The US Air Forces Central’s (AFCENT) commander has carried out an immersion initiative at Al Dhafra Air Base (ADAB) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

It was conducted with the ADAB-stationed unit 380th Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW) on 3 May. 

As part of the initiative, AFCENT or 9th Air Force commander lieutenant general Alexus Grynkewich discussed a wide range of issues, including regional threats, with the USAF airmen, marines and other service members located at the base.

The commander further visited the bed down location of the US Air Force’s (USAF) A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft.

Currently, the 380th AEW team is preparing to provide the small diameter bombs (SDB) upgrade to their A-10 fighter fleet.

The service has already received its first of 21 A-10 aircraft at the Boneyard in March, as part of the fleet modernisation effort.

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It will be operated and handled by pilots and maintainers from the USAF’s 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS).

Grynkewich said: “With the 380th AEW team preparing the A-10 to carry small diameter bombs (SDB) in combat, we are eager to leverage the capability this brings to the US Central Command area of responsibility.”

The ability to carry SDBs will allow A-10 aircraft to offer increased stand-off range, compared to the previous munitions that were capable of employing only within single-digit nautical miles.

The USAF said that SDBs can travel dozens before detonation.

The visit also allowed Grynkewich to witness several tactical level operations to closely understand the challenges and concerns faced by the USAF members deployed under 380th AEW.

Grynkewich said: “I look forward to seeing how our A-10 experts adjust their tactics and operations to employ this capability.

“Deployments like this provide valuable experience to our pilots, maintainers and weapons teams. It’s experience like this they’ll need in the future as they transition to new platforms capable of flying in all operational environments.”