March 4th, 2009. This Hog is special-marked 124 MXG which stays for 124th Maintenance Group (124th MXG), currently commanded by Col. Robert Park. But I'm surprised by the white shaddow, in contrast to the other markings which are only black. As the photographer told me, ID bird(s) were NOT involved in Red Flag 03-09 but were doing some other stuff out at the ranges. (Photo by André Jans) Full size

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

2009 Colonel James Jabara Award for Airmanship

Released today by 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Capt. Travis Burton, 81st Fighter Squadron, poses for a photo in front of A-10 79-0207 after he distinguished himself through heroic actions while serving as A-10 flight lead at Bagram AB, Afghanistan. For his actions, Captain Burton earned the 2009 Colonel James Jabara Award for Airmanship. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Natividad) Hi-res

According to EXIF data, this picture was already taken on 25 January 2008.

According to the original captions, the following three associated pictures were taken at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, as Capt. Travis Burton prepares for flight on March 20th, 2009. In contrast, EXIF data shows 02 January 2008. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Staci Miller)

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Hi-res Hi-res Hi-res


Note: Elements from the 81st Fighter Squadron and support personnel were recently deployed with 13 aircraft (including 81-0207) as 81st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron to Bagram AB, Afghanistan, for Operation Enduring Freedom as part of USAF's AEF 1/2 (Cycle 7) rotation (January - April 2008).

See: A-10 Units of Operation Enduring Freedom

Background info:

March 13, 2009

The United States Air Force Academy is proud to announce that two graduates have won the 2009 Colonel James Jabara Award for Airmanship.

[...] Captain Travis A. Burton, class of 2000, distinguished himself through heroic actions on 24 February 2008, while serving as A-10 flight lead assigned to the 81st Fighter Squadron, 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem AB, Germany. On that night, he was tasked to provide close air support for a coalition forces convoy in the vicinity of Sangular Ghar, Afghanistan. The convoy was taking heavy and accurate small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenade fire from the enemy. Captain Burton quickly coordinated with other A-10 aircraft, F-15E aircraft and an unmanned aerial vehicle to assess the situation and formulate a plan. Rugged landscape and deteriorating weather made the task more difficult. Over the next 90 minutes, Captain Burton and other aviators repeatedly struck enemy positions until enemy fire waned. [...]


Related links:
The Jabara Award for Airmanship (Association of Graduates, United States Air Force Academy)
Jabara Award (Wikipedia)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Preparing for flight

Relased today by 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs:

Airman 1st Class Christopher Snodgrass, 81st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, performs a walk-around inspection of A-10 Thunderbolt II 81-0980 from the 81st on March 18th, 2009. The pre-flight inspection is done to ensure that there are no problems with the aircraft before take-off. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nicholas Wilson) Hi-res

Staff Sgt. Katherine Andrews, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, pulls chalks from an A-10 Thunderbolt II during a pre-flight inspection on March 18th, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st class Nicholas Wilson) Hi-res


Friday, March 20, 2009

75th EFS got more than four replacements, probably eight

By Joachim Jacob

As Warthog News reported, in September 2008 twelve Moody A-10Cs deployed with the 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron to Bagram AB, Afghanistan, for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) as part of USAF's AEF 5/6 (Cycle 7) rotation (September - December 2008).

Originally, the 75th EFS deployed with twelve A-10Cs. All of these aircraft are verified by private shots taken during their stopover at Lajes Field, Azores, and partially also by USAF photos.

78-0674, 74th FS (marked 74 FS)
78-0679, 75th FS
78-0697, 74th FS
79-0138, 75th FS
79-0172, 74th FS
79-0179, 74th FS
79-0186, 75th FS
79-0192, 74th FS
80-0140, 74th FS
80-0149, 75th FS
80-0178, 74th FS
80-0226, 74th FS

After the A-10 groundings due to wing cracks, Moody AFB officially deployed four additional aircraft as replacements to allow relocate jets of the original aircraft package to Spangdahlem AB, Germany, for inspections and repairs.

In a commentary, published on Moody’s public website on November 21th, 2008, Col. Kenneth Todorov, 23rd Wing Commander, said:

"I want to extend my personal thanks to each of you for your participation in Exercise Flying Tiger 08-11. During the Phase I portion we deployed over 300 personnel, 300+ tons of cargo, four real-world A-10C Thunderbolt II aircrafts for Operation Enduring Freedom, and one real-world HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter to support the Space Shuttle launch. […]"


According to the Scramble Message Board, these four aircraft (probably all from the 74th Fighter Squadron) arrived for stopover at Lajes Field, Azores, on October 22nd, 2008, one day later as expected. They should have landed at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, as Trend 41 on October 29th, 2008.

