These photos were taken at the end of January at Ahmed al Jaber airbase in Kuwait. David Cenciotti, of The Aviationist, theaviationist.com, wrote about what the photos of the Blacksnakes' planes show about their role in the Middle East opposing ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria.
“Although some videos of the Thunderbolts using their GAU-8 Avenger — a 30-mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type cannon — to support Kurdish fighters had already surfaced, the photographs released by the U.S. Department of Defense provide some more details and clearly show, for the first time, the (weaponry and gear) of the 'Hogs' involved in the air war against ISIS,” Cenciotti wrote.
Cenciotti noted that the missiles, rocket launchers, bombs and targeting equipment on the aircraft show that they would be able to attack many kinds of fixed or moving targets, from gunmen in light trucks to tanks to other armored vehicles. The A-10s are not carrying air-to-air missiles, indicating that the military isn't worried about the aircraft facing enemy aircraft, Cenciotti wrote.
Cenciotti said pilots wear the Scorpion Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (HMCS), the world's only full-color Helmet Mounted Cueing System. The helmet system enables aircrews to rapidly cue sensors or weapons and to designate targets by simply “looking at” the target or point of interest. Furthermore, it takes all the information collected by the plane's sensors and positions it on the ground so that each pilot can look at a heads-up display and know exactly where the ground targets are positioned without the need to look inside the cockpit and never losing visual contact of these targets.