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Thread: Random Thoughts on the Mighty Hog - Part 2

  1. #46
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    From Shipwrecks penultimate post on the A-10C

    "The program is being pushed on a fast track. You start to do the modifications as you go and you don't have time to sit there and flow out how to best lay it out, so you get a couple of airplanes under your belt and then make changes as you go. It's part of continuous process improvement -- we're always looking for ways to do things better."

    As with many new and accelerated programs, there were challenges with parts supportability from vendors as well as maintenance procedures.

    To my mind this means aircraft at various modification states going out into the Hog community that will only have to recycle them back so that the earliest ones can be sensibly brought to a common standard. For a while the receiving units will be at sixes and sevens. Are we sure this is better than pushing them out identically modified from the outset?
    To add to the challenges, the A-10s lost six production docks to another workload. Additionally, nearly 100 new technicians hired over the past year needed training.

    "Our squadron almost doubled in size with the addition of this modification," said Mr. Hoffman. "We had a lot of new people who had never worked in the aircraft business before, so the training curve was pretty steep. A lot of them still have less than a year at the center and they're still learning the weapon system."

    Nothing like working with one arm tied behind you and blindfolded! This sounds like a recipe for confusion and with a high potential for mistakes.
    Semper in excretum. Solum profunda variat.

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    Hog stats : OEF sorties 2006

    "Warthog" by dawn's early light

    12/29/2006 - An A-10 Thunderbolt II, affectionately known as the "Warthog" to its pilots, sits ready for the day's mission at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 28. The A-10 fighter squadrons assigned to Bagram have flown over 5,000 sorties this year, totaling more than 18,120 flying hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joseph Kapinos)

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    Quote Originally Posted by glyn View Post
    Are we sure this is better than pushing them out identically modified from the outset?
    Glyn,

    That's (sadly ) the *transformational* way of getting things done nowadays.

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    Hog facts : Ammos

    Ammo: Giving Warthog its lethal bite
    by Master Sgt. Andrew Gates
    455th Expeditionary Operations Group Public Affairs

    7/8/2004 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- As coalition soldiers conduct operations throughout Afghanistan, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, or Warthogs as they are commonly known, are a frequent sight in the sky.

    When a Warthog must strike, one team here “sharpens its tusks,” making sure that the aircraft’s “bite” is effective and lethal.

    The Airmen of the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s ammo flight keep those “tusks” honed, said Senior Airman Kenneth Kauzlaurich, a munitions specialist here.

    The biggest portion of the job is building and maintaining the munitions used on the A-10s -- the laser-guided bombs, missiles and rockets -- that patrol the sky over Afghanistan. Another, lesser known task is to test the missiles, launchers and guidance systems of the munitions.

    “We ensure the munitions function correctly and keep them mission capable,” Airman Kauzlaurich said.

    After 20 flights, if a munition has not been used, the team does a full inspection, making sure everything is connected and works, said Senior Airman Luis DeLeon, another munitions specialist.

    “Every fuse has a shelf life. They are only guaranteed for so long,” he said. “We want to make sure that no equipment goes over its shelf life.”

    During those inspections, the Airmen also test the guidance units of the bombs and missiles. They said these inspections are critical in the harsh Afghanistan environment.

    “When we first got in-country, the weather was hot during the day and very cold at night,” said Airman 1st Class Brett Curry, another munitions specialist. “Parts on the munitions often broke. In the summer, we have extreme winds, so dust gets into the mechanisms. We have to make sure that we clean them out during the inspections.”

    The team uses a graphite lubricant to try to keep the dust away when building munitions, Airman Kauzlaurich said.

    “We have different cleaning kits for each munition, but using the graphite helps keep the dust from sticking to the weapon,” he said.

    Ammunition flight Airmen are responsible for hundreds of thousands of pounds of munitions here. The amount varies depending on when they get new shipments, or whether an A-10 uses munitions during a mission, Airman Curry said.

    Putting those munitions together often develops into a pseudo assembly-line process. Each person completes a particular part of the process. Completing the task depends a lot on the crew, as well as preparation, Airman Kauzlaurich said.

    “A good crew can build six GBU-12s (500-pound laser-guided bombs) in about 15 to 20 minutes. They can (load) about 1,150 rounds of 30 mm ammunition in about eight minutes,” he said. “Preparation is huge, though, making sure (we) have all the parts and tools ready to put together the munitions.”

    Each different weapon requires a kit; containing specialized tools. For instance, to put together the GBU-12s, munitions crews need a 6-foot torque wrench.

    “That’s a two-person job,” Airman Kauzlaurich said. “One person holds the head of the wrench against the weapon, while the other one pulls down on the wrench.”

    The Airmen said working on munitions at a deployed location is much different than working on them at home base. Of course, the first difference is the amount of live ammunition the team gets to prepare and test.

    “Most of our material is inert back home,” Airman Curry said. “Here, we use the real deal.”

    The camaraderie is also a change from home.

    “You work more as a team here,” Airman DeLeon said. “At home, everyone has different missions. Here, everyone has the same ultimate goal: making sure the weapon works when a pilot needs it.”

    The two differences help the team learn a great deal.

    “You learn so much during a deployment,” Airman Kauzlaurich said. “You get to apply everything you (learned) in your technical school and training courses.”

    Although missiles interest Airman Kauzlaurich, since they are the most technical aspect of the job, he said he enjoys preparing the 30 mm ammunition.

    “Running 30 mm is great because it’s fast-paced,” he said. “You are always busy when you are working with it.”

    Ultimately, the mission is putting weapons on aircraft. When the ammo Airmen hear discussions from pilots or see evidence their munitions were used, “it’s a great feeling,” Airman DeLeon said. “We know that the munitions work.”

