A-10 makes final descent

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Time flies when you're having fun … An A-10C Thunderbolt II made its final descent into Davis Monthan, Arizona from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, April 5, 2023, after 14,125 flight hours.

After 43 years of dedicated service, the A-10 will make the sunny Arizona desert its new home, where the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration squadron will receive it and get to work preserving as much of it as possible while removing parts that can be used for replacements in other A-10’s.

Although goodbyes were given to tail number 149, warm hellos are in order as the 74th Fighter Squadron welcomes a replacement A-10 from Fort Wayne Air National Guard Base, Fort Wayne, Indiana as the guard base begins their transition to the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

This is the first of 21 A-10s authorized to be retired under the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act. Air Combat Command is prioritizing the A-10s with the least combat effectiveness for retirement first to ensure the most combat capable airframes remain in service. The remaining 20 aircraft will retire from various bases by the end of September. 

“This is bittersweet, it’s an old aircraft and there comes a time when each of them need to be retired,” said Staff Sgt. Austin Bryne, 74th FS dedicated crew chief. “They are still combat capable, but after all the hours put in, their time comes.”

The 74th FS is one of Moody's two combat-ready A-10 squadrons keeping the airframe maintained and mission-ready. The squadron's 35 pilots are dedicated to carrying out the close air support mission through the A-10, which is specifically designed for long loiter time, accurate weapons delivery, austere field capability and survivability.

Capt. Kevin Domingue, 74th FS A-10 pilot, commented on his overall experience on flying the simple yet effective and survivable twin-engine jet aircraft.

“It’s sad to see this aircraft reach the end of its service to the United States,” Domingue said. “Thousands of service members have flown or worked on this particular jet; this will be the last time it takes flight and carries their cumulative effort. I am honored to be a part of this aircraft’s history like so many before me.”

In a farewell, Domingue along with others signed the inside of the aircraft in great Air Force tradition.

“I am proud to be a part of it,” Byrne said. “It was nice to sign the pod and the inside of the aircraft to be a lasting part of its history. I think it’s time for it to go to bed – it's a workhorse, it has been trucking since 1980.”

“The A-10’s remain the most effective close air support platform in the world today even after 45 years,” Domingue explained. “As long as the Air Force allows the aircraft to fly and be properly maintained, this community is ready to provide that expertise anywhere in the world against any adversary.”

Significant in its own right, this will be the first A-10 from Moody reaching retirement age since the 23rd Fighter Group along with their respective A-10’s arrived at Moody in 2007 from Pope Field, North Carolina. Simultaneous with the group's move, all 23rd FG A-10s were upgraded to the precision engagement A-10C.