The event, ‘Haboob Havoc,’ was hosted by the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Nine different squadrons from around the western U.S. competed. The 357 FS pilots were the only A-10 unit in attendance.
“It’s an inter-airframe, inter-base bombing competition,” said Maj. Eric Fleming, 357 FS Chief of Standardization and Evaluation. “This year F-16s, F-15Es and A-10s took part.
The competition was held on the Barry M. Goldwater training complex. It’s a bombing competition between all of the squadrons to see which teams can do the best at shooting the guns and dropping bombs.”
“Each team was comprised of four aircraft competing in three bombing events and one strafe event. The bombing events included a 45 degree high altitude dive bomb, 20 degree low-angle low drags, and 10 degree low-angle high drags,” Fleming said. “Each aircraft dropped two bombs per event, for a total of six bombs per aircraft. The high angle strafe competition included two gun passes per aircraft on a scorable target.”
The competition lasted approximately 25 minutes per team on range. Scores were then broken down for each individual, as well as for each team. There were awards for best individual and best team in each event, as well as overall.
“We definitely put forward a good team that performed well in every category,” Fleming said. “Major Benda had the best scores in our flight for two bombing events, I had the best scores in the 20 Low Angle Low Drag event, and Capt. Cotman had the best scores for strafe. Our fourth team member, Capt. Brian Hellesto, had a system issue during takeoff, and did not make it to the range. We had a good performance and the team won first place despite only having three participants.”
Not only did the 357 FS win best overall team during the ‘Haboob Havoc’ competition, but the squadron did just as well this past August during their Hawgsmoke A-10 Competition, where they defeated 15 other A-10 teams to win best overall A-10 squadron .
“We have a great group of instructors here at the 357th Fighter Squadron,” said Maj. Richard Benda, 357 FS Assistant Director of Operations. “We validated that by winning Hawgsmoke in August, and re-validated our training at Haboob Havoc. It just goes to show that we were the best A-10 squadron during Hawgsmoke, and now the best airframe on this particular day amongst that large group.”
The 357th received:
- Best overall team
- Best team for high angle strafe
Major Benda received:
- Best overall competitor
- Best individual 10 low angle high drag