    “It puts it into perspective,” Airman Kauzlaurich said. “You can see what you are doing makes a difference.”

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    A-10 Makeover On The Horizon
    By Michael Burnett
    Military Aerospace Technology
    Volume: 6 Issue: 1
    Published: Feb 21, 2007

    The A-10 Thunderbolt II, aka the Warthog, has long been admired for its effectiveness in achieving its mission of close air support of ground forces. But as U.S. Air Force (USAF) pilots will see in the next year or so, a comprehensive upgrade package is about to make the attack jet an integrated part of the total force, thereby boosting its effectiveness even more.

    Major Drew English, the USAF program manager for A-10C Precision Engagement, told Military Aerospace Technology that the Precision Engagement Suite 3 overhaul of the A-10 represented an unparalleled opportunity to bring added strength to the Air Force.

    “It’s the largest upgrade the A-10 has ever had by far,” English declared. “The general gist of it is to bring the A-10 from being an analog jet to a digital jet.”

    English oversees Precision Engagement from the 422 Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) near Las Vegas, Nev. One of the most exciting changes coming to the A-10 through Precision Engagement is a fully integrated targeting pod that brings the Lockheed Martin Sniper XR Targeting Pod along with a Northrop Grumman LITENING Extended Range Pod, English said.

    “What the A-10’s are flying right now in theater is kind of a patchwork,” English noted. “The A-10 never had a program that really integrated targeting pod, smart weapons, digital stores management, all of that kind of stuff together with the navigation system. This ties all of that stuff together.”

    The addition of the Digital Stores Management System (DSMS) provides the capability to field smart weapons, such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD). These capabilities have required power upgrades to the jet as well. The A-10C, as the improved jet is designated, will have two new electric buses to power all of the electronics upgrades. Six of its 11 pylons will have MIL-STD-1760 connections for handling the smart munitions.

    As far as precision control goes, A-10 pilots will experience the power of Hands-On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS), adapted from the F-16 Falcon and F-15E Eagle.

    “HOTAS allows me to use my fingers and hands on a bunch of different buttons and never take my hands off the stick and throttle for tactical flying. The A-10 has never had that full integration,” English described.

    But perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Precision Engagement Suite 3 enhancement is providing a networking data link to the A-10C to provide situational awareness and integration with the rest of the armed forces assets in theater.

    “I would say the biggest one we have coming impact wise is the data link. It will shape our tactics and it bring us into a new era, probably as much as night vision goggles did when we got those in the mid-’90s,” English said.

    English anticipates fielding the A-10C data link sometime around March 2007 as part of the first increment of Precision Engagement implementation. The addition of the data link includes fully integrating the latest Raytheon-built Situational Awareness Data Link (SADL) radio into the Precision Engagement hardware and software suite.

    After that time, the second increment of Precision Engagement begins. That involves the installation of smart munitions and increased targeting pod and weapons delivery capabilities, English summarized.

    Currently, the Weapons School at Nellis AFB started the year with three test jets modified; five more were scheduled to arrive last June. Modifications to Weapons School jets should be complete by October 2006, English said, and then operational units start to send their jets in for modification. The first two operational units on the schedule are the Maryland Air National Guard at Martin State Airport and the Michigan Air National Guard at Battle Creek. Those units are currently scheduled to be completed in March 2007.

    Squadrons will release their jets for modification at Hill AFB in Utah, English explained. The jets undergo Precision Engagement Suite 3 upgrades and return as A-10C models after about 90 days per jet.

    The entire force of 356 jets will undergo modification, English added.

    Prime Contractor

    Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, based in Owego, N.Y., leads the prime contractor team on the A-10 including Precision Engagement Suite 3 modifications. Lockheed Martin’s teammates for the project include BAE Systems, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Northrop Grumman.

    Roger Il Grande, Lockheed Martin’s A-10 program director, provided MAT with some additional details on how some of the new components of the A-10 will work.

    For example, he explained, the Digital Stores Management System enables pilots to better manage targeting and employment of on-board weapons and sensors. The Digital Stores Management System serves as the backbone for integrating applications within Precision Engagement, Il Grande said. Systems such as video from the targeting pod, weapons status reports and the data link rely upon the Digital Stores Management System to work together.

    “The Digital Stores Management System is an enabler that helps the integration of all of these systems so that the information is displayed to the pilot in a way that makes sense of what he is seeing on his displays,” Il Grande said.

    Among the applications available to the pilot is a digital moving map—visible through two new 5x5 multi-function color displays—that pinpoints locations for available targeting information. Visual information comes from the targeting pod to the map through the capabilities of the Digital Stores Management System. The digital moving map will show the pilot his position at all times on a map of different selectable scales, thereby reducing navigational workload and vastly improving situational awareness.

    These capabilities come through both software and hardware upgrades, Il Grande emphasized. Indeed, in the title Precision Engagement Suite 3, the Precision Engagement part refers to hardware portions while the Suite 3 part refers to software.

    Despite the fact that the program has these two aspects, thinking of the two separately is not practical, said Il Grande.

    “When I think of the hardware versus the software, I could describe the different hardware elements and the different software elements but I really couldn’t describe those two independent of each other,” he said.

    The digital moving map, for example, is a software product operating on a new processor that also provides weapons processing. So the weapons teams also work with the processor.

    “This is an example where we are introducing new processor capability,” Il Grande explained. “But working very closely on that hardware activity are different elements of digital map. We also have different operational flight programs that reside in that computer.”

