Why does the world "Fear the hog"?

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. James Runner
  • 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
 The 81st Aircraft Maintenance Unit began 2008 with a five-month deployment to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, where it generated more than 1,300 combat sorties expending more than 65,000 30 mm bullets in direct support of the war on terrorism. 

Later in the year, the 81st AMU took charge of a depot-level repair on main landing gears for 13th Air Expeditionary Force aircraft from Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 81st AMU, with the support of other units in the 52nd Maintenance Group, inducted, repaired and re-deployed the Moody assets down range. The Moody aircraft were downrange crushing enemy positions within hours of their Spangdahlem Air Base departure. 

Then, in honor of the 60th Anniversary of NATO, the 81st AMU received a short-notice tasking to deploy to Bulgaria. The Weapons Training Deployment to Bezmer Air Base, Bulgaria, challenged the 81st AMU's response time by mobilizing enough maintenance people and short-tons of equipment to a nearly bare base. 

The Bulgaria WTD was an important step in solidifying positive relations with its NATO brethren. 

The unit supported 116 training sorties in a 10-day flying window with only eight C-Model aircraft. Training included close air support, combat search and rescue, and full scale weapon deliveries. This unique opportunity also afforded some members of the 81st Fighter Squadron the chance to fly dissimilar air-to-air combat missions against Mig-29s and Mig-21s. The 81st FS employed 440 BDU-33s, 12 GBU-12s, and 120 rockets, and fired 20,690 rounds of earth-pounding, tank-busting 30 mm ammunition during the deployment. 

The Bezmer Air Base community also benefited greatly from this Saber deployment, as they spent some of their off-duty time cleaning an orphanage overtaken by years of vegetation. The orphanage now stands out as a place that can provide a safe environment where the children can play. The orphanage headmaster was in tears as she thanked every person who made the facility look 20 years younger. The 81st AMU and 81st played soccer and games with local teams and impacted the lives of many orphans. 

The 81st AMU and 81st FS continually overcome many obstacles at homestation; the least of which are manpower reductions and a limited number of available aircraft. 

The decrease of available aircraft is due to the ongoing C-Model upgrade of the A-10Thunderbolt II, nicknamed the "Warthog." For the past 15 months, Spangdahlem's A-10 aircraft have been flown to a Belgian depot facility as an "A Model" and they have returned to the unit as "C-Models," with upgraded avionics systems. This "face lift," makes a 29-year-old aircraft fight like one straight off the assembly line. The upgrades make the A-10s stationed here the most advanced and war capable in the Air Force inventory. 

In addition, spring and summer bring ample opportunities to support air shows and flyovers. The 81st AMU has provided the aircraft to support static displays for Royal Air Force Cadets; Serbian distinguished visitors; Luxembourg royalty;U.S. Military Attaché to Bulgaria; and Army distinguished visitors from Austria, Germany, and America. 

The 81st AMU also supported Memorial Day flyovers to Hamm, Luxembourg; and Ardennes, Belgium; and have gone to air shows at Volkel; Beuchel; Radom, Poland; and Royal International Air Tattoo, England. The 81st AMU has been occupied during the past year providing the 81st FS with quality aircraft to fly. 

The men and women of the 81st AMU take pride in seeing the daily launch and recovery of Spangdahlem A-10 aircraft. 

From combat missions in Afghanistan to training missions in Bulgaria, the 81st AMU continues to maintain a weapon system that many yearn to take their pictures with, all while battling our nation's adversaries. 

Thanks to all the hard work and dedication of the exceptional men and women of the 81st AMU, America's enemies will "Fear the hog!"