Monday, May 30, 2011

81st Fighter Squadron A-10Cs caught at Spangdahlem May 27, 2011

At Spangdahlem AB, Germany, Warthog News contributor Oliver Jonischkeit from Germany had the opportunity to take the following shot:

A-10C 82-0656. (Photo by Oliver Jonischkeit)

Note: Also caught by him on the same day were A-10Cs 81-0945, 81-0960, 81-0965, 81-0988, and 82-0650.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

163rd Fighter Squadron 'Blacksnakes' skin for the DCS A-10C Warthog 3D-model

Yesterday, Tom Weiss from the United States asked me for exchanging banners on both of our websites. I agreed. But the more interesting point is: Thomas is a simmer and also a skin maker, including DCS A-10C Warthog. Here are pictures of his latest skin for A-10Cs from the 163rd Fighter Squadron, 122nd Fighter Wing (Indiana Air National Guard), Fort Wayne.

The nose section - five blocks with over 20 contact points to align.


On his website, Thomas wrote:

A-10C of the 163rd Fighter Wing "Blacksnakes" is a skin that present a whole series of new challenges to make as it covers most of the nose of area in the A-10C template in a rather irregular fashion with the head of a snake. Initially I had only as a source a photo of the first USAF A-10 aircraft where they tried out this new nose markings but later on I found some other photos after they had adopted it and applied to other aircraft in the Squadron, these allowed me to get a better sense on how to apply it to the DCS A-10C model.

One thing I've learned after so many skins is to start a new project without any hurry in finishing it - because it is a question of trial and error to apply the markings correctly, specially in the nose area where a whole lot of weird things tend to happen because of the curvature, not to mention where some errors made in the making of the model show up and can't be simply ignored, you have to work around them.

It took me three sets of drawings to get the eyes and the mouth right - of course it cannot be the same as in real life because the model has some subtle differences from the real thing that make it impossible to make it exactly the same thing.

But nevertheless I tried to make it look as close as possible similar to the real one.

I must admit it has a more 'happy' face than a 'threatening' one.

And I still need to finish the snake mouth area ...

The weathering uses the template I made originally for the Swampfoxes - which has evolved with each skin so that it does not look the same - I have a Europe skin to make and then I'll make some more worn out skins - for this I'll need to make another template.

I'll try to release it in a few days time.

BTW: For his latest A-10C skin, Tom used the pictures posted by me on: 163rd Fighter Squadron 'Blacksnakes' A-10C update Please visit Tom's website.

For some more skins made by Tom Weiss see also:
A-10C Ferris camo with a Hog nose
A-10C Europe 1 skin

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Veterans preview Memorial Day weekend air show

Air Force pilot Mike Schriever talks to Warren Cumpton about his experiences in WWII as Charlie Gehlauf looks on. Schriever flies an A10 Warthog and talked to many of the veterans at the breakfast. (Photo by Kristan Lieb)

By Sarah Strasburg
The Columbian Missourian
Friday, May 27, 2011 | 8:17 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Men and women who once wore military uniforms and defended the United States in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War got a Friday-morning sneak preview of the Memorial Day weekend air show at Columbia Regional Airport.

The Memorial Day Weekend Salute to Veterans Corporation puts on the show. Veterans from around the community and the country are invited to watch the practice run and share stories over coffee and donuts.

At The Bluffs, veterans who drove tanks, did flight engineering and medical work have been getting excited for the event, said Erica Utterback, the facility's Alzheimer's unit program coordinator.

"Even if they can't remember, when you tell them about the air show, they are excited and will tell you their stories," Utterback said. "You can tell it brings them a certain honor."

Tiger Place resident Robert Habenstein and daughter Roberta Olson enjoyed the preview from the hangar, where they were out of the wind on the cool morning.

"It's so kind to invite veterans for a special showing and give them time to sit and visit," Olson said. "We're looking forward to coming back for the full day tomorrow."

Habenstein joined the Army in 1941, anticipating 10 months of duty. In the final month of his enlistment, Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Habenstein's unit was sent to clean up the island, and as a photographer by training, he documented the process. When the war was over, the GI Bill allowed him to study sociology at the University of Chicago. He then taught sociology at MU for more than 35 years.

As for the air show, his favorite part is the acrobatic planes, which are the bright yellow planes of the Lima Lima Flight Team, twisting and turning, diving toward Earth and zooming overhead in perfect formations.

Ira Roberts of Ashland also likes the Lima Lima planes. Roberts was a gunners mate in the Navy and was in Tokyo the day the treaty ending World War II was signed.

"I like the show," Roberts said. "I don't get to see many other veterans often."


