U.S. Air Force A-10 and MC-130J combat planes at work out of an austere landing field in Bulgaria

Feb 24 2016 - 9 Comments

The Hogs are becoming increasingly active in eastern Europe.

Taken on Feb. 11, 2016 the following interesting pictures show U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt IIs and a single MC-130J Commando II operating out of an austere landing site at Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

A-10C & MC-130J

The Warthogs, assigned to the 74th EFS (Expeditionary Fighter Squadron), are currently deployed to Bulgaria as part of the European Theater Security Package in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve to bolster air power capabilities while assuring the U.S. commitment to European security and stability.

During their deployment, 74th EFS pilots took the chance to train in unimproved surface landings on an austere landing strip at Plovdiv, to simulate conditions of a deployed environment.

Plovdiv A-10C

This kind of training provides commanders the ability to project combat capability to areas otherwise denied by traditional airpower methods as explained by Lt. Col. Bryan France, 74th EFS commander: “The A-10 is a fighter aircraft that specializes in close air support, this training will prepare our pilots to land in a variety of surface conditions allowing us to bring the fight even further.”

Unimproved surface landing

Alongside the Hogs also an MC-130J Commando II aircraft, assigned to the 67th SOS (Special Operations Squadron), practiced landing on the unimproved surface, bringing with it a key capability.

67th SOS MC-130J

In fact, being a tactical airlifter designed to operate in austere environments, the MC-130 can carry huge quantities of cargo while simultaneously having the ability to land in such difficult conditions.

Thanks to this unique ability the aircraft is able “to provide supplies to troops on the ground or in this case, a forward area refueling point to extend the range of our aircraft assets” Capt. Justin Nadal, a 67th SOS MC-130J Commando II aircraft commander, said.

MC-130J Commando II

Noteworthy, according to Lt. Col. France, this type of exercises are aimed to demonstrate the U.S. Air Force ability to integrate across commands with joint forces while supporting NATO allies.

74th EFS A-10C

Image credit: Airman 1st Class Luke Kitterman / U.S. Air Force