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    A-10 Warthogs and USS Nebraska: A Rare Escort Mission Unveiled

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    Earlier this month, TWZ reported an unusual occurrence: a quarter of A-10 Warthogs were deployed to escort an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine.

    This unexpected pairing of the Air Force’s renowned A-10, famed for its close air support capabilities in the rugged landscapes of the Middle East, with the Navy’s largest submarine, garnered attention.

    The escort took place as the Ohio-class USS Nebraska traversed the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, connecting the Salish Sea to the Pacific Ocean in Washington State.

    Visual evidence was shared on social media, clearly depicting four A-10s accompanying the Nebraska. Notably, two of the A-10s bore the ‘OT’ tail codes, indicating affiliation with Nellis Air Force Base’s 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, while the other two displayed the ‘KC’ tail code of Whiteman Air Force Base’s 442nd Fighter Wing.

    Interestingly, none of the four A-10s carried external ordnance.

    Submarine Group 9, responsible for sharing the photos, emphasized the significance of joint operations involving the Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy.

    Such collaborations, as seen in this instance, ensure the readiness of the U.S. military to fulfill its security obligations both domestically and internationally, including commitments to allies and partners.

    However, the specifics of these joint operations were not elaborated upon in the post.

    TWZ reported that while specific details of the training event remain undisclosed, it likely served as an opportunity for the A-10s to hone their skills in overwatch and protection of a rare and highly valuable strategic asset.

    The A-10 Warthog’s unique combination of low-flying, slow-speed capabilities, extended loitering ability, and precise air-to-ground targeting make it an exceptionally effective force-protection platform.

    This isn’t the first time A-10s have operated in naval environments, having been previously utilized to engage “swarms of boats” and strike small naval vessels in training exercises.

    The USS Nebraska, likely embarking on a nuclear deterrence patrol, is a crucial component of America’s nuclear triad as part of the Ohio class, capable of carrying up to 90 nuclear warheads and equipped with the Trident II Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile.

    The sight of A-10s escorting an Ohio-class submarine is becoming increasingly rare as both assets face impending retirement.

    The U.S. Air Force has initiated the phase-out of the A-10, a decision that comes after years of debate between the Air Force and Congress regarding the aircraft’s future.

    Despite fervent protests emphasizing the A-10’s unique and irreplaceable capabilities, such as its role in submarine escort missions, the retirement process has commenced.

    OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM — Senior Airman Jay Labrum, 124th Maintenance Squadron from the Idaho Air National Guard, performs an operational check on an inflight refueling receptacle on the nose of an A-10 at a desert air base in the Arabian Gulf Region. Airman 1st Class Kyle Austin, 43rd Maintenance Squadron from Pope Air Force Base, monitors from the cockpit. Operation Iraqi Freedom is the multinational coalition effort to liberate the Iraqi people, eliminate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and end the regime of Saddam Hussein. (U.S. Air Force Photo by MSgt Stefan Alford)

    Similarly, the Ohio-class submarine is approaching obsolescence, slated to be replaced by the forthcoming Columbia class. Scheduled to replace the Navy’s 14 Ohio-class submarines between 2027 and 2032, the Columbia class will also be armed with the Trident II, ensuring continuity in the nation’s strategic defense capabilities.

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