Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II
Type Close air support
Country of origin United States
First flight 10 May 1972
Introduced March 1977
Produced Numbers built 716
Unit costs US$11.8 million (average, 1994 dollars)
Max speed 381 knots (439 mph, 706 km/h) at sea level, clean
450 knots (518 mph, 833 km/h) at 5,000 ft (1,500 m) with 18 Mk 82 bombs
Cruise speed: 300 knots (340 mph, 560 km/h)
Max range Combat radius:
On CAS mission: 250 nmi (288 mi, 460 km) at 1.88 hour single-engine loiter at 5,000 ft (1,500 m), 10 min combat
On anti-armor mission: 252 nmi (290 mi, 467 km), 40 nm (45 mi, 75 km)) sea-level penetration and exit, 30 min combat
Ferry range: 2,240 nmi (2,580 mi, 4,150 km) with 50 knot (55 mph, 90 km/h) headwinds, 20 minutes reserve
Service ceiling: 45,000 ft (13,700 m)
Dimensions Length: 53 ft 4 in (16.26 m)
Wingspan: 57 ft 6 in (17.53 m)
Height: 14 ft 8 in (4.47 m)
Wing area: 506 ft² (47.0 m²)
Weight Empty weight: 24,959 lb (11,321 kg)
Loaded weight: 30,384 lb (13,782 kg) On CAS mission: 47,094 lb (21,361 kg)
On anti-armor mission: 42,071 lb (19,083 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 50,000 lb (23,000 kg)
Powerplant 2 x General Electric TF34-GE-100A turbofans, 9,065 lbf (40.32 kN) each
Armament Guns: 1x 30 mm (1.18 in) GAU-8/A Avenger gatling cannon with 1,174 rounds
Hardpoints: 11 (8x under-wing and 3x under-fuselage pylon stations) with a capacity of 16,000 lb (7,260 kg) and provisions to carry combinations of:
4x LAU-61/LAU-68 rocket pods (each with 19x/7x Hydra 70 mm rockets, respectively)
4x LAU-5003 rocket pods (each with 19x CRV7 70 mm rockets)
6x LAU-10 rocket pods (each with 4x 127 mm (5.0 in) Zuni rockets)
2x AIM-9 Sidewinders air-to-air missiles for self-defense
6x AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missiles
Mark 80 series of unguided iron bombs or
Mk 77 incendiary bombs or
BLU-1, BLU-27/B Rockeye II, Mk20, BL-755 and CBU-52/58/71/87/89/97 cluster bombs or
Paveway series of Laser-guided bombs or
Joint Direct Attack Munition (A-10C) or
Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (A-10C)
SUU-42A/A Flares/Infrared decoys and chaff dispenser pod or
AN/ALQ-131 or AN/ALQ-184 ECM pods or
Lockheed Martin Sniper XR or LITENING targeting pods (A-10C) or
2x 600 US gallon Sargent Fletcher drop tanks for increased range/loitering time.
Operators United States (Retired)
Warthog, the nickname of Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, is an American close air support and ground-attack aircraft which was developed by Fairchild-Republic in the early 1970s. This twin-engine and single seat jet aircraft features a straight wing and to fulfill its duty to protect ground troops, the aircraft is equipped with 30 mm GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling-type cannon that can destroy enemy tanks and armored vehicles trying to hinder the movement of friendly ground forces.
Initially the aircraft was designed specifically for the United States Air Force in accordance with its request because the USAF, at the time, needed an aircraft that could destroy any hostile ground targets and ensure the movement of ground forces to run more smoothly penetrating enemy defense lines. But finally, after seeing the ability of Warthog, the Air National Guard also operates the A-10.
The A-10 has been seeing combats in many conflicts including Afghanistan war, Iraq war and military operation in Libya in 2011. The aircraft is still used today and planned to be grounded in 2028.
The Development of the A-10
The development of the A-10 Thunderbolt II stemmed from a USAF program called Attack Experimental (AX) in 1966. This program was part of the Air Force efforts to answer the criticisms against it where the Air Force was considered incapable of providing fairly steady close air support, especially during the Vietnam War where the United States suffered considerable loss of ground forces. During the war, many ground-attack aircrafts were also shot down by light arms, air-to-surface missiles and anti-aircraft guns. In the era, besides the aging A-1 Skyraider, the United States operated faster jet fighters to play the role of close air support such as F-100 Super Sabre, F-105 Thunderchief and F-4 Phantom II but they were ineffective.
In January 1973, the Air Force annunciated its selection of Fairchild-Republic’s YA-10A which took its maiden flight on May 1972 to be developed as the required close air support aircraft. A few months later, the USAF also granted General Electric to build the GAU-8 cannon. In October 1975, the first production of A-10 Thunderbolt II had its first flight. Since then, there were a total of 715 aircrafts were produced.
The Design of the A-10
The A-10 Thunderbolt II, in accordance with the task to be entrusted is designed to operate at the forefront of the defense so as to take-off and landing on a runway which is not very long. The aircraft is also designed to be repaired in the field where it is assigned.
The A-10 has qualified maneuverability while flying with low speed and low altitude. This is supported by the large wing area and the ailerons and wing aspect ratio is high. With its ability to maneuver, the aircraft is a reliable platform for ground-attack and air close support operations.
The aircraft is also designed with a sturdy airframe that can survive direct hits caused by armor-piercing and high-explosive projectiles up to 23 mm. Exhaust section is also designed in such a way to reduce the effects of heat. It can be achieved through arrangements that bursts through the horizontal stabilizers and the twin tails. This helps reducing the risk of being detected by infra red system and also heat-seeking missiles.
As a protective ground forces, the A-10 is armed with the most powerful cannon in military aircraft: the 30 mm GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling-type cannon. These canons spewing large depleted uranium armor-piercing shells with a rate of 2.100 or 4.200 fires rounds per minute. It is strong enough to destroy a tank. Moreover, this canon has an accuracy rate of 80%.
Another weapon which also carried by A-10 is the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missile. The missile has different variations for either electro-optical (TV-guided) or infrared targeting. The missile certainly has greater range of fire than the cannon. The A-10 is also able to carry cluster bombs and Hydra rocket pods.
Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II videos
A-10 Thunderbolt II – A Tank’s Worst Nightmare
Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II – Firepower