Tiger Sharks Keep Watch Over Afghan Skies
by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kristin High
October 18, 2018
Airmen and A-10C Thunderbolt II’s hailing from the 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, July 15, 2018, in support of combat operations.
An A-10C Thunderbolt II, from the 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, takes off in front of the Kandahar International Airport, on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 2, 2018. The A-10 flew in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel providing aide to Afghan forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kristin High)
The Tiger Sharks, deployed from 23rd Fighter Group at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, have a history dating back to World War II fighting under General Claire Lee Chennault in the China theatre. Although drastically changing throughout the years, they have proven to be a timeless entity to maintaining air power.
In December 1981, the A-10 Thunderbolt II was completed and the 75th went from a tactical training unit to the fighter squadron it is today.
Fast forward nearly four decades and the 75th, along with the highly accurate and survivable weapons-delivery platform of the A-10, have arrived once again to support and defend the greatest military and U.S. coalition partners against the threat of terrorists. This time the mission focus being in support of the Resolute Support Mission and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
Crew chiefs from the 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron conduct pre-flight checks on an A-10C Thunderbolt II before take-off from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 2, 2018. The Airmen, from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, are deployed in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel by providing close-air support to Afghan forces and other coalition partners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kristin High)
“Our primary mission here is to provide close-air support and combat search and rescue,” said Lt. Col. Sean Hall, 75th EFS commander. “The majority of our missions will be supporting the [Afghan National Security Forces], whether it be a show of presence or freedom of movement patrol. We’re out here providing overwatch to ensure if need be, lethal deterrence against the enemy.”
The Afghan forces utilize the A-29 Super Tucano, which the pilots trained with U.S. pilots from the 81st Fighter Squadron also at Moody AFB. The A-29s, which were designed for close air support as well, carry a 20mm cannon below the fuselage, one 12.7mm machine gun under each wing and can also fire 70mm rockets and launch precision-guided bombs.
“The Afghan Air Force is growing and getting better every day by becoming more proficient and gaining the training experience in combat here as well,” he added. “Ultimately the goal is to have them providing the same support to their own brethren from their aircraft.”
The men and women serving at Kandahar provide a diverse fleet of aircraft aiding in support of ground force needs, including surveillance, reconnaissance, airlift, airdrop and communications support which enables a successful train, advise and assist campaign.