Tag Archives: a-10

Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II

1 Sep

The A-10 is an American built, single-seat, twin engine, straight wing CAS (close air support) and ground attack aircraft designed by Fairchild Republic in the early 1970’s. It’s purpose is to destroy tanks, armored vehicles and other ground ground targets with limited air defense capabilities and is the first aircraft ever designed for the USAF for the sole purpose of CAS. During the Vietnam War, large numbers of ground attack aircraft were lost due to small arms fire, surface-to-air missiles, and low level anti-aircraft gunfire which brought criticism that the air force didn’t take CAS seriously. The US already had attack helicopters for use in CAS roles but they were ineffective against armor. Initial development of the precursor to the A-10, the A-X, began in 1966. The final prototype was built in Hagerstown, Maryland and first flew on May 10, 1972.

The plane was pretty much designed around the GAU-8 Avenger, a monster rotary cannon (the heaviest ever put on an aircraft) which can shred even the most heavily armored tanks and serves as the A-10’s main armament. The GAU fires depleted uranium armor-piercing shells! In addition to the death cannon, the A-10 is also capable of carrying a wide assortment of air-to-surface missiles, cluster bombs, rocket pods and laser-guided munitions.

The air frame is loaded up with over 1,200 pounds of armor and has the highest survivability of any plane in the air force, being specifically designed to be able to complete missions even after sustaining heavy damage. The frame itself was designed to withstand armor-piercing and high explosive projectiles up to 23mm. The aircraft has triple redundancy in its flight systems and mechanical systems to back up double redundant hydraulic systems. These safety measures, in addition to measures that I don’t have to time to go into or this post would be a few thousand words long, this plane is almost unkillable.

It’s received many upgrades over the years including a laser receiver pod that allows for faster and more accurate target acquisition, a new navigation system, night vision and safety measures. More recently, the A-10 fleet will be given new cockpit displays, computer systems and data links.

The A-10 first saw action in the 1991 Gulf War where it destroyed over 900 Iraqi tanks, 2,000 armored vehicles,1,200 artillery pieces and 2 attack helicopters. 4 were shot down, all due to anti-air missile defenses. It participated in peacekeeping over Bosnia and Kosovo and later brought the noise in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003. 6 A-10’s also participated in Operation Odyssey Dawn during the Libyan Civil War.

                                                         

Number built: 716

Unit Cost: $11,800,000 (1994 dollars)

General characteristics

  • 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

Performance

  • 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
Advertisements