The A-10 Warthog first flew more than half a century ago, but the platform continues to play an important role in the U.S. Air Force. Last week, a pair of Warthogs drilled with warships in the Gulf of Oman.
According to an Air Force press release, the A-10s held a live surface combat air patrol that incorporated “employment of joint fires against surface threats improving the tactical proficiency.” The platform’s participation in these drills is somewhat novel, considering the Warthog has not been used often in the maritime arena. The tank-killing A-10 Warthog has a legendary reputation in the aviation community and has bypassed repeated calls for its retirement over the years.
A Brief History of the A-10 Warthog
Designed to improve on the performance of the Douglas A-1 Skyraider, the Thunderbolt II was conceptualized after the Vietnam War.
While the Skyraider was a capable platform for its era, it had become highly vulnerable to enemy fire. The Skyraider also lacked conventional attack capability, which became a more recognized need after the Second World War. To rectify these shortcomings, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara tasked the Air Force to design two tactical airframes to fulfill the needs for both a long-range strike platform and a fighter-bomber platform.
That initiative gave shape to the F-4 Phantom and the F-111 Aardvark, but the Air Force still wanted a platform that could better counter the USSR’s all-weather attack operations. So the service oversaw the A-X program, which culminated in the A-10 prototype.
The Warthog is perhaps best recognized for the GAU-8 Avenger 30mm gatling gun mounted on its nose. Another key feature of the formidable platform is its wide combat radius and short takeoff and landing capabilities, which enable the A-10 to operate close to the frontlines of a battle.
The A-10 is a “Bomb-Truck”
Weapons-wise, the A-10 can certainly pack a punch. The airframe is equipped with 11 store pylons, which give it an additional external load capacity of roughly 7,000 kg. Further details courtesy of Air Force Technology:
“The A-10 can carry up to ten Maverick air-to-surface missiles. The Raytheon Maverick AGM-65 missile uses a variety of guidance systems, including imaging infrared guidance and warheads, which include a high-penetration, 57kg conical-shaped charge warhead. The range is more than 45km.”
Over the years, the Warthog has undergone a series of upgrades to ensure its continued relevance over competitors. In the early 1980s, the first two A-10s assigned to Eielson were painted with Arctic camouflage. The white-painted A-10s were given the nickname “Snowhogs.” According to The Aviation Geek Club, this paint was added for an experiment surrounding an upcoming exercise called Operation Cool Snow Hog. Following the exercise, however, the Air Force never fully adopted the white color scheme. While the Snowhogs did not make it in the long run, the Warthog makes up for their absence.
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