A-10 Thunderbolt II / Warthog, Fairchild

A-10 Thunderbolt II / Warthog

Battlefield tank-killer, heavily armoured and built around a powerful 30mm 7-barrel GAU-8/A anti-armor gun and its enormous munition drum. The large unswept wing, the two turbofan engines in pods on top of the fuselage, and twin tailfins are all designed to keep the A-10 flying after suffering serious damage. The cockpit is armoured to resist 23mm rounds. It first seemed that its career would be rather short, because the USAF prefered faster and less specialized aircraft for the combat support role. The USAF bought 727. The Soviet counterpart of this plane is the SU-25 Frogfoot.

In 2005 an upgrade program was started to convert the A-10A to C-spec. The A-10C will be the result of a program called Precision Engagement and is scheduled to begin on the active A-10A fleet in 2006 and finish around the 2009 time frame. The A-10C will have a number of upgrades over the A-10A and will make the Warthog a viable weapons system well in this century. From the outside, the new Hog looks the same as the old one, but internally the Warthog features two new glass multifunction color cockpit displays, along with a digital stores management system that allows pilots to control weapons through computers. Also, a new grip and throttle, which incorporate a number of buttons and switches to control various functions, will allow Warthog pilots to command most of the aircraft's functions without taking their hands off the throttle and stick.

The power supply onboard the aircraft also has been increased to manage the new weapons the fighter will employ -- the Joint Direct Attack Munition and Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser. Finally, the PE (precision engagement) program provides the fighter with a fully integrated targeting pod capability to deliver the smart weapons. A-10Cs can carry up to six Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Wind Corrected Munitions Dispensers.

The entire active-duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve A-10 inventory of 356 aircraft is scheduled to receive the upgrades.

Type: A-10A
Country: USA
Function: attack
Year: 1976
Crew: 1
Engines: 2 * 40.3kN G.E. TF34-GE-100
Wing Span: 17.53 m
Length: 16.26 m
Height: 4.47 m
Wing Area: 47.01 m2
Empty Weight: 11321 kg
Speed: 805 km/h
Range: 4200 km
Max.Weight: 22680 kg
Armament: 1*g30 mm, 7260 kg
Unit cost: 20 million USD


The A-10 (often called "Warthog") and OA-10 have excellent maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude, and are highly accurate weapons-delivery platforms. They can loiter near battle areas for extended periods of time and operate under 1,000-foot ceilings (303.3 meters) with 1.5-mile (2.4 kilometers) visibility. Their wide combat radius and short takeoff and landing capability permit operations in and out of locations near front lines.

Thunderbolt II's have single-seat cockpits forward of their wings, and a large bubble canopy which provides pilots all-around vision. The pilots are encircled by titanium armor that also protects parts of the flight-control system. The redundant primary structural sections allow the aircraft to enjoy better survivability during close air support than did previous aircraft. The aircraft can survive direct hits from armor-piercing and high-explosive projectiles up to 23mm. Their self-sealing fuel cells are protected by internal and external foam. Their redundant hydraulic flight-control systems are backed up by manual systems. This permits pilots to fly and land when hydraulic power is lost.

The Thunderbolt II can be serviced and operated from bases with limited facilities near battle areas. Many of the aircraft's parts are interchangeable left and right, including the engines, main landing gear and vertical stabilizers.

Avionics equipment includes communications, inertial navigation systems, fire control and weapons delivery systems, and target penetration aids. Their weapons delivery systems include head-up displays that indicate airspeed, altitude and dive angle on the windscreen, and Pave Penny laser-tracking pods under the fuselage. The aircraft also have armament control panels, and infrared and electronic countermeasures to handle surface-to-air-missile threats.

The Thunderbolt II's 30mm GAU-8/A Gatling gun can fire 3,900 rounds a minute and can defeat an array of ground targets, to include tanks. Some of their other equipment includes an inertial navigation system, electronic countermeasures, target penetration aids, self-protection systems, and AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.


The first production A-10A was delivered to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, AZ., in October 1975. It was designed specially for the close air support mission and had the ability to combine large military loads, long loiter, and wide combat radius, which proved to be vital assets to America and its allies during Operation Desert Storm. In the Gulf War A-10s, with a mission capable rate of 95.7 percent, flew 8,100 sorties and launched 90 percent of the AGM-65 Maverick missiles used there.

General Characteristics A-10 Thunderbolt II

Primary Function: Close air support.
Contractor: Fairchild Republic Co.
Power Plant: Two General Electric TF34-GE-100 turbofans.
Thrust: 9,065 pounds (4079.25 kilograms) each engine.
Length: 53 feet, 4 inches (16.16 meters).
Height: 14 feet, 8 inches (4.42 meters).
Wingspan: 57 feet, 6 inches (17.42 meters).
Speed: 420 mph (Mach 0.56).
Ceiling: 1,000 feet (303 meters).
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 51,000 pounds (22,950 kilograms).
Range: 288 miles (250 nautical miles) carrying 9,500 pounds (4,275 kilograms) of weapons and with a 1.7-hour loiter time.
Armament: One 30 mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun; up to 16,000 pounds (7,200 kilograms) of mixed ordnance on eight under-wing and three under-fuselage pylon stations, including 500 pounds (225 kilograms) of retarded bombs, 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms) of general-purpose bombs, incendiary and Rockeye II cluster bombs, combined effects munitions, Maverick missiles and laser-guided/electro-optically guided bombs; infrared countermeasure flares; electronic countermeasure chaff; jammer pods; 2.75-inch (6.99 centimeters) rockets; and illumination flares.
Crew: One.
Introduction Date: March 1976.
Unit Cost: $8.8 million.
Inventory: Active force, 72 A-10s and 60 OA-10s; ANG, 84 A-10s, 24 OA-10s; Reserve, 87 A-10s.

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