Part of this flight were at least:

79-0135, 74th FS [USAF photo 7 November 2008]
80-0272, 74th FS [USAF photo 7 November 2008]

On November 22nd, 2008, on the Scramble Message Board was posted that four more A-10s routed Lajes, Sigonella and Middle East (that means Al Udeid AB, Qatar) as more replacements for the 75th EFS.

After that, three more replacements were identified:

80-0144, 74th FS [USAF photo 2 December 2008]
80-0228, 74th FS [USAF photo 24 February 2009] (aircraft identified only by numbers on ejection seat and left canopy rail)
80-0252, 75th FS [USAF photo 24 February 2009]

Meanwhile, a sixth and a seventh replacement are identified by private shots, posted on

82-0657, 74th FS [Chris Hagstrom photo 12 December 2008]
81-0944, without unit markings (ex 190th FS, 124th Wg, Idaho ANG) [Chris Hagstrom photo 14 December 2008] Scramble Aircraft Database notes: Ogden ALC sep07 nm, rep AMARG nov08

On March 11th, 2009, on the Scramble Message Board was posted that 4 A-10s are at Sigonella and will depart early next day to Lajes and then to CONUS on March 13th.

The re-deployment of four A-10s suggest that Bagram AB was simply overloaded with 20 A-10Cs, 18 F-15E Strike Eagles, probably four to six EA-6B Prowlers and some other aircraft.

I still want to verify the eighth replacement A-10C by serial number. Anybody who can/will help me?

A-10C 79-0179, callsign Hawg 63, from the 74th Fighter Squadron moves into precontact to a tanker over Afghanistan on December 21th, 2008. This aircraft deployed with the original 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron aircraft package. (Photo by Chris Hagstrom) Hi-res

Replacement A-10C 82-0657, callsign Hawg 61, from the 74th Fighter Squadron departs from a tanker after taking gas over Afghanistan on December 12th, 2008. (Photo by Chris Hagstrom) Hi-res

Replacement A-10C 81-0944 departs from a tanker after taking gas over eastern Afghanistan on December 14th, 2008. The aircraft, formerly assigned to the 190th Fighter Squadron, 124th Wing, Idaho ANG, still wears no new unit markings and also no shark mouth nose painting. (Photo by Chris Hagstrom) Hi-res

Special thanks to Chris Hagstrom for permission to post his pictures on my blog!

Reworking The A-10 Wing

By Jerome Greer Chandler

Overhaul & Maintenance
March 19th, 2009

If you have any questions as to the worth of the A-10 Thunderbolt II (a.k.a. Warthog), just ask the soldiers in Wanat, an impossibly mountainous region of Afghanistan. They were fighting for their lives this past July. U.S. Air Force A-10s and other craft flew into a river valley near the place and laid down withering fire, helping hold back the opposition until U.S. troops could evacuate their wounded.

Absent the rugged, "low 'n slow" Hog, what was a very bad day for these men could have turned out far, far worse.

The Hog has been integral to close-air-support missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the venerable aircraft (first operationally deployed in March 1976) has begun to show its age.

The problem areas were located on the underside of the wings, in the landing gear area just outboard of where the gear attaches to the wing. "[They're] in the skin," said Lt. Col. Jim Marx, deputy commander of the 538th Aircraft Sustainment Group at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. "It's in what we would describe as the 'aft lower skin' of the wing," said Marx, specifically near the center panels of the landing gear trunnions.

Taking no chances with the welfare of its warfighters, the Air Force originally grounded a full 145 of the 356 A-10s in its active inventory. When this interview was conducted in late January--four to five months into repairs--the number of aircraft whose duty-time was limited had plummeted. "We're down to 55 [aircraft] that are on flight hour limitation," said Lt. Col. Dave Ruth, the A-10's weapon system team chief at Air Combat Command headquarters in Langley, Va.

The A-10s still are flying, and the nature of their missions hasn't changed. They can still get in low 'n slow, still sling armor-piercing shells via their potent 30-mm GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling gun. The Air Force says it didn't want to impose g-loading restrictions on the Hog, didn't want its pilots to second-guess the capabilities of the airplane when things get hot.

What the Air Force did want to do was get as many of the airplanes repaired as quickly as possible and back in the fight. That's imperative, because the 356 aircraft currently in the inventory represent just about half of the 715 Warthogs that have been built. Consider further that as of this writing some 240 of those 356 are actually flying (the rest are in various stages of repair), and the urgency of the challenge is apparent. Despite the advent of newer, sleeker aircraft, none of them possess the close-air-support capabilities of the ineffably ugly A-10.

