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. 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. The A-10 was designed for close air support 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 (FAC-A) 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 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, 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.
The iconic A-10 Thunderbolt II will be flying into the late 2030s thanks to a re-winging project completed by the U.S. Air Force.
Air Force Materiel Command said in a press release on Monday that 162 A-10s received new wings thanks to a $1.1 billion project that began in 2011.
The contract, awarded to Boeing in 2007, required the creation of new parts for the plane’s fuselage.
“At the end of the program, making sure we had all the pieces and parts that we needed to make that happen required a really significant team effort,” said Stephen Zaiser, director of the 571st, Air Force Times reported Tuesday. “I think the fact that we produced the aircraft so successfully is a testament to the whole team, the special program office, Boeing and others that were a part of making it all work.”
The “low and slow” flying Warthog — along with the “BRRRTTTTT!” noise made by its 30mm GAU-8/A cannon — has been a favorite of ground troops since the 1970s, although budget battles related to the F-35 stealth fighter in recent years almost forced the aircraft into retirement.
Lt. Col. Ryan Richardson, commander of the 514th Flight Test Squadron and an A-10 test pilot, praised the aircraft’s longevity.
“It flew great and passed all the [functional check flight] checks,” he said regarding test flights in July, the newspaper reported. “It’s unusual to have an airplane in production for as long as this one was and have it come out and fly as well as this one did.”
These re-winged aircraft constitute 61% of the nation’s Warthogs, Air Force Times added.