- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The U.S. Air Force sent in its A-10 Thunderbolts II into Iraq for airstrikes against the Islamic State group. Now the terrorist organization seems to have answered with man-portable, shoulder-fired, low-altitude, infrared-guided, surface-to-air missile systems.

A recent U.S. airstrike using A-10s killed numerous members of the Islamic State group, but eyewitnesses told an Iraqi news outlet that MANPADS were employed as a defensive measure, The Aviationist reported.

The U.S. sent the aircraft to the region in late November with the 163rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, a unit with the Indiana Air National Guard. The squadron also provided close air support during operations in Afghanistan.

The plane has been used since the 1970s and is widely popular among pilots and ground troops. However, the Air Force has been phasing out the Thunderbolt as it attempts to bring the F-35 stealth fighter online.

“Like all effective platforms, we need to upgrade and modernize,” outgoing
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said of the Thunderbolt on Jan. 14, The Hill reported. “So, what we’ll need to do is we’ll need to phase out the A-10 as we make room for the F-35, which has more precision and more versatility.”

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