The Longevity Equation

The cumulative current rigors of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom today, and Desert Storm two decades ago, have put lots of wear on Warthog airframes. "The high-time airframe is right around 12,000 hrs.," said Master Sgt. Steve Grimes, headquarters Air Combat Command maintenance liaison with the Systems Program Office. "The low-time life is just under 3,000 hrs." On average, Warthogs have racked up around 8,800 flight hrs,, about half the current life expectancy of 16,000 hrs.

Pushing these airplanes through the repair process is imperative. Marx declined to say how much the work will cost, but he does offer an idea of when it will be finished. "We started repairs in the August 2008 timeframe," he said. "We expect that by the summer of 2009 we'll have everything completed."

The Fix

Marx said the repair process--start to finish--takes "several hundred [man]hours to complete." That's because of where the cracks are located. "As you can imagine," he said, "to get to the wing skin in [that] area we have to take a considerable number of panels away, and we have to remove the landing gear and some other structure to get to the wing skin we need to look at."

Getting there is half the fun, but you've got to be small to really enjoy it. In this instance, "it" is the "Hell Hole," a claustrophobically compressed area that offers access to the cracks in question. "It's not a very nice place to be," said Capt. Kristen Shadden, operations officer for the 571st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Hill AFB.

But it is the best way to get at the problem.

Through the classic process of continuous improvement, the U.S. Air Force doesn't sequester its successes, doesn't silo maintenance techniques that work best. At Hill, Shadden said maintainers actually were removing the outer wings to get at the work area. Down at the Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., they were going at it via the Hell Hole. It's "just above the landing gear," said Shadden. "You can open up a couple of panels in the wing and just fit in a small human being."

Davis-Monthan is one of four prime sites where the Air Force is executing the fixes. The others are Hill, a location in Europe, and Korean Airlines in the Republic of South Korea.

After talking with their counterparts at Davis-Monthan, Hill maintainers decided to switch approaches. The Hell Hole was in, and wing removal out. In making the change, "We went from 29 workdays to 14," said Shadden.

Access achieved, it's time to make the repair. Preceding all of this, of course, is non-destructive testing, non-destructive inspection. Marx said, "That's going to tell you whether you have a crack, and how significant the cracks are." At that point, the roster of options ranges from reaming the skin to implanting repair plates.

"We NDI with a surface probe," said Hill sheet metal mechanic Dan Wright. "If there's a crack indicated, we continue to grind [it] out until it's totally gone." In this case, the flaw is just skin-deep. "We're not getting into the spar or any other stiffeners or structure," said Wright.

If the crack is a large one, a 6-in. by 14-in. doubler does the deed. "It's meant to relieve stress where the cracking is happening," said Marx, "and better distribute the load as the aircraft continues its mission."

This portion of the process takes 50-60 man-hours, said Wright. That encompasses performing the cutout, drilling the plate, and working with the machine shop to shim up the trunnion, the area at which the main landing gear mount attaches to the belly of the aircraft. "We're running into some trunnion issues," said the sheet metal mechanic. "With the doubler, you're changing the height of the trunnion where you're going to re-attach [the landing gear]. We have to re-shim to get proper height for the landing gear to be aligned properly."

Clearly, this is no cut and paste job. As Marx said, the whole process consumes hundreds of man-hours.

To get it to consume less, the Air Force is milking continuous improvement for all it's worth. Going in through the Hell Hole rather than removing outer wings was the biggest process improvement.

But there are others. Shadden said one of the most effective things was to issue pagers to both supervisory and critical members of the Hill A-10 wing crack team. That did away with a lot of the endemic "hurry-up and wait" nature of running an MRO operation.

"We give them a 30-minute page [as] to when they're going to be needed on the aircraft," said Shadden. The page identifies the tail number "so that they can be [here] as soon as the previous skill is finished working on that aircraft."

Another relatively mundane, but eminently sensible measure was to requisition a dedicated government vehicle to move maintainers between tasks. "We had a lot of mechanics who were basically just beating the pavement, and walking back and forth between different areas to get parts," said Shadden.

"Looking for opportunities to take waste out of the process" can be exactingly site-specific, she indicates. At Hill, "we have people who are in different buildings. There can be movement issues. Other places, like Tinker [Air Force Base] has some co-located efforts. They may not have that problem."

One problem the Air Force sought to short-circuit from the get-go was moving aircraft back and forth between operational areas and rear-echelon depots for maintenance. The idea is to perfuse as much of the fix as possible out into the field, to train--and equip--front-line maintainers to do the job as far forward as feasible. None of these moves is rocket science. But they are anchored in the rock-solid realization that the A-10 is at this precise point-in-time perhaps the indispensable warfighting aircraft out there.

Operational readiness matters for all military flying machines. But if you take a poll among infantrymen on the ground, those who pray for the A-10's ugly silhouette to save the day, you'd be hard-pressed to find a machine that matters more than the Hog.

