By Thomas E. Cheever, P.E.

The Air Force and Pentagon are determined to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt. Better known as the ‘Warthog’, thanks to its hardcore supporters, the A-10 will NOT go gently into that good night.

Form Follows Function

First popular in the 1950s, Form Follows Function is a principle associated with modernist architecture and industrial design. The principle is that the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose.

Developed by Fairchild Republic in the 1970s, the A-10 embodies this principle. Designed as an ‘anti-armor’ platform, the aircraft was literally designed around the 30mm GAU-8 cannon firing a projectile with a depleted uranium penetrating core. The gun makes up 16% of the entire aircraft’s weight.

Named after WWII P-47 Thunderbolt, to those that know and love the ‘so ugly she’s beautiful’ aircraft, she’ll always be the Warthog, or just Hog for short.

A-10 thunderbolt

Ground Lover

Anti-armor does not mean she’s not armored. With a titanium ‘bathtub’ to protect the pilot, this ugly lady eats tanks and other enemy ‘armor’ for breakfast.

First flown in 1972, the Hog entered United States Air Force service in 1977. Since then, Hog drivers give a nod to the fighter jocks as they head off at supersonic speed to kill the enemy one by one at 25,000 feet.

Hogs love the ground, never venturing far. Knowing their purpose in life is to stay close to the ground to protect the grunts in the trenches, Hog crews love their mission knowing they’re saving the lives of fellow Americans every time they put ordinance on target.

Sexy Replacement

The Air Force wants to replace the A-10 with the F-35 Lightning. The very nature of the F-35 designed as a joint strike fighter means it was not designed with a sole close air support mission.

The F-35 is a fine aircraft, but whenever something is designed with multiple missions, it performs ‘ok’ in all roles, but excels at none.

The F-35 is cool. She looks good all dressed up and shiny. But in close air support, protecting the grunt on the ground, there has never been a better aircraft than the A-10.

Things You Didn’t Know About the ‘Hog’

  1. Each A-10 cost an average of 26.6 million dollars (in today’s dollars) or less than 1/6th of a new F-35 Lightning II.
  2. The last A-10 rolled off the assembly in 1984 – when Ghostbusters was the number one movie in the country, followed by Footloose, Terminator, and Police Academy.
  3. Weighing in at 12 tons without armament, the A-10 can carry an additional 13 tons of weaponry.
  4. In addition to its epic 30mm Gatling gun, the A-10 has 11 mounts for additional missiles, bombs, rocket pods, etc.
  5. The GAU-8 shoots 30mm depleted uranium rounds at a rate of 4,200 rounds per minute.The cannon’s distinctive sound has become a favorite among American ground forces.
  6. The A-10’s first air-to-air victory was in 1991 – it shot down a helicopter with the GAU-8 cannon.
  7. The cockpit of the A-10 is surrounded by over 1,200 pounds of titanium armor. The armor is capable of stopping .50 caliber direct hits or 25mm and 37mm airburst rounds.
  8. The A-10 carries the heaviest automatic cannon ever mounted on an aircraft. The gun is approximately 16% of the aircraft’s weight. The front landing gear is offset to allow room for the 30mm cannon.
  9. Many A-10s have a false canopy painted on the belly of the aircraft to confuse enemy forces about the attitude (the relation of the plane to the horizon) of the aircraft.
  10. The aircraft is designed to fly with one engine, one tail, one elevator, and half of one wing missing.

The A-10 has served the United States well protecting soldiers across the globe. With ISIS growing stronger, and civil unrest in Syria, Libya and Yemen,the decision to retire the A-10 is ill conceived.

The fight isn’t over. For the lives of our soldiers and Marines on the ground, let your congressmen and senators know you support the ‘Hogs’.

Watch the video told by the men that fly and fight the ugliest lady in the Air Force. Go Ugly Early!!!