US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolts arrived at Spandahlem Airbase in Germany on 13 February 2015. The twelve tank killers are part of the first US Theater Security Package (TSP) to be deployed to Europe. The USAF’s announcement of this TSP came as a surprise on 10 February 2015.
The A-10s involved belong to the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. The aircraft flew to Spangdahlem via Langley AFB in Virginia and Lajes in the Azores (great footage here) in the Atlantic Ocean. Support came from a 305th Air Mobility Wing KC-10 Extender, while upon arrival a pair of Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188 Hornets were playing around in the airspace near Spangdahlem as well.
The arrival didn’t go smoothly – two made an emergency divert to Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands. According to eye-witnesses one landed hard with a fair amount of smoke and ending next to the runway on a taxiway. His buddy landed shortly afterwards and taxied to the eastern part of the busy international airport. No big damage done, but a minor smudge for the PR guys and girls it is.
The Thunderbolts will stay in Europe for up to six months. The USAF has said this is the first of more Theater Security Packages. Although by far nothing compared to the huge annual exercise Reforger during the Cold War, the sudden order to send a squadron of a dozen “Warthogs” to strengthen the defences in Europe is seen as a clear sign to Vladimir Putin.
In Washington’s eyes the Russian president has destabilized Europe by first taking the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine and then increasingly supporting separation of Eastern Ukraine from the rest of that country with weapons and troops.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editors Elmer van Hest and Marcel Burger