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Thread: Random Thoughts on the Mighty Hog - Part 2

  1. #61
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    Hog facts : Operating Costs per Flying Hour

    From this April 2007 GAO report on Tactical Aircrafts :
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 03 Jul 07, at 14:18.

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    $2B contract for Hog's re-winging (again)

    U.S. Department of Defense
    Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)


    FOR RELEASE AT 5 p.m. ET
    June 29, 2007

    Contract

    McDonnell Douglas Corp., A Wholly-Owned Subsidiary of Boeing, St Louis, Mo., is being awarded an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity, firm-fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for $2,015,000,000.

    This contract provides for Engineering Services of an Enhanced A-10 Wing. Minimum guarantee is Engineering Services and one each First Article. The maximum contract limitation is Engineering Services plus 242 Wings.

    Estimated order dates for the ordering period is 7 June 2007 through 30 September 2011. Estimated order date for one additional optional ordering period is 1 October 2011 through 30 September 2016.

    To date, $74,181,576 has been obligated. Solicitations began November 2006 and negotiations were completed May 2007. This work will be complete September 2018.

    PA POC can be reached at (801) 777-2284. PA POC can be reached at (937) 255-2350. Headquarters Ogden Air Logistics Center, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the contracting activity (FA8202-07-D-0004).

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    $2B contract for Hog's re-winging (again)

    According to this February 2007 DOD Budget Document (see page 148 below), the wing replacement should cost $1.241B (FY07 - FY13) for 183 wings, which means a unit cost of $6.8 million.

    The total value of the June 29, 2007 contract is $2.015B for 242 wings plus Engineering Services. Unless the cost of the wings changed dramatically since February 2007, this $2.015B contract can therefore be further split between :

    * wings : $1,640 million (242 wings @ $6.8 million each)
    * engineering services : $375 million

    Lockheed Martin (which was competing against Boeing for this contract) must be very upset.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 03 Jul 07, at 15:18.

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    A-10s get digital makeover

    by Senior Airman Tim Beckham
    355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

    6/27/2007 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFPN) -- Air Force officials are making significant changes to A-10 Thunderbolt IIs as part of the "Precision Engagement" upgrade, which changes the aircraft designation from the A-10A to the A-10C.

    "It's the largest upgrade the A-10 has ever had by far," said Maj. Drew English, the program manager for A-10C Precision Engagement.

    "The gist of it is to bring the A-10 from being an analog jet to a digital jet," he said.

    The most significant change to the A-10C is the addition of the Situational Awareness Data Link, or SADL. With SADL, the A-10C joins a massive "Internet-like" network of land, air and sea systems. Each individual member "uploads" information for other platforms to see and use, and "downloads" information it can use to better perform its mission.

    For the A-10C pilots at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, this means they digitally access the most current information from command and control systems instead of annotating friendly and enemy locations in grease pencil on paper maps. SADL automatically updates the digital battlefield information on the integrated moving map in the aircraft.

    With SADL, participants gain situational awareness by exchanging digital data over a common communications link continuously updated in real time.

    "With SADL you can see everything that a friendly user puts on the link," said Lt. Col. Michael Millen, a 357th Fighter Squadron operations officer. "Everyone with a piece of the puzzle can put it on the net, which collectively creates an electronic representation of the battlefield. SADL automatically downloads the pertinent information and displays it on a screen in the cockpit."

    SADL is a military intercomputer data exchange format, similar in many ways to the more prolific format Link 16 (used by F-15 Eagles, some F-16 Fighting Falcons, and many command and control platforms), and supports the exchange of tactical information in real time. SADL is used primarily by U.S. land forces, the A-10C and the F-16C in the tactical arena. Link 16 and SADL share information via gateways, which are land-based or airborne portals that permit the transfer of information between different formats.

    A command and control platform -- such as the 12th Air Force Air Operations Center here -- can send digital communication via SADL to the A-10C for a variety of purposes. Tasking messages, targeting information, threat warnings, and friendly locations can all be sent and received by the A-10C. Additionally, the A-10C is the only platform with the ability to task other fighter platforms to attack targets.

