SimHQ is honored to be able to present you with a little Hog History, but even more so to be able to talk with one of the participant’s in Hawgsmoke 2006, Major Dan “Beef” Manning, of the 357th FS, DMAFB.
Major Manning has over 1,000 hours in the A-10, since 2001. Prior to being a Hog driver, he was a T-37 First Assignment Instructor Pilot at Sheppard AFB. He has flown the Hog at Spangdahlem, and is currently an instructor pilot for the 357th.
20mm: Beef, thanks for taking the time to talk with us.
Beef: No problem, glad to help out.
20mm: The A-10 is currently undergoing quite a few upgrades to its systems, and won’t be quite the same basic CAS aircraft that has been around now for thirty years. What’s your opinion on these upgrades and how will they affect the capabilities the Hog brings to the battlefield?
Beef: I think the upgrades will significantly improve our capability to employ weapons in a variety of conditions we may find. One thing that won’t change however is that the A-10 pilot will always take pride in the “old fashioned” way of finding, fixing, and killing the enemy using the gun and solid CAS tactics.
20mm: That makes sense, bringing the advancements of technology while retaining the basics that have made the A-10 so effective over the years.
Following up on that a little, with some of the recent and planned changes, does it appear the use of the aircraft in combat would be such that it might be more survivable? In other words, with more stand-off munitions, would there be less “up close and personal” interaction with enemy forces?
Beef: Sure, to some extent. Obviously, JDAMs and laser guided bombs can be very accurate, but when the enemy is a group of men with AK-47s 100 meters from friendlies, only 30mm will do.
20mm: Understood, depends on the situation and the target. What do you like the best about the aircraft?
Beef: Today there are A-10s flying combat missions in Afghanistan protecting Americans on the ground — thousands of miles away from home, in the cold, towering terrain while our enemies seek to do them harm. Tonight some of them will sleep better just from knowing that if they need it, A-10s will be there to answer their call.
20mm: None better to fill that role. Of course, the follow up question to what you like best, is what you like the least?
Beef: We need more targeting pods to train with in times when we aren’t deploying. The use of the pod has become an important, evolving tactic, but we don’t have enough for training.
20mm: Hopefully the Air Force will find some more resources to make that happen. Do you have a favorite Hog story?
Beef: Actually, one of my favorites is from Bill Smallwood’s book, Warthog: Flying the A-10 in the Gulf War, about the A-10 in Desert Storm. When giving tours to different groups, I always tell them about the A-10 that took a direct hit in the wing from AAA. The metal from the wing flew into the engine. The engine sputtered for a second, but restarted itself and kept flying. This airplane is the most survivable aircraft in America’s inventory today.
20mm: Absolutely, I can recall other stories as well, from Kosovo and Iraq, where the aircraft took tremendous damage, yet stayed together and with a skilled pilot at the controls, made it home when most others would not.
Talk a little bit about the weapons the Hog carries. The gun for example, is it as much fun to fire as it looks?
Beef: It’s something else, that’s for sure. The first time I shot the gun, it felt like a chainsaw under the plane. Most of the time though, you are so focused on aiming and target ID that you don’t notice the sounds and vibrations of the gun.