A-10 Thunderbolts from 124th Fighter Wing have just returned from deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve: they brought back one aircraft with an impressive amount of bomb markings.
Since Nov. 17, 2014 when the U.S. Air Force moved a squadron-sized element of A-10C Thunderbolt aircraft from Bagram, Afghanistan, to Ahmed al Jaber airbase, in Kuwait, to join the fight against ISIS, the Hog (from various USAF units) has played an important role supporting Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR): it has carried out about one-third of the overall air strikes attacking the IS militants causing great losses and by deterring them from above using its GAU-8 Avenger a 30 mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type cannon and PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions).
Among the Thunderbolt units that have taken part to the air war against ISIS there is the 190th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 124th Fighter Wing (Idaho ANG), from Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho.
The “Skullbangers” have returned home from a 6-month combat deployment in support of OIR on Oct. 24, 2016. The return of the Idaho ANG from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, is featured in the latest issue of The Beacon, official newsletter of the 124th Fighter Wing.
Indeed, as pointed out by the team at Warthog News, a FB page (worth a like) posting tons of interesting A-10 stuff, the November 2016 issue of The Beacon includes some really interesting photographs, including the ones of an A-10 decorated with many bomb markings.
Last year, in Syria, Russian Su-34s sported red star silhouettes to mark 10 air strikes, whilst EA-18G Growlers of VAQ-137 aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt got unique kill markings, showing Electronic Attack support as well as cellular jamming missions.
BTW, let us know if you have an idea about the type of bombs the above A-10 bomb markings represent…
Therefore, unless something different emerges (it’s not clear whether U.S. authorities are denying any loss or just the loss of a Thunderbolt), the call is bogus and all the A-10s deployed to the region are still in pretty good shape continuing their daily work in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. A support that has started about 2 years ago.
Indeed, during the week of Nov. 17-21, 2014, the U.S. Air Force moved a squadron-sized element of A-10C Thunderbolt aircraft from Bagram, Afghanistan, to Ahmed al Jaber airbase, in Kuwait, to join the fight against Daesh.
The aircraft belonged to the 163rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron “Blacksnakes”, part of the 122nd Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard, based at Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Shortly thereafter, videos showing Warthog aircraft attacking ground targets in Al Anbar region, in western Iraq, using its GAU-8 Avenger a 30 mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type cannon emerged. The footage proved that the A-10 was back where 25 years earlier it had fought against Saddam doing what it does better than many other assets: attacking hostile targets that threaten friendly forces or assets on the ground.
Since then, the Hog (from various USAF units) has played an important role supporting Operation Inherent Resolve: it has carried out about one-third of the overall air strikes attacking the IS militants causing great losses (as when A-10s joined with AC-130 gunships and destroyed 116 ISIS fuel tanker trucks) and by deterring them from above.
However, the mission has put it at risk of being shot at by Daesh, using MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems).
The Warthogs were targeted by the ISIS militants who attempted to shot down the A-10s flying at low altitude using9K32 Strela-2 (NATO reporting name SA-7 Grail) man-portable, shoulder-fired, low-altitude, IR (infra-red) guided, surface-to-air missile systems.
The A-10s were not hit but that episode just confirmed that Thunderbolts deployed to Kuwait could face MANPADS threat while flying at low and medium altitudes over Daesh positions.
Still, the “Hog” is a tough plane, that has already shown its special ability to bring the pilot back to the homebase in spite of heavy damages by ground fire.
If you want to read more about the A-10 involvement in the air war against Daesh, visit this link, register and download our exclusive ebook here.
Two Syrian Su-24 Fencer attempting to fly over a Kurdish-held area in northeastern Syria where U.S. SOF (Special Operations Forces) are operating, get intercepted by U.S. F-22 and encouraged to depart the airspace.
Twice in the last few days, Syrian jets performing air strikes close to where U.S. SOF are operating in northeastern Syria caused coalition aircraft to scramble.
On Aug. 18, U.S. jets were dispatched to intercept the Syrian attack planes that were attacking targets near Hasakah supporting regime forces fighting the Syrian Kurdish forces. About 300 U.S. military operate in the same area, training Kurdish forces who are fighting Daesh.
Syrian pilots did not respond to the radio calls of the Kurdish on the general emergency frequency nor did they acknowledge calls attempted by the coalition on the air safety channel used for communication with the Russian aircraft operating over Syria.
Anyway, by the time U.S. fighters reached the area, the Syrian planes had already left.
Following the first “close encounter” the Pentagon warned Assad regime to not fly or conduct raids in the area where the American SOF are operating. However, on Aug. 19, two Su-24 Fencers, attempted again to penetrate the airspace near Hasakah.
This time, the two Syrian Arab Air Force attack planes were met by American F-22 Raptors (most probably already operating in the same area providing Combat Air Patrol).
As reported by ABC, a U.S. official said the presence of American F-22 aircraft “encouraged the Syrian aircraft to depart the airspace without further incident. No weapons were fired by the coalition fighters.”
This is not the first time the F-22 presence deters foreign military aircraft from harassing U.S. forces.
In one very well-known episode, F-22 stealth jets providing HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) to a U.S. Predator flew under the Iranian F-4E Phantoms that had intercepted the drone then pulled up on their left wing and then called them and radioed a famous “you really ought to go home” that allegedly scared the Iranian pilots off saving the drone.
Some interesting footage shows the Russians are not only launching air strikes from Iran…
On Aug. 19, at around 10:55LT in the morning, the Zeliony Dol and Serpukhov small-sized missile ships of the Black Sea Fleet, sailing in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, performed 3 launches of Kalibr cruise missiles against facilities of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist grouping in Syria.
According to the information released by the Russian MoD, the cruise missiles targeted a command center and a terrorist base near the Dar-Taaza inhabited area as well as a plant manufacturing mortar munitions and a large depot with armament, in the Aleppo province.
The data collected by the Russians “confirmed the elimination of the planned targets.”
The Russian Defence Ministry published some footage of the launches, of the destruction of their targets and the subsequent Battle Damage Assessment (filmed from a UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) on their Youtube channel.
Operating from Engels and Modzok airbases in southwestern Russia, the aircraft had to cover a distance close to 3,000 km. According to some sources, the aircraft were thus supported by several Il-78M aerial refuelers on their way to the targets and back: actually, it’s not clear whether the Backfire could be refueled since the retractable probe in the upper part of the nose was reportedly removed as a result of the SALT negotiations, but it can be reinstated if needed.
Under the newly signed agreement with Iran, Russian bombers will be able to cut their flight time by 60%, saving money and increasing the ops tempo: the current distance to Syria is roughly 900 km, meaning that more bombs can be loaded in the round-trip mission from Iran.
Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia, that has been the headquarters of the Russian aircraft since October last year was unable to accommodate the large (34m wingspan) Russian supersonic, variable-sweep wing, long-range strategic bombers.