This A-10C Warthog unit wants to bring more ‘brrrrrt’ to Europe
A Maryland Air National Guard unit recently sent a fleet of 10 A-10C Thunderbolt II attack planes to participate in multinational combat exercises in eastern Europe, one of its largest training delegations there in the past decade.It’s the A-10 enterprise’s latest step toward a greater presence in Europe as it pivots away from decades of…
A Maryland Air National Guard unit recently sent a fleet of 10 A-10C Thunderbolt II attack planes to participate in multinational combat exercises in eastern Europe, one of its largest training delegations there in the past decade.It’s the A-10 enterprise’s latest step toward a greater presence in Europe as it pivots away from decades of combat missions in U.S. Central Command.The 104th Fighter Squadron arrived in Iceland May 5 to participate for about two weeks in the Army’s “Swift Response” exercise, then joined the “Defender Europe” exercise for another two weeks.RELATEDThe 175th Wing tries every few years to visit Estonia, with which it works under the National Guard’s state partnership program. It has ramped up its role in European training in the last 10 years, growing from the four A-10s that trained out of Estonia in 2013 to 10 in 2017. A trip planned for 2020 was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.“The A-10 Thunderbolt II provides a unique, established and enduring close air support capability to the joint force,” U.S. Air Forces in Europe spokesperson Capt. Daniel de La Fé said. “Hosting the Warthog in Europe provides those training touchpoints with our allies and partners, which provides value to the NATO coalition.”About 170 American airmen were part of more than 200 training sorties in 10 countries throughout May, said Capt. Ben Hughes, 175th Wing spokesperson. Planning began more than a year ago.RELATEDTroops hopscotched around Europe about 30 times, with West Virginia Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster IIIs transporting cargo. The Air Force is pushing the concept of “agile combat employment” in its training exercises, aiming to make units more flexible and less reliant on brick-and-mortar bases around the world.U.S. Air Force Maj. Jeremy Waldschmidt, an A-10 pilot assigned to the 104th Fighter Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard, and Lt. Col. Lasse Berg, base commander of Andoya Air Base, Andenes, Norway, pose for a photo May 12 during a tour of an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. (Tech. Sgt. Enjoli Saunders/Air National Guard) During Swift Response, the A-10s supported paratrooper air assaults into Scandinavia and the Baltic, Balkan and Black Sea regions. The event brought together 9,000 service members from 17 countries, including roughly 2,700 American airmen and soldiers.“Four A-10s and approximately 50 airmen operated out of Andoya Air Base in Norway, which is within the Arctic Circle,” Hughes wrote. More than 1,700 miles away, “six A-10s and approximately 60 airmen conducted operations from Ohrid Airport in North Macedonia.”RELATEDFor Defender Europe, all 10 Warthogs came together in Latvia and were joined by another 60 or so Maryland guardsmen.Four A-10s flew to Amari Air Base in Estonia, then out of Saaremaa, an island off the west coast of Estonia in the Baltic Sea. The other six planes remained at Lievarde Air Base in Latvia and flew training missions across Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Estonia.Over the course of one day, C-17s ferried airmen and equipment from Estonia to Lithuania so troops could quickly arm and refuel their A-10s, Hughes said. Then they packed up and returned to Latvia.The Warthogs also supported a live-fire test of the HIMARS precision rocket system — which the United States recently supplied to Ukraine — and an amphibious Marine Corps landing on Saaremaa. The squadron participated in hundreds of JTAC controls in the Baltics throughout the two weeks, Hughes said.RELATED“Over the month, A-10 pilots trained with joint terminal attack controllers from 11 NATO nations during live close air support missions that expended 17,211 rounds of 30mm [artillery], 18 AGR-20 laser-guided rockets, six AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles, and 12 inert 500-pound BDU-50 bombs,” he added.A Warthog assigned to the 104th Fighter Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard, taxis at Andoya Air Base in Norway May 6, ready to conduct agile combat employment training in support of the Swift Response exercise. (Tech. Sgt. Enjoli Saunders/Air National Guard) Five years after its most recent trip, the wing’s return to the region came against the backdrop of Russia’s devastating military invasion of Ukraine.Early in the conflict, which began in February after a prolonged troop buildup, some defense experts and lawmakers unsuccessfully called for the United States to lend A-10s to the Ukrainians for some extra firepower.“This aircraft and its gun system were designed to counter an armored assault in Europe,” Everett Pyatt, a former assistant secretary of the Navy for shipbuilding and logistics, argued in a March op-ed. “They proved effective in Desert Storm’s target-rich environment, quite similar to the current advancing Russian force.”RELATEDAs Buzz Patterson, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, put it on Twitter: “A 40-mile Russian convoy = an American A-10 pilot’s dream.”Warthogs have spent most of the past few decades in U.S. Central Command as part of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. But Europe poses much different combat scenarios.