U.S. sends A-10 Warthog attack jets to Middle East to back Israel

A squadron of A-10 Thunderbolt II Warthog fighters has arrived in the Middle East as part of the U.S. effort to bolster security in the region following Hamas’ attack on Israel Saturday that killed 1,200 civilians.

A senior Defense Department official said the decision to send the Air Force’s 354th Fighter Squadron to the area is intended to send a message to both state and non-state actors. The squadron is based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona.

“The United States is unequivocal in its support for the defense of Israel and is sending a warning to any entity that would consider taking advantage of this conflict and this war to escalate violence. One word — quite simply, don’t,” the Pentagon official told reporters Thursday.

The venerable A-10, which first flew more than 50 years ago, is a single-seat, subsonic attack aircraft designed to provide close air support to ground troops by attacking enemy armored vehicles. Although it can carry numerous munitions, the Warthog’s primary built-in weapon is the GAU-8 Avenger autocannon, a hydraulically driven, seven-barrel rotary gun that fires armor-piercing shells.

The Warthogs from the 354th Fighter Squadron aren’t the only U.S. airpower in the region. The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford’s strike group with its eight squadrons of attack and support aircraft are already off the coast of Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean, officials said.

The Pentagon also confirmed the U.S. will resupply Israel with interceptors for its Iron Dome air defense system along with artillery shells and precision-guided munitions. The support won’t affect the U.S. effort to provide weapons for Ukraine in its fight against  Russia, the Defense Department official said.

“We are capable of supporting Ukraine and Israel in their hours of need,” the official said Thursday. “Ukraine is defending freedom against Russian tyranny, and Israel is defending its people against horrific terrorist acts. We feel we can and must do both.”

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