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‘Hawgs’ head back to Afghanistan

Photo: The 303rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron arrived at Al Udeid Air Base enroute to Kandahar Airfield, on January 18, to support increased operations in support of the Resolute Support Mission and Operation 'Freedom's Sentinel'. US Air National Guard/Staff Sgt Patrick Evenson

 

As the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) headed home on January 21 from Incirlik, Turkey, with a good job done in the skies over Syria, the 303rd EFS from Whiteman AFB, Missouri, had already headed in the opposite direction to replace the Moody-based detachment in Operation ‘Inherent Resolve’. However, such is the shift in operations, Whiteman’s 303rd and its dozen A-10Cs were diverted to Kandahar (via Al Udeid, Qatar) in order to help support the ramp up in activity in Afghanistan.

The new Central Command A-10 deployment was flying combat missions within 24 hours of arriving in country.

The Department of Defense (DoD) said 2017 ended with the lowest rate of strikes in Iraq and Syria since OIR began in 2014, but this contrasts against the highest rate of combat missions being flown in Afghanistan since 2011. ‘Jagged Knife’ is a new push in Afghanistan that began in November 2017 in a bid to tackle Taliban drug production.

The 74th EFS had shown their versatility in their missions against the last pockets of so-called Islamic State in Syria. In addition to the standard AGM-65 Maverick anti-armor missiles and the devastating internal 30mm GAU-8/A Avenger cannon — the ‘Flying Tigers’ took advantage of the A-10’s diverse payload and heavy munitions to attack IS with everything from laser rockets to bunker-busting 2,000lb GBU-31(V)3/B Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs).

Read more about the 74th EFS deployment in the forthcoming March issue of Combat Aircraft.

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A 74th EFS A-10C over Syria on December. USAF/SSgt Paul Labbe

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