The A-10 is returning to Europe, albeit temporarily.
Twelve A-10s and about 300 airmen are deploying to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, as part of the Air Force's first theater security package to Europe, according to a news release from U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
"TSPs are different from other deployments because they will generally be six-month rotations and they provide the EUCOM [U.S. European Command] commander and other regional commanders unique air capabilities necessary to support regional security," a USAFE spokeswoman said in an email to Air Force Times.
The airmen and planes from the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, will train with NATO allies as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which is meant to reassure NATO's Eastern European members of the alliance's determination to defend them.
During part of the deployment, the A-10s and airmen will be forward-deployed to NATO members in Eastern Europe, the USAFE news release says. As it so happens, the A-10 was originally designed to fight World War III in Central and Eastern Europe. Its 30 mm gun was meant to liquefy Soviet tanks.
The deployment is a homecoming of sorts. In May 2013, the last A-10s left Spangdahlem for Davis-Monthan after the Air Force decided to eliminate the 81st Fighter Squadron. Although the unit went away, the A-10s did not. It is not known if any of the same aircraft are headed to Germany.
When the A-10s left Europe, the continent was at peace. But last year, Russia launched a war against Ukraine, first annexing the Crimea region and then sending troops and sophisticated equipment into the eastern part of the country.
Since then, the Air Force has rotated airmen through Europe as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve to send a clear message that "the U.S. is serious about conflict deterrence and peaceful resolution of disagreements," Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in an email to Air Force Times.
"These deployments augment our current presence in Europe," Stefanek said. "They further enhance the strength of our alliances without the need to permanently base additional aircraft and Airmen in Europe."