    Other hardware changes are more subtle but critically important. Lockheed Martin will implement a “significant wiring change” from the cockpit of the A-10 through the wings. Prior iterations of the Warthog had no displays, so Lockheed Martin has to redesign the instrument panel to accommodate the inclusion of multi-function displays. Also, the Digital Stores Management System requires the replacement of switches and other hardware. Meanwhile, a new upfront controller enables the A-10 pilot to do more data input with his head up and looking outside as opposed to his head down inside the cockpit.

    “I can look at the different hardware elements in terms of physically what they are and describe them. But when I think of the development programs, I don’t think of them as hardware or software, I think of them as a system upgrade,” Il Grande commented. “I would say that it is the integration of all of those things, not any one in particular, is really what is happening for the A-10 under Precision Engagement. We are not strapping any one of these systems on as a stovepipe.”

    More on Timelines

    Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, based in Owego, N.Y., received the Precision Engagement contract in early 2001. The contract team has successfully completed the development phase of the contract as well as the development and integration and test phases.

    The USAF began flight-testing the Precision Engagement capabilities in January 2005, and in mid-2006 had as many as 13 A-10 jets in flight test at Eglin AFB, Fla., and Nellis AFB, Nev. At press time, the Lockheed team was continuing to support the USAF’s flight test program.

    “We have released to flight test the functions that make the targeting pod go, that make the Digital Stores Management System work, and that support the new pilot/vehicle interface. We began releasing smart weapons and situational awareness data link functions to flight test in mid-October,” Il Grande said. Flight-testing will result in reports that point to any additional changes that may be required.

    The USAF at Hill AFB rolled out the first production A-10C aircraft on August 18. Lockheed Martin packages the Precision Engagement hardware and software upgrades for each aircraft into a kit of more than 1,600 parts. The kits are shipped to Hill AFB, in Ogden, Utah, where installation by the depot takes about 90 days per aircraft. Lockheed Martin is currently under contract for more than 170 kits of Precision Engagement production.

    While Il Grande anticipates fielding Precision Engagement-modified A-10s in September 2007, fielding suitability decisions are likely to occur in the first and second quarters of calendar year 2007. Around the same time, USAF and Lockheed Martin should begin implementation of the second increment of Precision Engagement, which includes smart weapons capability and any additional changes required from testing. Completion of the first increment includes the addition of the targeting pod, Digital Stores Management System, digital moving map, and the situational awareness data link.

    “Situational awareness is what I think of when I think of Precision Engagement,” Il Grande noted. “The primary mission of this aircraft is close air support. The most important aspect of close air support is situational awareness, providing the pilot with the information about what is happening in the overall situation. Precision Engagement is bringing a vast increase in situational awareness capability to the pilot. It is going to limit fratricide, which is a top priority. It is going to enable the A-10 weapons system to be a much more flexible asset in terms of its capabilities to combatant commanders.”

    Il Grande stressed that Lockheed Martin engaged the input of USAF pilots early through the use of its A-10 Systems Integration Lab (SIL) in Owego.

    “With the magnitude of the change brought about by Precision Engagement, we saw early on that it was absolutely essential to build the SIL,” he said. “The SIL is comprised of a very significant testing capability to check out all of the operational flight programs, but as importantly, it was used to develop the requirements with the pilots. We have a full Precision Engagement cockpit in the SIL. The pilots have been involved all along with helping us develop requirements, especially as they pertained to the pilot/vehicle interface.”

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    Within 72 hours of arrival, 'Warthogs' take fight to enemy
    by Capt. Ken Hall & Master Sgt. Bryan Ripple
    332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

    4/27/2007 - AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq -- Within hours of standing up as a fully operational combat flying unit, the group was launching its fierce Thunderbolt IIs into battle. The A-10's distinctive nose art has been known to strike fear into enemy combatants unlucky enough to see its hungry, shark-toothed facade grinning at them.

    "You've accomplished your mission in the proud and professional manner that is your legacy as Tuskegee Airmen," said Brig. Gen. Robin Rand, commander of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing's Tuskegee Airmen, under whom the 438th Air Expeditionary Group fights this war from Al Asad in western Al Anbar Province in Iraq. The group activated Jan. 15, 2007, to provide close air support for Coalition Forces in the region.

    Looking back at history, it's well known WWII's Tuskegee Airmen were credited with more than 100 air-to-air kills while providing premier bomber escort, but had not a single "Ace" among them. The reason for that fact is less known. To have that many kills and no ace proves they were more singularly focused on the mission to protect their bombers than the personal glory of becoming an ace. Today's Tuskegee Airmen are no different, as demonstrated by the fact a number of squadron personnel had to remain home for the first rotation ... but their time will come.

    "I couldn't be more proud of the men and women of the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron," said Lt. Col. Russ "Oscar" Myers, the squadron commander. "Both those at home and those deployed here have displayed true professionalism and maturity."

    The 74th's Flying Tigers' first major engagement was raining down fire, providing close air support fire to ground forces in the decisive Battle of An Najaf Jan. 28. After nearly 36 hours of fighting, more than 200 enemy insurgents had been killed and more than 300 gunmen captured.

    Overall, the 332nd AEW's F-16 Fighting Falcons and 438th AEG's A-10 Thunderbolt IIs answered the call for air support dropping more than 3.5 tons of precision munitions and expending 2,300 rounds of 20mm and 30mm cannon fire in an area of about five square miles.

    Since activating, the group has flown some 2,648 flying hours on 820 combat sorties providing CAS in some of the most challenging urban terrain in Iraq including Fallujah, Ramadi, Baghdad and Baquba, overcoming communications jams inherent in operations there, and remaining focused, vigilant and effective against a determined enemy.