Capt. Joe "Rifle" Shetterly prepares for a slow-motion barrel roll in front of the crowd in his A-10 West Thunderbolt II fighter jet at the 23rd annual Salute to Veterans Airshow at Columbia Regional Airport on Sunday, May 29. In addition to rolls, Shetterly demonstrated simulated attacks and vertical climbs for the audience. (Photo by Cherish Grimm)


Inside a Flyover: Selfridge 'Hogs' Support Memorial Day Observances

Airmen from 127th Wing at the Selfridge Air National Guard Base are proud to be a part of the holiday.

By Sgt. Dan Heaton, 127th Wing Public Affairs
Published 6:00am by New Baltimore-Chesterfield News

Michigan Air National Guard pilot 1st Lt. Brett DeVries will participate in about a dozen or so parades on Memorial Day. If you see him, be sure to wave.

He'll be the one driving the Warthog.

DeVries and other pilots and Airmen of the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base will be giving up part of their holiday time on Memorial Day, as A-10 attack aircraft from the base fly over about two dozen parades and community gatherings.

"You can easily see the people down along the parade route," DeVries said. "Being a person who grew up in this area, I look forward to being able to fly over our local communities and be part of Memorial Day right here at home."

DeVries is a pilot with the 107th Fighter Squadron, part of the 127th Wing at Selfridge. The squadron flies the distinctively shaped A-10 Thunderbolt II, more popularly known as the Warthog. The 'Hogs' are specially designed for air-to-ground combat, a mission in high demand in today's world environment. They are the only aircraft currently in the U.S. Air Force inventory to carry the "A" designator, for "attack."

"I think people want to see the military on Memorial Day. It really is what it is all about," said 1st Lt. Russ Overton, another A-10 pilot at Selfridge.

According to Department of Defense policy, the military considers requests for flyovers of gatherings in honor of certain patriotic holidays, including Memorial Day, July 4 and Veterans Day. The policy is designed to encourage the advancement of aviation and contribute to the public knowledge of Armed Forces aviation equipment and capabilities.

DeVries, who works as the scheduling officer for the 107th, said Selfridge aircraft will be in the air for a couple of hours on Memorial Day. Maintenance and other support personnel will begin prepping the aircraft at least two hours prior to flight time and then spend another two hours or so with the aircraft after they land to "put them to bed." More than three dozen Airmen will be called in on what would normally be a holiday day off to perform the necessary duties to launch, fly and recover the aircraft. That's not counting those who would normally have to be on duty at the base, such as security personnel and others.

Memorial Day, marked this year on May 30, is a day set aside by Congressional decree to honor the service and sacrifice of men and women who have given their lives in service to the nation. The day has long been marked by parades and community gatherings to honor the fallen. Originally begun to honor those who died in the Civil War, Memorial Day was broadened after World War I to honor all of America's fallen war heroes. In the post-Civil War era, the day was known as Decoration Day and community groups would gather to tend to the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers. Today that tradition continues at many cemeteries where small U.S. flags are placed at the graves of military veterans.

"Its all about the memory," said Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Kelly, who works as part of the 127th Maintenance Group at Selfridge. Airmen in his unit serve as crew chiefs, helping to prep the aircraft for flight, among numerous other tasks. "Once you allow people to forget, you can never recapture that memory of the sacrifice made by so many."

Devries said the fighter squadron at Selfridge gets more requests than it can accommodate for Memorial Day weekend. He said he uses a map and a list of all the requests to determine how the squadron can cover the maximum amount of parades in one trip.

"Then we figure we'll be flying at 300 knots and we determine approximately what time we will be where," he said. "We try to fly by within a window of 15 minutes or so before the parade start time and 30 minutes after the start time."

Military leaders at Selfridge pointed out that the Memorial Day flights are not extra flights added just for the holiday. Military budgets do not allow for "extras."

Depending on their status, all pilots in the fighter squadron are expected to fly 6-8 "sorties" or missions per month to maintain their proficiency in the cockpit. The Memorial Day flight is factored into that total.

Kelly said that all military aircraft are on a variety of maintenance inspection cycles, meaning his Airmen need to be watching a variety of schedules to plan which planes can fly on any given day and how the next flight will impact the timing of the next required schedule.

As an example, a major engine inspection on an A-10–which can take several days of total work time—needs to be completed after every 125 hours of flying time. Some smaller components require inspections as often as every 25 hours of flight time.

"So we need to look at the availability schedule of the aircraft, but we also need to look at the availability of people," he said. "Our Airmen are looking forward to a long weekend just as much as everyone else."

Though it can carry a variety of missiles, rockets and bombs, the A-10's most notable feature is its 30 mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun, around which the entire aircraft is designed. Designed specifically as an anti-tank weapon, the gun is among the largest, heaviest and most powerful aircraft cannons in the history of the U.S. military.

In addition to the A-10s, the 127th Wing also includes a squadron that flies KC-135 Stratotankers. These big refuelers, a military version of Boeing 707 aircraft, generally don't perform such flyovers. The tankers, along with the A-10s and Selfridge-based helicopters flown by the Army, Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security, all will be on display during the 2011 Selfridge Air Show and Open House, a free event scheduled for Aug. 20-21 at the base.

