CAS aircraft arrive in Middle East Published March 31, 2023 By 1Lt. Alexandra Smith Air Forces Central (AFCENT) AL DHAFERA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates -- The first A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft arrived in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, March 31, 2023. The combat air support aircraft arrived ahead of schedule following the approval for the platform to return to theater. They will fall underneath the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Dhafra AB. “The 380th AEW is excited to welcome the 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and 75th Expeditionary Fighter Generation Squadron to the theater,” said Brig. Gen. David R. Lopez, commander of the 380th AEW. “Their arrival will enhance our ability to deliver airpower and defend the region, as well as provide us additional opportunities to partner with our Emirati hosts.” The deployment of the A-10s necessitates the 380th AEW to stand up two new squadrons for the pilots and aircraft maintainers who hail from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. “As a CAS focused squadron, we’re excited to be in the theater where we can be most useful to the Coalition and our partners in the region,” said Lt. Col. E. Aaron Brady, commander of the 75th EFS. “We’re eager to build relationships around CENTCOM and provide seamless close air support and air interdiction capabilities to our partners, which will help our pilots prepare for transition to fifth-gen fighters.” The deployment will also allow the aircraft to seamlessly integrate with the Air Warfare Center, ensuring close air support capabilities brought by the A-10 are well-represented in exercises and missions. Since its creation in 1975, the A-10 has provided air support to ground troops, destroying adversary forces and infrastructure as the first aircraft designed specifically for close air support. The deployment of the A-10 offers the opportunity for U.S. Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) to experiment with close air support capabilities in order to achieve the most robust, diverse force possible. The deployment also enhances integration with local UAE partners, who host the U.S. forces on Al Dhafra AB.