Throughout the mid-1980s, the 353rd, 355th and 356th Tactical Fighter Squadrons deployed overseas to further refine the Wing's combat training initiatives. Deployments were conducted to Germany, England, Egypt, Korea, Hawaii, Cuba and Puerto Rico. All of these deployments were in conjunction with United States Army exercises. These joint training initiatives were used to refine and verify continuing Air Force and Army close air support operational procedures. During the latter part of the decade, the Wing's emphasis began to shift away from the European Theater. Mounting tension in the Middle East resulted in a shift in emphasis to this volatile region. This regional shift in preparedness proved timely when the 354th was the first ground attack unit deployed to Saudi Arabia in August 1990 in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
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Prior to takeoff from Barbers Point, Hawaii Naval Air Station for the next mission, Lieutenant Colonel Weaver, pilot checks his bombs.
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Crews prepare for operation Desert Storm.
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The 354th Tactical Fighter Wing participated in numerous high-profile exercises and deployments during this era. Local exercises, named Thunderhog in reference
to the A-10's nickname, stressed developing procedures that made it possible for the Wing's flying units to produce very high sortie rates during simulated combat operations. During Thunderhog IV, the A-10 Thunderbolt II flew 1,270 sorties in 10 days. ( bottom photo caption )Refueling in a chemical environment was an important training aspect of the Thunderhog exercises. ( right photo caption )
After a mock attack, simulated wounded were cared for at the mobile hospital unit deployed to the FOLTA (Forward Operation Training Area).
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Forward Operation Location Training Area
The Wing renovated the World War II era aircraft dispersal parking area that was located on the east side of the airfield. This area, called the Forward Operation Location Training Area (FOLTA), was very similar to the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) bases that the A-10 units would be deployed to in response to aggressive actions by the Warsaw Pact (an organization of Central and Eastern European communist states). The FOLTA was used by all of the Wing's squadrons and provided the 354th with a unique training environment.
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FOLTA, the Hardstand concept, was developed during World War II to protect the east coast against Nazi bombing