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Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II

A United States Air Force Fairchild-Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II during Desert Storm.

The A-10 is an American single-seat, twin engine jet aircraft. Developed by Fairchild-Republic, and used primarily by the United States Air Force (U.S.A.F.). It is currently used to provide Close Air Support (C.A.S.) for friendly ground forces, destroying enemy tanks, any sort of armoured vehicles, and other ground targets, while also providing limited air interdiction. The Thunderbolt's secondary mission is to provide airborne forward air control, which guides other aircraft to the ground targets. In the Air Force inventory, the A-10's airframe is designated OA-10, when used primarily in forward air control. It is the first aircraft of the U.S.A.F. designed only for C.A.S..

The Name...

The Thunderbolt II's name comes from the World War II P-47 Thunderbolt that was also developed by Republic, and which was very effective in the ground attack role. However, the A-10 is more commonly referred to by its unofficial name, "Warthog", or just plainly "Hog".

Structural Durability...

As mentioned before, the A-10 is assigned to the C.A.S. role, which means that it needs superior maneuverability at low speeds, and altitude. Which it does. This is thanks to straight, wide wings, with downturned "droop" wing tips. The A-10 is also a sort of V/STOL aircraft, due its unique wings, it allows short takeoffs, and landings, permitting operations from rugged, forward airfields, that does not have to be long. This will raise the limit to where the A-10 can fly to, and also brings it closer to the frontlines, saving both fuel, and time. It also has a very strong airframe, able to survive direct hits from armour-piercing, and high-explosive projectiles up to 23 mm. This toughness led to some calling it the "airborne tank". And not just the hardy air frame, the A-10 also has triple redundancy in its flight systems, which includes mechanical systems to back-up double-redundant hydraulic systems. Besides that, the A-10 can fly with only one engine operating, one tail, one elevator, and half a wing torn off.

A Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 81st Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, fully loaded, banks right.

Weapons Systems...

The Thunderbolt II's primary weapon is a built-in 30 mm General Electrics GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling-type rotary cannon that is the largest, heaviest, and one of the most powerful guns ever mounted on an aircraft. The Avenger produced very little sound, and fires at a high rate, using depleted uranium armour-piercing shells. As few as 6 direct hits are needed to reduce a heavily armoured main battle tank to a burning pile of rubble. Originally, the rate of fire could be set depending on what the situation is at hand, 2,100 rounds per minute in the low setting, and 4,200 rounds per minute in the high setting. Later, it was changed to a fixed 3,900 rounds per minute. Another thing is that the Avenger takes about half a second to come up to speed, so only 50 rounds would be fired in the first second, and 65-70 rounds every second thereafter. Besides all this firepower, and speed, it is also extremely accurate, capable of getting 80% of its shots within a 20-foot in diameter circle from a distance of 1 mile, while in flight. The A-10 can also carry a variety of missiles, and bombs from pods under its wings. These range from AIM-9 Sidewinders for self defence, to AGM-65 Mavericks for ground-attack.

Specifications...

Data from The Great Book of Modern Warplanes, Fairchild-Republic A/OA-10

General Characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • 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)
  • Airfoil: NACA 6716 root, NACA 6713 tip
  • 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× General Electric TF34-GE-100A turbofans, 9,065 lbf (40.32 kN) each

Performance

  • Never exceed speed: 450 knots (518 mph,[88] 833 km/h) at 5,000 ft (1,500 m) with 18 Mk 82 bombs
  • Maximum speed: 381 knots (439 mph, 706 km/h) at sea level, clean
  • Cruise speed: 300 knots (340 mph, 560 km/h)
  • Stall speed: 120 knots (138 mph, 220 km/h)
  • 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)
  • Rate of climb: 6,000 ft/min (30 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 99 lb/ft² (482 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.36

Armament

  • Guns: 1× 30 mm (1.18 in) GAU-8/A Avenger gatling cannon with 1,174 rounds
  • Hardpoints: 11 (8× under-wing and 3× under-fuselage pylon stations) with a capacity of 16,000 lb (7,260 kg) and provisions to carry combinations of:
  • Rockets:

4× LAU-61/LAU-68 rocket pods (each with 19× / 7× Hydra 70 mm rockets, respectively)

4× LAU-5003 rocket pods (each with 19× CRV7 70 mm rockets)

6× LAU-10 rocket pods (each with 4× 127 mm (5.0 in) Zuni rockets)

  • Missiles:

AIM-9 Sidewinders air-to-air missiles for self-defense

AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missiles

  • Bombs:

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)

  • Other:

SUU-42A/A Flares/Infrared decoys and chaff dispenser pod or

AN/ALQ-131 & AN/ALQ-184 ECM pods or

Lockheed Martin Sniper XR & LITENING targeting pods (A-10C) or

2× 600 US gallon Sargent Fletcher drop tanks for extended range/loitering time.

Avionics

  • AN/AAS-35(V) Pave Penny laser tracker pod (mounted beneath right side of cockpit) for use with Paveway LGBs
  • Head-up display (HUD) for improved technical flying and air-to-ground support.

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