    The airframe becomes even more lethal when an advanced targeting pod is combined with SADL. This allows A-10C pilots to quickly find targets while remaining clear of surface to air threats, and then digitally assign other fighters to attack the targets.

    "In this aircraft I can find a target in my targeting pod, assign it to another fighter, clear him to attack it, watch his bombs hit, and provide a bomb damage assessment to the AOC with little or no verbal communication. And it takes about half the time," Colonel Millen said. "It's a phenomenal improvement."

    This responsiveness is critical to coalition ground forces whom, when ambushed and outnumbered, may need immediate firepower (in a matter of minutes) to survive and accomplish the mission.

    (Courtesy Air Combat Command News Service)

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    A fine piece of Lockheed marketing art

    The Hogs Of War
    A-10 Warthog Upgrades


    By Jeff Rhodes
    Photos by Guy Aceto
    Code One Magazine, Volume 22, No. 2
    Second Quarter 2007

    "Every day when I wake up, I know exactly how many days are left before we go into theater. Standing up a new system is a challenge, but facing a near-term deployment is a huge weight. We are going to be on the world stage. We have to be at our best.."

    That is how Lt. Col. Dan Marino, the 175th Wing’s operations group commander, describes the dual task his Maryland Air National Guard unit has faced. The 175th Wing’s 104th Fighter Squadron is currently completing a conversion to an upgraded version of the A-10 close air support aircraft and preparing for an Air Expeditionary Force deployment later this year.

    The A-10, officially christened Thunderbolt II, but universally referred to as Warthog because of its ungainly appearance, is the first US Air Force aircraft specifically designed for close air support of ground forces. The A-10 entered service in 1976.

    The Warthog, or more simply, Hog, is a relatively uncomplicated design. The Air Force’s requirements at the time were straightforward—the aircraft had to carry a large ordnance load, have extended loiter time over the battlefield, provide good maneuverability at low speeds and low altitudes, be easy to maintain, and be able to operate from small, forward bases. The aircraft didn’t necessarily have to be fast. In fact, combat speed of the A-10 is around 450 knots, much slower than its fighter contemporaries.

    The thinking at the time was that the A-10 would have to provide close air support and be able to halt a Soviet advance coming through Germany. Consequently, the aircraft was built around the mammoth General Electric GAU-8/A Avenger 30 mm seven-barrel Gatling-type cannon, which was specifically designed to destroy tanks.

    During the 1991 Gulf War, A-10s had a mission capable rate of 95.7 percent. Warthog pilots flew 8,100 sorties, launched more than ninety percent of the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles used in the war, and destroyed 987 tanks and more than 1,800 trucks and vehicles.

    "If you look at the history of the A-10, every new capability, every new system put on the jet is an add-on," notes Maj. Doug Baker, a 2,000-hour pilot with the 104th FS. "After continually adding systems, we had an aircraft with all this extra stuff it was never originally designed to have. For instance, we had a targeting pod, but the pod was never fully integrated. We had to tell the computer the aircraft was carrying a Maverick. We had to put target coordinates in by hand. Under the upgrade program, we are ripping out all of the old independent systems and replacing them with a comprehensive system that is expandable, and it works."

    The Precision Engagement, or PE, program significantly increases the pilots’ situational awareness and their ability to accurately detect, identify, and destroy targets in all weather from greater altitudes and distances using precision-guided weapons.

    PE is a five-year program to upgrade all 356 aircraft now in the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command, and active-duty Air Force A-10 fleet. During the 1970s, two modified A-10s were designated A-10B, so the modified A-10As are redesignated A-10Cs.

    The Air Force awarded the PE development contract in 2001. Lockheed Martin in Owego, New York, teamed with BAE Systems, Southwest Research Institute, and Northrop Grumman to develop the upgrade kit. The first prototype A-10C was flown in 2005. The first production kits were delivered to the Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill AFB, Utah, for installation in March 2006. The 104th FS received its first production A-10C last August.

