The U.S. Air Force has deployed a squadron of A-10s to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam during a routine Dynamic Force Employment Operation. These A-10s are from the 23rd Expeditionary Wing at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia. Dynamic Force Employment is a strategy of introducing unpredictability into the deployment of US forces oversea for any adversary trying to plan an attack. Under this concept, air, ground and naval forces are suddenly surged to areas and then abruptly withdrawn, forcing an adversary wishing to monitor their activities to deploy their own forces only to see them suddenly moved again to another location. It also allows unit like this A-10 squadron to train in an environment they may not normally get a chance to operate in, as in the case of operating at the Farallon de Medinilla Range as the 36th Wing Public Affairs explains below.
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam — The 25th Fighter Squadron (FS), assigned to the 51st Fighter Wing, Osan Air Base, South Korea, are honing their flight skills while at the Farallon de Medinilla Range (FDM Range), Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands while deployed here, Aug. 10- 21.
The 25th FS regularly participates in training events that take place in the Indo-Pacific, such as Cobra Gold and the Rim of the Pacific. Through events like these, the 25th FS is able to strengthen and build relationships with partner nations and improve their capabilities in protecting American interest.
“Having the chance to come to Andersen demonstrates our capability to quickly relocate, establish, and operate our force wherever we may be needed at any time,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Austin Lasch, A-10 pilot. “We will be ready to operate side-by-side with our allies when needed, and our combined training in the Indo-Pacific region will allow us to do so seamlessly.”
Lasch explained that their primary mission is to maintain peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific, which requires well-trained Airmen and proven techniques.
“The training we’re getting here is fantastic because it allows the pilots to practice and refine their weapons delivery,” Lasch stated. “We can practice various delivery techniques and see what works best in different situations. Having the FDM range at our disposal has been invaluable.”
The change in pace for the 25th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) gives a better idea of what their job will look like while deployed.
“We get a really big sense of accomplishment out here, especially when we get to travel,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Isaac Quintana, 25th AMU A-10 crew chief. “It shows us that we get to do real mission work. The workload changes when you are home compared to when you are deployed, and this environment simulates more of a deployed environment while still being labeled as training.”
Quintana said that doing training missions like this puts crew chiefs in positions of safe freedom. Safe freedom meaning that a crew chief can make a call and then find out it wasn’t necessarily the best one to make, but supervisors and superintendents are watching and working alongside crew chiefs to teach and increase overall capabilities in the AMU.
“It’s really about how to be independent on your own jet,” Quintana said. “You get to make calls out here that normally you wouldn’t get to make back at home station. It gives Airmen more leadership opportunities.”
By Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy 36th Wing Public Affairs
The FDM Range itself is a small island about 150 miles from Guam and is 200 acres approximately 3 miles long and half a mile wide. It has been used as a bombing and gunnery range by the Air Force and Navy since the height of the Vietnam War. The island is uninhabited and cannot be used for ground training operations because of the amount of unexploded ordnance on the island including cluster bomb munitions dating back to the mid-1990s.
For the Air Force, the use of this range gives the A-10s the opportunity to do long-distance navigation over open water which is generally not in the skill set of A-10 pilots who are generally hitting ground targets from ground bases. They will also have the chance to do air search work and perhaps even some anti-ship operations. While the A-10 remains a formidable ground attack aircraft, don’t get the idea that it will go strafing enemy warships with its famous GAU-8 Avenger cannon. The A-10 is not a fast aircraft by any means, flying at speeds of less than 420 miles per hour and with some speed limits imposed when it is carrying a full load of weapons it would be very vulnerable to surface to air missiles. It also has a combat radius of just 300 miles since it was designed to operate close to the front lines in a land war. That being said, the A-10 does have a significant anti-ship capability in the AGM-65 Maverick missiles it can carry. Several versions of this laser-guided missile are approved for anti-ship use and carry a 300lb warhead with a kinetic energy penetrator that would allow it to deeply penetrate a ship’s innards before exploding. The hard points on the wings of the A-10 would allow a “Hawg” to carry 6 of these missiles. With a maximum range of 13 NM, a squadron of A-10s at medium altitude loaded with Maverick missiles would overwhelm the defenses of just about any warship.