The U.S. military has brought a small number of A-10 Thunderbolt attack jets to its air base in Bagram, an aircraft designed to provide close air support for ground forces, a spokesman said.

It was the first time fixed-wing aircraft have been stationed inside Afghanistan, according to Maj. Bryan Hilferty, spokesman for the 10th Mountain Division. The A-10s have already been used in operations in Afghanistan, including the just-concluded Operation Anaconda. In the past, however, the aircraft have been based outside of Afghanistan.

At least four of the jets could be seen at Bagram air base. The aircraft will be located at the base, Hilferty said. That should shorten the time it takes for them to reach their targets.

A-10s are specially designed to provide air support of ground forces and can survive direct hits from armor-piercing and high-explosive projectiles. The twin-engine jet aircraft can be used against ground targets like tanks and other armored vehicles, as well as caves and fortified positions.

An A-10 jet can fly low and slow, and with its wide combat radius and has short takeoff and landing capabilities that permit it to get in and out of locations near front lines.

A 30-mm gun mounted at the front of the aircraft can fire 3,900 rounds a minute.