The A-10 Thunderbolt II was a jet ground attack aircraft used by the US Air Force during the Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraki Freedom. The A-10 was developed by the American firm Fairchild for the United States Air Force. The prototype YA-10 performed its first test flight on May 10, 1972. After several trials and upgradings, the Thunderbold II, nicknamed Warthog, entered service with the US Air Force in March 1976. Variants: A-10A, A-10B, OA-10A, A-10C.
The Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II was a twin-engine jet aircraft with conventional straight wings. Since it was fitted with a large wing area and large ailrons, the A-10 had superior maneuverability at low speeds and altitude. It was powered by two General Electric TF34-GE-100A turbofans engines placed behind near the tail above the wings, angled upward nine degrees to bring the combined thrust line closer to the aerodynamic center of the aircraft. This configuration partially protected the engines from ground fire and sand and foreing objects that raised up when the aircraft took off from third world runways. Its primary built-in weapon was the 30mm GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling-type cannon. One of the most powerful aircraft cannon ever flown, it fired large depleted uranium armor-piercing shells. In the original design, the pilot could switch between two rates of fire: 2,100 or 4,200 rounds per minute.
The A-10 Warthog provided close air support for ground forces by attacking tanks, armored vehicles, and other ground targets with a limited air interdiction capability. It is the first U.S. Air Force aircraft designed exclusively for close air support. The A-10′s official name "Thunderbolt II" derives from the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt of World War II. The A-10 could loiter for extended periods of time and operate under 1,000 ft (300 m) ceilings with 1.5 mi (2.4 km) visibility. It typically flies at a relatively slow speed of 300 knots (560 km/h; 350 mph), which makes it a much better platform for the ground-attack role than fast fighter-bombers.
Specifications of the A-10 Thunderbolt II
Engine: two General Electric TF34-GE-100A
Maximum speed: 439 mi/h (710 km/h) at sea level
Range: 2,550 miles (4,100 km)
Length: 53 ft 4 in (16.26 m)
Wingspan: 57 ft 6 in (17.53)
Crew: 1 (pilot)
Avionics: Head-up display (HUD) for improved technical flying and air-to-ground supportHead-up display (HUD) for improved technical flying and air-to-ground support; AN/AAS-35(V) Pave Penny laser tracker podAN/AAS-35(V) Pave Penny laser tracker pod
Weapons: one 30mm GAU-8/A Avenger gatling cannon with 1,174 rounds; eight AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missiles; two AIM-9 Sidewinders air-to-air missiles for self-defense; six LAU-10 rocket pods, each with 4× 127 mm (5.0 in) Zuni rockets; 16,000 lb (7,260 kg) of bombs (Mark 80, Mk 77 incendiary bombs, Paveway laser guided bombs)
A-10 Warthog in action