How Many A-10 Combat Planes Can You Count In This Photo?

Illustration for article titled How Many A-10 Combat Planes Can You Count In This Photo?

What's going on in the Middle East and Central Asia? According to The Aviationist, that's the sort of question that comes to mind when you see a bunch of A-10 attack aircraft normally stationed in Arizona sitting on the tarmac at a Massachusetts air base.

Apparently the Westover Reserve Air Base in Massachusetts is a prime dropping off point for aircraft headed to the Middle East and Afghanistan. And because the A-10 Thunderbolt II is used to support ground troops by blowing up tanks and armored vehicles with its massive GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon, there's a good chance that something gnarly's going to happen.

Seriously, A-10s are crazy. The whole plane is built around that massive gatling gun, which is the largest cannon ever mounted to an aircraft platform. The GAU-8 fires 4,200 30mm shells per minute, and loaders have a range of rounds to choose from, including high incendiary and depleted uranium.

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But what could be going on? There's no doubt that the A-10, which debuted in U.S. Air Force attack squadrons in the early '70s, is a Cold War relic intended for use against conventional militaries. So does that mean they've found a new use for them; say, blowing up underground Taliban bunkers in Afghanistan? Or maybe Bibi Netanyahu and his funny charts have caused some alarm about Iran or Syria. The mind does wander.

What do you think? We encourage armchair generals, battle hardened vets, and fresh faced doughboys alike to sound off in Kinja.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

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DISCUSSION

Dukie
Dukie - Jalopnik Emergency Management Asshole

Ben and everyone else. This is my old unit, and I've personally made this trip before. What you see in the picture is 19 A-10Cs and one C-17. The C-17 is the support plane for the trip and carries maintenance personnel (crew chiefs, weapons troops, electricians, etc), all of our stuff (tools, personal bags, military gear, etc), and other cargo we may need (parts, etc). All 19 A-10s will take off (they're already gone) but only a certain number of them will continue on. Those are called the Primary aircraft. Whatever number that is, lets say 12 primary, will continue on to the AOR. The others (spares) will turn around and be recovered by a small team of maintainers who were sent to Westover as an advance maintenance team. Once the spares turn around, the maintenance personnel load up on the C-17 and chase the A-10s. The first hop is roughly 8 hours from Westover (they refuel in the air along with the C-17) and we arrived just before the A-10s (big speed difference). This keeps up until they reach the AOR (hopping from one location to the next, usually in 8 hour flight increments with required "crew rest" in between).

The Aviationist article states that they are replacing the 104th & 184th FS in Afghanistan. This is just a normal Air Expeditionary deployment.

Don't forget your booties, guys and gals! Here's a "Bulldog Neslon" from long distance.

Keep 278 dirty or else she'll bitch, too.