A-10 Warthog Demo brings some “BRRRRT!”
The U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II Demo Team is the first of several military aircraft demonstrations announced that will perform over Fort Lauderdale Beach on April 30 – May 1!
The A-10, nicknamed the “Warthog”, was largely designed around it’s nose gun, a 30 mm Avenger cannon. The seven-barrel rotary cannon measures nine feet long and fires 30mm armor-piercing shells at a rate of 3,900 rounds per minute. When it fires is makes a unique noise that translates to “BRRRRT.” As a result it has been given the nickname “Tank killer”. The Avenger cannon also represents about 16 percent of the aircraft’s weight. Because of this, when the gun is removed for maintenance, the A-10’s tail must be supported to keep the nose from tipping up.
The design of the wing allows short takeoffs and landings from primitive airfields. Because of this, the A-10 can operate nearly anywhere and provide ground troops with close air support. The engines are mounted high, behind the wing and in front of the twin vertical stabilizers. As a result, their exhaust is directed over the tailplane, helping to shield them from detection by infrared surface-to-air missiles. The A-10’s cockpit and portions of its flight control system are protected by 1,200 pounds of titanium aircraft armor, called the “bathtub.” The bathtub can withstand direct hits from armor-piercing projectiles. The front windscreen and canopy are resistant to small arms fire. In addition, the A-10 has double-redundant hydraulic flight systems, and a mechanical system that still works even if hydraulics are lost.
The armor and redundancy has allowed pilots to safely return with significant battle damage. In 2003 an A-10 pilot brought her Warthog back from a close air support mission near Baghdad. Her aircraft was hit by ground fire, taking extensive damage to the wings, airframe and an engine. Upon sustaining the hit, the airplane became uncontrollable—rolling left, nose-down. After trying several ways to regain control, she engaged the backup mechanical flight control system. The jet responded, and with some help from her wingman, she landed back at her forward base.
The A-10 has seen in action in every major U.S. conflict since and approximately 350 remain in service. It served in the Balkans flying sorties over Bosnia, Operation Iraqi Freedom and in Afghanistan, in all flying 32 percent of the combat sorties in both theaters. From 2006 to late 2013, A-10s flew 19 percent of close air operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s more than the F-15E Strike Eagle or B-1B Lancer. Only the F-16 flew more. A-10 Warthogs have also flown over 10 percent of sorties against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.