USAF Rolls Out A-10s in South China Sea

NI: Get Ready, China: Lethal A-10 Warthogs are Patrolling the South China Sea
The U.S. Air Force possesses around 300 of the low- and slow-flying, heavily-armored, 1980s-vintage A-10s but has been trying to retire them in recent years in order to free up money for a handful of F-35 stealth fighters. Congress has consistently blocked the retirements.

Warthogs based in Turkey conduct air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. A-10s also frequently visit Eastern Europe in order to deter Russian aggression. Warthogs have seen combat in the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan — but usually over land.

But in 2011, A-10s strafed and sank enemy boats during NATO’s intervention in Libya. The Philippines sea patrols represent a rare maritime mission for the ungainly jets.
The Air Force has been trying to kill the A-10 for decades, but it remains one of the most beloved aircraft by ground troops and fans of military aviation.

PM: Why the A-10 Warthog Is Such a Badass Plane
In later years, people would say the A-10 was a plane designed around a gun—its 30 mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon, to be specific. But the design logic dictating its configuration goes well beyond that mean machine gun in its nose. The A-10's large, unswept high-aspect ratio wing and large ailerons give it excellent low-speed, low-altitude maneuverability. The wing also allows short takeoffs and landings. That's handy, because this plane frequently needs to operate from primitive forward airfields near the front lines. The wing skin isn't load-bearing, so damaged skin sections can be replaced easily in the field, and with makeshift materials if necessary.

Those General Electric TF-34-GE-100 engines produce 9000 pounds of thrust each. Their position not only protects them from being damaged by foreign objects flying up from unprepared runways, but also directs their exhaust over the tailplane, helping to shield them from detection by infrared surface-to-air missiles. The fact that they're both close to the aircraft's centerline makes it easier to fly the thing when one fails.

...As the Cold War wound down in the late 1980s, it felt like the Warthog's days were numbered. Who needs an ugly Soviet tank-killer if there's no more Soviet Union?

Then came the first Iraq War. As the conflict unfolded, A-10s destroyed more than 900 Iraqi tanks, 2,000 other military vehicles, and 1,200 artillery pieces. Warthogs shot down two Iraqi helicopters with the GAU-8. On the second day of the Persian Gulf War, a pair of Warthogs destroyed 23 tanks over the course of three sorties, using Maverick missiles as well as the cannon. Iraqi troops called the A-10 the "Cross of Death," a reference to its shape and lethality.

No comments:

Post a Comment