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Maryland Air National Guard maintenance and operations Airmen maintain effectiveness

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Chris Schepers
  • 175th Wing

MARTIN STATE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Md. -- In keeping with years of mission success, Airmen from the Maryland Air National Guard assigned to the 175th Maintenance Group and 104th Fighter Squadrons were recognized as the most mission capable A-10 fleet within the entire Air National Guard throughout fiscal year 2023.

The Airmen, which maintain and fly the A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft, achieved the top mission capable (MC) rate of 71.3 percent. In addition, their MC rate was higher than the average MC rate of every fighter fleet in the U.S. Air Force and higher than 43 of 56 fighter units in the entire U.S. Air Force.

“The dedication to our mission, skill, and professionalism our Airmen exhibit, not only this year, but since I have been a member of this organization is second to none,” said Maryland Air National Guard Col. Richard Hunt, 175th Wing commander and A-10 pilot. “The knowledge and experience we possess makes this organization well prepared for our current mission set, future exercises, and deployments. We also stand poised and ready to achieve success for any future follow-on fighter mission with Airmen possessing years of knowledge and experience that the United States Armed Forces cannot afford to lose.”

The MC rate of an aircraft is the percentage of total time an aircraft can fly and perform at least one mission and it is a stat that is used to assess the health and readiness of an aircraft fleet.

The success of the Maryland Air National Guard throughout the last fiscal year was achieved all while the 21 aircraft in the fleet were undergoing a major modernization program, ahead of all A-10 fleets in the U.S. Air Force. These upgrades, installed with the aid of Contract Field Teams, added over 3,000 additional maintenance actions for a unit which simultaneously flew 100 percent of its Flying Hour Program and kept 100 percent of its pilots Combat Mission Ready.

“The men and women of the 175th Maintenance Group were able to surpass ANG goals for MC rates and complete four major modernization upgrades on our A-10 fleet, despite the uncertainty generated by U.S. Air Force plans to divest its [A-10] fleet in 2025,” said Maryland Air National Guard Col. David Wright, 175th Maintenance Group commander. “This demonstrates that their talent, expertise, and dedication to defending this country is a national asset worth keeping and nurturing by guaranteeing a future fighter follow-on mission.”

The upgrades completed by the Maryland Air National Guard over the last year included the 2nd generation gigabit ethernet switch (2nd GES), three-dimensional audio (3D Audio), jam-resistant global positioning system (JRGPS), and Suite 11, which is an updated software system enabling the A-10 to employ a small diameter bomb. These upgrades are critical to ensure that the 104th Fighter Squadron pilots remain ready, capable, and lethal pilots for an upcoming deployment. 

According to the project lead for upgrades to the Maryland Air National Guard A-10 fleet, Maryland Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Anthony Johnson stated, “the upgrades we made to the A-10 this year have made the aircraft an even more formidable war-fighting machine, whether it’s the 3D Audio which enhances the pilots countermeasures or the JRGPS that allows the A-10 access to combat zones that were once impenetrable due to enemy technology, these upgrades make the A-10 available to fight in a larger spectrum of war-fighting missions.”

In addition to the upgrades made to the Maryland Air National Guard A-10 fleet, the 175th Maintenance Group and 104th Fighter Squadron maintained a packed schedule of training deployments and community relations events including flyovers and air show displays. Over the course of FY23, 175th Wing Airmen participated in Sunshine Rescue in Savannah, Georgia, Operation Lucky Strike, a home station full-scale readiness exercise, and an agile combat employment (ACE) exercise at Martinsburg Air National Guard Base in West Virginia, to name a few.

The 175th Wing’s largest training deployment for the year was the German-led exercise, Air Defender 2023 (AD23), the largest Air Force deployment exercise since NATO was founded. 

The wing supported this exercise with over 100 Airmen and 6 A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft. The multinational exercise, involving more than 10,000 military personnel, 250 aircraft, and 25 countries, focused on operational and tactical-level field training from airfields across Germany and proved to be a powerful demonstration of ready and postured forces.

“Over the past year, our Airmen supported numerous air shows and flyovers along with exercise deployments to Fort Drum and Sunshine rescue in Florida,” said Maryland Air National Guard Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Golabiewski, 175th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron senior enlisted leader. “However, in my opinion, the highlight would have to be German Air Defender. Our Airmen were able to showcase the 175th’s ability to conduct large-scale forward-deployed lethal combat operations. Whether operating out of Estonia or Germany, our maintainers demonstrated why we are the premiere A-10 maintenance unit in the Air Force by overcoming numerous logistical obstacles and enabling 121 sorties and over 300 flying hours.”

Despite the unknown status of a future flying mission for the Maryland Air National Guard, the men and women of the 175th Maintenance Group and 104th Fighter Squadron will continue to prepare and train to “Fly, Flight, and Win” while conducting future training missions and real-world deployments.