So far this year, some 200 members of the Selfridge-based air wing have deployed in support of a variety of military operations around the world in more than a dozen different countries.

1st Lt. Brett DeVries, a pilot with the 107th Fighter Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, points to a mapping system he used to determine the flight path for aircraft from Selfridge to fly over Detroit area Memorial Day parades and similar observances. A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft from Selfridge, also known as Warthogs will be flying over some two dozen parades. Credit USAF photo by Rachel Barton.

An A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, also known as the Warthog takes off at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. A-10s from Selfridge will be flying over a number of Detroit area patriotic observances over the Memorial Day weekend. Credit USAF photo.


Friday, May 27, 2011

A-10 Full Mission Trainers use MetaVR Visuals in Close Air Support Virtual Strike Exercise

MetaVR Virtual Reality Scene Generator (VRSG) rendering of an A-10C entity flying over a high-resolution geospecific village on MetaVR's virtual Afghanistan.

A news release by MetaVR, Inc.

In February 2011, MetaVR 3D real-time visuals were used in five different types of simulators, including A-10 full mission trainers (FMTs), as part of a Close Air Support exercise by several participating sites during the Virtual Strike 11-1 warfighter tactical training exercise orchestrated by the Distributed Mission Operations Center (DMOC) at Kirtland Air Force Base.

As part of the virtual exercise, MetaVR Virtual Reality Scene Generator (VRSG) visuals were used for the out-the-window and sensor views for the A-10 FMTs from the Arkansas ANG's 184 FS and Michigan ANG's 127 FW, joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) first person simulator with target designation as well as for a simulated UAV feed at the DMOC, and for the, and for first person JTAC mode via the Illinois Air National Guard 169 ASOS from Peoria, Ill. All the sites were linked together using the Air Force's secure long haul network infrastructure.

Focused on integrated JTAC and Joint Fires Observer Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) training related to close air support, joint fire support and joint air attack teams, this Joint Close Air Support (JCAS) proof-of-concept Air Support Operations Squadron training was significant for being a fully distributed Air Support Operations Center (ASOC) JTAC exercise. As part of the exercise, target designations from the ground-based JTAC simulators were fed to the A-10C simulators to coordinate ground attack missions.

The DMOC's Joint Close Air Support Operations Simulator (JCOS) at Kirtland AFB consists of 5 MetaVR VRSG channels including an out-the-window view (OTW), 3 channels that emulate the view in handheld command and control (C2) devices including the M22 binoculars, the Mark VII laser range finder and the GLTD II laser target designator, and a single AAR/stealth channel. VRSG also provides a UAV-produced ROVER feed for the JCOS through the Air Force Synthetic Environment for Reconnaissance and Surveillance (AFSERS).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

French pilots, families integrate into base, community

by Airman 1st Class Brigitte N. Brantley-Sisk
23rd Wing Public Affairs

5/26/2011 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Many people are familiar with high school and college foreign student exchange programs, but not as many are aware that a similar exchange happens with foreign military pilots.

Moody is currently hosting two French pilots who are integrated with a fighter and rescue squadron as they become proficient on their particular airframe.

"The units here and in France have similar missions, but we have different tactics and techniques," said Commandant (Maj.) Yann "Shrek" Malard, 75th Fighter Squadron A-10C Thunderbolt II pilot. "Serving with an American unit gives us the chance to see how they do things. My original aircraft, the Mirage2000D, is similar to the A-10, but I've learned many things that I'll be able to share when I return to France."

The other French pilot is also flying something similar to his original aircraft. Capitaine (Capt.) Sebastian Alvarez, 41st Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot, originally flew the SA 330 Puma.

"I only arrived at the squadron in February, so I'm still getting settled in," said Captain Alvarez. "We have guys who do a job similar to the pararescuemen here, so there are similarities between the jobs and the ground forces we work with."

While both the major and the captain have practiced interacting with ground forces through exercises, the major has gone beyond the simulation.

"My best memory from here is the six months I spent deployed to Afghanistan," said Major Malard, who arrived at Moody in late 2009. "We spent nearly 400 hours completing 90 combat missions. All the large-scale training I completed beforehand really helped me prepare."

Something else that is helping both the major and the captain doesn't relate directly to their job, but their home lives instead.

"My wife Lise and I are getting quite involved with meeting neighbors and seeing things in the local area," said Captain Alvarez. "I'm amazed at how quickly my daughter has picked up English- it's how she speaks to her dolls now."

The major has had a similar experience while getting accustomed to the Valdosta, Ga., style of life.

"My wife Isabelle went back to France for two of the months I was deployed, but she's been here the rest of the time," said Major Malard. "She feels good being here and has been very welcomed. She's gotten involved with a lot of the spouse's social events, which helped her get settled in here more quickly."