“In Afghanistan and Iraq, we were conducting operations where the aircraft came in and performed the mission, but … they didn’t need [suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses] aircraft, they didn’t need fighter escorts,” said Daniel Norton, a military systems analyst with Rand Corp., the federally funded think tank. “In the European theater, I imagine that you’d do a lot more force packaging along the lines of what we did in Desert Storm.”Norton sees the deployment as a chance to explore what tactics and techniques work best with NATO allies, not as a signal to Russia or a demonstration of the A-10′s prowess in a potential European conflict.RELATED“This is an A-10, but the procedures for calling in fires from an F-35, or an F-22, or a bomber, or something else, will have quite a bit of overlap,” he said. “The training is valuable.”Despite arguments that the Warthog could be proving its utility if war spills over into NATO member countries, Norton said there’s no guarantee that Russia wouldn’t learn from its mistakes in Ukraine. Then the realities of more sophisticated modern warfare would set in.“It’s a 1970s aircraft,” he said. “It’s not stealthy. It wasn’t designed for these kinds of air defense environments. It wasn’t designed to operate against the advanced fighters that you’d see.”For now, Maryland A-10s won’t shy away from the practice.“The 175th Wing plans to expand their role in these exercises by working with new partners, filling NATO capability gaps and further executing [agile combat employment] concepts,” Hughes wrote. “We are also looking forward to coming back to [U.S. European Command] and especially training with … Estonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.”Rachel Cohen joined Air Force Times as senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in Air Force Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), the Washington Post, and others.
Son of former LA Dodger Steve Sax killed in California Osprey crash
LOS ANGELES — Former Los Angeles Dodgers player Steve Sax has issued a statement saying that his 33-year-old son who had always dreamed of being a pilot was among five U.S. Marines killed during a training flight crash earlier this week in the California desert.Capt. John J. Sax was among the aircrew of an Osprey…
LOS ANGELES — Former Los Angeles Dodgers player Steve Sax has issued a statement saying that his 33-year-old son who had always dreamed of being a pilot was among five U.S. Marines killed during a training flight crash earlier this week in the California desert.Capt. John J. Sax was among the aircrew of an Osprey tiltrotor aircraft that went down during training in a remote area in Imperial County, about 115 miles (185 kilometers) east of San Diego and about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Yuma, Arizona.Capt. John J. Sax (Marine Corps) “It is with complete devastation that I announce that my precious son, Johnny was one of the five US Marines that perished on Wednesday, June 8, in the Osprey Military crash near San Diego,” Steve Sax said in a statement published Saturday by CBSLA-TV.“For those of you that knew Johnny, you saw his huge smile, bright light, his love for his family, the Marines, the joy of flying airplanes and defending our country! He was my hero and the best man I know, there was no better person to defend our country.”The former Dodger said his son had wanted to be a pilot since he was young and would talk about the types of planes that were flying overhead while playing in the outfield in Little League baseball.“There was never any doubt from a young age that Johnny would be a pilot and his passion was to fly!” the statement said. “This loss will change my life forever and is a loss to not only the Marines but this world!”Steve Sax played in the Major Leagues from 1981 to 1994, winning two world championships during his seven years as a second-baseman with the Dodgers. Fans, Major League Baseball and the team offered condolences on social media.“The Los Angeles Dodgers are saddened to hear about the passing of Steve Sax’s son, John, and the five Marines who lost their lives in this week’s tragic helicopter accident. Our thoughts and condolences go out to their families and friends,” the Dodgers said in a tweet Saturday.John J. Sax is survived by his wife, Amber, who is pregnant with their second child, and their 20-month-old daughter, said Dodgers spokesperson Steve Brener.Sax, of Placer, California, was one of two pilots killed in the crash, along with Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, of Rockingham, New Hampshire.Also killed were three tiltrotor crew chiefs: Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson, 21, of Winnebago, Illinois; Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, of Johnson, Wyoming; and Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, New Mexico.The Marines were based at Camp Pendleton and assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 364 of Marine Aircraft Group 39, part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.The Osprey, a hybrid airplane and helicopter, flew in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but has been criticized by some as unsafe. It is designed to take off like a helicopter, rotate its propellers to a horizontal position and cruise like an airplane.The cause of the crash was under investigation.
