The 23rd Fighter Group at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., hosted Hawgsmoke 2021, April 14-17.
More than 150 Airmen from 13 Air Force units were on base for the biennial aerial competition designed to test the bombing, missile and tactical gunnery skills of the pilots and maintainers of the U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft.
“It’s with great pride that we welcome pilots from across the combat Air Force to Moody for Hawgsmoke 2021 where we will not only sharpen steel with steel but also compete to determine who truly is the best of the best,” said Col. Ryan Haden, 23rd Fighter Group commander. “All A-10 squadrons have a unique and distinct heritage, and through events like these, we continue to honor the legacy of those who came before us.”
The bases participating were Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Warfield Air National Guard Base, Md., Gowen Field ANG Base, Idaho, Fort Wayne, Ind., Nellis AFB, Nev., and Whiteman AFB, Mo.
The event began with a ceremony to honor fallen A-10 pilots and a missing-man formation flyover.
From there, the A-10 pilots from the different bases will test their precision skills at Grand Bay, the nearby bombing range. Between these takeoffs, the maintenance and support crews assigned to each squadron will ensure the planes are ready to fly and will conduct a weapons load competition.
The maintenance personnel are excited and proud to compete in Hawgsmoke, said Master Sgt. Brian Spruill, 74th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aircraft section chief and the maintenance project officer.
It’s an opportunity for the maintainers to show off their skillset that they take downrange to execute any mission put in front of them.
“Hawgsmoke will test the speed, skill and mettle of our A-10 community and help us determine who will take home top honors,” said Capt. Matt Jensen, 74th Fighter Squadron A-10 pilot and project officer for the event. “The challenges in this competition are extremely demanding, and the winners of each category are exceptionally skilled.”
The individual pilot awards are Top Gun Low Angle Bomb, Top Gun Dive Bomb, Top Gun Strafe and Top Gun Overall. The group awards are Top Tactical Team, Top Bombing Team and Overall champion. The maintenance awards are Top Maintenance Team, Weapons Load Competition Winners and the Marshalling Award.
The 74th Fighter Squadron won Hawgsmoke in 2018, and the overall winning team’s base will then host the next one, tentatively scheduled for late spring of 2023.
“These Airmen work hard every day to ensure the Air Force has the best close-air support in the world,” said Col. Dan Walls, 23rd Wing commander. “Regardless of who wins, they all deserve some recognition.”
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