An Air Force A-10 fighter squadron that recently deployed to the Middle East will work with coalition forces to support the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Air Force said Monday.
The squadron will serve as part of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Group, which was reactivated on Nov. 14, according to an Air Force press report.
The A-10 fighter squadron arrived in Southwest Asia between Nov. 17 and 21 with "several" jets.
The plane, also known as the "Warthog,” provides close air support for ground troops. The administration has ruled out the possibility of ground troops in combat, but military officials have floated the possibility of U.S. advisers going into some battles with Iraqi forces.
A six-month deployment of the Indiana Air National Guard 122nd Fighter Wing, with its 300 airmen, and a dozen A-10s to the U.S. Central Command region was first announced on Sept. 17, but its mission was not yet announced.
"I don't know of a time in Blacksnake history we have taken this kind of aviation footprint forward," Col. Patrick R. Renwick, 122nd Fighter Wing Commander, said in a Sept. 17 statement, using the Wing's nickname.
"The A-10 'Warthog' is uniquely suited for the Combatant Commander's needs, and the Blacksnakes are the right team to bring that capability to combat," he added.
The use of the A-10 comes at a time when the Pentagon is pushing to retire the Cold War-era aircraft, saying the move would save $4 billion over the next five years while freeing up crew members to work on the newer F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Some lawmakers have put up a fight, saying that now is not the right time to retire the aircraft, with the U.S. fighting another Middle East war that could require ground forces.