Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lajes supports first package of A-10s going downrange

by Staff Sgt. Olufemi Owolabi
65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

3/17/2011 - LAJES FIELD, Azores -- A coronet package of A-10 Thunderbolts transited Lajes Field, Azores, on their way downrange March 8.

The aircraft were here to refuel while their crewmembers bedded down. There were more than 15 members, consisting of an aircrew and maintenance team. The last set of the team departed Lajes for their destination March 11.

The A-10s deployed from Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

This is the first unit of A-10s that Lajes has provided support for this year. Last year, Lajes supported more than 80 movements of the aircraft, which is capable of surviving direct hits from armor-piercing and high explosive projectiles.

According to the 65th Operations Support Squadron coronet unit, these A-10s are unique because they still carry the historical "nose art" that dates back to World War II. The Tiger shark face, painted on them, is a trademark for the 23rd Fighter Group's Flying Tigers, which was the popular name of the 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Air Force in 1941-1942.

While here, the Thunderbolts were given top-notch support by Airmen of the 65th Air Base Wing.

The transient alert Airmen coordinated parking spots for the aircraft prior to their arrival, then provided Follow Me service, to get the aircraft to the proper parking spot, where technicians were waiting to marshal them in for shut down.

As part of quality services rendered by Lajes Airmen, the 65th OSS members often help the pilots with their bags, answer any questions and give them a big Lajes welcome.

"It feels good getting to personally greet the pilots and be involved with the process of sending Iron to the Fight! We all know that they are heading away from their homes and families, so we offer as much hospitality as we can," said Tech. Sgt. Shannon Hughes, Lajes Coronet Liaison. "We appreciate and support the mission they are doing."

After the pilots go inside for debriefing, the TA personnel assist with servicing the aircraft, and coordinating any ground support equipment that is required.

The A-10s have self-sealing fuel cells that are protected by internal and external foam. Manual systems back up their redundant hydraulic flight-control systems. This permits pilots to fly and land when hydraulic power is lost.

The first production A-10A was delivered to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., in October 1975. It was designed for the close air support mission and had the ability to combine large military loads, long loiter and wide combat radius, which proved to be vital assets to the United States and its allies.

"Due to our strategic location, and the services that we provide here, it makes trans-Atlantic crossing possible for the smaller or slower aircraft," said Sergeant Hughes. "We essentially enable 'Global Reach.'"

A coronet package of A-10 Thunderbolts transits Lajes Field, Azores, to refuel on their way to the area of responsibility March 8. This is the first unit of A-10s that Lajes has provided support for this year. Last year, Lajes supported more than 80 movements of the aircraft. (Photo by Guido Melo) Please note: Hi-res version still not available.


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