Tag Archives: Moody Air Force Base

“During A CSAR Mission We Integrated With Puma Helicopters and Su-25 Attack Planes”: A-10 Pilots Recount Their Warthog Experiences

A-10 Thunderbolt II Pilots Speak About The Warthog They Fly Over Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, and Eastern Europe.

Dubbed Warthog, Hog or just Hawg, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the “airplane built around the GAU-8 Avenger 30-mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type cannon” to fight the Soviet tanks in the European battlefields during the Cold War, is considered one of the most durable and lethal combat plane in the CAS (Close Air Support) mission.

We have discussed the current capabilities of the Warthog with two 74th Fighter Squadron “Flying Tigers” pilots from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia: Lt. Col. Bryan T. France, Former Commander, and “Pinna” an Italian Air Force exchange pilot. Indeed, thanks to the Military Personnel Exchange Program, the U.S. Air Force has the opportunity to swap service members with an allied nation military: for this reason, whilst “Pinna”, from an AMX A-11A Ghibli experience with the 132° Gruppo (Squadron), flies with the 74th FS, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Joe “Slap” Goldsworthy, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot with more than 2,700 flight hours of experience, is assigned to the 132° Gruppo and flies the Ghibli (even in combat).

Here below you can find an excerpt of the interviews both pilots gave to The Aviationist during the preparation of “BRRTTTT….deployments, war chronicles and stories of the last A-10 Warthogs” an ebook that we have just released (for details and how to buy at a very special price click here; BTW, we have also released a paperback version here).

Italian exchange pilot Roberto Manzo, 74th Fighter Squadron training assistant, prepares to taxi to the runway, Aug. 25, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Manzo is working to master flying the A-10C Thunderbolt II in hopes of returning to Italy as an instructor pilot for the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson)

Lt. Col. Bryan T. France, Former Commander, 74th Fighter Squadron

Can you provide some details about the 74th FS?

The 74th Fighter Squadron is a combat-coded A-10C unit ready to support our operations with the best Close Air Support, Forward Air Control (Airborne), and Combat Search and Rescue on the planet.

Where have you been deployed with the A-10? Can you recall the most interesting missions you took part with the Hog?

I’ve had experiences around the world including Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, and Eastern Europe. One of my most memorable experiences was landing A-10s on austere runways previously used by the Soviet Union 25 years ago. It took a true team effort including high-level coordination with our European allies. We were able to demonstrate a great capability that is unique to the Hog as a fighter aircraft.

Even though the aircraft has undertaken several upgrade programs since it was introduced in the 1970s, and the A-10C is much different from the “original” A-10A, the airframe has not changed too much in the last 40 years. Does this affect you has a pilot and commander of a Warthog squadron?

If I were to sit down to design a heavy attack platform, it would look just like the A-10. Our airframe was built to extend loiter times over the battlefield, deliver a substantial amount of ordnance, and survive significant battle damage. It does these things exceptionally well and, with the advent of the C-model precision guidance upgrades, integrates as well as any aircraft with data and sensor management.

What’s the typical payload to carry out the above-mentioned missions?

We have a large variety of weaponeering options available to us. The starting point is, of course, the mighty GAU-8 Avenger Gatling-type cannon. It’s a highly-accurate point-and-shoot weapon that grants our pilots superior firepower and flexibility in a close-combat ground fight. Additionally, we carry many other capable munitions including GPS-guided, laser-guided, and unguided bombs. Based on the flexibility this gives us, our payloads vary greatly from mission to mission.

30 mm gun aside, what’s the most flexible weapon you have on the A-10?

Second to the gun, I think the Maverick provides the most flexibility in weaponeering. We can employ it from medium or low altitudes against a large variety of target types. It’s a difficult weapon to master, but indispensable in a CAS fight.

Italian exchange pilot Roberto Manzo, 74th Fighter Squadron training assistant, poses for a photo before flying, Aug. 25, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Manzo was raised in Rome, Italy and developed a desire to become a pilot after seeing jets fly for the first time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson)

Italian Air Force exchange pilot “Pinna”

Tell us something about you. Who is “Pinna” and what about his experience?

