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    HomeMilitaryThe Transformation Of The M60: From Vietnam's "Pig" To The Contemporary Battlefield

    The Transformation Of The M60: From Vietnam’s “Pig” To The Contemporary Battlefield

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    CIAS 2011 :::THE A-10 WARTHOG comes to HOGTOWN” by Paul Cardin (Never Was An Arrow II) is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The A-10 Warthog, a mainstay of the U.S. Air Force’s close air support arsenal, is making significant leaps in its combat role, transitioning into what can be described as a “bomb truck” with enhanced precision strike capabilities. This evolution is a testament to the platform’s versatility and the Air Force’s commitment to adapt to the changing nature of warfare, ensuring the A-10 remains a valuable asset in future conflicts.

    Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt Warthog” by AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    The primary purpose of the A-10 aircraft was to provide close air support (CAS) to friendly ground troops, specifically targeting armored vehicles, tanks, and other enemy ground forces. Notably, it is the only aircraft built for CAS that has been utilized by the U.S. Air Force.

    Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt Warthog” by AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Additionally, the A-10 serves a secondary role as a forward air controller-airborne, directing other aircraft in ground target attacks. In comparison to its predecessor, the Douglas A-1 Skyraider, the A-10 was designed to enhance performance and firepower. Its airframe was specifically crafted to accommodate the powerful 30 mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary autocannon. Durability was a key consideration during the design process, incorporating features like 1,200 pounds (540 kg) of titanium armor to safeguard the cockpit and aircraft systems, allowing it to withstand damage and continue flying. Furthermore, the A-10’s capability to operate from short and unpaved runways enables it to be stationed in close proximity to the front lines. Its straightforward design facilitates maintenance with minimal facilities.

    Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt Warthog” by AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    The A-10 aircraft played a crucial role in the Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, as well as in other conflicts such as the Balkans, Afghanistan, the Iraq War, and in operations against the Islamic State in the Middle East. The A-10A variant was the sole version manufactured, with a single-seat configuration, although a twin-seat prototype, the YA-10B, was created to test a night-capable version.

    A-10 Warthog” by Darin Moulton is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    A program initiated in 2005 aimed to upgrade the existing A-10A aircraft to the A-10C model, equipped with modern avionics for enhanced precision weaponry. While the U.S. Air Force initially planned to replace the A-10 with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, this decision has faced significant debate within the USAF and political spheres. Congressional approval was granted to begin retiring A-10s in 2023, but further retirements have been put on hold until the USAF can prove that the A-10’s close-air-support capabilities can be effectively substituted.

    A-10 Thunderbolt II Warthog” by brentdanley is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    This is particularly relevant in light of comparative tests conducted between the A-10 and the F-35, which raised questions about the F-35’s capability to replace the Warthog in its traditional role. Despite its advanced technology, the F-35 faced criticism regarding its close air support and combat search and rescue capabilities when compared to the proven efficacy of the A-10. The test results revealed that it would take more F-35 sorties to attack the same number of targets as an A-10, underlining the Warthog’s robust mission payload.

    Moreover, the F-35’s training shortfalls, as highlighted in early 2023, show that there are no close air support training requirements for F-35 pilots for 2023 and 2024, putting the A-10’s relevance in sharper focus. The A-10’s continued prowess in traditional roles, its capacity to absorb damage, and its ability to fly closer to the ground – and hence closer to ground fire – make it an indispensable asset to ground troops.

    RDRC Spring Flying – A-10 Warthog Landing” by John. Romero is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    While discussions about the future of the A-10 continue, with proposals for retirements and replacements, the platform’s ability to adapt and evolve ensures that it remains a critical component of the U.S. Air Force’s armament. Prior to the implementation of a dedicated attack aircraft program, the A-10 stands as the most effective tool available for supporting the troops. The recent deployment of A-10s from Arizona’s Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to the Middle East in response to the conflict between Israel and Hamas serves as a testament to the A-10’s ongoing relevance.

    A-10 Thunderbolt II (Warthog)” by smaedli is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    It is imperative that Congress postpones any further retirements of the A-10 until they have a comprehensive understanding of the potential repercussions. Additionally, the Department of Defense must address the fact that they are relinquishing the close air support mission in favor of an aircraft with significantly lower operational efficiency. The optimal course of action involves securing full funding for the A-10 fleet to ensure its operational longevity until a new attack program is established. This funding could be sourced, in part, by reducing the planned F-35 fleet. Anything less than this level of commitment would be a disservice to the troops.

    related images you might be interested.

    A-10 Thunderbolt (‘Warthog’)” by Analog Weapon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
    Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt Warthog” by AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
    A-10 Thunderbolt II ‘Warthog’” by Armchair Aviator is licensed under CC BY 2.0
    A-10 Warthog” by Jez B is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
    KC-135 gaisā uzpilda A-10 Warthog” by Latvijas armija is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
    NEW WINDSOR, NY – JULY 2, 2017: The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II from Stewart International Airport during the New York Airshow.

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