A-10 Thunderbolts from the Maryland Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Squadron are in Estonia this month as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
A-10s took off from Amari Air Base during an exercise Thursday, but rather than return to the tarmac there they practiced landing and taking off from a section of highway in northern Estonia.
The A-10 is well suited for such takeoffs and landings, as its wide tires and high ground clearance make it less susceptible to damage from obstacles or objects on the ground.
In the footage below, published by the Berlin-based media outlet Ruptly TV, which is part of the same media network as RT, you can see Thunderbolts performing their drills on what is known as Piibe highway.
Members of the Estonian Defence Forces set up a temporary danger zone around the area, and eight US special-tactics combat controllers from the 321st Special Tactics Squadron were on hand to survey the two-lane highway, manage the airspace, and perform command and control on the ground and in the air to land A-10s, according to the Air Force.
This is not the first occasion on which A-10s have trained on an Estonian roadway.
In June 2016, four Thunderbolts from the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard, taking part in the US Army-led exercise called Saber Strike, landed on a highway in the Baltic country.
The 2016 version of the drill was the first time it had been done since 1984.
After World War II and during the Cold War, highways were considered an option for fixed-wing aircraft, as the locations of primary runways were well known and they were likely to be targeted in the event of war.
Sections of the German Autobahn have long been designated for such use; some parts of that highway network were designed by NATO planners specifically to handle NATO planes. In 2015, fighter jets from Finland and Sweden practiced landing and taking off from a highway in Finland.
Below, you can see more photos of the A-10s in action in Estonia.
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