    Most of the changes are related to avionics. The A-10 is now wired to carry either the Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-33(v) Sniper XR or the Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-28 Litening AT advanced targeting pod. The upgrade also includes an uprated 1760 data bus running to six of the aircraft’s eleven weapon stations, which enables the A-10 to carry the GBU-31/32/38 Joint Direct Attack Munition series and the CBU-103/104/105 Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser; upgraded DC power converters; and a digital stores management system.

    The Situational Awareness Data Link, or SADL, is also part of the upgrade. "Being a guy who never flew with a radar, seeing the SADL picture is magic," Baker observes. "We share data, and it is all secure. With SADL, you don’t necessarily have to input target coordinates manually. I just slave the targeting pod to what I’m looking at, and the system figures out the coordinates. Then I can send that information to the other jets so everyone is looking at the same thing."

    In the cockpit, the A-10C pilot has two five- by five-inch color multifunction displays with a moving map as well as a new control stick and throttle. "The jet was all analog and manual before," notes Marino. "I had to reach up to the instrument panel and throw switches and push buttons to drop a bomb. Now, I can change the switch positions and drop weapons without taking my hands off the throttle or stick."

    The last four 104th FS pilots went through conversion training in March. The unit now has fifteen A-10Cs on the ramp, with six more coming because of force realignments. But getting to this point took effort. "We volunteered for A-10C," says Lt. Col. Kevin Campbell, a Warthog pilot who is the 175th Maintenance Squadron commander. "Funding for the program was in jeopardy, but the Guard provided an infusion of cash. That allowed us to go forward and put the Guard at the forefront of the program."

    The 104th FS and the 110th Fighter Wing at Battle Creek, Michigan, were chosen to lead the fleet. “We committed the lead aircraft to the program. That was key to keeping the line moving,” notes Campbell, who moved his family to Nevada to stand up a Guard detachment at Nellis AFB outside of Las Vegas. There, the 104th Fighter Squadron and the active duty 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron brought the A-10C into operation.

    "The Guard operation at Nellis is the big success story," adds Campbell. "We kept sortie generation up and made sure we got the test points. We provided a lot of experience on the pilot and maintenance sides. We have been living the Total Force concept at Nellis since November 2005."

    "We had the Guard and the active duty embedded together at Nellis," recalls CMSgt. Terry Allen, the wing’s maintenance chief. “We have people who have been working on this jet for twenty years who helped develop the training documents for the A-10C. We sent close to fifty percent of our people to train at Nellis for thirty-five days at a time.

    "What we did at Nellis kept development of the C-model on track," Allen adds. "We had, and are still having, some growing pains. The A-10C mod is a little challenging. We finish at Nellis this July. We thought we were going to be there only six months. But we overcame. We fly at Nellis; we fly in Baltimore."

    "I was a part of the initial cadre on A-10C testing," notes Baker. "Four of us are in test. We had to get what is called a Testing Upgrade, which is like a basic test pilot license. I ended up going to Nellis for more than two weeks every two months. Flying in a C-model there and then going back to an A-10A in Baltimore was a challenge. I had two sets of habit patterns. Habit patterns are hard to keep, so I was the happiest guy on this base to see our last A-model go in for modification."

    As the A-10C was being put through its paces at Nellis and modified jets were being delivered, training became a critical issue. "The question became, 'How do we get the basics?' " notes Marino. The unit will soon have a cockpit simulator with a full visual system that will allow multiship missions and distributed training. But the initial answer was a desktop simulator that uses commercial components and is tailored to the A-10. Baltimore and Battle Creek each have five of the desktop sims.

    "The desktop simulator is an outstanding tool for a new system like this," says Capt. Rich Hunt, the squadron’s weapons officer. "The challenge in the A-10C is to build finger memory since nearly all of the controls are on the throttle and stick. Pilots have to unlearn their previous habits and develop new ones. This business still comes down to flying a jet and employing the weapons."

