Eight United States Air Force Reserve Command A-10s assigned to the 442nd Fighter Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., conducted highway landings on the Jägala-Käravete Highway in Northern Estonia, Aug 1.
According to Col. Gregory Eckfeld, 442nd Fighter Wing vice commander, it is important to practice landing on alternative runways in case primary runways are not available during a combat situation.
Eight successful landings and take-offs from the highway not only displays the U.S. Air Force’s tactical capabilities, it also displays the partnership between the U.S. and Estonia that allowed for the coordination of the event.
“Overall, the Estonians were great in helping us out and getting our mission accomplished and as far as the coordination went, it couldn’t have gone smoother,” said a 321st Special Tactics Squadron combat controller who acted as air traffic control for the event. “This was a good experience and a good time and it definitely enhanced our capability and presence in the area.”
This event marked the second highway landing to take place in Estonia over the last 30 years. The first being last June during as part of exercise Saber Strike 16.
The A-10’s design allows the aircraft to be able to land in a variety of locations, including semi-prepared landing strips and austere sites.
“We can operate the A-10 anytime, anywhere, 24/7” said Eckfeld, adding that the A-10 has wide tires and high-mounted engines, which help avoid foreign object damage and allows the aircraft to land on many surfaces other aircraft cannot.
The 442nd FW arrived in Estonia July 25 to begin a flying training deployment with the Estonian air force in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. This exercise demonstrates the commitment the U.S. made to European security and demonstrates joint force capabilities and readiness.