BOISE, IDAHO — Last week, we took you inside Gowen Field for an introduction to the Idaho National Guard and their mission.
Now, we're back at Gowen for an up-close look at what the Idaho Air Guard's 190th Fighter Squadron is flying.
It's a bird...it's a plane...oh, it is a plane. But not just any plane. That intimidating military plane that you might often see flying in the skies around Boise is the A-10 Warthog.
"What an incredible airplane. The Idaho Air National Guard has been flying the A-10 for as long as I have been flying the A-10, which might date me a little bit, but I believe we got it in 96,'" said the Idaho Air National Guard's 124th Fighter Wing Commander Shannon Smith.
For 23 years now, the Idaho Air National Guard has been assigned the Warthog to train their pilots in, making sure they are combat-ready in case they're ever deployed.
"The A-10 has a great reputation in combat, from really Desert Storm on continuous engagements in combat and it's an honor to fly it here in the Idaho Air National Guard, especially having the Army National Guard here with us," said Smith.
A match made in heaven really as the primary function of the Warthog is to support friendly troops in ground combat.
"The jet was designed to do what we do which is close air support which is to operate in close proximity to friendly troops. We go a little bit slower. big, straight, thick wings and a high lift so we don't fly as fast as other aircraft, but it gives us high loiter ability so we can stay on station with the intent of supporting the troops on the ground of course," said Idaho Air Guard Pilot Lt. Col Keley Clark.
"I like working on the A-10's, it's satisfying knowing that you're protecting the guys on the ground, it's their main mission, talking to Army guys and Marine guys, they love this aircraft so knowing that we can provide that safety and airpower for them, it's great," said A-10 Crew Chief Keven Swenson.
" So the A-10 has been here at Gowen Field since 1996. Affectionately it's known as the Warthog, but many people don't know it's actual, technical name is the A-10 Thunderbolt Two," said Matt Sizemore
Before the Thunderbolt Two, or Warthog, the Idaho Air Guard was assigned to train with several other aircraft before exclusively rocking the A-10's, but it was the F-4 Phantom they saw more than anything else.
"So we went through several versions of the F-4, and that was probably the longest legacy of fighters, different variance of fighters before the A-10," said Smith.
The Idaho Air Guard thinks there's a good chance they'll be training with the A-10's for at least another 10 years or so, but have had discussions about what aircraft the future may bring.
"If it's the Air Force's choice to give us the next generation fighter, then we'll attack that with the same passion cause that's what we owe the Army and the ground forces that we support," said Smith.
But no matter what the future brings, there's a lot of individuals that are happy about the current home of the Warthogs.
"It's a blast to fly. It's very capable, very nimble, it's a very reliable aircraft. And as far as safety, it's a, the way it's designed, it's a very safe airplane for us to fly," said Clark.
"Yeah I'd say the entire base loves the A-10, I know when you talk to people in the community, they love seeing the A-10's fly over and they get excited when they see that," said Swenson.