Maryland Air National Guard Base to Transition from Aging A-10 Aircraft to Cyber Mission

The Air Force is phasing out its A-10 "Warthog" aircraft
The Air Force is phasing out its A-10 "Warthog" aircraft, leading federal lawmakers to try to convince the Air Force to preserve a flight mission at Martin State Airport in Middle River, home of the Maryland Air National Guard’s 175th Wing. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff/TNS)

The U.S. Air Force said Thursday that Maryland’s Warfield Air National Guard Base at Martin State Airport in Middle River is the preferred location to transition from a flying mission with aging A-10 aircraft to a cyber wing mission.

“Maryland is home to the nation’s most advanced cyber assets, and the expansion of the National Guard’s mission is further testament to the vital work our men and women do for our national security as our country prepares to confront future challenges and adversaries,” Gov. Wes Moore, a Democrat, said in a statement.

The A-10 Thunderbolt II provides close air support for forces on the ground. The planes have been flown by the Maryland National Guard since 1979.

A news release from the Air Force said that replacing those 21 aircraft at the 104th Fighter Wing with a cyber mission would mesh well with preexisting cyber assets at Fort George G. Meade in Anne Arundel County, as well as the 175th Cyberspace Operations Group operating at Warfield.

This transition would not preclude Warfield from being considered for potential future missions. The Air Force will perform an environmental impact analysis for the cyber wing, which will be completed by fall 2025. Warfield will start to divest its A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft later this year.

According to Moore, members of the Maryland Air National Guard have “60,000 hours of combined flying experience, 12,000 hours of combat flying experience, and provide support for combat airpower, cyber warfare capacity, partner nations, home communities and the State of Maryland.”

He said that Maryland’s A-10 aircraft are prepping to deploy to the U.S. Central Command theater of operations in the Middle East later this month.

Moore said he and the Maryland congressional delegation are “advocating vigorously” to maintain the state’s flying mission, and were “disappointed” to learn that the Air Force is retiring the A-10 mission across the country with no plan to replace older systems with advanced aircraft or keep experienced pilots and maintainers. They said they are committed to working with federal partners at the White House and the Pentagon to secure another flying mission in Maryland this year.

“The dedicated pilots and maintenance personnel of the 104th Fighter Squadron have bravely served our nation both at home and abroad,” U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and U.S Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger — all of whom are Democrats — said in a statement Thursday. “These professionals will continue to operate the venerable A-10 Warthog until it is retired next year.”

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