MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
The skill and agility of Airmen from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, were on full display at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Nov. 19 - Nov. 22, 2019, during exercise Mobil Tiger.
The asymmetric advantage of U.S. combat troops is greatly increased by the venerable A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. Commonly known as the ‘Warthog,’ this staple of combat air support depends greatly upon the expertise of Airmen who operate and sustain them.
“Mobil Tiger is an agile combat deployment exercise,” said Air Force Major Zachary Krueger, an A-10 pilot assigned to the 23rd Wing Exercises and Plans office, Moody AFB. “The intent was to provide close air support and recover to an austere field, using only weapons and fuel we had available ourselves.”
During the exercise, U.S. Air Force HC-130J Combat King II aircraft assigned to the 71st Rescue Squadron, Moody AFB, dropped off maintenance and security forces personnel along with their equipment and supplies on a remote corner of the MacDill AFB flightline to begin operations.
Security forces established a security perimeter while maintainers pulled their tools, set up chalks and placed munitions stands. They were swiftly joined by 74th Fighter Squadron A-10s, ready to be configured for combat.
“I was part of the first crew to hit the ground on MacDill where we quickly began finding ways to improve our time and efficiency,” said Senior Airman Dylan Holton, 23rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crewmember.
Deriving no support from MacDill AFB other than a slab of concrete on which to operate, the 23rd AMXS Airmen reconfigured weapons on the A-10s, quickly unloading one aircraft, guiding the next into position and arming them prior to take-off.
“It was my first time to experience an exercise like this and be at the center of all the action,” said Holton. "We moved as quickly and safely as possible to get the mission done."
Joining the A-10s on the ramp were HH-60Gs from the 41st Rescue Squadron, who received fully stocked ammunition cans for their .50 caliber guns from the maintainers on the ground.
Elsewhere on the ramp, crews transferred fuel from the HC-130J aircraft to the A-10s and the HH-60Gs, thereby extending their range and operations.
“It’s awe inspiring seeing them execute to such a high level, learn lessons and show everyone else around them so that if and when we execute this mission downrange, we’re able to be effective and bring the whole weight of the 23rd Wing’s combat power to the combatant commander,” added Krueger.
Mobil Tiger serves as proof that the U.S. Air Force can project lethal force at any chosen time and place.