Brookings places retired Marine general on leave amid FBI probe
The prestigious Brookings Institution placed its president, retired four-star Marine Gen. John Allen, on administrative leave Wednesday amid a federal investigation into Allen’s foreign lobbying.Brookings’ announcement came a day after The Associated Press reported on new court filings that show the FBI recently seized Allen’s electronic data as part of an investigation into his role…
The prestigious Brookings Institution placed its president, retired four-star Marine Gen. John Allen, on administrative leave Wednesday amid a federal investigation into Allen’s foreign lobbying.Brookings’ announcement came a day after The Associated Press reported on new court filings that show the FBI recently seized Allen’s electronic data as part of an investigation into his role in an illegal foreign lobbying campaign on behalf of the wealthy Persian Gulf nation of Qatar.An FBI agent said in an affidavit in support of a search warrant there was “substantial evidence” that Allen had knowingly broken a foreign lobbying law. Allen had made false statements and withheld “incriminating” documents, the FBI agent’s affidavit said.Allen has not been charged with any crimes and previously denied any wrongdoing.Brookings told staffers Wednesday that the institute itself is not under federal investigation. The think tank’s executive vice president, Ted Gayer, will serve as acting president.“Brookings has strong policies in place to prohibit donors from directing research activities,” the email said. “We have every confidence in the Brookings team’s ability to remain focused on delivering quality, independence, and impact.”The federal investigation involving Allen has already ensnared Richard G. Olson, a former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan who pleaded guilty to federal charges last week, and Imaad Zuberi, a prolific political donor now serving a 12-year prison sentence on corruption charges. Several members of Congress have been interviewed as part of the investigation.The new court filings detail Allen’s behind-the scenes efforts to help Qatar influence U.S. policy in 2017 when a diplomatic crisis erupted between the gas-rich Persian Gulf monarchy and its neighbors.Allen’s alleged work for Qatar involved traveling to Qatar and met with the country’s top officials to offer them advice on how to influence U.S. policy, as well as promoting Qatar’s point of view to top White House officials and members of Congress, the FBI’s affidavit says.Brookings is one of the most prestigious think thanks in the U.S.Allen, who was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution prior to becoming president in late 2017, used his official email account at the think tank for some of his Qatar-related communications, the affidavit says.Qatar has long been one of Brookings’ biggest financial backers, though the institution says it has recently stopped taking Qatari funding.
Lawmakers want Army to set up program to experiment with electrical tactical vehicle operations
Oshkosh Defense debuted a hybrid electric version of its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle in a virtual event on Jan. 25, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Oshkosh Defense)WASHINGTON — House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee lawmakers want the U.S. Army to establish and run a pilot program examining how electric tactical vehicles might operate in…
Oshkosh Defense debuted a hybrid electric version of its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle in a virtual event on Jan. 25, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Oshkosh Defense)WASHINGTON — House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee lawmakers want the U.S. Army to establish and run a pilot program examining how electric tactical vehicles might operate in the field.In the Army’s climate strategy released earlier this year, the service laid out a goal to field hybrid electric tactical vehicles by 2035 and all-electric vehicles by 2050. But with that pledge comes a complicated logistics tail for maintaining and recharging them on the battlefield.The Army also approved a tactical and combat vehicle electrification, or TaCV-E, initial capabilities document in December 2021 that “informs the transition to advancing electrification capabilities and operational requirements generation for the ground vehicles fleet,” according to the subcommittee’s fiscal 2023 authorization mark.The subcommittee members are “interested if electrification in the near term is achievable for tactical ground vehicles given the evident operational benefits associated with reduced vehicle thermal and noise signature, increased dash speed and reduction in liquid fuel requirements.”RELATEDBy prototyping and experimenting with TaCV-E, the military could gain a better understanding of what is needed to operate and to inform planning and potential issues, the mark states.The subcommittee said there is “considerable and apparent” value for the service to enter into Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, also known as CRADAs, with industry partners.And the Army should establish a pilot program at one of the combat training centers, like the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, to experiment and demonstrate “integrated electrification capabilities” to include electric vehicles, mobile fleet charging systems and exportable power generation during operational training exercises, the subcommittee suggests.Should the language make it into the final FY23 authorization bill, the Army secretary would be required to provide by Jan. 15 a report to the HASC on whether a pilot program would be feasible and what the effort would cost.As Defense News first reported, the Army is preparing its first-ever operational energy strategy, which is expected by the end of the year. In the strategy, the Army would map out how it manages and distributes power in operations across the battlefield.The Army is already working with industry in a number of ways, including assessing capabilities at exercises stateside such as the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment.The service is assessing the possibility of fielding a hybrid electric version of several of its vehicles, including the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.Oshkosh, the JLTV’s manufacturer, unveiled earlier this yea, a hybrid version of the vehicle, but the Army does not have a stated requirement for the capability yet. And the service plans in FY23 to decide whether it will pursue a hybrid Bradley.The most likely candidate to become an all-electric tactical vehicle is the Electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle. The Army has looked at a variety of options through demonstrations, but has yet to fund the effort.Last year, Army Futures Command’s Applications Laboratory picked companies to participate in a cohort to develop ways to power electric vehicles in austere, remote locations.A separate mark of the FY23 authorization bill would require the Pentagon to set up a pilot program for transitioning entire non-tactical vehicle fleets at certain installations to electric power.The HASC’s readiness subcommittee wants the secretary of each military department to select an installation for the pilot and submit a plan to make all non-tactical vehicles at that location electric-powered by 2025.Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.