Thursday, October 21, 2010

47 FS pilots compete at Hawgsmoke 2010

Forty A-10 Thunderbolt II jet aircraft sit idle on the ramp at Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho, on Oct. 15, 2010, after competing in Hawgsmoke 2010. Members of the 917th Wing and 47th Fighter Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., were in Boise supporting and competing in Hawgsmoke 2010, which is a biennial worldwide A-10 bombing, missile and tactical gunnery competition. The competition this year, which involved 40 jets and 72 pilots from 18 different units, was hosted by the 190th Fighter Squadron of the Idaho Air National Guard. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeff Walston) Hi-res

By the way: Special thanks from all Warthog enthusiasts for taking this amazing aerial shot, Jeff! Job well done.

by Tech. Sgt. Jeff Walston
917th Wing Public Affairs

10/20/2010 - Barksdale AFB, La. -- Clear blue skies supplied the back drop as media and guests of the 190th Fighter Squadron filled the stands and waited for the beginning of the gunnery phase of Hawgsmoke 2010 competition October 14, at the Saylor Creek Range in Idaho.

Hawgsmoke, which began in 2000, is a biennial worldwide A-10 bombing, missile, and tactical gunnery competition hosted by winners of previous competitions.

This year's competition was held at Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho, and hosted by the 190th Fighter Squadron with the Idaho Air National Guard. The competition is dedicated to bringing A-10 professionals together from across the entire Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard for three days to share and develop tactics, procedures and techniques to better employ the A-10 in combat; enhance morale and camaraderie in the A-10 community; pay homage to the airplane's heritage; as well as recognize the best in an aerial gunnery and bombing competition.

Joining the 18 teams from across the nation, South Korea and hundreds of support personnel were approximately 11 Airmen from the 917th Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. They arrived in Boise, October 12, to support and compete in Hawgsmoke 2010. Four A-10 pilots from the 47th Fighter Squadron, five maintainers from the 717th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and an additional two Airmen from the 917th Maintenance Squadron's phase dock, rounded out the group involved at the competition, which is centered on the close-air support capabilities of the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

A team from the 47th FS won the competition in 2002, at Fort Drum Forward Operating Location in New York State and therefore hosted the competition in 2004 at England Air Park in Louisiana. Unlike the competition in 2004, which was dubbed "Hawgwash" due to a rain-out, the weather in Idaho was perfect for the events of the day.

As the competition began, 917th Airmen were involved in marshalling aircraft and getting them ready for the events that would take place over the next three days. The event was held October 13-16 in Boise.

Technical Sgt. Chris Duhe, a crew chief with the 717th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, was one of seven 917th Wing personnel who traveled to Boise to support Hawgsmoke 2010, which included Technical Sgts. Kenneth Green, Mark Williams, John Egloff, James Stebbins, Senior Airman Rikki Welch and Chief Master Sgt. Stacy Bauer.

This was not Sergeant Duhe's first Hawgsmoke experience. He was at "Hawgwash."

"In 2004, some planes got into the air, but the weather started coming in," Sergeant Duhe said. "We got rained out and we couldn't work. The planes couldn't fly because of the lightening ... but, this weather is really nice."

"For the most part the host command handles most of everything, and we take care of our jets if needed, helping out where we are needed," he said.

The four-pilot team from the 47th FS was different than ever before. Added to the group of Reservists was Capt. Grant McCall, a Regular Air Force member from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., who is assigned to the 47 FS at Barksdale AFB, as part of the Air Force's Total Force Enterprise.

For Captain McCall the transition from a Regular Air Force unit to the 47th FS was seamless. "In the 47th Fighter Squadron there's a lot of experience," he said. "You don't get that experience in every squadron. It's very unique to the 47th."

Captain McCall joined Lt. Col. Robert Hetland, Capt. Jason Cobb and Capt. Adam Ratican for this year's competition.

Being part of a "winning" squadron, Captain McCall was confident the team was ready and capable of another win at this year's Hawgsmoke competition. "As far as flying goes, there's no difference between the pilots," Captain McCall said. "We are totally integrated."

On the day of the gunnery challenge the 47th FS team faced a challenge they were unable to overcome.

Due to a system malfunction with one of the 47th FS jets, and no time in the schedule to get a substitute in the air, the 47th FS team went into the competition with only three jets. The possibility of a "team" win was gone, and Capt. Andrew Ratican had to sit out the gunnery and bombing competition. The team scored more points with only three jets than many teams that brought four to the fight.

One pilot on the 47th FS team was familiar with the area. Born and raised in Idaho, Captain Cobb, cut his teeth in the Air Force in Idaho. A former enlisted Airman in life support; he began flying the A-10 in Idaho once he finished college and received his commission. He flew A-10s at the 190th FS for six years before transferring to the 47FS to take a full-time position. For Capt. Cobb, this was a distinct advantage, but he takes nothing away from the team effort.

"The three-ship went out there and performed very well," Captain Cobb said. "But, once it was known we only had three jets, we were just out there for individual recognition and awards."

And, Capt. Cobb did just that. He brought home two individual awards from Hawgsmoke 2010.

Capt. Cobb, took 1st Place in the Top Pop to Low Angle High Drag (LAHD) category and 3rd Place in the - 30-Degree Dive Bomb Award (HARS).

The 190th FS from Gowen Field, Idaho ANG, took the team competition at Hawgsmoke 2010 and became the first ever back-to-back winner. Contest rules state they cannot host the competition twice in a row so that honor falls to the 2nd Place Overall Team from the 354th Fighter Squadron at Davis-Monthan, Air Force base, Ariz.

For the rest of the 47th FS, and whoever may be on the next team, it will be another two years of preparation before they face the current back-to-back champions of Hawgsmoke 2010.

Top Overall A-10 Team - 190th Fighter Squadron
Top Pilot - Maj. Scott "Disco" Downey (190th FS)
Top Strafe Team - 190th Fighter Squadron
Top Bombing Team - 358th Fighter Squadron

2nd Place Overall Team - 354th Fighter Squadron (should host in 2012)

The attending units included:
- AATC - Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ (USAFR)
- GF West - Nellis AFB, NV
- 23rd Operations Support Squadron - Moody AFB, GA
- 25th Fighter Squadron - Osan AB, ROK
- 45th Fighter Squadron - Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ (USAFR)
- 47th Fighter Squadron - Barksdale AFB, LA
- 66th Fighter Squadron - Nellis AFB, NV
- 74th Fighter Squadron - Moody AFB, GA
- 76th Fighter Squadron - Moody AFB, GA
- 104th Fighter Squadron - Baltimore, Maryland ANG
- 107th Fighter Squadron - Selfridge, Michigan ANG
- 163rd Fighter Squadron - Fort Wayne, Indiana ANG
- 184th Fighter Squadron - Fort Smith, Arkansas ANG
- 190th Fighter Squadron - Gowen Field, Idaho ANG
- 303rd Fighter Squadron - Whiteman AFB, MO (USAFR)
- 354th Fighter Squadron - Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
- 357th Fighter Squadron - Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
- 358th Fighter Squadron - Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ


Please note: There are 24 pictures associated.

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