Saturday, February 18, 2012

A-10 Thunderbolts getting new wings at Hill Air Force Base

By Jasen Asay
Standard-Examiner Davis Bureau
Fri, 02/17/2012 - 5:32am

A re-winged A-10 Thunderbolt II sits on display during a ceremony held Wednesday at Hill Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- With a new set of wings, one A-10 Thunderbolt II is now in better shape to last until 2040. In the next six years, 233 jets at Hill Air Force Base will also receive new wings.

On Wednesday, officials from the U.S. Air Force and Boeing celebrated the rollout of the first re-winged A-10 at Hill Air Force Base.

"We see this as a culmination of several years of hard work," said Col. Chris Roach, the A-10 system program manager at Hill.

The A-10 wing replacement program became necessary after the Air Force received the mandate to keep the jet, commonly known as the Warthog, in the air until 2040. Fairchild Aircraft originally produced the A-10 from 1978 to 1982.

"In order for us to do this, there are certain things we have to do to aircraft to enable it to go," Roach said.

One of those things is to replace the wings.

Boeing is under contract with the Air Force to deliver 233 wing sets through 2018.

"This enhanced wing assembly will give the A-10 new strength and a new foundation for its continued service into 2040," said Mark Bass, maintenance, modifications and upgrades vice president and general manager for Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

"Boeing remains a committed partner in ensuring that the A-10 continues to be a ready, reliable and viable weapon system for the U.S. Air Force."

Roach said the Air Force tried refurbishing the wings, but, about 50 percent of the time, the wing had to be condemned. The process of replacing the wing is more effective, he said.

Boeing produces the wing sets at the company's production facility in Macon, Ga., with partner Korean Aerospace Industries. Then they deliver the wings to the Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill.

Then the 309th Maintenance Wing replaces the wing, an integral process that Roach said takes five to six months. The maintenance wing currently is working on replacing wings on four other A-10s.

Roach said the A-10 is a premier air-to-ground weapon system for the Air Force and is currently being used extensively in Afghanistan.

"If you're any ground troop, Army or Marine, the A-10 is what (you) want to see," Roach said.


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