ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force has announced it is sending 12 A-10 Thunderbolts, also known as Warthogs, to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a response to Russia's actions in Ukraine.
The A-10s will be sent to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and deployed to partner nations in Eastern Europe.
"The Air Force is increasing rotational presence in Europe to reassure our allies and partner nations that our commitment to European security is a priority," Lt. Gen. Tom Jones, vice commander of U.S. air forces in Europe, said in a statement.
The 1970s-era aircraft was designed for close-air support for ground troops, a function at the center of congressional debate over the Air Force's decision to retire the aging jets in the coming years as they phase in the troubled F-35 fighters built by Lockheed Martin.
Called "tankbusters" for their iconic nose-mounted Gatling guns, capable of quickly dispatching enemy tanks, the A-10s can carry a variety of munitions.
At the annual Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., this week, Air Force officials were sensitive to the controversy surrounding the A-10's upcoming retirement, with Gen. Herbert J. "Hawk" Carlisle making sure to say what a "fantastic" plane the A-10 is.