Here Are The A-10 Thunderbolt II Jets of the 355th Wing Returning Home From Deployment

One of the six A-10s landing in Lajes on its way to DMAFB. (All images: APS - Associação Portugal Spotters - Portuguese Spotters Association)

“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.

Interesting shot of one of the six A-10s that shows the lack of unit markings. (All images: APS – Associação Portugal Spotters – Portuguese Spotters Association)

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.

The first flight of six A-10s was to be followed by another six Warthogs also returning to DMAFB.
355th Operations Group marked aircraft, for the deployment commander personal mount, serial 79-202/DM “355 OG”.

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.

This 100th ARW’s Stratotanker supported the A-10s along the route.

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, reported.

The U.S. Air Force reportedly operates 281 A-10s. 173 were re-winged in 2019. The U.S. Air Force will retire 44 A-10 this year. The reduction means only 65 aircraft would still need the wing fix.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.