Like the Arizona Wildcats and Lucky Wishbone, pairs of A-10 Warthogs flying across the Tucson sky have been a local tradition for decades. The A-10 was developed after the Vietnam War and characterized by its distinctive nose mounted 30mm Gatling gun. Designed to fly slowly and low to the ground, the missile-carrying A-10 effectively decimated Soviet tanks and provided stellar service in the Middle East and the Balkans. Recent news that the United States Air Force may decommission the A-10 has sparked efforts to prevent that from happening since none of the current and upcoming planes in the military's inventory can provide the close air support of the A-10.
Gary Wetzel's book, A-10 Thunderbolt II : Units of Operation Enduring Freedom is a timely chronicle of the A-10's role in the first five years of the war in Afghanistan. Wetzel details the combat missions the A-10 flew against the Taliban and Al Queda that included preventing American soldiers and special forces teams from being overrun. Color photographs and artwork illustrate the A-10's history over the rugged and war torn country, including those of the 355th Fighter Wing based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Future volumes about the A-10 in Operation Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom are planned but, for now, this book serves as an excellent testimony on why the A-10 should remain a Southern Arizona tradition for years to come.