Named after the P-47 Thunderbolt, the A-10 Thunderbolt II are the first Air Force aircraft specially designed for close air support of ground forces. They are simple, effective and survivable twin-engine, no afterburner, jet aircraft that can be used against all ground targets, including tanks and other armored vehicles. The primary mission of the A-10 is to provide day and night close air combat support for friendly land forces and to act as forward air controller (FAC) to coordinate and direct friendly air forces in support of land forces. The A-10 has a secondary mission of supporting search and rescue and Special Forces operations. It also possesses a limited capability to perform certain types of interdiction. All of these missions may take place in a high or low threat environment.
The A-10 aircraft was specifically developed as a close air support aircraft with reliability and maintainability as major design considerations. The Air Force requirements documents emphasized payload, low altitude flying capability, range and loiter capability, low speed maneuverability and weapons delivery accuracy. The aircraft is capable of worldwide deployment and operation from austere bases with minimal support equipment. Specific survivability features include titanium armor plated cockpit, a redundant flight control systems separated by fuel tank, manual reversion mode for flight controls, foam filled fuel tanks, ballistic foam void fillers, and a redundant primary structure to boost the aircraft's survivability of a direct hit. Design simplicity, ease of access and left to right interchangeable components make the A/OA-10 aircraft readily maintainable and suitable for deployment at advanced bases.
The A-10's payload makes it all the more deadly. It can carry a large configuration of air to ground weapons, including AGM-65 Maverick anti-armor missiles, cluster bombs, and JDAM guided munitions (for the C variant). Added with this the AIM-9 Sidewinder is integrated into its arsenal for self-defense capability against hostile aircraft. The most notable feature of the A-10 is its GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling gun, which is perhaps the most powerful and potent gun of its type in the world. With its high caliber and explosive rounds it can easily pierce into the thickest of armor. The distinct sound the gun makes as it fires is what earned the aircraft's nickname, "Warthog" from pilots and maintenance crews.
- 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
- Never exceed speed: 450 knots (518 mph,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
- Guns: 1× 30 mm (1.18 in) GAU-8 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:
- 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.
- 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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