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A-10s return to Bagram

by Staff Sgt. Kevin Tomko
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

4/19/2007 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFNEWS) -- Increased firepower is in the making for U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 354th Fighter Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., arrived April 17 to bring increased versatility to the capabilities of the aircraft stationed here. 

This is the second deployment for the squadron since 2006. 

The A-10s, in addition to the F-15E Strike Eagles already here, will provide theater commanders with an even more robust spectrum of air-to-ground capabilities, said Brig. Gen. Christopher D. Miller, the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander. 

"The A-10 has excellent maneuverability and staying power, and is a highly accurate weapons-delivery platform," General Miller said. "It is great to see the A-10 return to Bagram, continuing its legacy of outstanding support to U.S. and coalition ground forces."

The A-10 is equipped with a 30-millimeter Gatling gun, which can fire 3,900 rounds a minute. The aircraft has additional weapons capabilities as well.

"The A-10 can also carry air-to-ground missiles and rockets," said Maj. Tonnee Tonneson, the assistant director of operations for the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. "These weapons, coupled with the Gatling gun, make this aircraft very flexible."

In addition to weaponry, the A-10 has state-of-the-art defenses such as self-sealing fuel cells protected by internal and external foam, and manual flight controls for backup in the event of a hydraulic failure. The A-10 can also survive a direct hit from an armor-piercing or high-explosive projectile. 

The A-10 is unique and is the right aircraft to do the job here, said Capt. Kevin Koren, the 354th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge.

"The aircraft can be a challenge to maintain because it's a 20-plus-year-old plane, but our guys work hard to keep them ready to go," he said.

The A-10s that rotated out of Bagram in January were replaced by the F-15E, which provided a more robust all-weather capability during the winter months. The current rotation of A-10s will operate in addition to the F-15Es already on station.

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