I was born and raised in Ostia, near Rome.

I started my adventure in the Italian Air Force Academy, in 2003, with the Drago V course. Upon graduation, I attended the pilot courses with the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT), at Sheppard, Texas, TX, between 2007 and 2008, flying the Cessna T-37B Tweet and Northrop T-38C Talon. Back in Italy, I was assigned to the A-11B AMX “Ghibli” and attended the first LIFT (Lead in Fighter Training) course with the 61º Stormo (Wing) at Lecce-Galatina airbase, in 2009, flying the MB-339CD and then the OCU (Operational Conversion Unit) course, with the 32º Stormo, at Amendola, on the AMX and AMX-T, between 2010 and 2011.

Once I arrived to my unit, the 51º Stormo, based at Istrana in northeastern Italy, I was assigned to the glorious 132º Gruppo (Squadron) FBR (Fighter Bomber Reconnaissance) “C. E. Buscaglia,” flying the “Ghibli” until my recent departure for the United States.

In addition to my personal and professional growth, during my time with the 132º I also earned my callsign, “Pinna” (Italian for “Fin”), which I’ve carried for several years now.

How did you get the opportunity to become an exchange pilot with the U.S. Air Force A-10?

The possibility of flying the legendary A-10 emerged in 2009 as a consequence of a bilateral agreement between the Italian and the U.S. Air Force. Several factors contribute in selecting the pilot destined to the Hog, including the flight experience, the achieved qualifications and currencies and, of course, the fluency with the English language (as no specific training is foreseen to improve with it before leaving for the U.S.). Although I already had a significant experience in the Close Air Support role with the AMX, I started to focus even more on this kind of mission once I learned that I would be assigned to the A-10. “Ponch”, my ItAF predecessor as an exchange pilot on the A-10 was extremely helpful during my transition from the AMX to the Warthog: he managed my induction in the American “system,” that is no easy task considered that there is very little time before things start to get serious.

Do you like the Warthog? If so, why?

The A-10C is an amazing aircraft: reliable, durable and lethal. It is a one of a kind combat plane: every single part of the Warthog is designed for Close Air Support. It is simple to handle and “forgiving”; its flight envelope makes it extremely maneuverable at low speeds and able to turn in tight spaces: this means it can circle over restricted areas and provide better support to the troops on the ground. Obviously, it’s not too fast but speed is not a mandatory feature when your main need is to remain “on station” as long as possible.

Everything in the airplane is duplicated, so as to make it as durable as possible: there are two tails, two hydraulic systems, two engines which are positioned on the outer side of the fuselage so as to minimize the risk of fire in case one of the two turbofan engines is hit. What’s more, the pilot sits in a titanium aircraft armor, referred to as a “bathtub,” which protects the cockpit from rounds fired from below.

Whilst externally the aircraft is almost identical, the avionics of the current A-10C has virtually nothing to do with the old “Hawg” that became particularly famous as the “Tank-buster” during the first Gulf War 25 years. The aircraft features an advanced data link system, HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) commands, three radios, a latest generation Targeting Pod, and also a sophisticated HMCS (Helmet Mounted Cueing System), that alongside the rest of the aircraft’s sensors, allows the pilot to effectively employ the weapon in a matter of seconds.

What are the main differences between the A-10 and the AMX? What part of your experience with the 132° Gruppo in Italy has been important with the Thunderbolt?

The A-10C and the AMX are much different aircraft. Both share a certain ease in handling, and it is no secret that the pilots of both aircraft would appreciate a bit more thrust from the engine. Furthermore, the Warthog is more maneuverable at low speeds while the AMX, with its aerodynamic design, is faster than the A-10. There are some differences in terms of missions flown by the two aircraft, though: throughout the years, an AMX pilot learns to fly several different mission profiles, spanning from reconnaissance to light attack, from CSAR (Combat SAR) to Close Air Support; the U.S. Air Force squadrons equipped with the A-10C, focus in these last two missions. My time with the 132° Gruppo, especially the tour in Afghanistan as a member of the Task Group Black Cats, has been extremely important in developing those skills required to keep up with colleagues who excel in CAS and CSAR execution. 