    "The [An Najaf] mission was almost identical to a recent home-station training scenario," said Maj. Clint "Schlager" Eichelberger, who participated in the battle. The major is an A-10 instructor pilot deployed from the 66th Weapons Squadron at the Air Force's famed Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nev.

    The 'Warthog,' as the Thunderbolt IIs are commonly called, are capable of staying in the target area for a longer period of time providing CAS, the major said, but also noted, "there's a huge amount of responsibility de-conflicting where the friendlies and the targets are so we can put the right weapon on the right target at the right time and avoid collateral damage," referring to the congested, urban environment in which the squadron's pilots often find themselves engaging targets.

    "I'm fortunate to have gotten the unique opportunity to come over and support the group's standup," the major said. "I've been able to draw upon previous tactical experience and help my fellow flyers focus on executing safe, smart, tactical close air support."

    Ensuring the pilots stay qualified to fly are the squadron's aviation resource managers. "This is my first deployment, and it's nothing like I imagined it would be," said Airman 1st Class Breyon Carter, one of three SARMS in the unit. She and the other two SARMS keep track of the pilots' training, flying hours, combat missions, and help manage the unit's portion of each day's Air Tasking Order ... the document that directs every combat and combat support sortie in the entire CENTCOM area of operations each day.

    "I'm very nervous for the pilots when they take off," the 20-year-old Danville, Va., native said. "But when they come back from a successful sortie, I'm proud to know I've played a part in them going out there and getting the job done." Aside from their regular duties, the SARMs manage the flag program where U.S. Flags are flown on combat missions for Al Asad Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and fellow Airmen.

    The SARMs prepare certificates attesting to the flag's inclusion in a combat sortie before they're given to the requesting service member. "It's very rewarding to present our fellow warriors a flag that is essentially a part of history," said Colonel Myers.

    The Warthog pilots have become combat veterans and close-air-support experts in very short order. "I've flown about 30 combat missions," said Wichita, Kan., native 1st Lt. Chris "Harpoon" Laird. "It's a good feeling being up there, helping out the guys on the ground."

    The lieutenant has flown numerous 'troops-in-contact' sorties, 'overwatch' for convoys and counter-IDF missions, and shows of force. "You don't always have to fire on the enemy to find success ... sometimes it's just as effective to provide support to ground troops through information, and making the enemy run away." Lieutenant Laird was married a mere three weeks before deploying. "I can't wait to get back home to her," he said.

    The squadron's only female fighter pilot, 26-year-old 1st Lt. Kristin "Norris" Kleinhence, hails from Reno, Nev. She's a 2003 Air Force Academy graduate on her first deployment and has already flown more than 40 combat missions. She deployed here from the 74th Fighter Squadron at Pope AFB, N.C.

    "I feel my training definitely prepared me for this, and we came over here with everything we needed to do our jobs, but I've definitely learned a lot," the lieutenant said. "The best thing about our job is knowing we've helped the guys on the ground ... watching over them, sanitizing the area of the enemy ... that's a very rewarding feeling, it's what we stake our reputation on."

    With the addition of this squadron of A-10s, the 332nd AEW now has five primary aircraft in its composite inventory including the F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Thunderbolt II, C-130 Hercules, MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, and HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search and rescue helicopter. The addition of the 'Warthog' has increased the wing's capability in providing precision weapons and sensors employment against Anti-Iraqi Forces.

    Colonel Myers echoed the words of his wing commander. "It's amazing just how good these young men and women really are," he said. "The mission has been challenging ... the urban environment, the insurgency, non-combatants and ground forces in contact ... it all puts a lot of pressure on our Airmen to get it right. They've performed magnificently, and history will show that."

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    "Sigh"I just love watching this beast work.Thanks for all the great articles and links Shipwreck.
    "Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories." Thomas Jefferson

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    Unsual jaws :

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    ODS air-to-air kill narrative

    To War in a Warthog

    By Alfred Price
    Air Force Magazine
    August 1993 Vol. 76, No. 8

    In the decade and a half leading up to the Persian Gulf War, the Air Force A-10 community worked hard to hone its skills in the difficult business of providing close air support (CAS) for ground forces. During Operation Desert Shield, seven squadrons with 144 of the ungainly attack planes went to Saudi Arabia, where they formed the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional) based at King Fahd International Airport.

    Capt. Todd "Shanghai" Sheehy of the 511th Tactical Fighter Squadron flew forty combat missions in the A-10 "Warthog." His experiences provide valuable insight into the employment of the aircraft and illustrate anew that in war one must learn to expect the unexpected.

    For instance, the Warthog force was used only sparingly in the CAS role but proved more versatile and better able to survive over enemy territory than many expected. During the forty-day conflict, the A-10 force was credited with destroying 987 tanks, 926 artillery pieces, 1,355 combat vehicles, and a range of other targets-including ten fighters on the ground and two helicopters shot down in air-to-air engagements. The A-10 force, flying more than 8,000 combat sorties, suffered only five A-10s destroyed (a loss rate of .062 percent). Twenty of these aircraft returned with significant battle damage, and forty-five others returned with light damage that was repaired between sorties.

    Like many A-10 pilots based at King Fahd IAP, Captain Sheehy spent the first day of the war-January 17, 1991-at cockpit readiness. Some A-10s took part in the initial air strikes, but most of the Warthog force was held on the ground at readiness to counter any incursion by Iraqi troops into Saudi Arabia.

    Captain Sheehy flew his first combat mission on the second day of the war. Part of the definition of the CAS mission is "an air action against hostile targets . . . in close proximity to friendly [ground] forces." Because hostile and friendly ground forces were not then in close proximity, the A-10 force was used in a role for which it had never been intended-battlefield air interdiction missions against targets in enemy rear areas.

