One of the Air Force’s oldest A-10 Warthogs is still flying close air support missions over Afghanistan, deployed from the 81st Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem AB, Germany. Hog #V281 entered service in July 1982 at RAF Bentwaters, England and has been in US Air Forces in Europe every since. According to SrA. Ryan Conversi, a dedicated crew chief who is just a year older than V281 and deployed to Bagram Air Base, “The aircraft is holding up very well; it’s built to take a beating.” And for the new, it’s just possible that newly graduated Hog pilot, 1st Lt. Patrick Parrish, on his way to the 81st FS, will get to fly the venerable V281. He and 11 other active and Air National Guard pilots, just completed six months of A-10 training at Davis-Monthan AB, Ariz., where they underwent 215 hours of academics, 52 hours in simulators, and 87 hours of flying time. Lt. Col. Darren Hansen, commander of the 358th Fighter Squadron at the Arizona base, predicted, “Many of our graduates will be in combat in a matter of months, not years.” (Bagram report by Capt. Toni Tones; Davis-Monthan report by Capt. Stacie Shafran)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.