In 1967, the USAF originated its A-X program for a new CAS (close air support) warplane with anti-armor capability. The A-X was expected to be lethal against main battle tanks and to stay as long as possible in the battlefield zone. Prototype awards were issued for the Northrop A-9A, and the Fairchild A-10A, the latter becoming the USAF’s A-X choice on January 18, 1973.
The A-10A is uniquely dedicated to a single mission -killing tanks, the A-10A is built around a single 30 mm cannon which can disable a main battle tank from a distance of 6580 m. The A-10A a compromise between weapons-carrying capability and affordable cost, is well-armored for protection of pilot and systems. The pilot is shielded by a bulletproof wind screen and encircled by a titanium armor “bath tub” which weights 544 kg and varies in thickness up to 3,8 cm. The A-10A can survive if some parts were shot away by enemy fire.
The first pre-production A-10A (73-1664) was converted to YA-10B configuration as the proposed two-seat trainer version. Following an evaluation by the manufacturer and the USAF, the project was abandoned and the YA-10B is placed on display at Edwards AFB, CA.
Many A-10A’s were redesigned for Forward Air Control (FAC) duties OA-10A, the prefix O means observer.
Specifications: A-10A Thunderbolt II
|Developing Nation:||United States|
|Task:||Kill enemy tanks / Forward Air Control|
|First Flight:||Prototype: May 10, 1972 YA-10A cn/71-1369
Production: A-10A October 21, 1975 YA-10B May 4, 1979
|First Delivery:||February 1976
Last delivery: March 1984
|Wing Span:||17,53 m|
|Engine (s):||General Electric TF34-GE-100 (2x)|
|Fuel/Payload:||Max. internal fuel: 4853 kg.
External fuel: up to three 2271 liters drop-tanks
Max. Payload: 7250 kg.
|Max.Take off weight:||22680 kg|
|Max. Speed:||834 km/h|
|Max. Range:||3949 km|
The A-10A is only in service with the USAF.
A-10A in action:
Operation Desert Shield/Storm 1990 – 1991
The USAF deployed 144 A-10’s to the war zone. During the January- February 1991 fighting, when air superiority was quickly gained, A-10’s were used in various roles. A daytime tank killer, Scud hunter, suppressed Iraqi air defenses, attacked early warning radars and even shot down two Iraqi helicopters with its cannon.
The A10’s were also in action in Deliberate Force August – September 1994 and Allied Force March – June 1999 in former Yugoslavia.