Landing in austere conditions is a task the A-10 Thunderbolt II is well designed for. The aircraft’s twin engines are placed high on the aircraft, minimizing the risk the engines could be damaged during landing.
During combat operations, there’s no substitute for the ability to talk face-to-face with a supporting unit. For pilots from the 124th Fighter Wing’s 190th Fighter Squadron, this meant landing their A-10 Thunderbolt IIs in a dry lake bed to discuss operations with the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team’s air liaison officer while supporting the brigade’s National Training Center rotation at Fort Irwin, California, Jun. 4 – 9.
“We can talk about the latest conditions on the battlefield,” said 124th Air Support Operations Squadron Maj. Johnny Reyes, the brigade’s air liaison officer. “They can get the latest update on the commander’s intent for use of close air support.”
As Capt. Robert Taylor, Joint Force Headquarters, Idaho National Guard, explains in the article Grounded: Idaho pilots land to work with Idaho Soldiers, the Idaho Air National Guard’s 190th Fighter Squadron supported the 116th CBCT’s month-long NTC rotation through its participation in Green Flag-West 19-8, a realistic air-land integration combat training exercise. Pilots launch out of Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas to provide close air support to the 116th CBCT in the brigade’s fight against opposing forces provided by the U.S. Army’s 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.
Pilots spent the week completing qualification landings on the NTC’s Freedom Landing Strip to be prepared to land in austere environments in a combat environment.
“The training gives us confidence we can do it in a combat situation if required,” said Lt. Col. “Champ” Clark, 190th Fighter Squadron commander.
Landing in austere conditions is a task the A-10 Thunderbolt II is well designed for, Clark said. The aircraft’s twin engines are placed high on the aircraft, minimizing the risk the engines could be damaged during landing. Its tires are wide and rugged. Its high ground clearance assists with landing on less-then-ideal surfaces.
“It’s the same as landing on a paved runway, but different,” Clark said. “You have to ensure you land soft and you can’t really break as much as you’d like to. The runway is a little rougher. It’s a little more challenging, so you have to be more careful.”
Once pilots land, they have the ability to communicate directly with Soldiers and Airmen on the ground, including the unit’s air liaison officer, the ground force commanders and their staffs.
Photo credit: Master Sgt. Joshua C. Allmaras / U.S. Air National Guard and Sgt. Mason Cutrer / U.S. Army