“Did we just become best friends?”
“Do you wanna do karate in the garage?”
That conversation between Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in the hilarious 2008 comedy “Step Brothers” was probably similar to talks between the A-10 and MV-22 when it was announced that the Warthog would fly escort missions for the Osprey in Hawaii.
Well, maybe that’s not how it went.
But the Air Force and Marine Corps have certainly been developing a closer partnership, especially as the forces plan to operate and possibly fight in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
In November 2018 the Corps decided to attach elite Air Force pararescuemen to its Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Africa, to aid in rescue missions and field an in-flight paramedic. Much like the Pacific theater, U.S. forces in the Africa command area of operations must overcome a monstrous distance.
And in February, A-10s from the 442d Fighter Wing were on hand in Hawaii to aid MV-22 Ospreys in escort and tactical recovery of aircraft personnel missions for an exercise called Tropical Koa Agile Combat Employment.
“MV-22 Ospreys from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 and AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom aircraft from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 are conducting fixed-wing escort training incorporating the A-10,” Lt. Colin B. Kennard, a spokesman for MAG-24, told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement.
It’s not the first time the A-10 has provided escort cover for the MV-22.
The Warthog is the “preferred escort platform” for the MV-22, according to Kennard. This is because of the A-10′s air-to-ground armaments and the fact that the A-10 flies at similar speeds as the Osprey, he said.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II is “commonly paired with the MV-22 when conducting medical evacuation or tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel missions,” said Kennard.
The A-10 also has flown escort missions for the MV-22 in anti-ISIS missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria.
But it is the first time the 442d Fighter Wing has conducted training with the MV-22 Osprey, Kennard said.
The A-10s and MV-22s practiced tactical recovery of aircraft personnel, search and rescue and refueling missions, which will be vital in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean where forces will be distributed across various bases and island chains.
The Marine Corps had been in pursuit of a weapons system that would afford the Osprey to operate as an escort platform, and forward firing rockets were being considered to bridge the Osprey escort gap.
The MV-22 Osprey is already armed with the Defense Weapon System, which is an underbelly GAU-17, 7.62mm mini-gun. But reports claimed that there were restricted zones of fire that were put in place to protect the aircraft that limited the weapon system.
In September 2018, Naval Air Systems Command told Marine Corps Times that the Defensive Weapon System would be upgraded and that there was no longer any pursuit of weapons development for the MV-22.