Both Major Malard and Captain Alvarez will have a chance to talk about their experiences here when members from the French attaché visit in early June.

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga.-- Commandant (Maj.) Yann "Shrek" Malard, 75th Fighter Squadron A-10C Thunderbolt II pilot, has been in the officer exchange program since 2009 and originally flew a Mirage 2000D, which is similar to the A-10. Through his experience flying with American pilots, Major Malard said he has learned many things he'd be able to share when he returns to France. (Contributed photo) Hi-res


Airman filmed for the big screen at baseball games

Released by 122nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs:

Airman 1st Class Sharane Watson is filmed in front of an A-10 Warthog on April 16, 2011 in Ft. Wayne, Ind. Watson was filmed by the Ft. Wayne Tincaps, a local minor league baseball team. She introduced the national anthem and the footage will be played on the big screen at the team's home games. (Photo by USAF Staff Sgt. Justin Goeden) Hi-res

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

'DCS: A-10C' Reminds Gamers What a Real Challenge Is

ÜBER SIM: Digital Combat Simulator: A-10C/ recalls the days when video-game sims meant painstakingly accurate simulations rather than highly detailed arcade actioners. Prepare to crash-land!

By Dave Prince
Posted May 25, 2011 at 8:37 a.m.

Somewhere out there in the vast sea of possibility dwells an alternate-reality version of myself who managed to get off his ass and actually do something with his life, instead of opting for the sexy rock-star lifestyle of the alt-weekly video-game reviewer.

Actually, multiverse theory says that a lot of those guys technically exist, but I'm not talking about all the boring accountants and insurance salesmen here. No, the guy I'm thinking of joined the Air Force right out of high school, making pilot in record time and getting his pick of assignments from a military branch glad to have his service. This guy is currently flying missions over Afghanistan in a Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II. Despite the vaguely anti-establishment sentiments that come with the aforementioned alt-weekly lifestyle, I envy him.

Commonly known as the "Warthog," the A-10 is a close-air support aircraft that's more flying tank than jet fighter. Built around a primary weapon as large as a Volkswagen, which shoots 30 mm shells with enough cumulative force to actually stall its twin turbofan engines in certain situations, the A-10 is an ugly, angry-looking thing, a snub-nosed straight-wing testament to precision-controlled militarized destruction.

I found out about the trick where the A-10's cannon stalls the engines firsthand, by the way. Cross-universe communications are out of the question (and I'm certainly not going the really hard route and actually joining the Air Force), but thanks to the magic of Valve's Steam PC gaming distribution platform, I found the next best thing. Russian developer Eagle Dynamics' Digital Combat Simulator: A-10C was recently released on Steam, giving this very niche product from an equally obscure developer a level of exposure wider than it could reach on its own.

The game is, for better or for worse, a picture-perfect simulation of the iconic air-to-ground aircraft. Focusing on the intricate details of pilot aircraft management, it combines a complex physics model with a level of graphic detail that borders on the photorealistic. The result is as real an environment of close-support engagement as can be had without a few years' worth of in-depth training. This makes DCS A-10C a double-edged sword. Its meticulous attention to even the smallest of details is a relic of a bygone age in which the simulation was king; it could be argued that this single-minded focus is a distraction today when even DCS A-10C's peers in the simulation genre all too often forgo such detail in favor of a lowbrow, action-movie feel.

This argument would not be without merit, but at least in my experience, DCS A-10C falls squarely into the "for better" category. I installed the simulation. I fired up the first of 13 tutorials. It took me 30 laboriously guided minutes just to turn the plane on. Two or three tutorials later—when I was actually allowed to take the thing into the air—I planted my virtual Warthog into a simulated Eastern European cornfield within 30 seconds. The next few runs didn't fare much better.

It was awesome, but not for the reasons that games usually are. DCS A-10C obliterates the line between "game" and "simulation." It's not strictly fun in the classical sense; like the air combat simulators of yore, its focus is on precision rather than victory.

The hoops you jump through are the ones that get the Warthog up and running, and for the layman, the greatest accomplishments lie not in feats of arcade-like reflexes, but in the mental gymnastics required to remember the steps needed to launch countermeasures before an enemy missile finds its target. (Less detailed modes are included for the Warthog underachiever, but playing those rather misses the point.)

You don't come away from it with the sense of outlandish achievement you'd get from rescuing a princess from a giant cartoon turtle. Instead, a session of DCS A-10C missions—whether you complete your objectives or, like me, you're scrambling for the ejector seat controls—leaves you with the feeling that you've learned something. It's the same rush that certain kinds of people get when they re-enact long-dead wars or watch (according to my wife, entirely too much of) the History Channel.