    A four-flight pilot checkout syllabus was developed by Air Combat Command. The first flight familiarizes pilots with the new throttle and stick and teaches them how to get the targeting pod into position. The second flight adds training with Maverick, the tactical awareness display, and the moving map. The third flight concentrates on understanding HUD symbology and manipulating the sensor of interest, which is critical for employing weapons. The fourth flight involves flying in a tactical environment. "Once qualified, we like to say the pilots have a license to learn," says Hunt. "With the entire squadron qualified, we can press forward and start training for the AEF deployment."

    The Baltimore A-10Cs will deploy first this fall, followed shortly afterward by A-10Cs from Battle Creek. "The Hog will never be faster than other jets, but now we can do almost everything else," notes Marino. "With JDAM, we can hit a pop-up target. We will be doing nontraditional surveillance and reconnaissance. We will go out and check for IEDs in front of a convoy. The Hog was designed to destroy armor columns, and now we look for a group of four or five people in the woods. PE allows us to find and fix the target rapidly. With SADL, target information comes up on the net. We can drop JDAM, 500-, or 1,000-pound bombs and launch Maverick."

    "The change from analog to digital is huge," says Campbell. "The infrastructure is in the airplane, and the system can accommodate growth. It is better and easier and faster to update. Close air support requires talking to troops on the ground and delivering weapons in close proximity to friendly forces. The A-10C makes us much better at that.

    "Anytime we put troops on the ground, we will need that type of close air support," Campbell continues. "If we have the sensors, we can perform CAS from 10,000 feet. With the A-10C, we can do battle damage assessment from standoff distances. I can still roll in with the gun or with a bomb if I have to. But now, I have to expose myself to threats only if the situation warrants taking such a risk, not because the aircraft’s capabilities are limited."

    The drawdown of the A-10 is expected to begin in the early 2020s when the F-35 comes online in sufficient numbers. The last A-10 is scheduled for retirement in 2028. Notes Campbell: "We can’t stay around forever, but the Hog has to be viable until it is time to go."

    Jeff Rhodes is the associate editor of Code One

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    Paint it Black (?)

    USAF chief considers new A-10A COIN squadron

    By Caitlin Harrington,
    Jane's Defence Weekly
    07/24/2007

    US Air Force ( USAF) Chief of Staff General Michael Moseley has told Jane’s he is considering the creation of a new counterinsurgency (COIN) squadron of A-10A Thunderbolt II aircraft for the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC).

    Gen. Moseley said he is mulling the possibility of putting a squadron of A-10A close-support aircraft inside AFSOC to serve the Special Operations Command, which has the lead engagement role in the US-declared global war on terrorism.

    “There’s a variety of … counterinsurgency aircraft and other things out there that we’ve been looking at that would facilitate AFSOC’s partnership with the Special Operations Command,” Gen Moseley told Jane’s on 12 July.

    “I’ve even asked: is it reasonable to put a squadron or so of A-10s into Special Operations Command?”

    The A-10 is widely used to provide close air support to coalition and friendly forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, it can be used against all ground targets including armoured platforms.

    Gen Moseley’s interest in a new A-10 COIN squadron follows recent reports of a new AFSOC proposal for an “irregular warfare” wing. Possible aircraft being floated to fill a strike role in the wing have ranged from a modified air-to-ground Beechcraft AT-6B to an Embraer Tucano or Super Tucano.

    However, Gen Moseley cautioned that he is not yet fully committed to the idea of a COIN air unit but is considering it because he believes the USAF needs to be able to meet the “full spectrum” of threats — from COIN to state-on-state conflict.

    “I don’t know if I’m wedded to [the COIN unit] so much as I would like to know the pluses and minuses,” said Gen Moseley.

    The A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft — known informally as the Warthog — may offer some key advantages if Gen Moseley decides to establish the COIN squadron. The A-10 was specifically designed to be highly survivable in close air support missions. It is highly maneuvrable at low air speeds and altitudes, boasts a long loiter time and also a titanium cockpit and redundant flight controls.

