Military Aviation

Hawgs in the Wild: USAF A-10s train to land in austere environments

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.

This model is available from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

“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.”

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. A-10C Thunderbolt II 124th FW, 190th FS Skullbangers, ID/79-0194 / 2018

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

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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