I don't expect to be a passable Warthog pilot by the end of the week, or even by the end of month, or the year, or ever. And that's exactly how it should be—I expect to be insultingly, irredeemably bad when presented with something as realistically complex as a turn as an A-10 pilot. If that's not your cup of tea, then look elsewhere for your kicks. But if you want a taste of a real challenge, DCS A-10C delivers.


Load Crew of the quarter competition

Released by 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. - Members of the 354th Aircraft Maintenance Unit load crew prepares a GBU-12 laser-guided bomb for loading during a load crew of the quarter competition on the flight line here May 20. Load crews from the 354th, 357th and 358th AMUs competed for the title of load crew of the first quarter. The winning team will compete for load crew of the year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jerilyn Quintanilla) Hi-res

Nice camel race "Hog" toon by Barry Munden

This very nice graphic was created by Warthog News contributor Barry Munden.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A-10s are part of the game 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3'


190th Fighter Squadron supports Oregon Air National Guard training

Published by KATU News:

Two Idaho Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 190th Fighter Squadron "loiter" over the training area to provide close air support for the 125th Special Tactics Squadron, Oregon Air National Guard, during joint training near Antelope, Ore., May 17. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Eric A. Rutherford, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Oregon Army National Guard)

An Idaho Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 190th Fighter Squadron provides close air support for the 125th Special Tactics Squadron, Oregon Air National Guard, during joint training near Antelope, Ore., May 17. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Eric A. Rutherford, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Oregon Army National Guard)

An Idaho Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 190th Fighter Squadron provides close air support for the 125th Special Tactics Squadron, Oregon Air National Guard, during joint training near Antelope, Ore., May 17. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Eric A. Rutherford, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Oregon Army National Guard)


Flying Tiger heritage lives on through air park

by Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
23rd Wing Public Affairs

5/23/2011 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- When the plaque commemorating the President George W. Bush Air Park at Moody Field was unveiled May 20, it was one of the final steps in completing the project.

The air park is dedicated to former President George W. Bush, who spent a year at Moody for pilot training 1968 to 1969.

"I think having a former president here at Moody for pilot training is an important part of our history," said Col. Skip Hinman, 23rd Fighter Group commander. "Before this air park we didn't have much else dedicated to the president or his time at Moody."

The air park uses five aircraft to showcase more than 70 years of Flying Tiger heritage.

"I love the air park," said Colonel Hinman. "The focal point starts at the P-40 Warhawk then continues to show the legacy of the Flying Tigers from the P-40 to the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

"The Flying Tigers have the most visible heritage of any combat aviation unit," he added. "Most people are familiar with the World War II Flying Tigers."

Retired Col. Michael Steven O'Dowd, who was the commander of the 23rd FG before Colonel Hinman, agrees about the history of the Flying Tigers.

"The air park shows the course of Airmen who have deployed in the past 70 years and took on difficult missions," he said. "These Airmen have done amazing things. The Air Force is able to complete its missions because of the great effort by Airmen."

In 2005, the 23rd Wing moved from Pope Air Force Base, N.C., to Moody, and prior to that the 23rd WG was assigned to England Air Force Base, La. Both had air parks dedicated to the history of the Flying Tigers.

"In addition to relocating aircraft and personnel, we also gained a legendary heritage," said Col. Gary Henderson, 23rd Wing commander. "Moody leadership was determined to construct an area that would act as a focal point for the base and encompass the features from the air parks of two previous Flying Tigers bases."

The air park is meant to give Moody Airmen a chance to learn about Moody's heritage and see what Airmen before them did.

"It's like a family tree," said Colonel O'Dowd. "It shows the continuity of the Flying Tigers. The teeth represent something distinctive to the Flying Tigers, a remarkable and unique history."

During the dedication ceremony many distinguished guests spoke about the air park and the Flying Tigers. Retired Col. Clarence S. Parker, 3550th Pilot Training Wing commander from 1968 to 1971, read a letter on behalf of President Bush.

The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of the plaque commemorating the air park to President Bush.

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- A formation of A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft make their way through the skies of Moody during a dedication ceremony for the President George W. Bush Air Park at Moody Field May 20. The A-10 is one of five aircraft displayed at the air park. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter) Hi-res


Monday, May 23, 2011

163rd Fighter Squadron 'Blacksnakes' A-10C update

By Joachim Jacob

(Updated May 30, 2011)

Already in February this year, from Ray Steup and Shane Henderson, both from the United States, I've got their kind permissions to post their unique shots of A-10Cs from the 163rd Fighter Squadron 'Blacksnakes', 122nd Fighter Wing (Indiana Air National Guard), Fort Wayne, already uploaded on flickr. And now, I will finally post this very interesting photo stuff.

