A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft moves into position to receive fuel May 29, 2008 from a KC-135 Stratotanker during a mission over Afghanistan. A-10 is deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom and the KC-135 is assigned to the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan and is deployed from 141st Air Refueling Wing Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.
An email (via Corporal Seamus) from Tim, a USAF Warthog pilot in Afghanistan:
...I just had a rather exciting flight. "Balz" and I launched to support standard tasking and were immediately retasked airborne to a Troops In Contact (TIC) situation near the location the French lost 10 troops two days ago. Unlike the French, these were Army SF supported with attack helos and us.
From the second we showed up it was a running gun battle with the SF guys taking RPGs, sniper and Heavy machine gun fire. We took out two sniper positions with confirmed kills in the first 5 minutes. The helos were marking the locations they were taking fire from with WP (white phosphorus) rockets and we were cleaning things up with the 30MM.
I shot 1100 rounds of 30MM and my wingman shot 750. I then used WP rockets to get my #2's eyes on a heavy machine gun position so he could put a 500lb airburst on it. Which he did.
In the middle of the fight we were running low on gas so I sent Balz to the tanker and I remained on station single ship suppressing enemy fire on a helo trying to extract the team. I told Balz to have the tanker drag him as close to the fight as the KC-10 crew felt comfortable.
Balz comes off the tanker and I asked him for its location because I was on fumes. He said look up! The tanker was in the target area at 20,000ft exactly were I needed him. I jumped on, took 8000lbs of gas (the jet only holds 10,000). I recommended the tanker stay West of the fight due to possible man pads but when I came off the boom I looked down and I was again directly over the fight, exactly where I needed to be.
I did 8 total gun runs and 2 rkt attacks. A CH-47 and a HH-60 extracted the team while we laid cover fire along with the OH-58s. We then did a low altitude helo escort providing hover cover. They were hauling ass at 50 ft while we kept eyes on from 3000-5000ft. The Army helos guys said they thought their helo was coming apart when we shot the 30mm. They thanked us for the heavy guns and cover then landed safely at their FOB.
We then proceeded North to the High Mountain area looking for more action but not much can compare to the fight we were just in. I can't believe how awesome the embedded Air force Combat Controller was. He was one cool cat as he laid waste to anything (expletive deleted) with his guys.
Having fun at summer camp,
The Warthog's 30mm cannon is called the Avenger. Here is a video of the system being tested: