The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II
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The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II

The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II

At first glance, the A-10 Thunderbolt seem like an ungainly aircraft design to have gained form out of the drawing board but wait until you see how it flies and it will be clearly visible how its rear mounted twin General Electric TF-34-GE-100 turbofan engines differentiate it from other flying machines designed to 'wreak havoc' on the battlefield. The nickname “Thunderbolt” was taken from Republic's reputed World War II air combat and ground attack fighter, the prop-driven P-47 and indeed, the A-10 lived up its namesake as an incarnation of the P-47 in turbine version. Its lethal performance as a close air support armament platform also gained her another popular name, the “Warthog”.

Designed to operate form short “semi-prepared” airstrips shorter than 457 m (1,500 ft) it could take-off with its massive GAU-8/A seven barrel 30 mm rotary cannon. The GAU-8 is basically a Gatling type rotary machine gun developed by General Electric designed for anti-tank and has proved very effective by combining very powerful projectiles in each round with its high rate of fire of 4,200 rounds per minute. To compensate with its lethal armament, the A-10's airframe had been built with materials resistant to most enemy fire allowing its pilot to fly the aircraft back to base after being hit (except for direct hit on the aircraft or if the pilot's capacity to fly it is affected). The aircraft's capability to fly at low airspeeds combined with its Night Vision Imaging Systems allow it to fly in complete darkness thereby making enemy attacks more effective with the element of surprise.

The A-10 began its service after its delivery to the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing of the USAF in March 1977 with 727 units delivered. It has since then made its active participation on the battlefront serving its first combat mission in the Gulf War back in 1991. Since then it added more battlefields to its track record which included Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The aircraft's popularity had been greatly enhanced with its frequent appearance on airshows and films. Its recent film appearance was in the latest terminator film sequel “Terminator Salvation” which featured Christian Bale and Sam Worthington on the lead role. At the course of the film, the A-10 was being operated by the Resistance against Skynet piloted by Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood).


Military Jets: 1945 to the Present day by Robert Jackson

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Comments (10)

Thank you for this informative article. Well done. Voted up.

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