Identified so far by known pictures are the following 163rd FS "Hogs":

78-0658 (Still only with IN tail code)
Aircraft history: 78-0658 (A10-0278) 103rd FS, 111th FW (PA)

79-0213 (Wearing full unit markings and nose art)
Aircraft history: 79-0213 (A10-0477) 74th TFS, 23rd TFW (EL); Desert Storm; to AMARC as AC0468 28 Sep 2005; returned to service; 23rd FG, 23rd Wg (FT)

80-0230 (Still only with IN tail code)
Aircraft history: 80-0230 (A10-0580) to AMARC as AC0232 27 Sep 2000; returned to service 21 Nov 2000; back to AMARC as AC0327 7 Nov 2002; returned to service; 103rd FS, 111th FW (PA)

81-0944 (Still only with IN tail code)
Aircraft history: 81-0944 (A10-0639) 190th FS, 124th Wg (ID)

82-0661 (Wearing full unit markings and nose art, marked 163 FS as the 163rd Fighter Squadron's boss bird)
Aircraft history: 82-0661 (A10-0709) 353rd TFS, 354th TFW (MB); Desert Storm; to AMARC as AC0265 15 May 2001; returned to service 19 Jul 2001; back to AMARC as AC0472 17 Jan 2006; returned to service; 23rd FG, 23rd Wg (FT)

Update May 30, 2011:

Jared Soergel told me via e-mail: I logged two more serials earlier this month via tails passed to a tanker (radio logs from 10 May): SANDY 1 (A-10C, 80-0152) and SANDY 2 (A-10C, 78-0692). In addition to the serials you have posted (plus the two above), I have heard that 78-0598, 78-0679, 80-0168 are the other a/c.

And so, if Jared is right, we have the following additional "Hogs":

Aircraft history: 78-0598 (A10-0218) 75th FS, 23rd FG, 23rd Wg (FT

Aircraft history: 78-0679 (A10-0299) 23rd FG, 23rd Wg (FT)

Aircraft history: 78-0692 (A10-0312) 103rd FS, 111th FW (PA)

Aircraft history: 80-0152 (A10-0502) 75th TFS, 23rd TFW (EL); Desert Storm (flew as a 76th TFS replacement bird); 103rd FS, 111th FW (PA)

Aircraft history: 80-0168 (A10-0518) to AMARC as AC0216 5 Jun 2000; returned to service 1 Aug 2000; seen at Langley airshow 29 Apr 2007; 355th FW (DM)

And here are the pictures:

A-10C 78-0658 on final approach to runway 23, March 17, 2011. (Photo by Ray Steup) Full size

A-10C 78-0658 flies down runway 23 March 17, 2011. (Photo by Ray Steup) Full size

A-10C 80-0230 on final approach to runway 23, March 17, 2011. (Photo by Ray Steup) Full size

A-10C 80-0230 on final approach to runway 23, March 17, 2011 (Photo by Ray Steup) Full size

A-10C 79-0213, May 13, 2011. (Photo by Ray Steup) Full size

A-10C 82-0661, marked 163 FS, May 13, 2011. (Photo by Ray Steup) Full size

A-10C 82-0661, marked 163 FS, lifts off runway 32 at Fort Wayne International on Sunday afternoon. Call sign, "Sniper 1." (Photo by Ray Steup) Full size

A-10C 82-0661, marked 163 FS. September 10, 2010. (Photo by Ray Steup) Full size

A-10C 82-0661, marked 163 FS. September 10, 2010. (Photo by Ray Steup) Full size

This was really a lucky shot to be able to capture both a "new" A-10 with one of the 163rd F-16's in the background. Good stuff! September 10, 2010. (Photo by Ray Steup) Full size

Captured from a video clip, A-10C 82-0661, marked 163 FS, takes off on runway 5 at Fort Wayne. Full size

All of the following pictures were taken on September 11, 2010.

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

Displayed in the hangar was A-10C 80-0168, still marked 355 FW. It wears the nose art only on the left side. Note the "Let's Roll" logo. Crew inscriptions are: Plt Maj Jesse Jahn, Dcc SSgt Joseph Ulskajes (???), Acc SrA Gregory Mitchell.

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

(Photo by Shane Henderson)

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

Also displayed in the hangar was A-10C 79-0213:

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

(Photo by Shane Henderson) Full size

Note: Special thanks to Ray and Shane for sharing their pictures on Warthog News. BTW: 163rd Fighter Squadron A-10C shots are still very rare on the public web. Anyone who can/will provide any more related photos and serial numbers? I would be very grateful for any support.

See also:
122nd Fighter Wing
163rd Fighter Squadron

(Graphic by Berry Munden)
122FW/163FS Exclusive...
Gotta GITA (According to this source, on April 8, 2010, the 122nd FW received their first A-10A from D-M that will be used for maintenance and load training. 80-0168 landed code 1 after a 9 hour flight.)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Hogs Of War, A-10 Warthog Upgrades

By Jeff Rhodes

"Every day when I wake up, I know exactly how many days are left before we go into theater. Standing up a new system is a challenge, but facing a near-term deployment is a huge weight. We are going to be on the world stage. We have to be at our best.."

