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U.S. Air Force returns military equivalent of a pit stop for A-10 Thunderbolt II

Posted by Dylan Malyasov on


The U.S. Air Force decided to return a military equivalent of a pit stop in auto racing, known as an Integrated Combat Turn (ICT), for A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft.

During an ICT, the pilot stops the jet, the service crew refueled, rearmed aircraft, and sent it back into combat.

ICTs have been utilized by the Air Force in the past, but are making a comeback and Davis-Monthan is leading the way in that effort.

Now, after aircraft touch down, the A-10s taxi to their respective sun shades where the crews, with tools in hand, prepare to begin maintenance. They immediately get to work loading the aircraft with armaments, checking fuel levels and refueling it in order to get the jet back in the air as quickly as possible while the engines are still running. Once all processes are complete, the A-10s are ready to take off and fly another sortie.

“We’ve decided to bring these ICTs back because rapidly turning these aircraft will give us a competitive edge on our near-to-peer adversaries,” said Col. Barton Kenerson, 355th Maintenance Group commander. “We realized over the years we’ve been fighting in the [air and space expeditionary force] construct that having this capability is something we need.”

ICTs are comprised of a highly trained and proficient workforce that have spent an extensive amount of time perfecting their craft. This experience allows the crews to load and maintain an aircraft in a fraction of the time it usually takes.

“During a normal combat turn, all of the servicing we do is performed at different times,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Terasas, 355th Maintenance Group load standardization crew member. “During an ICT, we tackle all of these processes at the same time. We constantly practice to ensure that we don’t get in each other’s way and can get the job done safely.”

Because of the speed at which the aircraft are armed and refueled, ICTs can increase the amount of combat sorties that are flown. This increase can be very advantageous for the Air Force in future operations.

“This is absolutely a capability that our Air Force needs,” said Kenerson. “When we go to fight our adversaries we have to be able to rapidly deploy combat operations across the full spectrum to meet our combatant commander’s requirements.”

Davis-Monthan has increased its readiness and lethality by implementing ICTs. The application of this process is just one example of how the installation continues to push forward and lead the way.

“We have to think in different ways to solve problems for combatant commanders and the Air Force when it comes to high-end readiness,” said Kenerson. “We are doing just that with ICTs, and none of that would be possible without our innovative Airmen, great maintainers and pilots.”

Photo by Airman 1st Class Frankie Moore

For reference, the A-10 supports ground forces with rapid employment close air and contact support. It utilizes a variety of bomb, missiles and a 30 mm GAU-8 seven-barrel Gatling gun.

The A-10 Thunderbolt II has excellent maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude, and is a highly accurate and survivable weapons-delivery platform. The aircraft can loiter near battle areas for extended periods of time and operate in low ceiling and visibility conditions. 

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