Tell me, oh Magic Eight Ball: Is the indomitable, perenially-awesome, so-ugly-it’s-beautiful Fairchild-Republic A10 Thunderbolt II the best damned combat aircraft the US has ever fielded? Signs point to YES.
A-10s Return to Middle East with a New Mission, and a New Weapon
Tensions with Iran, Russia have CENTCOM calling upon the venerable Warthog once again.
A squadron of A-10 Thunderbolt II attack jets, specially modified to nearly triple their bomb loads, has been dispatched to the Middle East to boost U.S. airpower in the region amid increased tensions with Iran-backed forces in Syria.
With each plane carrying four SDB (Small Diameter Bombs—M) bomb racks, a flight of four A-10s could bomb up to 64 ground targets, a nearly three-fold increase. Each plane can also carry laser-guided rockets along with its famed 30mm tankbusting gun.
“That’s a lot of targets that you can hit from an air-to-ground perspective,” Grynkewich said.
The rugged attack jet also gives commanders more flexibility because it can fly from short or dirt runways.
“We would be able to maneuver [the A-10] very rapidly to different locations and show an ability to do strike operations that really would be very difficult to to counter in any meaningful way should things escalate,” he said.
The A-10 could also be used to patrol the Strait of Hormuz, where Iranian go-fast boats have harassed warships and tankers.
“There certainly are maritime threats that are out there that are promulgated by the Iranians,” Grynkewich said. “The A-10 brings you a capability that can counter that, as well—kinetically if necessary with those rockets and the gun.”
Designed in the 1970s as a specialized ground-assault weapon, the A-10 has won the love of generations of infantry. Protected by a “bathtub” of cockpit armor, Warthog pilots fly slow and low, eyeballing their targets before ripping into them with copious armament. But Air Force leaders have spent decades trying to win Congressional permission to retire the twinjet. They call it a sitting duck for modern air defenses, and they say stealthier, higher-flying, more lightly armed fighter jets can do the job. Earlier this year, Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown said the last A-10s would be gone by decade’s end.
Grynkewich’s command is also responding to a call from CENTCOM’s Kurilla to be more innovative. Air Forces Central aims to experiment with the A-10’s ability to shoot down enemy drones. Since the A-10 lacks a radar, officials plan to use a network of U.S. and allied radars to guide the attack jets to their uncrewed targets. The Warthog could then use its infrared targeting pod to engage a drone with heat-seeking missiles or laser-guided rockets, Grynkewich said.
Update! So in the comments, I said this to Steve:
Pretty sure I’ve told this story before here, but back when the band was regularly traveling from NC to NYC for shows, we always took the back way up the spine of the Shenandoah on 81, through Harrisburg, and then on into a stretch paralleling a mountainous area with a USANG base close by (Fort Indiantown Gap, I believe it was). The base had A10s attached, and quite often we’d see a flight of ‘Hogs practicing attack weaves, crisscrossing low and slow from one side of the mountains up over the crest to the other and back again.
We’d all watch this airshow completely spellbound, which is when it occurred to me how truly awful it must be to be a ground-pounding camel-humper being hunted by one of those truly magnificent bastards. Bet there’s been whole damned laundry-trucks’ worth of djellabahs ended up smeared in fresh-squeezed shit by guys in that unenviable position. If not, then they were just too stupid to live anyhow.
Just for shits and giggles, I poked around some when what to my wondering eyes did appear but this choice vid:
And dammit, that’s IT, the spontaneous, unannounced “airshow” we looked forward to seeing on every trip up to the Rotten Apple. Hell yeah! How fuckin’ cool is THAT?