    It was dark when Captain Sheehy and his wingman, Capt. Scott "Sparky" Johnston, walked out to their planes at 4:30 a.m. Each Warthog carried the standard armament load: six Mk. 82 500-pound bombs with radar airburst fuses, one infrared-guided Maverick missile and another with TV guidance, two AIM-9M Sidewinder missiles for self-protection, and 1,200 rounds of ammunition for the internally mounted 30-mm cannon.

    A Rude Awakening

    The pilots started their engines, and Captain Sheehy called the 511th's operations center for his task. He was told to head for a position off the coast of Kuwait and call "Blacklist," the Marine Direct Air Support Center, for his target assignment.

    Moments later, the pilots' calm was rudely shattered.

    "I had just called the ground controller for taxi clearance," said Captain Sheehy, "when over the Guard frequency came a broadcast 'Alarm Red! Alarm Red! Alarm Red!' I had already had the crew chief pull the chocks from my wheels, but none of my weapons were armed. On hearing the alarm, my crew chief unplugged from the jet, closed the ladder door, and ran for cover as he pulled on his gas mask."

    An attack on the base was imminent, but the broadcast did not state the nature of the threat. The first Scud missile fired against Saudi Arabia was speeding toward nearby Dhahran, but so far as Captain Sheehy was concerned, the threat might easily have been bombers sweeping in to attack the base at low altitude. The greatest fear was a gas attack, and Captain Sheehy's first move was to turn off his plane's environmental control system to keep outside air out of the cockpit.

    The pilot eased on power to edge the Warthog out of its revetment, but, as he pushed the rudder pedal to turn the plane, it continued straight ahead. The nosewheel steering had failed. As malfunctions go, this was minor, and he was able to steer the plane using differential application of the brakes, but it was a problem that he could have done without at that moment.

    "There I was, on my first combat sortie, with a thousand thoughts running through my mind. The base was under attack. Were planes about to drop bombs, or was it a Scud missile? Would we be able to repel the attack? Would the Patriot missiles protecting our base work as advertised? There was all of that to think about, as well as the normal cockpit tasks of getting the aircraft off the airfield.

    "To add to that, it was dark, and as a day fighter unit we did not practice a lot of night operations. I had not flown a sortie from that base at night; I had never even taxied there at night before. With an attack imminent, all lights had been turned off, and I had to use my taxi light to find my way. And my nosewheel steering didn't work. So my first combat mission was definitely not going very well."

    Getting Their Attention

    Captain Sheehy reached the holding point beside the end of the runway and stopped, waiting for an arming crew to remove the safety pins from his weapons. Nobody stirred. Jiggling the throttles and the brakes, he pointed the taxi light at the arming crew's bunker and repeatedly flashed it on and off to get their attention. Eventually, he succeeded.

    "It was an eerie sight when the arming guys came running out in full chemical warfare gear, gas masks, suits, gloves, boots, flak vests, and helmets. They probably set a world record for arming an A-10. Then, as quickly as they had arrived, they were back in the bunker."

    Once he was airborne, Captain Sheehy looked around for his wingman's strobe light. By then, the on-alert F-15s from Al Kharj were also streaming into the air, and strobes seemed to light all over the sky.

    "It was a beautiful clear night with a lot of stars," remembered Captain Sheehy. "The blinking strobe lights of the fighters blended with the stars to create the illusion of every aircraft in the coalition racing north to meet the enemy. As Sparky joined up off my left wing, my heart rate began to return to normal. Suddenly there was a large flash over my right shoulder. . . . I thought it was either a Scud impact or a Patriot intercepting a Scud [in fact, a Patriot had detonated close to the incoming Scud]. I began to worry about what my squadron mates and my air base would look like when I got back. Had the missile landed there? Did it have a chemical warhead?"

    Flying over water at 22,000 feet, the raiding aircraft ran parallel to the Persian Gulf coast as the A-10s made their way to the target area. The sun was rising, revealing a fine day with clear skies below the aircraft and a thin layer of cirrus above them at about 27,000 feet. Captain Sheehy called "Blacklist" and was informed that his target was an artillery site just inland from the pier at Mina Sa'ad in Kuwait.

    Captain Sheehy located the pier without difficulty, and the pilots prepared to attack with bombs. Unfortunately, the layer of cirrus above them presented a contrasting backdrop for the dark planes, and, as Captain Sheehy acquired his target, the Iraqi antiaircraft gunners acquired the Warthogs. As the planes headed toward the coast, the leader's attention was diverted by an urgent call from his wingman.

    Heavy Puffies

    "He called, 'Heavy puffies [antiaircraft artillery rounds exploding] below us!' " said Captain Sheehy. "They were big white balls with dark gray centers. We figured they were 57-mm rounds, and they could reach us at our altitude. We could see the muzzle flashes, and the guns were right on the coast, between us and our target. We tried to come in from different directions, but the flak followed us. Putting our noses down that chute with those gunners watching us just didn't seem like the smart thing to do."

    Captain Sheehy moved to what appeared to be a safe distance from the coast and tried to lock a Maverick missile on to a target, but there was insufficient image contrast to use the weapon. As if to emphasize the point that things could turn sour at any moment, his wingman gave a sudden "Break right!" call to avoid an upcoming SAM. Captain Sheehy did as he was told, punching out chaff and decoy flares.

