The Beast That Will Not Die

We have heard several times in the past about the impending demise of the A-10 Thunderbolt, known more affectionately as the “Warthog.” It was implied that it had outlived its usefulness and will be the latest military aircraft to go to the boneyard. But it just will not die. And there are countless reasons why.

The first iteration of the A-10 came out in 1972, and the aircraft achieved its reputation as a mean, purposeful, and powerful close air support weapon during the Gulf War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This aircraft is the only one that was built from the ground up specifically as a close-air support platform and tank buster for the troops on the ground. One might look at it and say that it is an ugly aircraft compared to its sleeker cousins, and that may be the reason for its rather peculiar nickname, the “warthog,” implying that absurdly ugly wild pig that has such a ferocious, mean-tempered reputation on the African savannahs.

Photo: YouTube/Front Cost

But when you have seen the Warthog in action, or been the beneficiary of its incredible skills and array of power, it is the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen, especially when you’re caught up in situations that can only be described as being up the proverbial creek without a paddle. This flying beast looks more like a swooping eagle when it’s coming in hot and low to provide heavy, precise weapons support over a battle zone. Or maybe like one of those fanciful, winged, fire-breathing dragons in the Lord of the Rings films based on J.R.R Tolkien’s books. The truth is that, if you’ve seen it in action, you are one of its legions of fans.

This beast is tough as nails as well. Besides being one mean offensive weapon, it is built to take a beating and keep on fighting. As an offensive platform, it is built quite literally around its 30x 173mm GAU 8 Gatling-style cannon that can fire 3,900 heavy armor-piercing rounds per minute. When it “talks,” everybody listens. Its distinctive sound is unforgettable, and what it does to tanks, mobile artillery, and other vehicles is scary. It is so accurate a weapon that it reduces collateral damage to a minimum.

Photo: YouTube/Front Cost

The defensive elements in the A-10 are like none other. It is built with 1,200 lbs. of heavy-duty titanium and provides a hard shell of protection around the pilot. It has shown that it can lose an engine, an elevator, half of its tail, even half of a wing, and still fly. It’s like Rocky Balboa – it refuses to go down. It has built-in double and triple redundancies in all of its mechanical and electrical elements.

During the Gulf War, A-10s accounted for some 8,100 sorties, destroying 2,000 vehicles of every description, and they delivered 90% of the maverick missiles placed on targets during those few short days. It achieved a mission-capable rating of 95.7%. From that time on, it became the ground troops’ favorite air support in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Photo: YouTube/Front Cost

After the close of the war in Afghanistan, word started being heard that it was going to be taken out of service, and that it had surpassed its shelf life, but this plane keeps proving its adaptability to the latest battlefield needs. You will see in this video the incredible amount of modernizing adaptations the A-10 has taken on, and they are incredible. It is thought now that it will continue to be one of the most valuable close-air support aircraft for decades to come. It is like a cat with nine lives. It is being upgraded with new avionic suites that make it much more capable of defending itself from aerial attacks, etc. It is so adaptable to the latest weaponry, and is so well made, it really should live a long time.

Enjoy this fast-paced, very informative video about this amazing aircraft. It looks like it is going to be around for a long time. And so it should.

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