Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II Close Air Support Aircraft

Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II Close Air Support Aircraft

by Tim Wing

Attachments:

Designation: A-10 Thunderbolt II Close Air Support Aircraft

I. Dimensions:

  • Length: 16.26 m
  • Wingspan: 17.53 m
  • Height: 4.47 m
  • Wing area: 47.0 m²
  • Airfoil: NACA 6716 root, NACA 6713 tip
  • Empty weight: 11,321 kg
  • Loaded weight: 13,782 kg
  • CAS mission: 21,361 kg
  • Anti-mecha mission: 19,083 kg

II. Type:

  • YA-10A: Pre-production variant. 12 were built.
  • A-10A: Single-seat close air support, ground-attack production version.
  • OA-10A: A-10As used for airborne forward air control.
  • YA-10B Night/Adverse Weather (N/AW): Two-seat experimental prototype, for work at night and in severe weather. The one YA-10B prototype was converted from an A-10A.
  • A-10C: A-10As updated under the incremental Precision Engagement (PE) program.
  • A-10D: New build (circa 2005) single-seat close air support, ground-attack aircraft utilizing technology improvements gained from the ASS-1 (SDF-1).

III. Service History:

  • A-10A: Served with the US Air Force from 1977 until upgraded to A-10C specification.
  • OA-10A: Served with the US Army from 1992 until 2011.
  • A-10C: Served with the US Air Force from 1992 until replaced by the A-10D.
  • A-10D: Served with the US Air Force from 2007 until 2017, with the UN Spacy from 2005 until 2017, and with the United Earth Defense Force (UEDF) Tactical Air Force (TAF) from 2018 until 2028.

IV. Propulsion:

(A, and C variants)

  • 2 × General Electric TF34-GE-100A turbofans, 40.32 kN each.

(D variant)

  • 2 × General Electric TF34-GE-400A turbofans, 45 kN each.

Fuel Capacity:

  • 4,900 kg internal fuel capacity

V. Performance (A-10D):

  • Max. takeoff weight: 26,880 kg
  • Never exceed speed: 833 km/h at 1,500 m with 18 Mk 82 bombs
  • Maximum speed: 789 km/h at sea level, clean
  • Cruise speed: 627 km/h
  • Stall speed: 220 km/h
  • Combat radius: CAS mission: 515 km at 1.88 hour loiter 1,500 m, 10 min combat
  • Ferry range: 4,650 km with 90 km/h headwinds, 20 minutes reserve
  • Service ceiling: 13,700 m
  • Rate of climb: 34 m/s
  • Wing loading: 482 kg/m²
  • Thrust/weight: 0.40

VI. Electronics:

(A-10C)

  • AN/AAS-35(V) Pave Penny laser tracker pod (mounted beneath right side of cockpit) for use with Paveway LGBs.

Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS):

  • Radar Warning Receiver (RWR)
  • Chaff dispenser
  • Flares

(A-10D)

  • Thomson LT-3 multi-frequency laser ranger/designator
  • Zeiss FOI-8 infra-red imaging sensor and low-light level camera system in retractable optic ball-turret in front of the cockpit canopy.

Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS):

  • Elettronica Radar Warning Receiver (RWR)
  • OlDelft Infra-red Warning Receiver (IRWR)
  • Westinghouse ALQ-200 active radar jammer
  • Chaff dispenser
  • Flares
  • Active missile jammers.

VII. Armament:

Cannon:

(A-10C)

  • 1 × 30 mm General Electric GAU-8/A Avenger rotary cannon; has a 1,350-round capacity. Cannon fires PGU-14/B API Armor Piercing Incendiary (DU) and PGU-13/B HEI High explosive incendiary at 3,900 rounds/minute.

    Illustration of the GAU-8, overlaying a Volkswagen Beetle to demonstrate size.

