A-10 suffers ‘catastrophic’ engine damage in Iraq

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An A-10 deployed in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) suffered a “non-combat” engine failure and had to divert to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, according to an Air Force report.  

The jet’s No. 1 engine suffered catastrophic damage during a routine refueling mission, and the pilot was able to safely land the aircraft at the air base in central Iraq, said the report Wednesday. 

However, “the aircraft was in a location that was not fully secure and we needed it repaired and flown out of there as quickly as possible,” according to the commander of the 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, Col. Michael Stohler. The report did not specify when the engine failure occurred. 

Pentagon officials said in January the Al Asad air base was coming under “regular fire” from ISIS fighters. About 300 Marines are at the air base, training Iraqi security forces as part of the U.S.-led coalition’s efforts to defeat the terrorist group. 

The incident, although “non-combat,” shows the risks for airmen involved in the U.S.-led coalition’s airstrike campaign in the region. 

Within hours of the engine failure, a nine-person maintenance team deployed to the base to assess the aircraft for repairs, the report said. In following days, Air Force assets and a Marines unit stationed with the maintenance squadron assisted with moving troops and parts needed to get the attack jet back into the air. 

The job was made more difficult by not having aircraft maintenance equipment or any way to tow the A-10 to a temporary work station — an old unused aircraft shelter that had no lights, no power, no phone and no Internet. 

Without the proper equipment, 12 airmen and two Marines pushed the 40,000-pound aircraft for 70 yards uphill into the hangar, according to the report. 

The crew also jump-started an abandoned light cart in order to work at night. It took five days to repair the aircraft, compared to the weeks initially estimated, the report said. 

“This was a great team effort,” Stohler said. “The pilot did an outstanding job of flying this difficult-to-handle aircraft to a safe landing. The maintenance team did an awesome job of returning it to the air.”

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