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    Hawgs fly in international gunnery competition

    Hawgs fly in international gunnery competition

    Photo By Johnathon Orrell | Three A-10C Thunderbolt II "Warthawgs" break formation before landing at the 2010...... read more read more



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Johnathon Orrell 

    National Guard Bureau

    BOISE, Idaho -- Over the skies of Iraq and Afghanistan, the A-10C Thunderbolt II, affectionately known as the "Warthawg," is a valuable asset to the warfighter.

    It provides a "much-needed mission to those on the ground," said the Air Force Col. James R. Compton, the commander of the Idaho Air National Guard's 124th Fighter Wing. "If you talk to any soldier ... and you ask them what they want, they will undoubtedly say, 'We want A-10s overhead.'"

    Here at Gowen Air National Guard Base this week that close air support mission is on display during the 2010 Hawgsmoke competition, which is being hosted by the 2008 champions from the wing's 190th Fighter Squadron.

    "It's a great honor to host this competition," Compton said. "These are some of the finest warriors in the A-10 business."

    Hawgsmoke, a biennial A-10 bombing, missile and tactical gunnery competition, brings the U.S. Air Force's top A-10 pilots from around the world together, as they attempt to become the best of the best, said Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Odneal, the squadron commander and flight leader for this year's Idaho team.

    The competition is a chance for active duty, Guard and reserve A-10 air crews and maintenance personnel to get together and share their experiences, Compton said.

    "If you don't put them all together at one time in a venue like this, then you don't get any validation that [the combination] works," he said. "We are a very diverse organization and to put it all together here, we come to find out that we're not as different as we thought. It validates that we are all one team heading for one common goal."

    Competition is also good for them, Compton said, because it builds camaraderie throughout the A-10 community.

    "[Camaraderie] is very important to this type of a competition," said Compton. "[It] is really the glue that keeps us together."

    Keeping the planes running during the competition are the maintenance crews from the 124th and several other competing wings.

    "Much like the pilots, they are going to share [maintaining] different airplanes," he said. "That validates that we have one standard for the way we generate airplanes, and we get to watch them ... all working together as a team."

    Senior Master Sgt. Ron Manker, the maintenance superintendent for Hawgsmoke, said the extra hands from the participating units are very helpful, since repairs had to be made for some teams to compete.

    He added that most of them have also deployed or trained together in the past.

    Compton said the wing has been planning for this event for the last two years.

    "The best thing about having this competition in Boise is we are going to see some of the premier bombing ranges," he said. "The pilots are going to be really impressed with the tactical scenarios we provided for them."



    Date Taken: 10.15.2010
    Date Posted: 10.15.2010 12:12
    Story ID: 58186
    Location: BOISE, ID, US 

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