A-10/OA-10 Thunderbolt IIs
maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude, and are highly accurate
weapons-delivery platforms. They can loiter near battle areas for
extended periods of time and operate under 1,000-foot ceilings (303.3
meters) with 1.5-mile (2.4 kilometers) visibility. Their wide combat
radius and short takeoff and landing capability permit operations in
and out of locations near front lines. Using night vision goggles,
A-10/OA-10 pilots can conduct their missions during darkness.
Thunderbolt IIs have Night Vision Imaging Systems, or NVIS, goggle
compatible single-seat cockpits forward of their wings and a large
bubble canopy which provides pilots all-around vision. The pilots are
protected by titanium armor that also protects parts of the
flight-control system. The redundant primary structural sections allow
the aircraft to enjoy better survivability during close air support
than did previous aircraft.
The aircraft can survive direct hits from armor-piercing and high
explosive projectiles up to 23mm. Their self-sealing fuel cells are
protected by internal and external foam. Manual systems back up their
redundant hydraulic flight-control systems. This permits pilots to fly
and land when hydraulic power is lost.
The Thunderbolt II can be serviced and operated from bases with limited
facilities near battle areas. Many of the aircraft's parts are
interchangeable left and right, including the engines, main landing
gear and vertical stabilizers.
Avionics equipment includes multi-band communications; Global
Positioning System and inertial navigations systems; infrared and
electronic countermeasures against air-to-air and air-to-surface
threats. And, it has a Pave Penny laser spot tracker system; a heads-up
display to display flight and weapons delivery information; and a low
altitude safety and targeting enhancement system, which provides
constantly computed impact and release points for accurate ordnance
delivery. There is also a low-altitude autopilot and a ground collision
The A-10 is currently undergoing the precision engagement modification,
which adds upgraded cockpit displays, moving map, hands on throttle and
stick, digital stores management, LITENING and Sniper advanced
targeting pod integration, situational awareness data link or SADL,
GPS-guided weapons, and upgraded DC power. Precision engagement
modified aircraft are designated as the A-10C.
The Thunderbolt II can employ a wide variety of conventional munitions,
including general purpose bombs, cluster bomb units, laser guided
bombs, joint direct attack munitions or JDAM), wind corrected munitions
dispenser or WCMD, AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles,
rockets, illumination flares, and the GAU-8/A 30mm cannon, capable of
firing 3,900 rounds per minute to defeat a wide variety of targets
The first production A-10A was delivered to Davis-Monthan Air Force
Base, Ariz., in October 1975. It was designed specially for the close
air support mission and had the ability to combine large military
loads, long loiter and wide combat radius, which proved to be vital
assets to the United States and its allies during Operation Desert
Storm and Operation Noble Anvil.
The upgraded A-10C reached initial operation capability in September
2007. Specifically designed for close air support, its combination of
large and varied ordnance load, long loiter time, accurate weapons
delivery, austere field capability, and survivability has proven
invaluable to the United States and its allies. The aircraft has
participated in operations Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Provide
Comfort, Desert Fox, Noble Anvil, Deny Flight, Deliberate Guard, Allied
Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.