A-10s Arrive in CENTCOM After Hamas Attacks on Israel

A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 354th Fighter Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., have arrived in the Middle East, as the U.S. has rushed airpower to the region following the surprise Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7 

Their exact location was not immediately clear.

The A-10s will add to the Warthogs from the 75th Fighter Squadron, which are already in the region, according to U.S. officials.

The decision to send U.S. military assets to the region was taken to discourage Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, and Iran from trying to escalate the conflict and to show support for Israel, which has had more than 1,200 citizens killed and others taken hostage and brought to Gaza.

A senior defense official told reporters Oct. 12 that the message to any state or non-state actors that were thinking of escalating the violence was a simple one: “Don’t.” 

The new deployment comes as Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III heads to Israel on Oct. 13, the Pentagon said. 

The Pentagon had earlier announced plans to send A-10s, F-16 Fighting Falcons, and F-15E Strike Eagles to strengthen the U.S. Air Force presence in the region.

The military did not say whether those F-15s and F-16s have yet arrived. U.S. officials have said F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters are also among the capabilities that may be sent

The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier has also moved to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. It carries four F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter squadrons, as well as electronic warfare and command and control aircraft. The carrier is also accompanied by cruise missile-carrying warships.

“We expect to see more posture increases flowing in over the next week,” the senior defense official said. “We will continue to be responsive to Israel’s requests for air defense, artillery, ammunition, and precision guided munitions.” 

Israel has responded to Hamas’s attacks with punishing airstrikes in Gaza, and Israel appears posed to intervene with ground forces, staging large numbers of members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) near Israel’s border with Gaza. Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “crush and destroy” Hamas and has formed a wartime cabinet. 

Austin plans to meet with Netanyahu, Minister of Defense Yoav Gollant, and the war cabinet, the senior defense official said, for in-depth talks about “their operational planning and their objectives for this conflict in response to Hamas’s brutal, ISIS-style attack.”

American citizens are among the dead and taken hostage, U.S. officials say. The State Department has announced plans to evacuate some American citizens from Israel.

While U.S. forces are poised to intervene should Hezbollah try to open a northern front in Israel, such a step may not be necessary. Austin said Oct. 12 the U.S. did not have evidence of Hezbollah amassing forces on Israel’s northern frontier. 

“We are also looking for additional things that could widen the conflict here, and hopefully we won’t see those things, but we’ve not seen that to this point,” Austin said.

An F/A-18F Super Hornet, front, attached to the “Ragin’ Bulls” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37, and an F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213, conduct flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Oct. 11, 2023. VFA-213 and VFA-37 are deployed aboard the world’s largest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) as a part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8. The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group is currently operating in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, at the direction of the Secretary of Defense. U.S. Navy photo