A-10 Thunderbolt II (Warthog)

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Product Type:

Ground-Attack Close-Air-Support Aircraft

Using Service (US):

Air Force (USAF)

Program Status:

Upgrades and sustainment

Prime Contractor:

Fairchild Republic (now Northrop Grumman)

The A-10 Thunderbolt II aka Warthog
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About the A-10 Thunderbolt:

The Fairchild Republic (now part of Northrop Grumman) A-10 Thunderbolt II, also known as the Warthog, is a single-seat twin-engine ground-attack close-air-support (CAS) aircraft. The A-10 is an effective and survivable aircraft, which can be used against all ground targets, including tanks and other armored vehicles. The A-10 is powered by two General Electric TF34-GE-100 turbofan engines, each providing 9,065 pounds of thrust.

The A-10's wide combat radius and short takeoff and landing capability permit operations in and out of locations near the front line. Using night vision goggles, pilots can conduct missions during darkness. The Thunderbolt can be serviced and operated from limited facility bases near battle areas.

The Thunderbolt is an extremely survivable aircraft. To protect the pilot, the cockpit is protected by titanium armor up to 3.8 cm thick. The cockpit has a large bulletproof bubble canopy, which provides excellent all-round vision. The aircraft can survive direct hits from up to 23mm armor-piercing and high-explosive projectiles. The self-sealing fuel cells on the A-10 are protected by internal and external foam. Manual systems back up the hydraulic flight control systems, thus permitting pilots to fly and land even when hydraulic power is lost.

Avionics equipment on the A-10 includes multi-band communications; GPS/INS systems; IR and electronic countermeasures against aerial and surface threats; the AN/AAS-35(V) Pave Penny laser spot tracker system; a heads-up display for flight and weapons delivery information; a Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING targeting pod; Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-33 Sniper XR targeting pod; a low-altitude autopilot; and a ground collision avoidance system.

The A-10 has received many upgrades over the years. Starting in 2005, the entire A-10 fleet was modified with precision engagement upgrades. The upgrade program installed an improved fire control system (FCS); electronic countermeasures (ECM); upgraded cockpit displays; the ability to deliver smart bombs; moving map display; hands-on throttle and stick; digital stores management; AN/AAQ-28(V) Litening EO/IR targeting pod + AN/AAQ-33 Sniper XR advanced targeting pod integration; situational awareness data link (SADL); variable message format (VMF); GPS-guided weapons; and upgraded DC power. Having received the precision engagement upgrades, all aircraft now carry the A-10C designation.

The A-10 was developed by Fairchild Republic in the early 1970s. The aircraft first flew in May 1972, and the first production A-10A was delivered to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona in October 1975. A total of 713 aircraft have since been produced. The A-10 was delivered to the U.S. Air Force from October 1975 to March 1984. The latest variant, the A-10C, achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in August 2007. The A-10C was specifically designed to perform forward air control missions.

As of September 2015 there were 283 A-10C aircraft in service with the U.S. Air Force, Air Combat Command, the U.S. Air Force Reserve, and the Air National Guard (297 in Sept. 2014).

In its FY 2015 Budget, the DoD announced its intention to retire the entire A-10 fleet. According to the DoD, the decision was painful but necessary as the military was forced to save money on older platforms to ensure there would be sufficient funds available for future weapon systems. According to Mark Welsh, then Air Force Chief of Staff, retiring the aircraft could save a total of $4.2 billion over a five year period. However, the decision to retire the A-10 was met with stiff resistance in Congress.

The Air Force instead attempted to work out a compromise with Congress to retire a percentage of the A-10 fleet in order to transfer maintenance crew to the F-35. The Air Force also suggested retiring three active-duty squadrons or about 72 aircraft, however, this was not well received in Congress either.

In November 2015, the head of Air Combat Command announced that the A-10's retirement would probably slide 2-3 years due to the ISIS threat. In January 2016, the Air Force indefinitely freezed all plans to retire the A-10 Warthog.

According to a GAO study released on August 24, 2016, the Air Force initially intended to retire the A-10 without having a full understanding of the capability gap that would have resulted from terminating the fleet.

The Air Force is currently evaluating the future of close air support (CAS), including its plans for the A-10 fleet and the potential procurement of a replacement. Several existing and development aircraft could perform the CAS mission, e.g. light fighters like the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano, the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine (attack variant of the T-6 Texan II trainer) and Textron AirLand's Scorpion. The Air Force has announced it will also consider potentially re-configuring the future T-X Advanced Trainer platform for the CAS mission down the road. The Air Force intends to procure 350 T-X trainers to replace the aging T-38 Talon.


The A-10 Thunderbolt is equipped with a 30mm GAU-8/A Avenger seven-barreled gatling gun. The aircraft has 11 hardpoints (eight under-wing and three under-fuselage) and can carry up to 16,000 pounds of ordnance, including Mk 82/84 General Purpose Bombs, GBU 10/12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs, GBU-31/38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), AGM-65 Maverick, AIM-9 Sidewinder (AIM-9X projected), and Hydra-70 rockets. For more detail, see specifications below.