    "As I looked out the side of the canopy," said the A-10 pilot, "I saw a glowing orange ball with a long white smoke trail streaking toward me from the pier. I rolled out to put the missile off my right wing and kept the flares coming. I was greatly relieved to see the missile moving aft across my canopy, which meant that it was not guiding on me any longer. The smoke trail abruptly stopped, and I watched the missile fall into the Gulf."

    Captain Sheehy moved further from the coast and pondered what to do next. The A-10s were starting to run low on fuel. Captain Sheehy called "Blacklist" and informed the controller that he had been unable to hit the assigned target. He said he was returning to base and hoped to be back later. When the pair reached King Fahd IAP, Captain Sheehy was delighted to find that his earlier worries about the attack on the base were unfounded.

    "The base was still there, and, in the light of day, everything was fine," he remembered, "but I still had no nosewheel steering. So after I landed, I turned off the runway and stopped. At the end of my first combat sortie, my plane was towed back to the parking ramp with all the bombs and missiles still loaded--not exactly what I had planned."

    Later that morning Captain Sheehy took off in another A-10. He and Captain Johnston returned to their original target and took advantage of the higher sun to deliver a quick, accurate attack, apparently unobserved by enemy gunners.

    Captain Sheehy's next twenty-four sorties were against Iraqi artillery positions and vehicles situated well back from the border. On his twenty-seventh combat sortie, on February 15, 1991, he led Lt. Jay Keller from the forward operating base at Al Jouf. The A-10s were briefed to go to a point a few miles from Mudaysis Airfield in southwest Iraq, where enemy planes had been found hidden in revetments in the desert. Captain Sheehy destroyed an Su-20 "Fitter" with cluster bombs and cannon fire and headed away from the area, climbing back to 20,000 feet.

    As he did so, he heard the controller in the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft trying to contact some A-10s that had departed the area. Captain Sheehy told the controller that he and his wingman were available, and he was informed of a low and slow contact thirty miles to the northeast. Captain Sheehy started in that direction and commenced a shallow descent. Soon afterward, the A-10 pilot saw a small cloud of dust and a dark object moving across the desert. Leaving Lieutenant Keller above to cover his attack, Captain Sheehy rolled inverted and pulled into a forty-five-degree dive.

    Hip Shot

    "As I got closer, I identified it as an Mi-8 'Hip' helicopter moving fairly quickly, very low to the desert floor," said Captain Sheehy. "I took aim and started shooting at about 8,000 feet, firing about 300 rounds of 30-mm. As I recovered from the dive and circled back around, I observed that the helicopter appeared to be smoking. Jay radioed that it looked like some of the bullets impacted the tail section. I rolled back into the dive [and] fired about 200 more rounds into the Hip, bottoming out of the dive at about 4,500 feet."

    As Captain Sheehy climbed away, he glanced back and saw a cloud of black smoke rising from a new fire on the ground. That marked the point where the helicopter had gone down.

    The ground war opened on February 24, 1991, and Captain Sheehy went into action in the CAS role on February 26. He and Captain Johnston were scrambled to assist US Marines moving on Kuwait City and under fire from enemy artillery. There were also reports of Iraqi tanks moving against them. As the Warthogs neared the battle area, they had to descend to 5,000 feet to keep below the "petroleum overcast," the layer of thick black smoke from burning Kuwaiti oil wells.

    "Visibility decreased to about three miles, and, even though it was midday, under the clouds it was more like dusk," said Captain Sheehy. "The scene below us was amazing: thousands of coalition vehicles in columns moving north. We could even see the corridors that had been cut through the barbed wire barriers and minefields as the columns bottled up at these chokepoints before moving northward again. Our guys were definitely on the offensive."

    Captain Sheehy made contact with the pilot of the F/A-18 airborne forward air control (FAC) plane, who briefed him on the whereabouts of the Iraqi artillery and AAA defenses.

    The A-10s were handed to the ground FAC to get final clearance to attack. It took the latter several minutes to transmit the exact positions of friendly forces in the area to Captain Sheehy, but that was an essential part of the operation. The fundamental axiom of the CAS mission is "Better to kill no targets at all than risk accidental hits on friendly forces." Captain Sheehy was then directed to the offending enemy artillery positions and given clearance to attack.

    "I moved our orbit further north until I could see the muzzle flashes from the self-propelled artillery vehicles that were pounding our guys' positions. I directed Sparky to a trail formation, and we set up our switches to deliver Mavericks. I rolled into a shallow dive and locked on to one of the revetted artillery vehicles with an IR Maverick."

    This Iraqi weapon had already fired several rounds, and on the TV monitor in the A-10 cockpit the vehicle appeared white-hot--a perfect target for an IR missile. Captain Sheehy launched the Maverick from three miles and turned away. After it made impact, he observed several large secondary explosions around the revetment. Captain Johnston delivered a similar attack on another of the Iraqi guns. The A-10s pulled clear and orbited while the FAC assessed the situation.

    "He reported good hits and said the artillery barrage had stopped," said Captain Sheehy. "Sparky and I moved closer and observed operators of the guns abandoning their vehicles and running south. I reported this to the FAC, and he directed us to turn our attention to the tanks reported moving south down the coastal highway. We found and identified the tanks and quickly dispatched the lead two with TV Mavericks.

    "Fuel was getting low, and the FAC had a set of AV-8B Harriers waiting, so we safed up our armament switches and pressed back to King Fahd. The FAC had kind words for us as we departed, saying that teams were rounding up prisoners who had abandoned the artillery."

    That was the last time Todd Sheehy went into action and the only time he did so in the CAS role. During his remaining missions, he flew to the battle area, orbited, and returned with all his ordnance. By then the coalition forces were advancing so rapidly that the FACs usually refused to clear attacks because of the risk of hitting friendly forces. Captain Sheehy never had to put the A-10's ruggedness to the test, for his aircraft never took a hit of any kind.

