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Welcome to 'Hawg' world: A-10s deploy to up-and-coming fighter Wing in Arkansas

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Greg Steele
  • 47th Fighter Squadron
It was a two-fold mission recently when approximately 100 personnel and six A-10 aircraft deployed to Fort Smith, Ark., what totaled, for some, 22 days. The deployment, Patriot Razorback, gave 47th Fighter Squadron pilots a chance to shoot more bullets and drop more bombs than they do at home station. 

"With six airplanes, we fired nearly twice the amount of ammo as we do back home," said Senior Master Sgt. Bobby Kea, 717th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons loading expeditor. Approximately 26,480 rounds of 30mm ammunition and 476 BDU-33 practice bombs were expended during the 96 sorties flown. 

It also allowed the 47 FS to spend some much-needed time with the 188th Fighter Wing, a Fort Smith unit, who is currently converting to the A-10 from the F-16 aircraft.
"There's a huge difference between the A-10 and F-16," said Capt. Will Magee, 717 AMXS maintenance officer. 

"Just seeing how big the A-10 is compared to an F-16, and how we handle it, the taxi in and taxi out, not to mention their limited space on the flight line, gives the folks here a good idea of what it'll take to maintain the airframe," he said. 

The 188 FW was selected by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, BRAC, to convert to the A-10. "We were all Viper guys," said Lt. Col. Ray Hunter, 184th Fighter Squadron director of operations, "so we had to rub that off of us and get into the A-10 world." 

Since October 2006, the 47 FS has graduated 10 184 FS pilots from the A-10 schoolhouse, with seven more planned in the upcoming months. "Some of our pilots graduated back in January, so it's good for them to be able to get back into the A-10 and reinforce what they learned," Colonel Hunter said. 

"It (the deployment) was very beneficial to our unit," said Senior Master Sgt. Charles Frye, 188 FW A-10 maintenance squadron B-flight chief. "It is a breath of fresh air to know there are good people we will be able to count on if any problems arise with our struggle to convert (to the A-10)."