The Air Force has been trying to get rid of the A-10 Warthog close support aircraft for a long time. However Congress and the needs of close air support aircraft in the Middle East and Afghanistan delaying any retirement of this beloved airframe.
The A-10 Warthog carries some fearsome armament that can tear up troops in the open, in armored troop carriers, tanks, or bunkered positions. The Warthog is one plane that was built around a gun – as opposed to a gun mounted on an airplane. The 30-mm GAU-8 Avenger seven-barrel rotary cannon at the front of the airplane can put out some lead. In addition to the 30-mm gun the aircraft can also carry laser-guided and GPS-guided bombs, air-to-ground laser guided missiles, and external fuel tanks to provide extra range or loiter time.
The A-10 Warthog is able to fly for long periods of time and loiter around an area much longer than other jet fighters in the U.S. Air Force inventory. It’s slower speed and better armament (“the bathtub”) makes it the ideal close air support aircraft needed by Marines, Army, and special operations forces on the ground. The A-10 pilots are well-versed in close air support as that is their primary mission. In addition, the “Sandys” are highly trained in the conduct of personnel recovery missions. Introduced in the 1970s the Warhogs have had a long run. The Air Force’s attempts to retire the A-10 is on hold for now (Dec 2016) due to strong resistance from Congress and the mission requirements of a close air support aircraft in the current conflicts raging in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Read some recent news reports on the A-10:
“Call in the A-10: Why a ground-attack classic has so far survived Air Force efforts to kill it”, Air & Space Magazine, November 2016.
Read more about the A-10 Warthog:
Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, WikipediA