Two Italian Air Force A-11 Ghiblis arrive to receive fuel from a KC-10 Extender during a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Aug. 7, 2017. Italy plays a key role supporting Coalition’s military operations through air capabilities based in Kuwait: one KC-767 aerial refueling aircraft, one unmanned Predator surveillance aircrafts, four AMX aircrafts for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations and an intergraded multi-sensory exploitation cell. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Trevor T. McBride)

Any particular experience you’ve lived with the “Flying Tigers” you want to share with The Aviationist’s readers?

At the beginning of 2016 I’ve also had the chance to take part in a deployment to Europe as part of the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. It was impressive to see in what conditions the A-10C was able to operate: in Estonia, every morning, a dedicated team had to defrost the aircraft; then we taxied between pile-ups of snow surrounding the taxiways! In Bulgaria we had the opportunity to conduct air-to-air training with the MiG-29 and to fly at low altitude through the mountains before reaching the firing range; I was also fortune to participate in a CSAR training where we have managed to integrate Puma helicopters and Su-25 attack planes… something you don’t see every day!

In Germany, I had the pleasure of flying a CAS mission during which I was assigned an Italian JTAC: I still remember his surprise hearing an Italian voice coming from an American A-10.

I think the most complicated exercises are those in which we simulate the “contact” between friendly troops and the enemy on the ground: learning how to safely use the weapons in such [TIC – Troops In Contact] situations is as complex as vital, and requires extremely accurate planning on the ground and fine execution in flight…

You can read the rest of the interviews (and much more) in “BRRTTTT….deployments, war chronicles and stories of the last A-10 Warthogs” (for details and how to buy at a very special price click here. For the paperback version click here).

The cover of our recently released ebook (141 pages, 31 Articles,129 Pics and 6 Aircraft profiles) where you can find the rest of the interviews. Click here for more details! A paperback version will be available soon.

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30 A-10 Thunderbolt II Jets Take Part In Elephant Walk Exercise At Moody AFB

Surge Exercise at Moody Air Force Base involved A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, HH-60G Pave Hawks, and HC-130J Combat King II aircraft.

On May 22, aircraft from the 23d Wing, conducted a “surge exercise” at their home base at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.

HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, A-10C Thunderbolt II jets and HC-130K Combat King II took part in the exercise whose aim was to demonstrate the wing’s ability to rapidly deploy and launch combat ready forces.

The exercise also featured a typical Elephant Walk carried out by one Pave Hawk, two Combat King II and 30 fully armed A-10C Warthogs. As already explained several times in the past, during Elephant Walk exercises military aircraft taxi in close formation or in sequence right before a minimum interval takeoff and, depending on the purpose of the training event they then either take off or taxi back to the apron.

“Elephant Walks” are particularly frequent in South Korea where local-based U.S. Air Force jets (often alongside Republic of Korea Air Force planes) frequently stage such “collective shows of force” in response to North Korea’s aggressive posture and threats.

Aircraft from the 23d Wing conducted a surge exercise May 22, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The exercise was conducted in order to demonstrate the wing’s ability to rapidly deploy combat ready forces across the globe. The 23d Wing maintains and operates A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, HH-60G Pave Hawks, and HC-130J Combat King II aircraft for precision attack, personnel recovery and combat support worldwide. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan)

 

This Photo Shows The Damage Caused By A Tanker’s Refueling Boom To The Nose Of An A-10 “Warthog” Aircraft

No, that’s not a bullet hole.

Taken at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, by U.S. Air Force’s Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan, this photo features the A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft 81-0995 from the 75th Fighter Squadron taxiing down the runway prior to take off on Apr. 28, 2017, during Exercise Combat Hammer, an air-to-ground exercise hosted at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, designed to collect and analyze data on the performance of precision weapons and measure their suitability for use in combat.

