Dig the New and Improved Pig:

Air Combat Command boss Gen. Ron Keys declared the new A-10C Warthog attack aircraft “ready to go to war” during an initial operational capability ceremony at Langley AFB, Va., on Aug. 21. One of the Maryland Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Squadron’s “precision engagement” aircraft was on display, but it returned to its home at Martin State Airport later in the day to continue preparation for deployment to Southwest Asia. The commander of the Maryland ANG’s 175th Wing, Brig. Gen. Guy Walsh, said the unit would be in combat by the end of September. The aircraft features new “glass cockpit” displays, new radio equipment, a data link, and the ability to use precision weapons, explained Lt. Col. Timothy Smith, head of the 104th FS. Seated in the cockpit of the aircraft, Smith said that many of the cockpit functions were moved from the side consoles to the front for ease of access by the pilot, making it possible to more quickly process information, data, and communications more quickly—a boon to precise close air support operations. The first two squadrons to be fully equipped with the upgraded A-10C are both ANG units—the 104th FS and the Michigan ANG’s 172nd FS. The Air Force plans to upgrade its entire Warthog fleet by 2011.