(A-10D)

  • 1 x Hughes GU-11 55mm three barreled smoothbore rotary cannon; has a 560-round capacity. Cannon fires APFSDS (Armor Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot) and HESH-I (High Explosive Squash Head-Incendiary) rounds at 1200 rounds/minute.

Hardpoints:

  • Hardpoints: 11 (8 × under-wing and 3 × under-fuselage pylon stations) with a capacity of 7,260 kg and provisions to carry combinations of:

Rockets (per hard point):

  • 4 × LAU-61/LAU-68 rocket pods (each with 19 or 7 Hydra 70 mm APKWS rockets, respectively)
  • 4 × LAU-5003 rocket pods (each with 19 CRV7 70 mm rockets)
  • 6 × LAU-10 rocket pods (each with 4 127 mm Zuni rockets)

Missiles (per hard point):

  • 1 × AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles for self-defense
  • or 3 x medium range (65 km) Mach 3.0 combined active radar and thermal imager guided AMM-1 Arrow missiles on a specialized MER (Multiple Ejection Rack). Various warhead options.
  • or 1 x Firebird missiles. A conventional warhead mounted on the frame of a RMS missile with a range of 234 km and a speed of Mach 6.5, guided by a combined IIR and active/passive radar seeker.
  • or 1 x RMS-1 “Angel Of Death” Nuclear Stand-off missiles. Reaction warhead (200 kT) mounted on a long range (250 km) Mach 4.0 combined multi-spectrum imager and active radar homing Reflex missiles. Customized for anti-starship operations. Maximum delta-v in space is 4 kps. RMS-1
  • or 1 x Silencer Anti-Radiation Missile (ARM).
  • or 3 x Alarm anti-radiation missiles. Mounted to a MER.
  • or 3 x AGM-65R Maverick air-to-ground missiles. Mounted to a MER.
  • or 1 x UMM-7; Armored container with 15 short range (2.5 kps in space) infra-red imager passive radar homing HMM-01 120mm Starburst missiles (from 2014 onward).
  • or 1 x UMM-9; Armored container with 10 short range (8 km) Mach 3.0 combined infra-red imager and active radar homing 190mm Hammerhead missiles, firing from five tubes. Various warhead options (from 2017 onward).

Bombs (per hard point):

  • 3 x Mk 80 series of unguided iron bombs. Mounted to a MER.
  • or 3 x Mk 77 incendiary bombs. Mounted to a MER.
  • or 5 x Mk-82LDGP 230kg bombs; various fuse options, laser-guided. Mounted to a MER.
  • or various legacy weapons systems such as BLU-1, BLU-27/B Rockeye II, Mk20, BL755 and CBU-52/58/71/87/89/97 cluster bombs, Paveway series of Laser-guided bombs or Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser.

Other (per hard point):

  • 1 x SUU-42A/A Flares/Infrared decoys and chaff dispenser pod
  • or 1 x AN/ALQ-131 or AN/ALQ-184 ECM pods
  • or 1 x Lockheed Martin Sniper XR or LITENING targeting pods (A-10C) or
  • or 1 × 2,300 L Sergeant Fletcher drop tanks for increased range/loitering time.

VIII. Armor:

The airframe and armor of the A-10D was composed of advanced titanium-steel alloys developed after the arrival of the ASS-1 (SDF-1). Commonly referred to as “Space-metal”, this alloy was used extensively in the airframe construction rather than the aircraft grade aluminum of the earlier A-10A. The armor stops all small arms fire, provides excellent protection against heavier infantry weapons, such as a 12.7mm machinegun round, and good resistance to light mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the Zentraedi 22.3mm HE autocannon round. The resistance against heavier weapons is markedly reduced, however.

Survivability trials were carried out on an early A-10A. While no similar test was carried out on the A-10D, it is estimated that the results would have improved by a factor of four.

The A-10D provides full protection from nuclear, biological, and chemical hazards, using an overpressure cockpit environment activated by radiation and hazardous chemical sensors, or manually when biological warfare conditions are anticipated.