That is how Lt. Col. Dan Marino, the 175th Wing's operations group commander, describes the dual task his Maryland Air National Guard unit has faced. The 175th Wing's 104th Fighter Squadron is currently completing a conversion to an upgraded version of the A-10 close air support aircraft and preparing for an Air Expeditionary Force deployment later this year.

The A-10, officially christened Thunderbolt II, but universally referred to as Warthog because of its ungainly appearance, is the first US Air Force aircraft specifically designed for close air support of ground forces. The A-10 entered service in 1976.

The Warthog, or more simply, Hog, is a relatively uncomplicated design. The Air Force's requirements at the time were straightforward—the aircraft had to carry a large ordnance load, have extended loiter time over the battlefield, provide good maneuverability at low speeds and low altitudes, be easy to maintain, and be able to operate from small, forward bases. The aircraft didn't necessarily have to be fast. In fact, combat speed of the A-10 is around 450 knots, much slower than its fighter contemporaries.

The thinking at the time was that the A-10 would have to provide close air support and be able to halt a Soviet advance coming through Germany. Consequently, the aircraft was built around the mammoth General Electric GAU-8/A Avenger 30 mm seven-barrel Gatling-type cannon, which was specifically designed to destroy tanks.

During the 1991 Gulf War, A-10s had a mission capable rate of 95.7 percent. Warthog pilots flew 8,100 sorties, launched more than ninety percent of the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles used in the war, and destroyed 987 tanks and more than 1,800 trucks and vehicles.

"If you look at the history of the A-10, every new capability, every new system put on the jet is an add-on," notes Maj. Doug Baker, a 2,000-hour pilot with the 104th FS. "After continually adding systems, we had an aircraft with all this extra stuff it was never originally designed to have. For instance, we had a targeting pod, but the pod was never fully integrated. We had to tell the computer the aircraft was carrying a Maverick. We had to put target coordinates in by hand. Under the upgrade program, we are ripping out all of the old independent systems and replacing them with a comprehensive system that is expandable, and it works."

The Precision Engagement, or PE, program significantly increases the pilots' situational awareness and their ability to accurately detect, identify, and destroy targets in all weather from greater altitudes and distances using precision-guided weapons.

PE is a five-year program to upgrade all 356 aircraft now in the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command, and active-duty Air Force A-10 fleet. During the 1970s, two modified A-10s were designated A-10B, so the modified A-10As are redesignated A-10Cs.

The Air Force awarded the PE development contract in 2001. Lockheed Martin in Owego, New York, teamed with BAE Systems, Southwest Research Institute, and Northrop Grumman to develop the upgrade kit. The first prototype A-10C was flown in 2005. The first production kits were delivered to the Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill AFB, Utah, for installation in March 2006. The 104th FS received its first production A-10C last August.

Most of the changes are related to avionics. The A-10 is now wired to carry either the Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-33(v) Sniper XR or the Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-28 Litening AT advanced targeting pod. The upgrade also includes an uprated 1760 data bus running to six of the aircraft's eleven weapon stations, which enables the A-10 to carry the GBU-31/32/38 Joint Direct Attack Munition series and the CBU-103/104/105 Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser; upgraded DC power converters; and a digital stores management system.

The Situational Awareness Data Link, or SADL, is also part of the upgrade. "Being a guy who never flew with a radar, seeing the SADL picture is magic," Baker observes. "We share data, and it is all secure. With SADL, you don't necessarily have to input target coordinates manually. I just slave the targeting pod to what I'm looking at, and the system figures out the coordinates. Then I can send that information to the other jets so everyone is looking at the same thing."

In the cockpit, the A-10C pilot has two five- by five-inch color multifunction displays with a moving map as well as a new control stick and throttle. "The jet was all analog and manual before," notes Marino. "I had to reach up to the instrument panel and throw switches and push buttons to drop a bomb. Now, I can change the switch positions and drop weapons without taking my hands off the throttle or stick."

The last four 104th FS pilots went through conversion training in March. The unit now has fifteen A-10Cs on the ramp, with six more coming because of force realignments. But getting to this point took effort. "We volunteered for A-10C," says Lt. Col. Kevin Campbell, a Warthog pilot who is the 175th Maintenance Squadron commander. "Funding for the program was in jeopardy, but the Guard provided an infusion of cash. That allowed us to go forward and put the Guard at the forefront of the program."

The 104th FS and the 110th Fighter Wing at Battle Creek, Michigan, were chosen to lead the fleet. "We committed the lead aircraft to the program. That was key to keeping the line moving," notes Campbell, who moved his family to Nevada to stand up a Guard detachment at Nellis AFB outside of Las Vegas. There, the 104th Fighter Squadron and the active duty 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron brought the A-10C into operation.

"The Guard operation at Nellis is the big success story," adds Campbell. "We kept sortie generation up and made sure we got the test points. We provided a lot of experience on the pilot and maintenance sides. We have been living the Total Force concept at Nellis since November 2005."

