Republic A-10 Thunderbolt


The Fairchild Republic Company A-10 Thunderbolt II went into service with the United States Air Force in March 1976 after winning a competition to be the Air Force’s new close air support (CAS) aircraft, the ‘A-X’. The competition started in 1967 as an invitation for proposals, with both Fairchild Republic and Northrop competing. The Vietnam War, the need for a new CAS aircraft to replace the Douglas Skyraider and the threat of Soviet armour loomed.

When the USAF received its first production A-10 what it got was a heavily armoured aircraft that was able to survive ground fire when flying at the lowest levels. It is able to carry up to 7,200 kilograms of ordnance and has high velocity gun able to penetrate the heaviest armour. Apart from its weaponry the A-10 has been designed to be capable of flying from the most basic airfield facilities and has extremely good short take performance.

A-10 production ended in 1984 after 715 aircraft had been built and has gone on to fly in all the areas in which the USAF has had a presence. Although the A-10 was flying over Grenada during the 1983 invasion it was to see its first real combat during 1991 Desert Storm operation over Iraq, where the type flew over 8,000 sorties. Estimates on airframe fatigue suggest the A-10 will be in service until 2028.

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