The image is particularly interesting as it shows what looks like a large hole in the nose of the Warthog (as the A-10 is nicknamed in the pilots community). However, that is not a bullet hole but the damage caused by a tanker’s boom during AAR (Air to Air Refueling) operations.

Most of the A-10s have their noses more or less damaged by the flying boom that is inserted by the tanker’s “boomer” into the Warthog’s receptacle, in the nose of the aircraft in front of the cockpit. Usually, such dents don’t affect the aircraft’s ability to fly hence they are left there until the next major maintenance work.

By the way, a Moody pilot confirmed us that the one in the photo is a nose significantly damaged by a KC-135’s boom.

Click below for the full resolution version of the photo.

81-0995 is a 1981 A-10C Thunderbolt II C/N A10-0690 assigned to the 75th FS “Tiger Sharks”

 

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Sharkmouths! U.S. A-10 Warthogs and Colombian Air Force A-29B Super Tucanos fly together

Colombian Air Force A-29B Super Tucanos are currently taking part in Ex. Green Flag East. Along with Moody AFB’s A-10s (and other U.S. combat planes.)

Four Colombian Air Force A-29B Super Tucanos are taking part in Exercise Green Flag East from Aug. 15 to 29, from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

The Colombian contingent, supported by 45 Colombian airmen, arrived at the base home of some of the American iconic B-52 strategic bombers on Aug. 13 and immediately started engaging with their U.S. Air Force counterparts in order to prepare for the two-week exercise.

Green Flag East is one of Air Combat Command’s premier close-air-support exercises, which rehearses close-air-support tactics, while enhancing interoperability with Air Force and Army forces: during GF pilots train in a simulated, high-threat environment, while maintenance and support personnel are provided an increased tempo in generating fully mission-capable combat aircraft.

In addition to the Colombian aircraft, U.S. Air Force A-10s from Moody Air Force Base, Ga.; F-16s from the Texas Air National Guard; KC-135s from McConnell AFB, Kans.; E-3s from Tinker AFB, Okla.; and E-8s from Robins AFB, Ga.; have taken part in the exercise.

As part of Green Flag East, two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs belonging to the 75th FS from  Moody flew a simulated close-air-support mission with two Colombian A-29B Super Tucanos.

Interestingly, the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano is among the most successful CAS platforms all around the world and one considered to be among the candidates to replace the A-1o Thunderbolt in the role of supporting the troops in contact with the enemy forces. Already in service with 10 air arms around the world, the propeller-driven aeroplane has the ability to carry a wide variety of bombs and machine guns; given the U.S. Air Force plan to retire its A-10 fleet in 2022, the Super Tucano has often been said to be a possible A-10 replacement in the close air support role.

U.S. IPs with the 81st FS from Moody AFB already fly the Afghan Air Force A-29B aircraft delivered earlier this year as part of the Train, Advice, Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air): they advice and train Afghan pilots to operate the highly maneuverable fourth generation weapons system while developing close air support, aerial escort, armed overwatch and aerial interdiction.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Gorgeous video shows U.S. A-10 landing on a dirt runway in the desert

Try to do that with an F-35….

As already reported, two U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II jets belonging to the 75th Fighter Squadron, from Moody Air Force Base, performed austere landing operations at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, as part of a Green-Flag West mission on Jul. 26.

The following footage shows the two aircraft land sending up clouds of dirt (the status of the unprepared runway can be seen at the beginning of the video), meet face to face with the combat controllers who called them in and then depart to continue their Close Air Support mission.

Now, the video proves the “Hogs” can operate from sand/desert strips. What about the aircraft that is going to replace the A-10 in the U.S. Air Force? Will the F-35A be able to land in an unprepared field, to refuel and take off again to continue the fight?

In the meanwhile, check this gorgeous video showing the badass “Warthog” at work!