"We had the Guard and the active duty embedded together at Nellis," recalls CMSgt. Terry Allen, the wing’s maintenance chief. "We have people who have been working on this jet for twenty years who helped develop the training documents for the A-10C. We sent close to fifty percent of our people to train at Nellis for thirty-five days at a time.

"What we did at Nellis kept development of the C-model on track," Allen adds. "We had, and are still having, some growing pains. The A-10C mod is a little challenging. We finish at Nellis this July. We thought we were going to be there only six months. But we overcame. We fly at Nellis; we fly in Baltimore."

"I was a part of the initial cadre on A-10C testing," notes Baker. "Four of us are in test. We had to get what is called a Testing Upgrade, which is like a basic test pilot license. I ended up going to Nellis for more than two weeks every two months. Flying in a C-model there and then going back to an A-10A in Baltimore was a challenge. I had two sets of habit patterns. Habit patterns are hard to keep, so I was the happiest guy on this base to see our last A-model go in for modification."

As the A-10C was being put through its paces at Nellis and modified jets were being delivered, training became a critical issue. "The question became, 'How do we get the basics?' " notes Marino. The unit will soon have a cockpit simulator with a full visual system that will allow multiship missions and distributed training. But the initial answer was a desktop simulator that uses commercial components and is tailored to the A-10. Baltimore and Battle Creek each have five of the desktop sims.

"The desktop simulator is an outstanding tool for a new system like this," says Capt. Rich Hunt, the squadron’s weapons officer. "The challenge in the A-10C is to build finger memory since nearly all of the controls are on the throttle and stick. Pilots have to unlearn their previous habits and develop new ones. This business still comes down to flying a jet and employing the weapons."

A four-flight pilot checkout syllabus was developed by Air Combat Command. The first flight familiarizes pilots with the new throttle and stick and teaches them how to get the targeting pod into position. The second flight adds training with Maverick, the tactical awareness display, and the moving map. The third flight concentrates on understanding HUD symbology and manipulating the sensor of interest, which is critical for employing weapons. The fourth flight involves flying in a tactical environment. "Once qualified, we like to say the pilots have a license to learn," says Hunt. "With the entire squadron qualified, we can press forward and start training for the AEF deployment."

The Baltimore A-10Cs will deploy first this fall, followed shortly afterward by A-10Cs from Battle Creek. "The Hog will never be faster than other jets, but now we can do almost everything else," notes Marino. "With JDAM, we can hit a pop-up target. We will be doing nontraditional surveillance and reconnaissance. We will go out and check for IEDs in front of a convoy. The Hog was designed to destroy armor columns, and now we look for a group of four or five people in the woods. PE allows us to find and fix the target rapidly. With SADL, target information comes up on the net. We can drop JDAM, 500-, or 1,000-pound bombs and launch Maverick."

"The change from analog to digital is huge," says Campbell. "The infrastructure is in the airplane, and the system can accommodate growth. It is better and easier and faster to update. Close air support requires talking to troops on the ground and delivering weapons in close proximity to friendly forces. The A-10C makes us much better at that.

"Anytime we put troops on the ground, we will need that type of close air support," Campbell continues. "If we have the sensors, we can perform CAS from 10,000 feet. With the A-10C, we can do battle damage assessment from standoff distances. I can still roll in with the gun or with a bomb if I have to. But now, I have to expose myself to threats only if the situation warrants taking such a risk, not because the aircraft’s capabilities are limited."

The drawdown of the A-10 is expected to begin in the early 2020s when the F-35 comes online in sufficient numbers. The last A-10 is scheduled for retirement in 2028. Notes Campbell: "We can't stay around forever, but the Hog has to be viable until it is time to go."


Please note: After trying Google for the A-10 again and again, I'm very happy to "recover" this important news article, originally published in Lockheed Martin's Code One Magazine, April 2007. Anyone who downloaded the original version?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

355th Fighter Wing A-10s caught at D-M March 4, 2011 (Part Two)

At Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, Warthog News contributor James O'Rear from the United States had the opportunity to take the following pictures, uploaded on his Flickr photostream May 20:

A-10C 80-0211 from the 354th Fighter Squadron "Bulldogs" on final approach. Photo by James O'Rear) Full size

A-10C 79-0167 from the 354th Fighter Squadron "Bulldogs" (still without fin-flash) on final approach. (Photo by James O'Rear) Full size

A-10C 79-0178 from the 354th Fighter Squadron "Bulldogs" on final approach. (Photo by James O'Rear) Full size

Note: All three aircraft are carrying an external fuel tank and two MXU-648 baggage pods. That means it was a ferry flight.

See also: 355th Fighter Wing A-10s caught at D-M March 4, 2011 (Photos by Warthog News contributor Ned Harris from the United States)