To provide close air support (CAS) for ground forces by attacking armored vehicles and other ground targets.

FY 2016 DoD Program:

No procurement funding requested. FY 16 provides $16.2 million for RDT&E.

FY 2017 DoD Program:

FY 2017 requests $25.1 million for modifications and upgrades to the A-10 weapon system to ensure it remains combat effective. The main modification in FY 17 is LARS/CSEL v12. This effort will provide significantly enhanced Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) capabilities for Active Duty A-10 aircraft. LARS/CSEL v12 will provide A-10 pilots with precision based navigation data, secure two-way over-the-horizon data communication, over-the-horizon beacon operation, line-of-sight voice communication and line-of-sight beacon operation. This will improve the ability to locate and recover survivors. LARS/CSEL capable aircraft will display survivor information (coordinates and messaging) in all CSAR aircraft cockpits via data link; improving CSAR participants situational awareness. FY 17 also requests $14.9 million for RDT&E.

For more information, click to see the FY 2017 USAF A-10 Modifications Budget.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), The Boeing Company,
General Electric Co., Beechcraft, Textron AirLand, and Lockheed Martin Corp.

Specifications Armament DoD Spending FY2017 Budget

Updated: August 29, 2016.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard Balle /// (kasper.oestergaard@forecast1.com)

External Resources:

Lockheed Martin: A-10 Thunderbolt II
Northrop Grumman: A-10 Thunderbolt II

YouTube: A-10 Thunderbolt | YouTube Videos

Fact Sheet: Not Available

A-10 U.S. Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on the A-10 Thunderbolt II in FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015, FY 2016 and FY 2017
DoD Purchases of A-10 Thunderbolt II Aircraft in FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2013/14/15 + Budget for FYs 2016 + 2017

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the A-10 Thunderbolt II

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

Modification of A-10 Aircraft (USAF) RDT&E: A-10 Squadrons

Aircraft Specifications: A-10 Thunderbolt II (Warthog)

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Primary Function: Close air support and airborne forward air control
Prime Contractor: Fairchild Republic Co.
Power Plant: 2x General Electric TF34-GE-100 turbofan engines
Thrust: 9,065 pounds (each engine)
Wingspan: 57 ft 6 in (17.4 m)
Length: 53 ft 4 in (16.2 m)
Height: 14 ft 8 in (4.4 m)
Weight (Empty): 29,000 lbs (13,154 kg)
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 51,000 lbs (22,950 kg)
Payload: Up to 16,000 lbs (7,200 kg) of mixed ordnance on eight under-wing and three under-fuselage hardpoints
Fuel Capacity: 11,000 lbs (7,257 kg)
Speed: Cruise: Mach 0.46/300 kts/340 mph (560 km/h); Max: Mach 0.56/365 kts/420 mph (676 km/h)
Rate of Climb: 6,000 ft/min (30.5 m/s)
Service Ceiling: 45,000 ft (13,636 m)
Range: 695 nm/800 miles (1,287 km)
Combat Radius: 250 nm/288 miles (463 km)
Crew: One
Price/Unit Cost: Unknown
First Flight: May 10, 1972
Initial Operational Capability (IOC): A-10A: October 1977; A-10C: August 2007
Aircraft Inventory: Total: 346x A-10C /// Active: 190; ANG: 108; AFR: 48 (as of September 2012)
Total: 334x A-10C /// Active: 187; ANG: 106; AFR: 41 (as of September 2013)
Total: 297x A-10C /// Active: 159; ANG: 91; AFR: 47 (as of September 2014)
Total: 283x A-10C /// Active: 143; ANG: 85; AFR: 55 (as of September 2015)

Main Gun: 1x 30mm GAU-8/A Avenger seven-barreled gatling gun with 1,174 rounds.
Typical Configuration: 2x AIM-9 Sidewinder (AIM-9X projected); + a range of different combinations of other missiles and bombs.
These combinations can include up to: 6x AGM-65 Maverick; or 6x GBU-38 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM);
or 2x GBU-31 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition; or 6x GBU-12 Paveway II Laser-Guided Bombs;
or 6x 500-pound Mk 82 General Purpose Bombs; or 2x 2,000-pound Mk 84 General Purpose Bombs;
or 4x CBU-87 1,000-pound Combined Effects Munition; or 4x CBU-89 GATOR Mine System;
or 4x CBU-97 1,000-pound Sensor Fuzed Weapon; or 5x LAU-131/A Rocket Pods w/7x Hydra-70 2.75" (70mm) rockets each.

Avionics, Systems & Sensors:
Lockheed Martin AN/AAS-35(V) Pave Penny laser spot tracker system
Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING EO/IR targeting pod
Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-33 Sniper XR targeting pod.

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