Photo credit: Billy Arrowood/U.S. Air Force

This article appeared in Overhaul & Maintenance's March 2009 issue.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Heritage Flight Conference 2009 photo report

By Joachim Jacob, André Jans, Chris Janes, John Bezosky and Brian Emch / SoCal Airshow Review

(If I get permissions from other photographers, this report will be further updated with additional pictures. Latest update: 23 March 2009 [J.J.])

From March 4th to 8th, Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona, hosted Air Combat Command's annual Heritage Flight Conference. This event allows civilian and military pilots to train together in preparation for the spring and summer air show seasons.

The historic aircraft that flew in this year's HFC included the P-51 Mustang, A-1 Skyraider, F-4 Phantom II, P-40 Warhawk, and F-86 Sabre. The modern ACC flying demonstration aircraft included the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the F-15C Eagle, the F-15E Strike Eagle, the F-16C Fighting Falcon and the F-22A Raptor.

Approximately 300 people showed up on the designated flying days - Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The A-10C Thunderbolt II demo aircraft for the 2009 season are:

A-10 East Demonstration Team:
79-0213 and 79-0223, both from the 74th Fighter Squadron, 23rd Fighter Group, 23rd Wing, Moody AFB, Georgia. 79-0223 is the 23rd FG flagship. As a demo aircraft, 79-0213 is also special-marked '23 FG'.

A-10 West Demonstration Team:
78-0712 and 79-0209, both from the 357th Fighter Squadron, 355th Fighter Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. 78-0712 is the 355th FW flagship. As a demo aircraft, 79-0209 is also special-marked '355 FW'.

As usual, all four demo jets have chromed gun muzzles.

A-10C 79-0213 from the 74th Fighter Squadron is temporary marked 23 FG only because it's the 2009 A-10 East Demo Team back-up aircraft. This close-up view is extracted from a formation flight shot, already posted in one of the news linked below. (U.S. Air Force photo by by Senior Airman Noah R. Johnson) Hi-res

A-10C 79-0223 from the 74th Fighter Squadron (marked 23 FG as 23rd Fighter Group flagship) lands after Saturday's demo. (Photo by André Jans) Full size

A-10 East pilot Capt. Johnnie "Dusty" Green prepares for take-off for Friday's demo in A-10C 79-0213. Crew inscriptions: Pilot Lt Col Rob Sweet, DCC SSGT Eric Oberg, ACC SrA Travis Roseman. (Photo by André Jans)

One of the 'Flying Tigers' special-decorated travel pods besides A-10C 79-0223. (Photo by André Jans)

Capt. Paul "Harb" Brown from A-10 West after his Friday's demo. (Photo by André Jans)

Proud A-10 West crew chief A1C Maura Gillis. Her Hog is in the background. (Photo by André Jans) Full size

One of the two A-10 East aircraft with some 355th Fighter Wing A-10s in shelters in the background. (Photo by André Jans) Full size

A-10C 78-0712 from the 357th Fighter Squadron flies in formation with an A-1 Skyraider during Sunday's demo. (Photo by Chris Janes) Full size

A-10C from the 74th Fighter Squadron flies in formation with F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-4 Phantom and P-40 Warhawk during Sunday's demo. (Photo by Chris Janes) Full size

A-10 West pilot Capt. Paul "Harb" Brown putting A-10C 78-0712 from the 357th Fighter Squadron thru the paces during Sunday's demo. (Photo by Chris Janes) Full size

A-10 East pilot Capt. Johnnie "Dusty" Green after his Sunday's demo in A-10C 79-0223, the 23rd Fighter Group's flagship. Crew inscriptions: Pilot: Col Michael O'Dowd DCC: SSgt David Clifford ACC: SrA Ken Butler; Canopy rail inscription: Tiger One. Col. Michael S. O'Dowd (called 'Tiger One') is the current 23rd Fighter Group commander (since July 27th, 2007). (Photo by Chris Janes) Full size

Saturday morning: A-10Cs 79-0223, 79-0209 and 78-0712 on the ramp. (Photo by John Bezosky) Hi-res

Saturday, about noon: All four demo A-10Cs for the 2009 airshow season are lined-up on the ramp. From left: 79-0213 and 79-0223 from A-10 East, 79-0209 and 78-0712 from A-10 West. Visible far left in the background are the two demo F-22A Raptors. (Photo by John Bezosky) Hi-res

Saturday, about noon: A-10C 78-0712 on the ramp. Hi-res

Saturday afternoon: A-10C 79-0213 is parked while A-10C 79-0209 leaves the ramp for the runway. (Photo by John Bezosky) Hi-res

Saturday afternoon, one hour later: A P-40 Warhawk is towed while A-10C 78-0712 sits in the background. Hi-res

