First USAF Theater Package brings A-10’s back to Europe

On 13 February 2015, twelve A-10 Thunderbolt II’s from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, deployed to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany in support of operation Atlantic Resolve.
The deployment includes twelve A-10’s, 26 pilots, and a total of 300 airmen. Lt. Colonel Steve Behmer, Commander of the 354th EFS: “We especially brought young pilots, so they can get experience in the European theatre. The mission is the same as in the USA: Close Air Support and Combat Search And Rescue”. Among the 26 pilots are two former A-10 pilots of the 81st Fighter Squadron, which was based at Spangdahlem until 2013.

Encounter upcoming threats
Col Robert P. Winkler, commander of the 52nd Operations Group (OG) states that the A-10’s of the 354 Expeditionary Fighter squadron will operate under the 52nd OG during the TSP and he explains the goal of the exercise: “The TSP is a concept to increase regional security. Theater commanders will get greater flexibility to encounter upcoming threats. TSP for Europe will bring more rotations, and not only A-10 squadrons will be involved.“ The TSP concept is not new. It is already succesfully implemented in the Pacific region since 2004. Winkler: “Here in Europe it is a little bit easier to deploy than in Asia, because our allies are used to NATO procedures.”

Lt. Colonel Steve Behmer goes into detail about the deployment of his Warthogs to Europe: ”The A-10’s are here for six months and will use Spangdahlem as a “hub”. From time to time, A-10’s will deploy to other bases in Europe. Mostly to Romania, Poland and Bulgaria. Now four A-10’s are temporarily at RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom.” The A-10’s will conduct training alongside NATO allies for strengthening interoperability.

An article about this exercise was published in the July 2015 issue of Pacific Wings Magazine.