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A-10 Warthog

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Home > Military Topics  > Air > A-10 Warthog

Information about the A-10 Warthog

The A-10 Warthog is probably the best close air support aircraft in the world. It has been employed in many overseas conflicts to include the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The jet was designed in the 1970s as a tank-killer and close air support aircraft to fight against a possible Soviet-bloc invasion of Western Europe.

A-10 Thunderbolt II Close Air Support Aircraft
A-10 Thunderbolt II (Photo U.S. Air Force)

The Plane the Air Force didn't want. The A-10 was brought into production only because the Army wanted a platform to perform close air support. The Air Force was reluctant to yield that role to the Army so it went with the A-10. The A-10 saw its start in the 1960s as the A-X program. The A-X later became the A-10 - an aircraft built around a heavy gun designed to kill the tanks of the Soviet Army.

War Service of A-10. The aircraft saw service during the Persian Gulf War and later in the wars of Iraq (OIF) and Afghanistan (OEF). It also has seen service in 'the third Iraq war' against the Islamic State.

COIN Aircraft. The A-10 is an effective counterinsurgency and troop support aircraft due to its slow speed, long loiter time, and pilot protection against small arms fire.

Armament. The A-10 is armed with the 30-mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon. It is a seven-barrel Gatling gun which is configured to fire 3,900 rounds per minute.

Nicknames. The A-10 Thunderbolt is nicknamed the "Warthog" or "Hog". Many times its callsign is "Hog". When engaged in Personnel Recovery missions its callsign is usually "Sandy".

Mission. The primary mission is close air support of ground forces. The secondary mission is forward air control.

Retirement Plans. In the past few years (2013 to 2015) the U.S. Air Force has been trying to retire the A-10 so it can free up money to fund its over-priced and under-performing F-35 fighter. Despite its low cost and legendary service record the Air Force views the aircraft as not needed; however, critics abound with opposing views. The Air Force believes that retiring all of the 283 planes will save it $4.2 billion a year.

F-35 as a CAS Platform?

The F-35 is supposed to replace the A-10 in the air support mission. Is the F-35 a Good CAS Platform? Not so much. Even the U.S. Air Force says as much in one of its training programs. 1. The F-35 will not be ready for the CAS mission for several years - not until its Block 4 upgrade takes place.

The F-35 gun that would be used for close air support carries a whopping 150 rounds - not a lot of ammo to support ground troops in contact. Some varients of the F-35 may carry almost 200 rounds; enough for a 4 second burst or one gun run. The F-35 is a multi-purpose aircraft which means it won't excel at any one mission; and certainly it won't excel at CAS.

Operating Costs of A-10 vs. F-35. In 2014 the operating cost per hour of an A-10 was $19,041 per hour. The F-35 costs $67,549 per hour to operate in 2014. 3.

Websites about the A-10 Warhog

Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II by Wikipedia

A-10 Thunderbolt II by U.S. Air Force

Save the A-10 on Facebook

A-10 Thunderbolt II by Military.com

TACP Association on Facebook

Close Air Support in Afghanistan by Afghan War News

Blog Posts about Close Air Support in Afghanistan by Afghan War News

News Articles about the A-10 Warthog

January 21, 2016. "USAF Vice Chief: ISIS, Russia Prompted Reconsideration of A-10 Retirement", Defense News.

January 13, 2016. "Air Force to Delay A-10 Retirement, Thanks to ISIS". Defense One. After trying to retire the battle-tested Warhog for the past two years, Air Force officials concede that the plane is key to the war on ISIS.

October 11, 2015. "A Tale of Two Air Forces", By Blake Franko, Atlantic Council. Is it time for a counterinsurgency-specific A-10?

May 27, 2015. "The A-10, the F-35, and the Future of Close air Support". War on the Rocks. The F-35 is a step backward in CAS.

April 28, 2015. "The Story of the Mission to Rescue an F-14 Tomcat Pilot Behind Enemy Lines in Iraq". The Aviationist. How the A-10 plays a role in CSAR.

April 27, 2015. "House Authorization Would Keep A-10s Flying", Defense News.

April 21, 2015. "Saving a Plane That Saves Lives", by Martha McSally, The New York Times.

April 10, 2015. "Two-star fired for 'treason' rant against A-10 supporters". Air Force Times. MG James Post is looking for a new job.

March 27, 2015. "Protect Our Troops". By Robert Slayton, professor of history at Chapman University, The Huffington Post Blog. Slayton offers counterarguments to the USAF plan to retire the A-10 saying "Simply put, the A-10 is the best plane ever designed to support troops in combat. By any nation, anytime".

March 26, 2015. "Running for Cover: A Sham Air Force Summit Can't Fix the Close Air Support Gap Created by Dumping the A-10", Center for Defense Information at POGO.

March 23, 2015. "Smoke and Mirrors". John Q. Public. An Army officer with multiple combat tours describes what it sounds like to have an A-10 overhead and pokes at the U.S. Air Force for retiring the A-10 without an adequate replacement.

March 14, 2015. "A-10 Chronicles: McSally Urges Carter to Halt Air Force Shenanigans". John Q. Public. A former A-10 pilot, retired Colonel, and now a U.S. Congresswoman - Martha McSally is giving the Air Force fits on the A-10.