Warthog Row on Friday. From left: A-10Cs 79-0213, 79-0223, 79-0209 and 78-0712. (Copyright 2009 / Brian Emch) Full size

The Warthog's business end. A-10C 79-0213. (Copyright 2009 / Brian Emch) Full size

A-10C 79-0223 and P-40 Warhawk during Friday's demo. (Copyright 2009 / Brian Emch) Hi-res

A-10C 79-0213 going inverted during Saturday's demo. (Copyright 2009 / Brian Emch) Full size

A-10C 79-0213 banks over Irvington during Saturday's demo. (Copyright 2009 / Brian Emch) Full size

A-10C 79-0209 in formation flight with F-4 Phantom II and F-15E Strike Eagle during Saturday's demo. (Copyright 2009 / Brian Emch) Hi-res

Same formation, seconds later. (Copyright 2009 / Brian Emch) Hi-res

Special thanks to André Jans (The Netherlands), Chris Janes (Tucson, Arizona), John Bezosky (Tucson, Arizona) and Brian Emch (Antelope Valley, California) for sharing their pictures!

See also:
D-M hosts Heritage Flight Conference
A-10 Thunderbolt II Demo Teams Schedule for 2009 (First Update)
Up-close tours for base personnel scheduled during annual Heritage Flight"
A-10 Thunderbolt II Demo Teams Schedule for 2009
A-10 East Coast Demo Team prepares for 2009 season

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pa. delegates seek aircraft transfer delay

Willow Grove Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania (Satellite photo via Google Earth)

By Lou Sessinger
Bucks County Courier Times

March 11, 2009 01:10 AM

Members of Congress want the Air Force to reconsider the future of the 111th Fighter Wing.

Pennsylvania's members of Congress have asked the Pentagon to delay the planned transfer of the Air National Guard's aircraft from the Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Horsham.

In a letter Monday to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the state's congressional delegation, including Sens. Arlen Specter and Bob Casey, urged him to delay the distribution of the wing's 17 A-10s beginning as early as April and continuing into next year.

The lawmakers are asking for the delay to give the Air Force time to reconsider the future of the unit.

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted in 2005 to close the air station, but Pennsylvania plans to convert Willow Grove into a joint base for homeland security and emergency preparedness.

The letter tells Gates, "We strongly believe that taking the A-10s from the 111th Fighter Wing is premature and ill-advised."

The BRAC Commission didn't require any particular timetable for the redistribution, the letter points out. The commission also directed that the Air Force should "maintain the end strength" of the 111th, "but the loss of the unit's flying mission will result in loss of up to 80 full-time jobs and 140 military positions. Finally, the pending action completely overlooks the BRAC Commission's finding that strongly encouraged the Air Force to keep A-10s at the 111th Fighter Wing."

Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, who spearheaded the initiative to request the delay, said on Tuesday that she was hopeful the request to Gates would produce the desired results.

"I don't know how Secretary Gates will receive it, but I hope he will take it seriously that the state's entire delegation signed it."

She hopes the Air Force will take the time to reassess its position on stripping the 111th of its aircraft and understand that keeping the wing with its planes at Willow Grove would be important to the base's future role as a center for homeland security and emergency preparedness.

The letter calls the removal of the A-10 a "serious mistake" and that the decision to do so was based on an assumption that the air base wouldn't be in operation after the Navy leaves in 2011.

But legislation adopted since then provided that it become a joint interagency installation under state jurisdiction that will include an operational airfield.

"It makes no sense to strip this unit of its aircraft and reduce its capabilities at a time when our nation and commonwealth need them most. We are asking that you issue an order delaying the start of the movement of A-10s from the 111th Fighter Wing. This action will give the Air Force the opportunity to reassess the capabilities of the Horsham Joint Interagency Installation and to consider alternative future flying missions for this unit."

Mike McGee, Horsham manager and administrator of the Horsham Land Reuse Authority, said that his organization still has a concern that, if the airfield remains open, that it be used for its stated purpose of providing for homeland security and emergency preparedness, "and certainly the Air National Guard fits that definition."

"But there are two sides of me," McGee said. "We did fight to save the base, but if the federal government is going to keep a runway open for 17 aircraft, I'll be interested to see how the Department of Defense spends my tax money."


Copy links:
Courier Times (March 11, 2009 01:10 AM)
The Intelligencer (March 11, 2009 01:40 AM)

Already on March 10th, 2009, the "Examiner" published the following Associated Press (AP) news:

Lawmakers urge delay of Pa. base's A-10 aircraft

Mar 10, 2009 4:35 PM

WASHINGTON - Pennsylvania members of Congress are asking the Pentagon to delay the planned transfer of National Guard aircraft from the Willow Grove military base in suburban Philadelphia.

