The A-10 is a high-survivability and versatile aircraft, popular with pilots for the 'get home' effectiveness. The mission of the aircraft is ground attack against tanks, armoured vehicles and installations, and close air support of ground forces
The manoeuvrability at low speed and at low altitude (below 1,000ft) allows accurate and effective targeting and weapon delivery over all types of terrain.
The first flight of the A-10 was in May 1972, and a total of 707 aircraft have since been produced. Originally manufactured by Fairchild, since 1987 the prime contractor for the A-10 has been Northrop Grumman, which carries out support and structural upgrade programmes from the Integrated Systems and Aerostructures Divisions at Bethpage, New York and at St Augustine in Florida. Over 350 A-10 aircraft are in service with the US Air Force, Air Combat Command, the US Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard. In June 2007, Boeing was awarded a contract for the A-10 wing replacement program. Boeing will supply 242 replacement wing sets by 2018.
A–10c Precision Engangement upgrade program
The Precision Engagement upgrade program for the A-10 includes enhanced precision target engagement capabilities, which will allow the deployment of precision weapons such as JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) and Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD), as well as enabling an extension of the aircraft's service life to 2028.
Improvements include: hands-on throttle and stick control, two new Raytheon Technical Services 5in x 5in multifunction cockpit displays, Situational Awareness Datalinks (SADL), digital stores management system, Integrated Flight and Fire Control Computer (IFFCC) from BAE Systems Platform Solutions for automated continuously computed weapons delivery, Sniper XR or Litening targeting pods for precision-guided weapons and helmet-mounted sighting system. "Up to 125 A-10 aircraft are to be upgraded by 2009."
Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego is prime contractor for the program. First flight of the upgraded A-10C was in January 2005. A contract for Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) of 72 units was awarded in March 2005. The first was delivered to Baltimore Air National Guard in August 2006.
A contract for full-rate production of 107 units was placed in August 2006. The A-10C achieved Initial Operating Capability in August 2007. 100 A-10s had been upgraded by January 2008. The A10C began operational deployment in Iraq in September 2007. 356 A-10 aircraft are planned to be upgraded by 2011.
A parallel program will give the A-10 new engine pylons. It is possible that the A-10 engine will also be upgraded if funding is made available.
In February 2004, Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract for the integration of the Sniper XR targeting pod on the A-10 as part of the PE program. Sniper XR includes mid-wave FLIR (Forward-Looking Infrared), dual mode laser, CCD-TV, laser spot tracker and IR marker.
The cockpit is equipped with a head-up display, which is used for targeting and weapon aiming, a Have-Quick secure radio communications system, inertial navigation and a Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) system.
"The single-seat cockpit is protected by all-round armor, with a titanium 'bathtub' structure."
Lockheed Martin has begun delivery of 21 USAF A-10 aircraft with the embedded global positioning system/inertial navigation system (EGI), which pinpoints the exact location of the aircraft. The aircraft are also to be fitted with BAE Systems Terrain Profile Matching systems (TERPROM).
The pilot is equipped with night-vision goggles and also the infrared imaging display of the Maverick AGM-65.
For weapon guidance, the aircraft can be fitted with Pave Penny laser guidance / electronic support measures, pod installed on the starboard fuselage pylon. Each wing carries four stores pylons: three outboard and one inboard of the wheel fairing.
The A-10 can carry up to ten Maverick air-to-surface missiles. The Raytheon Maverick AGM-65 missile uses a variety of guidance systems, including imaging infrared guidance and warheads, including a high-penetration, 57kg conical-shaped charge warhead. Range is more than 45km. The A-10 can also carry the Sidewinder air-to-air missile, which is an all-aspect short-range missile with maximum speed over Mach 2.
The A10 is capable of deploying a wide range of ordnance: for example, the LDGP Mk 82 226kg, 500lb general-purpose bombs, BLU-1 and BLU-27/B Rockeye II cluster bombs and the cluster bomb unit CBU-52/71.
The Northrop Grumman Litening ER (Extended Range) targeting pod has been successfully integrated on an A-10. Litening ER features a 640 x 512 pixel thermal imager, CCD TV, laser spot tracker / rangefinder, IR marker and laser designator.
The aircraft is armed with a General Dynamics GAU-8/A Avenger 30mm cannon, mounted in the nose of the aircraft.
"The A-10 has 11 stores pylons, providing an external load capacity of 7,260kg."
Using the cannon, the A-10 is capable of disabling a main battle tank from a range of over 6,500m. The cannon can fire a range of ammunition, including Armour-Piercing Incendiary rounds (API) weighing up to 0.75kg, or uranium-depleted 0.43kg API rounds. The magazine can hold 1,350 rounds of ammunition. The pilot can select a firing rate of 2,100 or 4,200 rounds per minute.
Crew 1 pilot
Empty Weight 25,000lb
Maximum Take-Off Weight 50,000lb
Non-Afterburning Turbo Fan