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|March 22, 2005
Release Number: 05-03-26
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A-10s PROVE COMBAT CAPABILITIES CAN SAVE LIVES
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - More than 200 villagers were rescued from flood waters Friday as airborne A-10s from the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing out of Bagram Airfield helped identify and report the victims' exact location.
One hour into a close-air-support combat mission, two A-10s received a call while refueling from an aerial tanker. They were redirected to coordinates about 70 kilometers northeast of Kandahar to search for survivors.
"We were on the tanker when we got a call from the [Air Support Operations Center], which passed us coordinates for an area where the Army was trying to rescue several hundred folks from rising flood waters," said Capt. Andy Taylor, an A-10 pilot with the 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. "We headed that way, coordinating with the Army helicopters working in the area. They wanted us to look for people stranded on the ground by the flood.
"There were several areas that had become islands and were continuing to be swamped over by raging waters," he said. "We used the [infrared] feature on our targeting pods to locate several groups of people, marking those areas with IR to highlight for the helos where the folks were stranded."
The A-10s worked the area for about an hour, helping the Army locate and rescue hundreds of Afghan villagers.
"Our targeting pod and the A-10's long loiter time allowed us to successfully carry out this support mission," said Capt. Chad Anthony, also a 75th EFS A-10 pilot and flight lead during this rescue operation.
"The pod allows us to see great detail day or night, and the IR marker lets us, and those we're supporting, identify what we're looking at," Anthony said. "We practice a lot with the pod, so we were well prepared for Friday night's mission. Also, there aren't many fighters that can stay in a target area as long as we can."
A-10s carry the Litening II targeting pod, explained Capt. Allen Duckworth, another A-10 pilot with the 75th. The pod possesses both infrared and camera sensors. It incorporates a laser designator and an IR laser pointer, which highlights targets with a flash visible to night-vision devices.
"The pod allows us to find targets, point them out to each other or to Coalition troops on the ground, and mark, or designate, these targets for accurate weapons delivery," Duckworth said.
In Friday's operation, it was these capabilities that made it possible for Bagram's A-10 pilots to pinpoint exactly where survivors were located in order to secure their rescue.
"This mission took the Hog to an entirely new level," said Col. Warren Henderson, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group commander. "We've always carried out [Combat Search and Rescue]," he said, "but we're definitely conducting more non-traditional roles here in Afghanistan . in this case, using the A-10's capability of pinpoint accuracy to save lives versus take lives."
Using information provided by the A-10s in the air, the Army was better able to carry out their rescue operation in Uruzgan Province.
"I know, at times, we tend to focus on the more violent aspect of our job," Taylor said, "but it was great being able to help so many Afgan people survive such a dire situation."
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