Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New fighter unit arrives on KAF

Updated January 21, 2009

Very important info, released today by 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs:

A-10C 80-0166 from the 184th Fighter Squadron, 188th Fighter Wing (Arkansas ANG) lands at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, during the change over from the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron to the 104th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, January 13, 2010. The 104th EFS deployed from the 175th Wing (Maryland ANG). (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Taylor) Hi-res

by Staff Sgt. Angelique N. Smythe
451st AEW Public Affairs

1/19/2010 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- More than 300 Air Force Guardsmen of the 104th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron arrived on Kandahar Airfield to provide close air support throughout Afghanistan, relieving the Airmen of the 354th EFS who have since returned home to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

Fighter jets from the Maryland Air National Guard and Arizona Air National Guard were flown here by Airmen of the 104 EFS, Jan. 11 and 13.

"We're here to bring top quality, professional close air support for anyone on the ground who might need it, Marines, Army, ISAF forces," said Lt. Col. Patrick McAlister, 104th EFS commander. "We're here to either make a presence or bring the firepower they might need to bring down the enemy. That's our number one job."

This unit is scheduled to be deployed here for a couple of months, although some unit members have volunteered to remain for 120 days.

Along with this unit came several volunteers from other Guard units, such as from Fort Smith, Ark., Alpena, Mich., and Willowgrove, Pa.

"We've brought all of our support personnel, maintainers, aircrew flight equipment personnel, intelligence personnel, and medical personnel," said Colonel McAlister. "It's a pretty big team. Everyone's been training and we've got a bit of experience. We've deployed in theater several times before so we also have some history here."

Lt. Col. Edward Jones, 451st Expeditionary Maintenance Group deputy commander, said one of the main things the team brings to the fight from the Guard is a lot of experience.

"If you look at the makeup of the squadron, the average flying time is probably 2,000 to 2,500 hours, as compared to an active duty squadron, where it's probably 500 to 1,000 hours," he said. "On average, our pilots probably have almost 1,500 to 2,000 more hours of flying time, and probably 500 hours of combat flying time. They've been around for a long time.

"The same thing goes with the maintainers. We have a lot of guys working on these jets that have been with us for 30 years. We have guys who've worked on these jets when they were brand new. So, we have a lot of experience there as well."
Colonel Jones said the 104th EFS also has the most modern A-10s in the fleet Air Force-wide.

"Our Guard jets, our Baltimore and our Fort Smith jets have the most up-to-date software in the Air Force," he said. "In the total force, we do bring a lot to the fight."

Colonel Jones, a pilot and who has always deployed as a pilot up until now, said he is serving for the first time as a maintenance officer here from Baltimore.

This team of Guardsmen brings together people from all walks of life. Outside of their Air Force careers, they are carpenters, plumbers, electricians, engineers, school teachers, etc.

"We have a very interesting group of people," said Colonel McAlister. "This is not their only job, so they bring other aspects to it."

"I think it's going to be interesting to see the footprint we leave on this place," he said. "I really hope we're able to do some good work outside the fence. At the same time, I'm looking forward to the work we do inside the fence for quality of life. I hope the presence that we make and the mark that we leave here is positive."

Brigadier Gen. Guy Walsh, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing commander, greeted the members of the unit as they arrived. He was their former wing commander at Baltimore, prior to taking command of the 451st AEW at Kandahar.

"General Walsh was our wing commander up until June 2009," said Colonel McAlister. "So, here we are again working for our former wing commander. It alleviates a lot of apprehension because you're coming to work for a boss that you know and who was well liked as well. We know him, work well with him, and we have a good rapport."

Four, of six, A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft from the Arkansas and Maryland Air National Guard taxi down Kandahar' runway January 13, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Taylor) Hi-res

Note: The leading aircraft is A-10C 78-0613 from the 184th Fighter Squadron.

A pilot from the Maryland Air National Guard exits the cockpit of A-10C 78-0613 from the 184th Fighter Squadron, 188th Fighter Wing (Arkansas ANG) after piloting the aircraft from his home station, January 13, 2010. The transition from 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron to the 104th EFS is near completion after the final six A-10s taxied into their chalks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Timothy Taylor) Hi-res


See also:
Maryland Fighter Unit Arrives in Afghanistan (The same news article as above, only re-published by 175th Wing Public Affairs January 20, 2010. Unfortunately, there's no other related deployment info on 175th Wing's public website.)

BTW: Meanwhile, the three pictures above were re-published on 188th Fighter Wing's public website, headlined "188th Aerospace Expeditionary Forces rotation".

Note: An important message of this very interesting 451th FW PA news article is that this ANG "Rainbow Team" is designated 104th EFS at least during the first half of the deployment. During the second half it could be designated 184th EFS.

As the same source reported, the A-10Cs arrived at Kandahar Airfield January 11 and 13, 2010.

Some more personal OEF deployment info will be posted later.

Latest related info:
First public log of the A-10C ANG "Rainbow Team" aircraft package currently en route to Afghanistan

For additional Kandahar A-10 info please check:

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