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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. Â 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. Â
Many A-10A‘s were redesigned for Forward Air Control (FAC) duties OA-10A, the prefix O means observer.
Specifications: A-10A Thunderbolt
|Developing Nation:||United States|
|Task:||Kill enemy tanks / Forward Air Control|
May 10, 1972
A-10A October 21, 1975
YA-10B May 4, 1979
Last delivery: March 1984
|Wing Span:||17,53 m|
|Engine (s):||General Electric TF34-GE-100 (2x)|
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|
– One single General Electric GAU-8/A 30mm – Avenger cannon (1350 rounds)
– AGM-65 Maverick
– AIM-9M Sidewinder
– Conventional low drag and retarded bombs
– Cluster bombs
– The OA/A-10A’s also carry the AN/ALQ-119 ECM pod (US based) or the AN/ALQ-131 ECM pod (overseas based)
The A-10A is only in service with the USAF
|Production:YA-10AÂ Â 2Â A-10AÂ Â 713
(1 A-10A converted to YA-10B)
A-10A in action Â Operation Desert Shield/Storm 1990 – 1991 Â 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. Â
The A10‘s were also in action in Deliberate Force Â August – September 1994 and Allied Force March – June 1999 in former Yugoslavia.
Research: Rob Vogelaar.