All of the state's House members joined senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey in signing a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday. They urged him to delay the distribution of a total of 17 A-10 aircraft from the 111th Fighter Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.

The lawmakers are asking for the delay to give the Air Force time to reconsider the future of the unit.

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted in 2005 to close the air station, but the state wants to convert Willow Grove into a joint base for homeland security and emergency preparedness.


KYW Newsradio 1060 reported:

Push Continues to Save Willow Grove Naval Air Station

by KYW's Pat Loeb
Posted: Tuesday, 10 March 2009 10:13PM

Pennsylvania's entire congressional delegation is asking the Pentagon to keep National Guard planes at Willow Grove Naval Air Station. It's part of a strategy to keep the base operating:

All of the state's house members and both senators signed a letter to Defense secretary Robert Gates, asking him not to transfer the A-10 aircraft out of Willow Grove.

The lawmakers want to delay the distribution of the 17 planes at the base, in hopes that the Pentagon will reconsider closing the base.

Congressman Patrick Murphy says the base is actually a model for military efficiency:

"At a time when our military needs to act in a joint capacity, that means marines, army, navy, air force, all working together, the naval air base there is exactly a testament of what we need and it will actually save money in the long run."

Murphy supports making Willow Grove a joint base for homeland security and military preparedness.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Support from the Sky

(Released today on 455th Air Expeditionary Wing's public website)

3/12/2009 - Lt. Col. Sam Milam, 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander, and Capt. Jozsef Jonas, a 75th EFS pilot, pose for a photo after completing a close air support mission that helped save lives of coalition troops in southern Afghanistan on February 20th, 2009. The 75th EFS was deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, to provide close air support to ground troops and convoys as they tried to improve the quality of life for the Afghan people. Captain Jonas, a Hungarian immigrant who is the son of a Soviet tank driver, flies the A-10 Thunderbolt II "tank killer" for the U.S. Air Force. Colonel Milam also flies the A-10 and recently completed a mission that logged more than 10,000 combat flight hours - a historic milestone for the unit deployed here since last fall. The two pilots, who were deployed here from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, returned home this week after the 75th EFS completed its six-month rotation. The unit was replaced by its sister squadron, the 74th Fighter Squadron, which is also from Moody AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo) Hi-res


Loadout notes: SUU-25 Flare Dispenser (for night operations) on station 3, LAU-68/131 rocked pod on station 2.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

81st Fighter Squadron credited for providing critical CAS in Afganistan

By Joachim Jacob

According to latest USAF news, the 81st Fighter Squadron, 52nd Fighter Wing (USAFE), Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, is "indirect" credited for providing critical close-air support (CAS) during an intense 6,5-hour battle in Shok Valley, Afghanistan, on April 6th, 2008. At that time, elements of the 81st Fighter Squadron with 13 A-10s (79-0207, 80-0281, 81-0945, 81-0951, 81-0952, 81-0963, 81-0966, 81-0976, 81-0978, 81-0983, 81-0984, 81-0992, 82-0649) were deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing (455th AEW) at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, as part of USAF's AEF 1/2 (Cycle 7) rotation (January - April 2008).

Please, at first let me post the latest news. During the next couple of days I will add some related archives news.

Related news articles:

Combat controller receives Air Force Cross, Purple Heart

by Tech. Sgt. Amaani Lyle
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Office

3/11/2009 - POPE AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. (AFNS) -- Tears stood in Sue Rhyner's eyes as she talked about her son, who, in a ceremony March 10 here received the Air Force Cross, the highest military decoration awarded by the service, and a Purple Heart.

Staff Sgt. Zachary Rhyner of the 21st Special Tactics Squadron from Pope Air Force Base, N.C., received the medal for uncommon valor during Operation Enduring Freedom before a crowd of hundreds dotted with combat controllers' red berets.

The decoration is second only to the Medal of Honor, and is awarded by the president.

"This is overwhelming. I couldn't be prouder," Ms. Rhyner said. "Zac is part of an awesome group of individuals who personify teamwork; something he learned early on being one of five children."

Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley presented Sergeant Rhyner the Air Force Cross for his actions during an intense 6.5-hour battle in Shok Valley, Afghanistan, April 6, 2008. The Air Force has not awarded the decoration in more than six years.

"Your actions are now and forever woven into the rich fabric of service, integrity and excellence that has connected generations of America's Airmen since the very inception of airpower," Secretary Donley said to Sergeant Rhyner.

"Rarely do we present an Airman with the Air Force Cross, let alone a Purple Heart, and with good reason. The Air Force Cross is reserved for those who demonstrate unparalleled valor in the face of insurmountable odds."

