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Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairchild_Republic_A-10_Thunderbolt_II

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An A-10 from the 74th Fighter Squadron after taking on fuel over Afghanistan

Role Fixed-wing close air support, forward air control, and ground-attack aircraft

National origin United States

Manufacturer Fairchild Republic

First flight 10 May 1972; 48 years ago

Introduction October 1977[1]

Status In service

Primary user United States Air Force

Produced1972–1984[2]

Number built 716[3]

Unit cost

US$18.8 million [4]
(approx. $46.3M today)

The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is a single-seat, twin turbofan engine, straight wing jet aircraft developed by Fairchild-Republic for the United States Air Force (USAF). It is commonly referred to by the nicknames "Warthog" or "Hog", although the A-10's official name comes from the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, a World War II fighter-bomber effective at attacking ground targets.[5] The A-10 was designed for close air support (CAS) of friendly ground troops, attacking armored vehicles and tanks, and providing quick-action support against enemy ground forces. It entered service in 1976 and is the only production-built aircraft that has served in the USAF that was designed solely for CAS. Its secondary mission is to provide forward air controller–airborne support, by directing other aircraft in attacks on ground targets. Aircraft used primarily in this role are designated OA-10.

The A-10 was intended to improve on the performance of the A-1 Skyraider and its lesser firepower. The A-10 was designed around the 30 mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon. Its airframe was designed for durability, with measures such as 1,200 pounds (540 kg) of titanium armor to protect the cockpit and aircraft systems, enabling it to absorb a significant amount of damage and continue flying. Its short takeoff and landing capability permits operation from airstrips close to the front lines, and its simple design enables maintenance with minimal facilities. The A-10 served in the Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), the American led intervention against Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, where the A-10 distinguished itself. The A-10 also participated in other conflicts such as in Grenada, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and against Islamic State in the Middle East.

The A-10A single-seat variant was the only version produced, though one pre-production airframe was modified into the YA-10B twin-seat prototype to test an all-weather night capable version. In 2005, a program was started to upgrade remaining A-10A aircraft to the A-10C configuration, with modern avionics for use with precision weaponry. The U.S. Air Force had stated the F-35 would replace the A-10 as it entered service, but this remains highly contentious within the USAF and in political circles. With a variety of upgrades and wing replacements, the A-10's service life can be extended to 2040; the service has no planned retirement date as of June 2017.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

The bean counters in the USAF have always wanted one plane that could do everything. Of course, they were hoping the F-35 would be that plane. It isn't. It will never replace the A-10 any more than the F-16 replaced the A-10. The A-10 is purpose-built attack aircraft for close-in ground support. The F-16 and F-35 were built as multi-purpose fighters. They are both fairly good as high altitude fighters, and using smart bombs, they are fairly deadly on ground targets from high altitude.

However, because both the F-18 and F-35 have single engines. one lucky BB in the engine from ground fire, and they will shortly head for the ground, with the pilot left hanging under a parachute. They are unsuited for ground attack. Fighter pilots like to fly balls-to-the-walls, and high speed doesn't make for good accuracy at low altitude. The A-10 was built to take a licking and keep on ticking. Take out one engine, and the A-10 continues to fly. Many A-10's have received heavy battle damage during combat and continued to complete their mission before returning to base.

I was at Hill AFB, which is the depot for the A-10, and I can attest to the deadly nature of the A-10 and its ability to stay on-target and deliver strikes to targets on the ground. The A-10 has always been a much more accurate weapons platform than the F-16 or the F-35. On strikes to armored targets on the range, the A-10 had a consistent kill rate over 90%, whereas the F-16 and F-35 had kill rates about 10%.

I hope that the A-10 is around long enough for the USAF leadership to pull their heads out of their asses and come up with a real replacement (or just restart production on the A-10). This is the best fixed-wing ground attack aircraft ever built.

Edited by Headshot
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to_dave007

Isn't the A10 also a lot cheaper than the F35?

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4 minutes ago, to_dave007 said:

Isn't the A10 also a lot cheaper than the F35?

You can have a squadron of A-10's for the cost of an F-35.

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