Warplanes: A-10C Goes To War

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September 1, 2007: The new A-10C is headed for Iraq and Afghanistan, as the first of the new models became available last month. That's because the U.S. A-10 "Warhog" ground attack aircraft is so popular with ground troops that even the air force brass took note of it. So they speeded up the plan to upgrade the electronics of the aircraft. The A-10 can fly low and slow, and is designed, and armored, to survive lots of ground fire. The troops trust the A-10 more than the F-16, or any other aircraft used for supporting the ground troops. The new goodies for the A-10C equip the pilot with the same targeting and fire control gadgets the latest fighters have. The new A-10C cockpit has all the spiffy color displays and easy to use controls. The basic A-10 is a three decade old design, so the new stuff is quite spectacular in comparison. New commo gear is installed as well, allowing A-10 pilots to share pix and vids with troops on the ground. The A-10 can now use smart bombs, making it a do-it-all aircraft for troops support.

While newly equipped A-10s are showing up this year, it will take five years to upgrade all 350 aircraft in service. Beyond that, the air force is upgrading the engines and structures of the 1970s era aircraft. All the upgrades will cost about $13 million per aircraft. The air force has been trying to retire the ugly, and elderly, aircraft for over a decade. But the A-10s are just too damn effective, and popular, when there's actually a war on.

 


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