First A-10C Takes To The Air, Continues To Prove Its Resiliency
The newly designated C-model A-10 Thunderbolt II, modified with
precision engagement technology, has flown for the first time,
piloted by a 40th Flight Test Squadron pilot.
Precision-engagement technology allows the Air Force’s
premier close-air support aircraft to also use smart weapons such
as Joint Direct Attack Munitions and wind-corrected munitions
dispensers, incapable in the previous model, officials said.
“We have taken the world’s greatest close-air support
platform and made it even better by adding a wide array of laser
and Global Positioning System-aided munitions, the latest in
targeting pods and the infrastructure to support data link,”
said Maj. Michael Rawls, the pilot who made the flight.
The increased capability also allows for the A-10C to accept
more high-value target missions.
speculation into whether to retire the A-10 in full or in part in
years past, its performance in recent conflicts and its program
enhancements make it an invaluable part of the Air Force fleet,
officials said. “The A-10 provides a ground commander
with a capability no other platform can in terms of survivability,
loiter time and array of weapons,” Major Rawls said.
“Bottom line, it means (it) is here to stay for
For those who have seen an A-10, the new model looks identical
from the outside because the modifications are largely in the
software and cockpit hardware. The appearance would be different,
though, when loaded with a new array of munitions. The new
capability will enable the A-10C to carry six smart munitions, with
a standard load of four, Maj. Rawls said.
Although it has not yet flown with a new payload including smart
munitions, Maj. Rawls said he felt that the modifications had not
affected the performance of the aircraft. “The modification
moved the center of gravity slightly forward in the aircraft, but
it was not distinguishable,” he said. “The jet handled
The estimated $300
million program has been a joint Air Force and industry effort that
leaders said they believe will breathe yet more life into the
30-year-old aircraft. “We are moving the A-10 into the
21st century with the capability to deliver the latest
precision-guided weapons to the battlefield,” said Col.
Robert Nolan, 46th Test Wing commander.
(Our thanks to 1st Lt. James Madeiros of the 96th Air Base
Wing Public Affairs)