IX. Development:

The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, after the VF-1 Valkyrie, was perhaps the most loved aircraft by ground troops of the UN Spacy and the UEDF. Originally developed in the late seventies as a replacement for the A-7 Corsair II and A-1 Skyraider, the A-10 was arguably the best close air support aircraft of its time. Due to the robustness of its design, it found itself in production a second time almost thirty years after its introduction. Named after the P-47 Thunderbolt of WWII fame, the Thunderbolt II was more commonly known by its nickname “Warthog” in NATO, UN Spacy and UEDF circles. Amongst the troops of the Soviet Union, the A-10 was almost universally referred as the “Devil’s Cross” owing to its resemblance to an upside-down Eastern Orthodox cross.

In the mid 2000’s, the UN Spacy was seeking a close air support aircraft for the low-intensity conflicts associated with the Unification War. The obvious choice was the venerable A-10. This was ironic, as at this time it was on its way to retirement by its sole operator: The United States Air Force. The Air Force had long wanted to retire the A-10, due to the perception that it was too slow and too low tech to survive on the modern combined arms battlefield. An earlier attempt to retire the A-10 in the 1980s had resulted in the US Army acquiring and operating the A-10A under the designation OA-10A. This created a huge intra-service fight over the rights of the US Army to operate high-performance fixed wing combat aircraft. In the end, the US Army was only allowed to acquire the 200 some airframes retired by the US Air Force. Later, the US Air Force upgraded the Warthog to A-10C standard rather than retire the A-10A and allow it to fall into the hands of the hated US Army. The Army, for its part, continued to operate its 200 OA-10As right up to the point where their wings were ready to fall off.

The A-10D introduced a host of upgrades. As the A-10 had been out of production for some time, a brand-new production line had to be set up. Indeed, this unexpected windfall saved Fairchild Republic from impending insolvency. The new airframe was produced with a host of brand new tooling and jigs. This was partly due to the original tooling have been scrapped long ago, and the need for new tooling to deal with production of an aircraft using the advance “Space-metal” alloys created after the arrival of the SDF-1. The use of these materials resulted in an aircraft that was over twice as survivable as the already famously durable A-10C. Mildly upgraded engines were introduced, resulting in a modest improvement in speed and range. The standard UN Spacy avionics suite was included, a massive upgrade over the A-10C’s avionics suite, which was underwhelming even at its introduction. While the avionics upgrade was the most meaningful change, the upgrade that received the most attention by air-fans and troops alike was the introduction of the Hughes GU-11 55mm rotary cannon then being developed for the Valkyrie project in place of the original’s GAU-8 Avenger. In the early 2020s a fusion turbine powered A-10F (for fusion, of course) was proposed by Fairchild Republic, but nothing came of it.

The A-10D was produced from late 2005 through 2016. Almost continuous production was made possible through the miraculous survival of “The Jamaica” manufacturing facility in New York state. By the end of its production run, nearly 500 new aircraft had been built. The A-10D served in both the UN Spacy and the US Air Force until 2017 when both organizations were consolidated under the United Earth Defense Force (UEDF). The A-10D fought in the Unification War and during the Malcontent Uprisings. It was during the Malcontent Uprising that the A-10D most distinguished itself. Its traditional strengths of loiter time and toughness made it an effective platform for the war in the Amazon’s Zentraedi Control Zone. The A-10 was finally retired after a half century of service when it was replaced by the AA-1 Tivar II and AH/R-15 Phantom III. By 2028 all A-10 Warthogs had been withdrawn from service for good.


 

Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (R) is the property of Big West Advertising and Studio Nue. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.

Original artwork by: Kaoru Shintani.

Sources: Wikipedia, Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft,

Illustrations: Area 88, FM 44-30 October 1986 Visual Aircraft Recognition,  

Content by Tim Wing

Copyright © 2018 Tim Wing

 

 

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