    The slow-flying A-10 was never designed to go deep into enemy territory to seek out targets. Because its primary CAS mission was denied it for most of the conflict, interdiction made up the bulk of its sorties. Still, no military person would assert that every future conflict can be so well controlled. The A-10 is surely among the ugliest planes ever built, but, to a platoon of grunts cut off, pinned down, and taking losses, one of the most beautiful sights in the world is the approach of a pair of Warthogs with full ordnance and fuel for forty-five minutes on task. The most beautiful sight is six pairs.

    Alfred Price flew with the Royal Air Force for sixteen years. He has published some three dozen books, including The Spitfire Story, The Last Year of the Luftwaffe, and Battle of Britain: The Hardest Day. His most recent article for Air Force Magazine, which appeared in the December 1992 issue, was "Tornado in the Desert."

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    104th FW Warthog History
    5/16/2007


    On March 30th, 2007 History in the A-10 community was made. Col. Jon "Motley" Mott of the 104th FW will break the current record of most documented flight hours of 4,550 held by retired Gen. James Skiff which was set in 1999 while Col Mott will have an estimated 4,570 hrs.

    Flying along with Col Mott are Col Marcel "Jake" Kerdavid, Lt Col. Ken "Torch" Stiles and Lt Col. Ed "Sped" Sommers who will break the most combined flying hours in a four ship formation. The currently record was held by the Barksdale pilots in 2005 with a total of 15,400 hours. The four ship today will have approximately 15,550 hours. In addition, each of the 3 other pilots will break the 4,000 hour mark.

    The day for me started out on the ramp with MSgt Billy Midwood, crew chief of 166. The 4 jets taken part in the flight are going to be 79-104, the 104th Flagship, 78-614, Springfield Flacons Hockey team, 78-644, Boston Red Sox & 80-166. 78-626, the New England Patriots jet was supposed to be the fourth aircraft but was just pulled from phase dock and hadn't had its check flight back into service yet.

    Even the crew chiefs were all abuzz this morning knowing what was coming with the afternoon flight. The morning flight was a four ship that was going to play up in Laser North and hit up the 157th ARW for some fuel. 3 of the aircraft were able to take off while one had to be towed back to the ramp with a tire issue.

    The media ship was a KC-135E from the 108th ARW from McGuire AFB in New Jersey. We had our media briefing at 12:30 in the Ops building. There were at least 30 family members, friends and past record holders in the room along with some local TV & Newspaper media and two current A-10 pilots to answer any questions we would have. We boarded the bus and headed out to the taxiway where they parked the tanker.

    As the tanker was doing its preflight the 4 A-10 pilots were going through theirs on the ramp. We all buckled in and the tanker started rolling forward, as that was happening, the 4 A-10s started taxing to the E.O.R. The tanker proceeded to RW 02 for take off so we could set up in a pattern over the Mt Washington Area.

    The plan was for the 4 of them to come up underneath the tanker so we could take turns down in the boom section. They had made the right side of the plane for the friends and family and the left side for the media. Many of the wives and family members have never seen what their husbands and fathers do and this was a great opportunity to witness this up close.

    Once everyone had cycled through they took turns coming to the boom to connect for fuel, with each aircraft taking 2 turns, this gave everyone a lot of one on one time with the A-10 up close. "Torch", the pilot of 644, had a note taped to the front wind screen to his wife and kids saying "Hi and I Love U".

    While each aircraft took its turn at the boom, the other three aircraft would set up on the wing tips of the tanker. Some times we had two on our left and some times they were on the right side. After rotating through the boom twice, they set up on the right wing tip in a 4 ship echelon formation.

    The 4 ship broke off and we started heading back to Barnes, because of the cross winds we couldn't land on RW02 but had to swing around and land on RW20. As we started to disembark the tanker and board the bus, the 4 aircraft flew overhead and split off in 4 second breaks. Each aircraft took two high-speed, at least for an A-10, passes low down the runway and pulled up hard at the end.

    As we made it back to the Ops building I noticed they had 2 Fire trucks on each side of the ramp entrance. I was able to move over to the left of the trucks to capture each A-10 coming through the water streams that were shooting over the A-10s as they came onto the ramp. All four A-10s parked in the back line and we had to wait while the pilots shut down the aircraft and the crew chiefs tied everything up on the ground. We were allowed to walk over and capture pictures of the pilots in front of their aircraft.

    "Torch" had asked if I could take a picture of him w/his family with his crew chief in front of his plane which was an honor. They brought the 4 pilots together at the nose of the wing aircraft for some more photos and it was off to the O'Club for some celebrating!

    I would like to thank the 104th FW, PAO Matt Mutti and MSgt Billy Midwood for allowing me to be apart of this special day in A-10 History. A big thanks goes to Ken Middleton for letting me include his fantastic shots from the tower of the departing and pattern shots from this day.

    Copyright © 2007-2008 Dave O'Brien - Top Gun Photography

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    $2B contract for Hog's re-winging

    Boeing Awarded $2 Billion A-10 Wing Contract

    Boeing News Release

    ST. LOUIS, June 29, 2007 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] has been awarded a U.S. Air Force contract worth up to $2 billion between 2007 and 2018 for engineering services and the manufacturing of 242 wing sets for the Air Force's A-10 fleet.

    "We are pleased that the Air Force has recognized that Boeing has the skilled expertise, engineering know-how and the affordable solution to address the needs of the A-10 program," said Charles T. Robertson, vice president of Boeing Support Systems' Maintenance, Modifications and Upgrades division.

