Friday, May 13, 2011

Afghanistan-deployed 23rd Fighter Group A-10C now at SABCA Charleroi

Big surprise: On May 10, 2011, A-10C 79-0189 from the 23rd Fighter Group, 23rd Wing, Moody AFB, Georgia, arrived at the SABCA Charleroi plant, located right on the runway of Brussels South Charleroi Airport in Belgium. As mentioned on the well-recommended Dutch Scramble Messageboard, the aircraft landed at 13:45 local time and was comming from Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay, Crete.

First-known photo proofs were also posted on the Scramble Messageboard. And this evening, I got the photographer's kind permission to post both exclusive shots also on Warthog News:

A-10C 79-0189 landing at Charleroi. Note the brand-new 75th Fighter Squadron fin flash. (Photos by N.C.)

Please remember:

A-10C 79-0189 arrived at Lajes Field, Azores, for stopover on March 9, 2011, as part of the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, enroute to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. A nice arrival shot, already published exclusively on my blog, was taken by Warthog News contributor André Inácio from Portugal. See the following low-res version:

Sometime later, maybe on March 24, 2011, an official USAF photo of this aircraft (visible in the foreground at right) was taken at Kandahar's A-10C ramp and released on the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing's public website (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Willard E. Grande II). See the following low-res version:

Please note: In both pictures, A-10C 79-0189 wears the 74th Fighter Squadron's blue fin flash with the white lightning. But now, it is wearing the 75th Fighter Squadron's chequered fin flash... The reasons of this change and of the arrival at SABCA are both still unknown to me.

See also:
Charleroi/Brussels South - Gosselies - EBCI 10/05/2011

Important questions:
- What's the reason to ferry this aircraft from Afghanistan to the SABCA Charleroi plant?
- Why did the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Kandahar Airfield this significant change of the aircraft's fin flashes (from 74th FS to 75th FS markings)?
- What's the cause of the black stain below on the right vertical stabilizer (visible on all of the pictures)?

I would be very grateful for any related insider info.

BTW: Employees of the SABCA Charleroi plant did a great job to upgrade 81st Fighter Squadron "Hogs" to the A-10C standard.

Please note: This post will be updated soon.

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