D-M hosts worldwide A-10 competition

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(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sivan Veazie)

The 355th Fighter Wing hosted 14 A-10 teams from around the world for Hawgsmoke, July 9-12, 2014.

Hawgsmoke is a biennial worldwide A-10 bombing, missile and tactical gunnery competition, which was derived from the discontinued “Gunsmoke” Air Force Worldwide Gunnery Competition. This competition is an opportunity for camaraderie, fellowship of the world’s premier Close Air Support fighter, and a legacy of its pilots and support crews.

“Usually Hawgsmoke itself takes place over two days and includes team and individual scoring of strafing, high-altitude dive-bombing, 30-degree dive-bombing, Maverick missile precision, and team tactics,” said Maj. Kyle Lanto, 355th Training Squadron pilot instructor. “But this year’s competition focused more on forward firing.”

Traditionally, if your team wins Hawgsmoke then they are honored by hosting the next upcoming competition. So since the 357th Fighter here at D-M finished in 1st place in 2012, D-M was selected to host the 2014 Hawgsmoke Competition.

“The traditional home of the ‘Hog’ here at D-M has really been blessed to host Hawgsmoke this year,” said Col. Kevin Blanchard, 355th Fighter Wing commander.

The competition was kicked off by a remembrance ceremony. In honor of the fallen, each A-10 pilots name was read. At the end of the ceremony, a customary shot of whiskey was taken and when they were done the glasses were smashed in a fire pit.

The next day, it was time for the pilots to gear up and show the judges what they were made of.

Before the competition started, pre-positioned cameras and acoustic panels were set up to accurately calculate each pilots score. Each pilot was given the same amount of ammunition and were scored on their execution of the A-10 Thunderbolt II maneuvers, as well as their accuracy with the high, medium and low angle strafes.

This year’s competition was held at the Barry M. Goldwater Range II and the judges were the ranges staff members. With the help of the cameras and the acoustic panels the judges were able to score each run appropriately and determine this year’s Hawgsmoke champion.

The winner of this year’s Hawgsmoke competition was the 47th FS, which is an U.S. Air Force Reserve Command unit based at D-M, and falls under the operational control of the 924th Fighter Group.