“Warthogs” of the 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, made a stopover in Lajes, Azores, with an interesting mix of full and no markings aircraft.
On Jan. 30, 2020, the first of two flights of six A-10C “Thunderbolt II” attack aircraft landed in Lajes Field, Azores, on their way home from a 6-month tour of duty at Bagram, in the U.S. CENTCOM Area Of Responsibility. Using callsigns “TABOR 21 – 26”, the Warthogs (as the A-10 is nicknamed in the pilot community), drawn from a pool of aircraft operated by the 355th Wing, were coming via Al Udeid – Souda Bay, Crete, and were supported by some KC-135Rs of the 100th ARW (Air Refueling Wing) from RAF Mildenhall, UK, including the 57-1474 “Miss Irish”, callsign “BLUE 72”, that landed in Lajes too.
The deployed squadron was the 354th FS “Bulldogs”, from DMAFB.
Interestingly, the photographs show some aircraft in full markings and others sporting only the serial number, probably because they were hard pressed into service, after period maintenance, to accomplish the necessary 12 aircraft total needed for this mission.
Six more aircraft were following along the same route in the following days.
BTW, the images of the six Warthogs accompanied by a KC-135 tanker reminded me of the video of six A-10s in formation behind a tanker dispensing flares off Dubai’s famed Palm and World man-made island archipelagos.
As a side note, the U.S. Air Force will retire 44 Thunderbolt IIs from its total aircraft inventory, according to the fiscal 2021 Air Force budget documents. These should be the “the oldest and least-ready aircraft” in order to modernize a combat-capable fleet of 218 total A-10s across seven squadrons, Military.com reported.