A-10A THUNDERBOLT II
The A-10 is the first USAF aircraft designed specifically for close air support of ground forces. It is named for the famous P-47 Thunderbolt, a fighter often used in a close air support role during the latter part of WW II.
The A-10 is designed for maneuverability at low speeds and low altitudes for accurate weapons delivery, and carries systems and armor to permit it to survive in this environment. It is intended for use against all ground targets, most specifically tanks and other armored vehicles.
The Thunderbolt II’s great endurance gives it a large combat radius and/or long loiter time in a battle area. Its short takeoff and landing capability permits operation from airstrips close to the front lines. Service at forward area bases with limited facilities is possible because of the A-10’s simplicity of design.
The first prototype Thunderbolt II made its initial flight on May 10, 1972. A-10A production commenced in 1975. Delivery of aircraft to USAF units began in 1976 and ended in 1984.
Designed for close air support for ground troops, the A-10 was about to be retired. However, it proved itself so well in the Gulf War that it has been retained.
Capable of firing 6000 rounds per minute, the 30mm gun holds about 1000 rounds and the total fire time is about 20 seconds. The A-10 has 11 pylons to hold ordnance and can carry more than its own weight in bombs and rockets.
A titanium tub around the pilot can take a hit from a 20mm bullet. The engines are also armor-covered and have dual hydraulic systems.
Fire/explosion proof fuel systems make for a very safe plane. The ejection seat can be used, if necessary, from the ground with no forward speed.
|Span:||57 ft. 6 in.|
|Length:||53 ft. 4 in.|
|Height:||17 ft. 8 in.|
|Armament:||One GAU-8/A 30mm Gatling Gun and 16,000 lbs. of mixed ordnance|
|Engines:||Two General Electric TF34-GE-100 turbofans of 9,000 lbs. thrust each|
|Years in Service:||1981 – Present|
|Maximum Speed:||450 mph|
|Cruising Speed:||335 mph|
|Service Ceiling:||44,200 feet|