Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


What Makes the A-10 Warthog Such a Legend

A-10. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
An A-10 Warthog prepares to take off from Al Asad Air Base to provide close air support to ground troops in Iraq. The 438th Air Expeditionary Group A-10 jets perform 10 sorties daily.

The U.S. military needs a top-tier ground attack plane to ensure its forces on the ground can conduct the operations they need. And while she might be fifty years old, the A-10 Warthog is still the best ground attack plane on the planet today. Some even say Ukraine should acquire them: 

The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, more commonly known as the “Warthog,” may be a fan favorite, but this close-air-support champ is increasingly seen as a relic of a bygone era of warfare. Yet, the A-10 may not be stealthy, but it remains among the cost-effective and resilient close-air-support platforms in service today and the Air Force continues to find new ways to teach this old dog new tricks. The A-10 was originally designed to engage Soviet armor advancing into Europe if the Cold War ever turned hot. It then found fame as the infantryman’s favorite aircraft throughout the multi-decade-spanning Global War on Terror.

But as resilient as it’s proven to be in combat, the Pentagon has no illusions about the Warthog’s potential survivability in a modern peer-level fight. Without stealth to rely on, the A-10 would be extremely vulnerable to Chinese or Russian air defense systems, not to mention any enemy fighters that manage to slip past the A-10’s fighter support.

Today, the A-10’s future is questionable, as the airframes in service continue to age and tensions between globe-spanning powers simmer toward a boil. It seems likely that this air support champ will finally be sent out to pasture at some point within the coming decade.

The A-10’s specifications

(All specifications sourced from the United States Air Force)

Primary Functions:

  • Close Air Support
  • Airborne Forward Air Control
  • Combat Search and Rescue

Contractor: Fairchild Republic Co.

Power Plant: Two General Electric TF34-GE-100 turbofans

Thrust: 9,065 pounds from each engine

Length: 53 feet, 4 inches (16.16 meters)

Height: 14 feet, 8 inches (4.42 meters)

Wingspan: 57 feet, 6 inches (17.42 meters)

Speed: 420 miles per hour (Mach 0.56)

Ceiling: 45,000 feet (13,636 meters)

Maximum Takeoff Weight: 51,000 pounds (22,950 kilograms)

Range: 800 miles (695 nautical miles)

The Warthog’s armament

  • One 30mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun;
  • Up to 16,000 pounds (7,200 kilograms) of mixed ordnance on eight under-wing and three under-fuselage pylon stations, including:
    • 500 pound (225 kilograms) Mk-82 series low/high drag bombs
    • 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms) Mk-84 series low/high drag bombs
    • Incendiary cluster bombs
    • Combined effects munitions
    • Mine dispensing munitions
    • AGM-65 Maverick missiles
    • Laser-/GPS-guided bombs
    • Unguided and laser-guided 2.75-inch (6.99 centimeters) rockets;
  • Infrared countermeasure flares
  • Electronic countermeasure chaff
  • Jammer pods
  • Illumination flares
  • AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles

Crew: One

Date Deployed: March 1976

A-10 Warthog

A-10 Warthog. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Unit Cost: $9.8 million (fiscal 98 constant dollars)

Inventory: Total Force – approximately 281

Alex Hollings is a writer, dad, and Marine veteran who specializes in foreign policy and defense technology analysis. He holds a master’s degree in Communications from Southern New Hampshire University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Corporate and Organizational Communications from Framingham State University. This first appeared in Sandboxx News. 

Written By

Sandboxx News is a digital and print military media outlet focused on the lives, experiences, and challenges facing today’s service members and America’s defense apparatus. Built on the simple premise that service members and their supporters need a reliable news outlet free of partisan politics and sensationalism, Sandboxx News delivers stories from around the world and insights into the U.S. Military’s past, present, and future– delivered through the lens of real veterans, service members, military spouses, and professional journalists.