The A-10 Thunderbolt II is the first Air Force aircraft to be specifically designed for close air support of ground forces. They are simple, effective, and survivable twin-engine jet aircraft that can be used against all ground targets, including tanks and other armored vehicles.
The A-10 has excellent maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude, and is a highly accurate and survivable weapons-delivery platform. It can loiter near battle areas for extended periods of time and operate in low ceiling and visibility conditions. The A-10’s wide combat radius and short takeoff and landing capability permit operations in and out of locations near front lines. Using night vision goggles, A-10 pilots can conduct their missions in darkness.
Thunderbolt IIs have Nigh Vision Imaging Systems (NVIS), goggle compatible single-seat cockpits forward of their wings and a large bubble canopy which provides pilots all-around vision. The pilots are protected by titanium armor that also protects parts of the flight-control system. The redundant primary structural sections allow the aircraft to enjoy better survivability during close air support than previous aircraft. It can survive direct hits from armor-piercing and high explosive projectiles up to 23mm. Their self-sealing fuel cells are protected by internal and external foam. Manual systems back up their redundant hydraulic flight-control systems. This allows pilots to fly and land when hydraulic power is lost.
The Thunderbolt II can be serviced and operated from austere bases with limited facilities near battle areas. Many of the aircraft’s parts are interchangeable left and right, including the engines, main landing gear and vertical stabilizers. Avionics equipment includes multi-band communications; Global Positioning System and inertial navigations systems; infrared and electronic countermeasures against air-to-air and air-to-surface threats. Additionally, it has a heads-up display flight and weapons delivery information.
- Primary Function: Close air support, airborne forward air control, combat search and rescue
- Thrust: 9,065 pounds per engine
- Wingspan: 57 feet, 6 inches (17.42 meters)
- Length: 53 feet, 4 inches (16.16 meters)
- Weight: 29,000 pounds (13,145 kg); Maximum Takeoff Weight: 51,000 pounds (22,950kg); Fuel Capacity: 11,000 pounds (7,257kg)
- Payload: 16,000 pounds (7,257kg)
- Speed: 450 nautical miles per hour (Mach 0.75)
- Range: 2580 miles (2240 nautical miles)
- Ceiling: 45,000 feet (13,636 meters)