In this article:
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base begins divesting its fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft
A-10C aircraft 82-648 was retired from service at Davis-Monthan and transited from the 354th Fighter Squadron to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group for final maintenance procedures and display preparation for the Davis-Monthan where hundreds of retired Aircraft are stored.
“The A-10 has been the symbol of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base for many years, and it will continue to be a symbol for the Airmen of DM, a symbol of their commitment, excellence and service,” told US Air Force (USAF) Col. Scott Mills, 355th Wing commander and A-10 pilot, to Airman 1st Clss Robert Allen Cooke III, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Ross, 355th Wing Public Affairs, for the article Davis-Monthan Retires A-10 Aircraft. “For now, we’re divesting a single squadron during the summer-fall timeframe of 2024.”
The USAF is planning to divest the entire fleet of A-10 aircraft within the next 3-5 years. Pilots and maintainers at Davis-Monthan will move onto the F-35 aircraft due to the divestment.
“There will always be a job for maintainers; it may not be on the A-10, but the Air Force needs maintainers to sustain airpower,” said USAF Col. Clarence McRae, 355th Maintenance Group commander, “Perhaps the biggest draw of future maintainers will be in the F-35 community. Airplanes are still going to break, and we are still going to fix them.”
The A-10 Thunderbolt II
Originally designed for Close Air Support, or CAS, by Fairchild Republic, an Aircraft and Aerospace manufacturing company, the first A-10 model had the capability to carry bombs and rockets on 11 pylons and featured a 30mm GAU-8/A rotary cannon protruding from the nose of the aircraft.
Today A-10C is fit with Night Vision Imaging Systems (NVIS), goggle compatible single-seat cockpits forward of their wings, Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems. Avionics equipment includes communications, inertial navigation and GPS, fire control and weapons delivery systems, target penetration aids and night vision goggles. Their weapons delivery systems include heads-up displays that indicate airspeed, altitude, dive angle, navigation information and weapons aiming references; and a low altitude safety and targeting enhancement system (LASTE) which provides constantly computing impact point freefall ordnance delivery. The aircraft also have armament control panels, and infrared and electronic countermeasures to handle surface-to-air-threats, both missile and anti-aircraft artillery.
“The plane is unique in its diverse ability to support our ground team not only with precision munitions from a distance, like we’re doing as we speak in the Middle East, but also with scalpel-like accuracy using the GAU-8 gun under the most difficult environments imaginable,” said USAF Col. Razvan Radoescu, 355th Operations Group commander. “The plane, coupled with our high-level training standards, are the reasons so many of our joint and coalition forces returned home to fight another day – because they had A-10s overhead covering their six, or employing weapons to save their lives when nobody else could.”
The first A-10 to arrive at Davis-Monthan
The first model of the aircraft to arrive at Davis-Monthan was an A-10A on March 2, 1976. This model was assigned to the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing that arrived here in 1971 and replaced the Vought A-7D Corsair flown by the 355th TFW. The 355th TFW was later reclassified as the 355th Tactical Fighter Training Wing, prompting the 354th, 357th, and 358th Fighter squadrons to train USAF Pilots on the A-10A aircraft.
“While the aircraft’s maneuverability and munitions, including the mighty GAU-8, make it overwhelmingly effective on the battlefield, it’s the pilot that makes it special,” Mills said. “The pilot has been trained to care about and understand the young Army infantryman on the ground; they are the mission.”
Davis-Monthan expanding its Rescue Footprint
Coinciding with the divestment, Davis-Monthan plans to expand its Rescue Footprint, which may lead to additional utility of the HC-130 aircraft and the HH-60W helicopter. Airframes expected to arrive from the Air Force Special Operations Command include the MC-130 and OA-1K.
“From an Ops personal standpoint, this divestment arguably allows a more expeditious stand-up of the F-35, even as that program continues to struggle with a variety of delays,” said Radoescu.
Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Robert Allen Cooke III / U.S. Air Force