Secretary Donley added that among the millions who have served, only 192 Air Force Crosses have been awarded.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz also presented Sergeant Rhyner with the Purple Heart. General Schwartz said special forces Soldiers lived to tell the story of the Shok Valley battle thanks to the courage, tenacity, teamwork, as well as the invaluable and selfless efforts of Sergeant Rhyner.

Despite injuries he sustained as the result of persistent insurgent fire, Sergeant Rhyner coordinated more than 50 aerial attacks to continuously repel the enemy during the beleaguering battle that occurred during his first deployment. According to the decoration citation, Sergeant Rhyner "provided suppressive fire with his M-4 rifle against enemy fire while fellow teammates were extracted from the line of fire."

"The team survived this hellish scene ... not by chance, not by luck and not by the failings of a weak or timid foe," General Schwartz said.

The general spoke emotionally and with gratitude for the team's devotion to duty and courage in the line of fire.

"A grateful nation could not be more proud for what you do and no doubt what you will do," the general said.

Lt. Col. Michael Martin, the 21st STS commander, echoed the efforts of Sergeant Rhyner and the aviators from above.

"Zac -- systematically with (F-15E) Strike Eagles, A-10 (Thunderbolt IIs) and AH-64 (Apaches) -- unleashed hell on the enemy," Colonel Martin said. "The enemy had the proverbial high ground that day on those mountain ridge lines, but it was the aviators in the sky who truly held the highest ground."

Colonel Martin credited the 335th Fighter Squadron from Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., and the 81st Fighter Squadron from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, for providing critical close-air support during the battle. Sergeant Rhyner's demonstration of teamwork among his colleagues and flying units was the linear theme of the ceremony.

For the same battle, an unprecedented 10 special forces Soldiers received Silver Stars, the Army's third highest award for valor in combat.

"It all boils down to teamwork," Colonel Martin said to Sergeant Rhyner. "You did exactly what you get paid to do -- kill the enemy -- and you did a damned good job."

Perhaps Sergeant Rhyner's heroism is bested only by his humility.

"Any other combat controller in the same position would've done just what I did," said the NCO who was a senior airman at the time of the battle.

Sergeant Rhyner's father, Paul Rhyner, said he now has only one expectation for his son and other special forces members in future missions.

"Come home safe; all of you," the elder Rhyner said.


Strike Eagles protect ground forces in massive firefight

by Staff Sgt. Shawn J. Jones
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/5/2009 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Ten Soldiers who earned silver stars and an Airman who will receive an Air Force Cross March 10 might not be alive today if it were not for 4th Fighter Wing Airmen providing crucial close-air support during an assault on an insurgent stronghold in Afghanistan's Shok Valley last year.

A 130-man assault force of American and Afghan soldiers was flown into the valley by CH-47 Chinook helicopters April 6, 2008, with a mission to capture a top insurgent target who had been funding the insurgency.

As the assault force assembled near a riverbed in the valley's rocky terrain, two 335th Fighter Squadron F-15E Strike Eagles soared above, providing cover and hunting for potential threats from the insurgents' mountainside village stronghold.

Capt. Prichard Keely, a weapons system officer from the 335th FS here, maintained constant communication with the assault force on the ground as they moved upriver and tried to assess how they would enter the stronghold.

Using the Strike Eagle's high-fidelity targeting pods, he could see the insurgents preparing to attack.

"I could see people with weapons moving around on top of the houses," Captain Keely said.

The view provided by the Strike Eagle's targeting pod and vantage point was useful for more than just identifying threats.

"They asked me to get them the best route of ingress from the riverbed to the village itself," he said. "I chose the terrain that was least exposed to enemy gunfire and the easiest point of ingress, while avoiding the most mountain climbing."

A small group broke off from the main assault force and proceeded along the suggested route. They made it up a few of the mountain's terraces, when he saw a muzzle flash at a village window followed by one from the small group on the terrace, the captain said.

A firefight erupted with gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades screaming down from the stronghold at the group on the terrace and the main assault force still in the valley.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Rhyner, a joint terminal air controller, was on the terrace. As a JTAC (pronounced jay-tac) and combat controller, his duty is to work alongside the assault force and coordinate air strikes from the ground. As his group was pinned down by enemy gunfire, Sergeant Rhyner called upon airpower to buy the team some time to finish the objective and return the injured to safety.

Sergeant Rhyner requested airstrikes that are considered danger-close, which means the small team of Soldiers on the terrace was not a safe distance away from the target area and could possibly get hurt.

At that point, the captain said "It just got very real."

Additionally, while the main assault force was just within the safe zone of the danger-close air strikes, they were positioned below the target area, which means falling rock and other debris would become a significant hazard.

Releasing ordnance that could harm American servicemembers and allied Afghans presented a moral challenge for Captain Keely.

