127th Wing A-10 Thunderbolt extends its capabilities

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Samara Taylor
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs

The 127th Wing is exploring future capabilities of the A-10 Thunderbolt to be the next aircraft equipped with the Miniature Air Launched Decoy MALD, also known as the ADM-160. 
The MALD is a small, unmanned air-launched flight vehicle designed to duplicate combat flight profiles on the enemy radar. 
The dry fit testing validation for the A-10 allowed, the 127th Maintenance Squadron and Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, training on the unmanned flight vehicle. A dry fit test is a measuring process that assures the MALD is able to be placed on the A-10. 
Weapons load crew assigned to the 127th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron loaded the decoy onto the Thunderbolt II during a two-day validation process. 
Being able to load the ADM-160 on the A-10 Thunderbolt is unprecedented; to make this reality was a group effort. 
“This was an excellent opportunity for an Air National Guard-led, total force initiative to increase the capability across the Combat Air Forces,” said Major Kraig Lohse an A-10 pilot with the 107th Fighter Squadron. “The A-10 community is taking the Air Force Chief of Staff’s directive to ‘Accelerate change or lose’ to heart. We are innovating effective ways to support fifth-generation aircraft utilizing the A-10 in non-traditional mission sets.”  
The MALD vehicle is currently operational on the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the B-52 Stratofortress; this endeavor is the first step for approval by the U.S. Air Force for the A-10 Thunderbolt II. It would be an unprecedented first for the A-10 community to utilize a munition system of this type.   
“The A-10’s unique agile capability and store capacity suits it to support this mission,” said Lohse,. “This would be a force multiplier, making the Warthawg a significant contributor to the future fight.” 
This validation process marks the beginning of the integration for the MALD on the A-10 Thunderbolt. If the U.S. Air Force approves the decoy, it would be an unprecedented first for an A-10 Thunderbolt II to carry and expend the ADM-160.