    The A-10 wing replacement program calls for the replacement wing sets to be delivered in parts and kits for easy installation. Boeing has teamed with key suppliers to meet all the requirements presented by the A-10 contract, Robertson said. He added that the Boeing solution will allow the nation's A-10 fleet to fly at least 20 more years.

    "This contract extends the life of a valuable platform that supports our warfighters in accomplishing their mission to defend freedom around the globe," Robertson said. "Employing our integration expertise and lean manufacturing techniques, we are well-prepared to meet the challenges presented in this contract."

    The A-10, first introduced in 1976, is a twin-engine jet aircraft designed for close-air support of ground forces. The simple, effective and survivable single-seat aircraft can be used against all ground targets, including tanks and other armored vehicles.

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    GAO Report : Hog to stay till 2025+

    From this April 2007 GAO report on Tactical Aircrafts :

    The programming force shows significant quantities of A-10 and F-15C/D/E aircraft remaining in the force by 2025 with phased drawdown of all F-16s. The 2025 force is now projected to be roughly 60 percent new systems and 40 percent legacy systems.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 03 Jul 07, at 14:12.

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    GAO Report : Hog funded upgrades total $2.3B till 2013

    From this April 2007 GAO report on Tactical Aircrafts :

    The Air Force will retain the A-10 “Warthog” fleet in its inventory much longer than planned because of its relevant combat capabilities—demonstrated first during Desert Storm and now in the ongoing Global War on Terror.

    However, because of post-Cold War plans to retire the fleet in the early 1990s, the Air Force had spent little money on major upgrades and depot maintenance for at least 10 years.

    As a result, the Air Force faces a large backlog of structural repairs and modifications—much of it unfunded---and will likely identify more unplanned work as older aircraft are inspected and opened up for maintenance.

    Major efforts to upgrade avionics, modernize cockpit controls, and replace wings are funded and underway. Program officials identified a current unfunded requirement of $2.7 billion, including $2.1 billion for engine upgrades, which some Air Force officials say is not needed.

    A comprehensive service life extension program (if required) could cost billions more.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 03 Jul 07, at 14:23.

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    GAO Report : Unfunded Engine Upgrade may add another $2.1B

    From this April 2007 GAO report on Tactical Aircrafts :

    The Air Force is now planning to keep the A-10 in inventory for a longer period of time, but the full costs to extend the life are not known, and some other potential costs, including $2.1 billion to improve the engines, are not funded. One estimate for extending the A-10’s life in total was $4.4 billion.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 03 Jul 07, at 14:23.

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    GAO Report : Hog's Upgrade Effort up to $4.4B

    From this April 2007 GAO report on Tactical Aircrafts :

    Mission

    The A-10 was the first Air Force aircraft specially designed for close air support of ground forces. It is a simple, effective and survivable twin-engine jet used against all ground targets, including tanks. Officials cite exceptional combat results during Desert Storm and the Global War on Terror. Some aircraft are specially equipped for airborne forward air control.

    Program Status

    Because of the A-10’s relevant combat capabilities—demonstrated first during Desert Storm and recently in the Global War on Terror—the Air Force now plans to keep it in the inventory longer than anticipated. How long and with what upgrades is also dependent on whether the JSF aircraft are delivered on schedule.

    The Air Force is pursuing several major modifications to upgrade systems and structures on the A-10 fleet. A major re-winging effort is planned for 2007 through 2016 that will replace the “thin skin” wings on 242 aircraft at an estimated cost of $1.3 billion. This effort will help to extend the A-10’s service life to 16,000 hours.

    Precision Engagement modernizes cockpit controls and upgrade avionics and weapons. All 356 aircraft in the force are slated to receive the Precision Engagement suite. Total cost to complete the modification is estimated to be $420 million.

    GAO Observations

    Significant investments are underway and others planned or proposed to modernize 356 A-10s and to extend service life from 8,000 to 16,000 flying hours in order to achieve the goal of keeping the aircraft in service until 2025 or later. However, because of post-Cold War plans to retire the aircraft starting in the early 1990s, the A-10 fleet received no money for major modifications or programmed depot maintenance during the 1990s. As a result, the Air Force is now faced with a very large backlog of maintenance, structural repairs, and extensive modifications to modernize the A-10 fleet and keep it viable. Officials have begun major upgrades to modernize the cockpit and major subsystems and to replace the wings on most of the fleet. Officials are also finding that as older aircraft are inspected and opened up for modification, additional and more costly structural and sustainment work is being identified beyond initial plans.

    Even with the higher priority accorded the aircraft, program officials identify at least another $2.7 billion in unfunded requirements (see footnote). Chief among these are an engine upgrade program estimated at $2.1 billion. It is intended to provide the A-10 with significantly improved engine capabilities. However, the proposal was deferred by the requiring command because of limited funding and higher warfighter priorities. The Air Force’s Fleet Viability Board, which assesses aging aircraft fleets and recommends to the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force whether aircraft should be retired or continued in service, recently determined that the A-10 is still viable and validated many of the modifications and repairs already underway. The Board recommended funding this engine upgrade in order to extend the A-10’s service life until 2030. The Board’s assessment identified mission limitations due to insufficient thrust to maximize survivability in the current threat environment with existing engines. Although agreeing that the engine upgrade would be desirable if funds were available, the requiring command continues to defer this program as a lower priority. We note that the Air Force has requested development funding of $230 million for the engine upgrade program in the 2008 supplemental request.

    footnote : We obtained another preliminary estimate that suggests a service life extension program for the A-10 could cost $4.4 billion, which may include some of these unfunded requirements.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 03 Jul 07, at 14:27.

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