"We are strong members of the NATO Alliance and remain prepared with credible force to assure, deter and defend our Allies," Maj. Gen. Jon K. Kelk, Air National Guard assistant to the commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Air Forces Africa, said in an Aug. 4 EuCom press release. "When we have the opportunity to train with coalition air forces, everyone benefits."
The airmen and aircraft will deploy from bases in the U.S. and Europe to Amari Air Base from Aug. 4 to 20 to participate in the Forward Training Deployment, or FTD.
The A-10s are from the 175th Wing, Warfield Air National Guard Base, Maryland. The MC-130J is from the 352nd Special Operations Wing, RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom.
While deployed, the A-10s are scheduled to train with Finnish air force F/A-18 Hornets in Finland, Spanish air force F/A-18 Hornets in Estonia, and multinational joint terminal air controllers in Latvia, according the release.
Known officially as the Thunderbolt II and more commonly as the Warthog, the A-10 entered military service in the late 1970s and has flown in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
The twin-engine aircraft is designed to decimate tanks, vehicles and other ground targets with its GAU-8 Avenger, a 30mm seven-barrel gatling gun, and up to 16,000 pounds of ordnance, including Mk-82 Mk-84 bombs, AGM-65 Maverick missiles and laser-guided munitions.
The Air Force has made several attempts to retire the decades-old aircraft beginning in fiscal 2015 in an effort to save money. But congressional opposition has forced the service to reset the date for the earliest possible retirement of the A-10 to 2021.
The MC-130J Commando II is designed to fly clandestine, or low visibility, single or multi-ship low-level air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft.
It can perform infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply missions for special operations forces in hostile territories.