"It was pretty overwhelming, but you just take a deep breath and do exactly what you are trained to do," he said. "We knew it needed to happen, and we knew it was one of the only ways they were going to make it out of there."

Fighter jets weren't the only aircraft providing close air support. While Sergeant Rhyner coordinated air strikes with the Strike Eagles, Staff Sgt. Rob Gutierrez, another Air Force JTAC with the main assault force, called in airstrikes from Army AH-64 Apache helicopters. After nearly an hour of fighting, two A-10 Warthogs also arrived. Captain Keely said communication between the various aircraft and between the air and ground forces was executed well, which significantly contributed to the mission.

"It was a fully integrated Army-Air Force joint-air attack team," he said.

Combined firepower from the assault force and the aircraft allowed the terrace team to return to the main assault force, though several had been hit by enemy gunfire.

"It was pretty intense," he said. "It was one of the most intense things I have ever experienced, knowing that those guys are getting shot at and knowing there are only a couple of things I can do to try to help them."

Captain Keely, his pilot Major James Scheideman, 335th FS, and their Wingman remained in the fight for three hours, receiving in-air refueling twice, before being relieved by two other Strike Eagle aircrews. While the peak of the fight had passed, it was difficult for the captain to leave before it was truly over.

"We had run out of gas, and we had run out of munitions," he said. "You just wish there was one more thing you could do to keep those guys safe."

By the end of the fight, between 150 and 200 insurgents were killed, according to reports. Numerous American and Afghan ground forces were injured and two Afghans were killed, but without airpower and the aircrew putting needed bombs on target, there could have been countless more.

While Captain Keely said he was most impressed by the heroism of the ground forces that day in Shok Valley, he acknowledges the results would have been much different had airpower not delivered.

"I think there would have been significantly more losses," he said.

Sergeant Rhyner echoed the captain's sentiments.

"I think the situation would have been a lot worse had we not had airpower," Sergeant Rhyner said.

The captain said the Strike Eagle performed admirably. The multi-role fighter jet was designed to excel in fighting environments like Shok Valley. Its ability to carry more ordnance than any other fighter jet combined with its large fuel capacity make the Strike Eagle an ideal weapon for the prolonged close-air support mission.

Having two crew members also offers significant advantages over single-seat fighter jets.

"Task management is really a huge advantage," he said.

The pilot can concentrate on flying, while the weapons systems officer can communicate with ground forces and other aircraft, or both can communicate simultaneously. The captain said splitting task management was particularly useful when his Strike Eagle required an in-air refuel during the fight.

"I can stay in combat mode while the pilot can concentrate on getting to the tanker, receiving fuel and getting back on station," he said.

Captain Keely defers most of the praise from Shok Valley to the ground forces that were in danger and the fighter jet he operates. He remains humble about his personal contributions.

"It makes me want to do more," he said. "In our position, we can make a significant difference in the lives of people in the Army and the people of Afghanistan."


D-M hosts Heritage Flight Conference

by Staff Sgt. Jake Richmond
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/11/2009 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- State of the art and historic military aircraft from around the country came here March 4-8 for Air Combat Command's annual Heritage Flight Conference.

The Heritage Flight Conference allows civilian and military pilots to train together in preparation for the spring and summer air show seasons. Heritage formations, during which modern and historic fighters fly together, are a popular highlight event at air shows throughout the United States and Canada.

The historic aircraft that flew in this year's HFC included the P-51 Mustang, A-1 Sky Raider, F-4 Phantom II, P-40 Warhawk, and F-86 Sabre. The modern ACC flying demonstration aircraft included the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the F-15 Eagle, the F-15E Strike Eagle, the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the F-22A Raptor.

Approximately 300 people showed up on the designated flying days, March 6-8, and watched the demonstration flights from bleachers set up on the flight line.

A-10C 79-0213 (marked 23 FG), an F-4 Phantom II, and a P-40 Warhawk fly in formation during the Heritage Flight Conference at Davis-Monthan AFB on March 7th, 2009. Pilots of old and new aircraft come to the HFC every year to practice demonstration flights together before the air show season. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Noah R. Johnson) Hi-res

A-10C 78-0712 (marked 355 FW) flies in formation with an A-1 Skyraider at the Heritage Flight Conference at Davis-Monthan AFB on March 7th, 2009. The Skyraider, which was employed in combat in Vietnam and Korea, is one of the A-10's attack aircraft predecessors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Smith) Hi-res

A-10C 79-0213 (marked 23 FG) flies in formation with an F-4 Phantom II, a P-40 Warhawk, and an F-16C Fighting Falcon during the Heritage Flight Conference at Davis-Monthan AFB on March 7th, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Smith) Hi-res