In November 2021, A-10 Warthogs from the 104th Fighter Squadron conducted an elephant walk at Warfield Air National Guard Base in Maryland.
The elephant walk was conducted with 16 Warthogs.
“Seeing our entire fleet on the runway, it’s just an awesome display of combat power,” said USAF Colonel Richard D. Hunt. “Our maintainers are some of the best in the Air Force, and this is concrete proof of our ability to bring the full force of our airpower to bear whenever it is needed.”
According to a press release: “The readiness exercise highlighted the ability and rapid mobility of the MDANG’s airpower, demonstrating their ability to launch combat-ready A-10s that are deployable for no-notice contingency operations.”
“Our ability to generate combat airpower at a moment’s notice helps promote regional stability because we can immediately respond to any threat,” said USAF Brigadier General Paul D. Johnson. “The 175th Wing is always ready to answer our nation’s call and defend our country from our adversaries. We know they are watching, so it is good for them to know we can bring the fight at any time. I’m proud of our Airmen’s ability to generate and employ with the highest level of excellence in a contested environment and with complete [operational security].”
The A-10 tank buster
The airframe used in the MDANG elephant walk was the A-10 Warthog – commonly regarded as the best close air support airframe ever made. The A-10 was built around a 30mm GAU-8/A Avenger cannon with 1,350 rounds of ammunition.
The Avenger cannon is basically a gatling gun capable of destroying tanks and armored vehicles and enemy fortifications.
The A-10 was designed, with straight wings and high stability, to fly low and slow. Flying low and slow makes the A-10 an easy target, so the airframe was built to be durable – with the engines above the wing, and the cockpit encased in what is essentially a titanium bathtub.
“Generating this many A-10s is a testament to all the teamwork that it takes to keep us operationally ready,” said USAF Air Force Colonel David Wright. “As proud as I am of the job our Airmen did, I can’t say I’m surprised by it. Combat readiness is what we do, and our people always rise to the occasion.”
Task & Purpose was kind enough to break down the cumulative figures on display during the 16-ship A-10 elephant walk.
Here are the numbers: 21,600 rounds of GAU-8/A ammo; 32 General Electric turbofan engines (two per jet); $156.8 million worth of aircraft (about $10 million per jet); 176,000 pounds of fuel (11,000 pounds of fuel per jet when fully loaded); 19,200 pounds of titanium armor (1,200 each); and up to 256,000 pounds of mixed ordinance.
In all, it was an impressive display.
Timing not a coincidence
The USAF has been ramping up its show of force displays, which includes elephant walks.
The timing is not a coincidence, but rather coincides with escalations in tension between the US and Russia, and between the US and China – two adversaries that have made territorial claims in light of US resistance.
It seems unlikely that the MDANG’s 16-ship A-10 elephant walk had any sort of deterring effect on either Russia or China. Russia invaded Ukraine just a few months after the A-10 elephant walk.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.
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