Despite the ongoing wing inspections that have sidelined a portion of the Air Force’s A-10 fleet, “Hawgsmoke 2008,” a biennial A-10 bombing and gunnery competition, will take place as planned later this month, albeit with fewer participants. Air Force Reserve Command’s 442nd Fighter Wing at Whiteman AFB, Mo., is sponsoring the event from Oct. 15-18 in Salina, Kan. “After talking to most of the other A-10 wings in the Air Force, we have more than enough teams committed to competing at Hawgsmoke to continue with the event,” said Col. Mark Clemons, 442nd FW commander. But they will just have to make due with fewer aircraft. Originally expected to include about 70 A-10s, the wing now anticipates that 25 to 30 airplanes will fly in the competition, along with as many as 14 teams of pilots. “We have plenty of aircraft to support Hawgsmoke and maintain the 442nd Fighter Wing’s combat readiness,” said Clemons. The Air Force issued a time-compliance technical order Oct. 3, requiring immediate inspection and repair of wing cracks on about 130 A-10s that have so-called thin wings that are more susceptible to structural fatigue than the comparatively thicker wings found on other A-10s. The A-10 fleet hovers around 350 airframes overall. (Whiteman report by Maj. David Kurle)
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.