    If established, the A-10 COIN squadron would be the first dedicated strike aircraft unit for COIN since the Douglas A-1 Skyraider: a propeller-driven ground-support aircraft used in the Vietnam War. The aircraft made a name for itself carrying large bomb loads, absorbing heavy fire and demonstrating prolonged endurance — traits similar to those possessed by the A-10.

    “We fought all the way through Southeast Asia with A-1s living in the special operations world,” noted Gen Moseley.

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    Kudos

    Moments & Milestones
    Captain Markle’s Mackay


    By Bettina Haymann Chavanne
    Air & Space Magazine
    August 2007 Issue

    The mackay trophy, established in 1911 by Clarence Mackay—aviation enthusiast, philanthropist, and head of the Postal Telegraph-Commercial Cable Companies—is a stately piece of silver. And it has been awarded, in conjunction with the National Aeronautic Association, to aviation giants like General Henry “Hap” Arnold (the first recipient, in 1912) and World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker for the most meritorious U.S. Air Force flight of the year.

    This year’s recipient, Air Force Captain Scott Markle, e-mailed Air & Space recently about the events that earned him the honor. He wrote from Lakenheath Air Force Base, England, where the 81st Fighter Squadron is stationed temporarily while the runway is being repaired at his home base, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

    The Mackay Trophy recognizes your heroic flight over southern Afghanistan on June 16, 2006. Can you tell us more about what happened that day?

    I led a two-ship of A-10s from Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan…when we were [sent unexpectedly] to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to support a 15-person foot patrol of U.S. special forces [who came up against] over 40 Taliban fighters. We arrived 30 minutes before sunrise, and with our night-vision goggles we could see rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns, and small arms fire coming from three mountain ridges that surrounded the special forces team…. The team’s radio controller informed us they were engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy on the valley floor and were taking direct hits from the enemy above.

    The enemy was too close to the special forces team for the pilots to use their weapons, so Markle made several low passes. Each time the A-10 passed overhead, the Taliban stopped firing, and the special forces team pulled back until they were 100 feet away from the enemy. At that point, Markle was authorized to use his 30-millimeter gun, which provided the team enough cover to draw back even farther. Markle was authorized to drop his 500-pound bombs, but initially resisted because of the proximity of the team—the bomb burst can reach 1,300 feet.

    I agreed to drop the bombs only if the team took cover behind a group of rocks. Once the team was safe, we dropped two bombs on the enemy, ceasing all remaining enemy fire…. All 15 special forces members made it out alive.

    Did you always want to fly when you were a kid?

    My father retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel when I was eight years old. I don’t remember much about the military lifestyle, but my family always attended the annual airshow at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. I’ve been fascinated with airplanes my whole life, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school when Operation Desert Storm started that I decided I wanted to join the military. I attended Texas Tech University and was lucky enough to receive a pilot training slot after my junior year. Following pilot training at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, I was selected to fly my number-one choice, the A-10; [I’ve been flying it] since 2000.

    Which aircraft would you like to fly? And what has been your favorite during your career?

    The answer to both questions is the P-51 Mustang. When I fly missions over Europe, I often wonder what it must have been like to fly the P-51 during World War II. I would love to own a P-51 someday, but they are pretty expensive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shipwreck View Post
    From this April 2007 GAO report on Tactical Aircrafts :
    The operating cost is slightly more than the F-16.I wonder whats the operating cost of an Apache..any idea?

