US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolts operate from highway for the first time


On August 4, the Michigan Department of Transportation (DOT) tweeted the closure of M-32, a freeway west of Alpena, for five hours the next day. The closure was supposed to allow the first movement of its kind on US highways, military planes. The next day, four A-10 Thunderbolt IIs voluntarily landed on the highway strip and later took off, the US Air Force said in a press release.

But the Michigan DOT couldn’t contain its excitement and tweeted videos of planes and events in its jurisdiction.

In case you missed the plane details on this one, here’s another one.

Two of the A-10 Thunderbolt IIs were from the 354th Fighter Squadron, while the other two were from the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard, the Air Force said. The landing and take-offs were part of a planned training exercise called Northern Strike 21.

Joining the exercise, two Air Force Special Operations Command C-146A Wolfhounds, video of which was also tweeted by Michigan DOT

The intention to test was declared earlier in July. Part of the US Air Force Concept of Operation Agile Combat Employment (ACE), the test demonstrates the agility of the Air Force and the critical advantage over its adversaries. The Michigan National Guard is home to the National All Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC) which includes the Alpena Combat Training Center and the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center. The NADWC offers 148,000 acres of maneuvering space and 17,000 miles of special use airspace.

Captain John Renner, captain of the 354th FS and one of the pilots involved in the exercise said: This proof of concept proves that we can land on any freeway and keep running.“Emphasizing the role of the A-10, he said,”The A-10 allows us to land in many more places to get fuel, weapons and other armaments (sic) so that we can operate anywhere, anytime. This will allow us to escape the use of built bases that our opponents can target by moving much faster.

To allow for testing, power lines in the area were temporarily disconnected and Air Force personnel were in direct contact with the affected homes. Michigan DOT has also removed some road signs and clarified that no changes have been made to the road surface for this exercise.

But it didn’t stop a Twitter user to point out that the strip where the planes landed was probably the only one without a pothole. If that was true, well done to the pilots.

Michigan State Police also couldn’t hide their glee at the historic event and shared their own video.


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