Military Aviation

Video shows A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft being loaded with weapons on a US Highway for the first time

The exercise featured several firsts including the first time a US Air Force aircraft had weapons loaded on a public highway. The weapons used in the exercise were inactive.

The Michigan National Guard hosted an agile combat exercise just east of Munising, ALGER COUNTY, Mich. On Jun. 29, 2022.

The A-10 Thunderbolt II, U-28A Draco and C-146 Wolfhound were the aircraft involved crewed by airmen representing active duty, the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units.

“What we’re doing here is trying to do everything we can do to stay one step from our adversaries,” Northern Agility 22-1 Exercise Director Lt. Col. Brian Wyrzykowski said. “If we can generate combat airpower from a public highway, we can do it from almost anywhere.”

According to Upper Michigans Source, the exercise featured several firsts including the first time a US Air Force aircraft had weapons (in the form of AIM-9 Sidewinders, JDAM bombs, AGM-65 Mavericks, rockets and targeting pods) loaded on a public highway. The weapons used in the exercise were inert.

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“If we can operate from a highway, we are very unpredictable and very agile,” Wyrzykowski said. “That’s what we demonstrated here today where you saw the first integrated combat turns for modern combat aircraft on a public highway.”

Planes landed one by one where groups worked hard to refuel them and get each back into the air.

“There are certain types of parameters we’re looking for on a highway and this particular stretch met it,” Wyrzykowski said. “We had heard that M-28 and the Seney highway was one of the longest, flattest straightest in Michigan, so we came up here looking and found this stretch of M-28 in Munising in Alger County.”

The exercise was supposed to happen on Jun. 28 but was postponed due to poor weather.

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“We try to do things according to plan when we can and not everything today went according to plan,” Wyrzykowski said. “Overall, we took a lot of lessons learned that we are going to be able to apply to this and other exercises going forward and agile combat deployment. By all measures, I think today was a total success.”

The National Guard performed a similar training exercise in August 2021 on highway M-32 near Alpena.

Moreover, A-10 aircraft from the Michigan National Guard previously landed on highways in Haapsalu, Estonia during exercise Saber Strike 18.

Noteworthy the Warthog can be serviced and operated from austere bases with limited facilities near battle areas. Many of the aircraft’s parts are interchangeable left and right, including the engines, main landing gear and vertical stabilizers.

Specifically designed for close air support (CAS), its combination of large and varied ordnance load, long loiter time, accurate weapons delivery, austere field capability, and survivability has proven invaluable to the US and its allies.

Photo credit: Screenshot from the Video

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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  • The more accurate term to describe the weapons used in the exercise would be “Inert” instead of “inactive”.

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