A-10C pilots from the 357th Fighter Squadron conducted austere operations training, operating from a dry lakebed at Fort Irwin, Calif., late last month. “This capability can be vital … at locations and environments where US and coalition forces have a very limited footprint,” said Maj. Mark Malan, a 357th FS pilot from Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., in an Oct. 2 release. “The A-10 was specifically designed with a more robust landing gear system to handle the stress” and is the only fighter-type aircraft in the Air Force capable of operating from unimproved strips, he added. “We maintain a unique capability to operate and integrate in a forward-deployed austere location,” but A-10 pilots seldom have the opportunity to practice the skill. Controllers with the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron deployed from JB Lewis-McChord, Wash., for Exercise Green Flag West managed lakebed flight operations, affording three pilots the opportunity to certify on rough-field operations on Sept. 22. Unit A-10s took part in a similar event in January.
The Pentagon awarded a $2.02 billion contract for Lot 17 of F-35 engines to contractor Pratt & Whitney on June 5. Work on the F135 engine is expected to be completed by December 2025.