The A-10 Thunderbolt II has excellent maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude, and is an highly accurate weapons-delivery platform. The aircraft can loiter near battle areas for extended periods of time and operate under 1,000-foot ceilings (303.3 meters) with 1.5-mile (2.4 kilometers) visibility. The wide combat radius and short takeoff and landing capability permit operations in and out of locations near front lines. Using night vision goggles, A-10 pilots can conduct their missions during darkness.
The Thunderbolt IIs have Night Vision Imaging Systems, or NVIS, goggle compatible single-seat cockpits forward of their wings and a large bubble canopy which provides pilots all-around vision. The pilots are protected by titanium armor that also protects parts of the flight-control system. The redundant primary structural sections allow the aircraft to enjoy better survivability during close air support than did previous aircraft.
The aircraft can survive direct hits from armor-piercing and high explosive projectiles up to 23mm. Their self-sealing fuel cells are protected by internal and external foam. Manual systems back up their redundant hydraulic flight-control systems. This permits pilots to fly and land when hydraulic power is lost.
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.
Avionics equipment includes multi-band communications; Global Positioning System and inertial navigations systems; infrared and electronic countermeasures against air-to-air and air-to-surface threats. And, it has a Pave Penny laser spot tracker system; a heads-up display to display flight and weapons delivery information; and a low altitude safety and targeting enhancement system, which provides constantly computed impact and release points for accurate ordnance delivery. There is also a low-altitude autopilot and a ground collision avoidance system.
The A-10 is currently undergoing the precision engagement modification, which adds upgraded cockpit displays, moving map, hands on throttle and stick, digital stores management, LITENING and Sniper advanced targeting pod integration, situational awareness data link or SADL, variable message format, or VMF, GPS-guided weapons, and upgraded DC power. Precision engagement modified aircraft are designated as the A-10C.
The Thunderbolt II can employ a wide variety of conventional munitions, including general purpose bombs, cluster bomb units, laser guided bombs, joint direct attack munitions or JDAM), wind corrected munitions dispenser or WCMD, AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, rockets, illumination flares, and the GAU-8/A 30mm cannon, capable of firing 3,900 rounds per minute to defeat a wide variety of targets including tanks.
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 the United States and its allies during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Noble Anvil.
The upgraded A-10C reached initial operation capability in September 2007. Specifically designed for close air support, its combination of large and varied ordnance load, long loiter time, accurate weapons delivery, austere field capability, and survivability has proven invaluable to the United States and its allies. The aircraft has participated in operations Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Provide Comfort, Desert Fox, Noble Anvil, Deny Flight, Deliberate Guard, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Primary Function: A-10 -- close air support, A-10C - airborne forward air control
Contractor: Fairchild Republic Co.
Power Plant: Two General Electric TF34-GE-100 turbofans
Thrust: 9,065 pounds each engine
Wingspan: 57 feet, 6 inches (17.42 meters)
Length: 53 feet, 4 inches (16.16 meters)
Height: 14 feet, 8 inches (4.42 meters)
Weight: 29,000 pounds (13,154 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 51,000 pounds (22,950 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: 11,000 pounds (7,257 kilograms)
Payload: 16,000 pounds (7,257 kilograms)
Speed: 420 miles per hour (Mach 0.56)
Range: 800 miles (695 nautical miles)
Ceiling: 45,000 feet (13,636 meters)
Armament: One 30 mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun; up to 16,000 pounds (7,200 kilograms) of mixed ordnance on eight under-wing and three under-fuselage pylon stations, including 500 pound (225 kilograms) Mk-82 and 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms) Mk-84 series low/high drag bombs, incendiary cluster bombs, combined effects munitions, mine dispensing munitions, AGM-65 Maverick missiles and laser-guided/electro-optically guided bombs; infrared countermeasure flares; electronic countermeasure chaff; jammer pods; 2.75-inch (6.99 centimeters) rockets; illumination flares and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.
Unit Cost: Not available
Initial operating capability: A-10A, 1977; A-10C, 2007
Inventory: Active force, A-10, 143 and A-10C, 70; Reserve, A-10, 46 and OA-10, 6; ANG, A-10, 84 and OA-10, 18.