March 13, 2015. "Now the U.S. Air Force Wants You to Believe the a-10 is Too Old to Fight". War is Boring. But the Warthog isn't nearly as tired as this argument.

March 8, 2015. "Air Force Launches New Campaign to Quell A-10 Firestorm". National Defense Magazine. The Air Force is stepping up its public relations game in an attempt to convince us that it truly cares about the close air support mission. Yep, good luck with that.

March 8, 2015. "Air Force lays plans for life after the A-10". Air Force Times. The AF plans to set up new squadrons of F-15Es and F-16s with a specific focus on close air support for ground troops. The AF is under a lot of pressure to come up with a replacement plan for the A-10 as many are discounting the viability of the F-35 to do effective CAS.

March 5, 2015. "The Air Force's Argument to Retire the A-10 Warthog Doesn't Add Up. Here's Why." Defense in Depth Blog at Council on Foreign Affairs. An Army officer did the math and says the Air Force uses faulty logic in computing the savings associated with retiring the A-10.

March 2, 2015. "The Case for the Warthog". National Review. Mike Fredenburg tells us why we need to keep the A-10 close air support aircraft.

March 2, 2015. "Senators say A-10 moves amount to backdoor retirement". Stars and Stripes. The Air Force wants to put 18 A-10 Thunderbolts into a "backup fleet"; Congress members say this cuts the A-10 force by 18 planes.

March 2, 2015. "Air Force to move A-10 jets into backup status despite congressional oppostion". The Washington Post.

February 25, 2015. "Army Not Interested in Taking A-10 Warthogs from Air Force". DoD Buzz. Army Secretary John McHugh says the Thunderbolt mission is an Air Force mission.

February 13, 2015. "A-10 Chronicles: Does Hawk Carlisle Know Something We Don't?" John Q. Public Blog. An AF general's stance on A-10 is questioned.

February 13, 2015. "Gen. Welsh Defends F-35 for Close Air Support; Hopes Summit Will 'Reset'", Breaking Defense. Critics say the summit is a diversion tactic by the Air Force.

February 12, 2015. "Air Force to Hold Close Air Support Summit; May Need New Weapons". Breaking Defense. With the proposed retirement of the A-10 the Air Force is looking for a replacement to conduct CAS.

February 11, 2015. "The Dog With the Least Fleas: Air Force Chooses Killing A-10 Over Upholding Integrity". John Q. Public Blog. Some dishonesty and tactical stupidity is at work in the Air Force.

February 9, 2015. "Watchdog: Air Force 'doctored the data' to make A-10 look bad". The Hill Defense Blog. The U.S. Air Force is caught manipulating information in an attempt to make the A-10 appear unworthy of keeping in inventory.

February 9, 2015. "Stop Air Force lockdown of public discussion". USA Today. An opinion column states that Congress should hold hearings on a 'gag order' by MG James Post (USAF) to keep Air Force personnel from testifying about the A-10 before Congress.

February 8, 2015. "DoD to begin moving A-10 mechanics to F-35A". Janes.com.

February 7, 2015. "Lying to Win: Air Force Misrepresents Combat Records in Campaign to Retire A-10". John Q. Public.

February 5, 2015. "Hold Post Accountable for His Chilling Statement". Project on Government Oversight (POGO). A letter sent by POGO to the Secretary of the Air Force expressing concern about reported comments by MG James Post about how AF officers are committing treason if they said good things about the A-10 to Congress.

January 30, 2015. "Lawmaker, an A-10 vet, aims to protect Warthog". Air Force Times. Representative Matha McSally, a former A-10 pilot, wants to keep the A-10 around.

January 28, 2015. "Bombs Away: The 5 Most Deadly Attack Aircraft". National Interest. The A-10 ranks as one of the all time greats in close air support.

January 21, 2015. "Legendary A-10 'Warhog' sends ISIS fleeing even as it faces Pentagon cuts". Fox News.

January 16, 2015. "General: Praising the A-10 to Lawmakers is 'Treason'". DoD Buzz. A U.S. Air Force officer over-stepped his role recently.

January 15, 2015. "Post's comments send chill through Air Force ranks, A-10 panics ISIS". Arizona Daily Independent. MG James Post sent fear through the Air Force ranks with his comments about the A-10.

October 31, 2014. "B-1B Bomber Blamed for Friendly Fire Incident". Afghan War News Blog. A close air support mission gone wrong kills five U.S. Soldiers in Zabul province.

May 22, 2014. "Critics accuse Air Force of manipulating data to support A-10 retirement". PBS Newshour. The Air Force is accused of using propaganda to free up money to fund the less-than-capable F-35.

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1. See a Facebook posting by John Q. Public that depicts a screen shot of the U.S. Air Force training program that indicates the F-35 Lightening II (Joint Strike Fighter) is NOT an effective Close Air Support platform.

2. For more on the comparison between the A-10 and F-35 guns see "A Tale of Two Gatling Guns: F-35 vs. A-10", Defense Tech, January 2, 2015.

3. For operating cost figures of the A-10 and F-35 in 2014 see "Damn, Warplanes Are Expensive: But some are way more costly to operate than others", War is Boring Blog, March 11, 2015.



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