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    Apache : Operating Costs per Flying Hour (FY03 $)

    Quote Originally Posted by MarquezRazor View Post
    The operating cost is slightly more than the F-16. I wonder whats the operating cost of an Apache..any idea?
    According to this February 2003 GAO report (pages 56-57) :

    (emphasis added)

    The Apache recapitalization program, another of DOD’s pilots, integrates a number of selected upgrades that taken together are expected to achieve a 30 percent reduction in operating and support costs by 2010. Most of the Apache helicopters will be refurbished and modified to the Apache Longbow configuration. The target acquisition and designation system, the top cost driver, is a focus of these improvements along with improvements in the drive train, the rotor, and the propulsion system. The current average cost per flying hour for the Apache fleet is $3,348. The Army’s projected cost per flight hour after the modifications is $2,230.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 26 Jul 07, at 21:51.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shipwreck View Post
    According to this February 2003 GAO report (pages 56-57) :

    (emphasis added)
    Thanks Shipwreck.Now just going into the "bean-counter" mode for a moment,it can be said that for the same cost of an A-10 I could operate 5 Apaches?I was just wondering generally whether 4-5 Apaches can do a job worse than ,same or better than one warthog in the primary role i.e anti-tank/close-support role?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarquezRazor View Post
    Thanks Shipwreck.Now just going into the "bean-counter" mode for a moment,it can be said that for the same cost of an A-10 I could operate 5 Apaches?I was just wondering generally whether 4-5 Apaches can do a job worse than ,same or better than one warthog in the primary role i.e anti-tank/close-support role?
    That's not an apples/oranges comparison, but it is kind of an apples/pears one. Both are excellent at what they do, but they have slightly different roles, and very different advantages in those roles. Warthogs are faster, longer ranged, as close to indestructible as an aircraft can be, and have the unmatched Avenger cannon. Apaches can hide, carry a massive load of missiles, are highly maneuverable, and can land anywhere that's flat. Both are highly valuable assets, and aren't really very interchangeable, IMO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArmchairGeneral View Post
    That's not an apples/oranges comparison, but it is kind of an apples/pears one. Both are excellent at what they do, but they have slightly different roles, and very different advantages in those roles. Warthogs are faster, longer ranged, as close to indestructible as an aircraft can be, and have the unmatched Avenger cannon. Apaches can hide, carry a massive load of missiles, are highly maneuverable, and can land anywhere that's flat. Both are highly valuable assets, and aren't really very interchangeable, IMO.
    I know it isnt a fair comparison..but thats exactly how the bean-counters like to think.
    Acc to globalsecurity,Apaches can fly 1900 km with underwing tanks.Thats more than any A-10's range.Though I wonder what else would the Apache be able to take if two hardpoints are taken by fuel tanks.

    Anyway,the reason behind all of this is, I was wondering why dont many countries operate this type of a/c like the A-10.Say UK,France,even India(it could operate Su-25s) etc. but they operate only helos in anti-tank and close support role.The answer would have to be cost.Although the A-10 is highly specialised in what it does,I would think most of it can be done by the helos to an acceptable level.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarquezRazor View Post
    The answer would have to be cost.Although the A-10 is highly specialised in what it does,I would think most of it can be done by the helos to an acceptable level.
    The helos are at very low level, (often head height) and moving tactically (could be walking speed, with the occasional dash) using every shred of cover thats available in the area of FLOT, whereas the A-10 has to maintain a safe flying speed at a reasonable altitude. Some Thunderbolt II weapons can be released from altitude. The big difference is that the A-10 is well armoured, helos are not nearly so well protected.
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    Quote Originally Posted by glyn View Post
    The helos are at very low level, (often head height) and moving tactically (could be walking speed, with the occasional dash) using every shred of cover thats available in the area of FLOT...The big difference is that the A-10 is well armoured, helos are not nearly so well protected.
    The helos hide, the 'Hog just takes a beating and keeps on fighting. Different methods of survivability, both useful.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarquezRazor View Post
    Although the A-10 is highly specialised in what it does,I would think most of it can be done by the helos to an acceptable level.
    Well, helos and fast mover strike fighters. Warthogs do a lot more than kill tanks and armored vehicles. The A-10 kind of fills the in-between roles.

    Interesting about the range. I guess underwing fuel tanks would impede survivability, or maybe they simply haven't had the need. Of course, A-10s are capable of in flight refueling, so that could be why they don't need extra fuel capacity.
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