Over the past few years, the Air Force has been trying to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt II. In 2013, the Air Force brought most of its Europe-deployed A-10s home as it consolidated its bases. But now two squadrons of the close air support planes have been sent back to Europe, according to the Air Force’s European commander, Gen. Frank Gorenc. The move comes as Russian armor has become a fresh concern for some European allies.
In a briefing with reporters at the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Summit today, Gorenc said that the planes, which include a dozen aircraft deployed from Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, were sent as part of a larger “security package” of additional Air Force and Army units for Operation Atlantic Resolve, an ongoing set of multinational training and “security cooperation” missions in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria that began in April 2014. This follows a deployment of 12 A-10s of the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron to Romania in April.
“We’ve had the A-10s and F-15s all over the continent in many countries, 20-plus countries, that they engaged with,” he told reporters. The A-10s have been involved in a number of joint exercises “doing particularly JTAC training [joint terminal attack controller training] and then to support [US Army Europe commander] Gen. [Ben] Hodges with all of the rotation force that the Army is bringing in.”