Exercise with extra brrrt: US military adds 10 Warthogs for Europe drills
Stars and Stripes May 2, 2023
An iconic U.S. attack aircraft may soon be spotted in European skies despite its pending retirement from active service.
Ten Air Force Reserve Command A-10C Thunderbolt II jets are slated to join Defender 23, a U.S. Army-led exercise involving American forces, NATO allies and partners.
Designed to destroy Soviet tanks during the Cold War, the plane is nicknamed the Warthog for the guttural sound its cannon makes.
On Tuesday, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa announced the A-10s’ participation in the two-month exercise, which kicked off April 22.
USAFE did not say when the A-10s, assigned to the 442nd Fighter Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., were due to arrive or how long they will remain in Europe.
Defender 23 is expected to involve nearly 9,000 U.S. troops and 17,000 counterparts from 26 nations, according to the Pentagon.
The exercise has been in the works for two years and is designed to demonstrate the U.S. military’s ability to rapidly deploy combat troops and equipment to deter aggression and defend the Continent, the Pentagon said last month.
It comes as Russia steps up attacks in Ukraine, more than a year after its full-scale invasion of the country. A year ago, 10 Air National Guard A-10s deployed to Europe from Maryland for a similar large-scale Army drill.
The A-10 was designed specifically for close-air support and can maneuver at low altitudes to defend troops on the ground from enemy forces.
The Air Force has long tried to retire the aircraft over concerns that it was vulnerable to Russian air defenses. Congress has blocked those attempts.
But the service announced in early April that it had sent an A-10 to the boneyard, the first of 21 slated to leave the service by the end of September.
The service intends to mothball the rest of the fleet by 2029, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said in March.