A-10 Warthog Thunderbolt Striker USAF
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.
The first production A-10A was delivered to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., 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.
The original service life of the A/OA-10 was 8,000 hours, equating to approximately to FY2005. The revised service life was projected out to 12,000 hours, equating to approximately FY2016. The most recent long range plan has the A/OA-10 in the fleet through FY2028, which equates to approximately 18,000-24,000 hours.
A/OA-10 modifications are aimed at improving the A/OA-10 throughout the its service life. All modifications are integrated between ACC, AFRC, and ANG, with the Guard and Reserve often funding non-recurring engineering efforts for the modifications and ACC opting for follow-on production buys. Budgetary constraints are often best overcome by this type of arrangement. Two types of modifications are conducted on the A/OA-10, those to systems, structures and engines, and those to avionics. Structure, system and engine modifications aim at improving reliability, maintainability and supportability of the A/OA-10 and reducing the cost of ownership. Avionics modifications continue the metamorphosis of the A/OA-10 from a day visual flight rules (VFR) fighter to a night-capable integrated weapon system.
A/OA-10 avionics modifications provide for greater interoperability between the Army and Air Force by improving situational awareness, tactical communication, navigation and weapon system accuracy, and providing additional capabilities in the areas of threat detection and avoidance, low-level flight safety, stores management and employment of “smart” weapons. In addition, modifications are sought to reduce cost of ownership and to remove supportability quagmires such as obsolete parts. Modifications to the A/OA-10 are nearly always interdependent—interdependence maximizes combat capability of the A/OA-10 by interconnecting modifications in distributed avionics architecture. Integral to the improvement of the A/OA-10 is a new acquisition strategy centered on a recently acquired prime contractor for the weapon system. The prime contractor will be the integrator of all major weapon system modifications and provide the continuity necessary to accommodate the downward trend in organic manpower and relocation of the System Program Office.
During the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, A-10s did not take part in the initial stages. For the campaign against Taliban and Al Qaeda, A-10 squadrons were deployed to Pakistan and Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, beginning in March 2002. These A-10s participated in Operation Anaconda. Afterwards, A-10s remained in-country, fighting Taliban and Al Qaeda remnants.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II, also nicknamed the Warthog, is sharpening its teeth with a $168 million upgrade effort for the entire fleet.