A-10C Thunderbolt II adapts for future fight

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sir Wyrick
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

In the dynamic realm of modern warfare, adaptability is critical to maintaining an edge on the battlefield. Weapons Airmen assigned to the 23rd Maintenance Group are ensuring our A-10C Thunderbolt II pilots remain adaptable by incorporating training on the Miniature Air-Launched Decoy.


MALDs are designed to mimic other aircraft, making them invaluable assets in diverting enemy fire away from pilots. Prior to training with these decoys, Team Moody weapons load crews practice arming A-10s with MALDs to bolster pilots’ ability to safely navigate hostile environments.


“At this point, it feels like second nature loading the MALDs,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Dorsey, 74th Fighter Generation Squadron lead crew chief. “Luckily, the loading process is very similar to a couple other munitions that most of us, experienced Airmen, are familiar with. For those who may not have that experience, it's still very easy.”


When MALDs are fired they deceive defense systems and enemy cruise missiles giving the illusion the decoy is an aircraft. MALDs can mimic the signal of various aircraft such as F-16s, B-52s, and F-35s. To get the decoy in the air, weapons Airmen quickly adapted to loading the new munition onto the A-10 and continuously work to keep it a potent force in warfare scenarios.


“Now the A-10 has more munitions and can support whatever the mission tasking is demanding,” said Carlos Carias-Rodriguez, 476th Maintenance Group supervisor. “The A-10s can now support other airframes by launching these decoys, or do what it's best known for, which is close air support. I believe this strategic move is what helps employ the A-10s mission going forward.”


The load crews – Airmen and evaluators – are working hard to continuously ensure that when loading the MALDs and other munitions, are able to be used in the capacity.


“It's hours of tedious watching and evaluating for us,” said Master Sgt. Mark Webber, 23rd Maintenance Group weapons standardization superintendent. “Making sure these crews know how to load every munition correctly and safely, so when the pilot pushes the button, the bomb or munition they're launching hits the target, or in the MALD’s case, draws the attention of enemy defense systems away from our A-10 and ally aircraft.”


Webber elaborated that incorporating the additional munitions to the A-10 demands Airmen to acquire a new mastery of skills. Nevertheless, load crews have demonstrated commendable dedication to guarantee the success of future missions.


Together, these Airmen play a pivotal role in keeping our A-10s prepared for the challenges of tomorrow's conflicts, exemplifying their commitment to staying ahead of the curve and showcasing how Tigers lead.