Warplanes: November 23, 2004

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The U.S. Air Force is beginning its long delayed A-10 upgrade. This will convert most of the current A-10A aircraft to A-10Cs (the A-10B was a two seat version produced in small quantities). Most of the changes will not be visible, and many will be in the cockpit. The pilots will now have color LCDs, new instruments and a new joystick with enough buttons on it to allow the pilot to control just about everything without having to fiddle with any other controls. This is called HOTAS (Hands-On Throttle And Stick). The A-10C will be able to use JDAM (GPS guided) smart bombs, as well as many current, and future, missiles. This makes the A-10 even more versatile. The air force has been trying to dump the A-10 for some two decades now. But the army combat troops like it, as do the air force pilots who fly it and, most importantly, so does the media. The A-10C will be the most versatile combat warplane the air force operates. The A-10 is the only warplane that can get down low (the better to figure what is really going on), and deliver effective firepower (via the 30mm automatic cannon). The A-10C will also be able to drop smart bombs from higher altitudes, making it able to deal with just about any combat support mission that comes up. In addition, the A-10 is designed to operate from crude airbase facilities and, in general, take a lot of punishment and keep going.

 


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