report by: Danny Bonny
The 303d Fighter Squadron was scheduled to host the biennial Hawgsmoke A-10 Thunderbolt II gunnery competition from 17-20 October, 2018, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Shooting was set to take place at Cannon Range, near Laquey, Mo. The competition engaged A-10 pilots from around the world against the same tactical scenario, grading on weapon accuracy and flying ability. Hawgsmoke is a tradition that grew out of the Gunsmoke competition, which featured multiple airframes in a gunnery and bombing contest. While a competition on the surface, Hawgsmoke also provides A-10 pilots from around the world a chance to compare notes and strategies for various situations. The event consisted of an arrival competition; the Lost Hawg ceremony, honoring fallen A-10 pilots with a missing-man-formation flyover; then the gunnery competition.
Whiteman Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base in central Missouri located approximately 2 miles south of Knob Noster, 10 miles east of Warrensburg, and 70 miles east-southeast of Kansas City. . The host unit at Whiteman AFB is the 509th Bomb Wing (509 BW), assigned to the Eighth Air Force of the Air Force Global Strike Command. The 509 BW operates the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, designed to be employed to strike high-value targets that are either out of range of conventional aircraft or considered to be too heavily defended for conventional aircraft to strike without a high risk of loss. Whiteman AFB is a joint-service base, with Air Force, Army and Navy units.
Tenant units include the Missouri Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing (131 BW), the Air Force Reserve Command’s 442nd Fighter Wing (442 FW), the Missouri Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment and the U.S. Navy Reserve’s Maritime Expeditionary Security Force Unit 114. Whiteman AFB is the only permanent base for the B-2 stealth bomber. Whiteman AFB can launch combat sorties directly from Missouri to any part of the globe, engaging adversaries with nuclear or conventional weapon payloads. Other aircraft assigned to Whiteman include the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack fighter; the Northrop T-38 Talon jet trainer, and the Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.
The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is a single-seat, twin turbofan engine, straight wing jet aircraft developed by Fairchild-Republic for the United States Air Force (USAF). It is commonly referred to by the nicknames “Warthog” or “Hog”, although the A-10’s official name comes from the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, a World War II fighter-bomber effective at attacking ground targets. The A-10 was designed for close air support (CAS) of friendly ground troops, attacking armored vehicles and tanks, and providing quick-action support against enemy ground forces. The A-10 was intended to improve on the performance of the A-1 Skyraider and its lesser firepower. The A-10 was designed around the 30 mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon. Its airframe was designed for durability, with measures such as 1,200 pounds (540 kg) of titanium armor to protect the cockpit and aircraft systems, enabling it to absorb a significant amount of damage and continue flying. Its short takeoff and landing capability permits operation from airstrips close to the front lines, and its simple design enables maintenance with minimal facilities.
Moody’s 74th Fighter Squadron ‘Thunder’ A-10C Thunderbolt II pilots out gunned more than 10 units to win its first-ever Top Overall Team Award during the 2018 Hawgsmoke competition, Oct. 18, 2018, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. With the best of the best from the close-air support community pitted against each other, the 74th FS showcased their bombing, missile and tactical gunnery capabilities to also garner both the Top Tactical and Top Conventional team awards.
“Hawgsmoke has always been about Espirit de Corps for the A-10 community and provides a great integration between all A-10 units,” said Capt. Randall Ott, 74th FS A-10 pilot. The 74th FS and support units will have the chance to duplicate their success and defend their bragging rights by competing again when Moody hosts Hawgsmoke 2020.