Warthog

All photos in this dispatch made on March 1, 2010, at Kandahar Airfield.

Kandahar, Afghanistan
23 March 2010

The mission required crossing a bridge that had been blown up a couple hours earlier by a suicide car bomber.  The attacker hit a convoy from the 82nd Airborne, killing American soldier Ian Gelig.  Now with a hole in the bridge and recovery operations underway, our mission was cancelled.  So I called the Air Force to see if they were busy.  Yes, it turns out, the Air Force is busy every day, but Captain Kristen Duncan took me down to the ramp where the A-10 “Warthogs” are parked.

Lt Col Tim Eddins adjusts g-suit.

Two pilots were gearing up to fly from Kandahar over to neighboring Helmand to support a British unit.  The A-10 “Warthogs” are slow—not supersonic—but fantastically agile.  The aircraft dart like dragonflies and seem to change direction against the laws of physics.  The A-10s can turn so fast that they can break the laws of healthy physiology, and can cause a pilot to pass out and crash his airplane.  And so pilots wear G-suits to help counter adverse fluid dynamics.

The helmets offer no ballistic protection.  Helmets that ground troops wear can stop bullets, and have done so in Iraq and Afghanistan on many occasions, usually knocking out the wearer.  I remember a Marine Major in Mosul who got shot in the head.  He said it knocked him out cold.  He said it wasn’t pleasant getting shot in the head, but he was downtown in Mosul back in the action when I asked about it.  Army Lieutenant Colonel Terry Jamison also got shot in the helmet in the same city, Mosul.  When I asked LTC Jamison about getting shot while flying his Kiowa Warrior helicopter, he said the bullet somehow missed his head but ventilated his helmet.  (I saw the helmet.)  Pilots wear light helmets because of the hard turns, plus some high-G accidents can cause neck injuries.

Lieutenant Colonel Eric Murphy is an A-10 pilot from Baltimore.

Lt Col Murphy flies with the 104th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from the Maryland National Guard.  In his day job, “Captain” Eric Murphy is a commercial pilot who flies A320s but today he’s not flying British tourists traveling within the United States.  He’s going to Helmand Province to cover the British “Royal Welsh.”  I remembered some Royal Welsh from Iraq.  There had been much fighting.  A lot of killing that went both ways.  They had been Men of Valor.

As Lt Col Murphy crawled in, I wished him luck in covering the British, but didn’t say that some of those British soldiers are my personal friends.  It was good to see the A-10s heading out there.  The Brits appreciate it.

Flare dispensers under each wing.

A-10s have more tricks than Harry Potter, such as the flares designed to lure heat-seeking missiles away from the engines.  Over these battlefields, pilots often pop the flares as “We see you” warnings to the enemy.  If the enemy is in the open and no civilians are around, they are unlikely to get a friendly flare warning, but sometimes it’s better to hold off on the big weapons; the enemy might be fighting from a built-up area.

Today, Lt Col Murphy’s 30mm cannon is loaded with 1,150 rounds.  The 30mm can destroy tanks, but believe it or not, typically will not penetrate the walls around Afghan homes.  When the 30mm fires, it’s almost unbelievable.  The bullets don’t fly in a laser-like stream, but sort of spray in a lethal mist, as if the cannon is shot-painting a swath with huge bullets.  If the enemy is in the open, the cannon is like a weapon of mass destruction.  When people are hit with M-16 bullets, the wound is often more like a couple small holes, but when bodies get hit with weapons this large, they fly in pieces.

A-10 cannons are tilted down so that the pilot can fly level while strafing.  This is important: In Mosul, in 2004, an F-14 was strafing downtown after a massive truck bomb in December and many other bad surprises (I was not there), and the pilot told me he was fixated on the target.  Since the F-14 cannon is tilted up for “Top Gun” air combat, the pilot had to nose down the F-14 and was diving straight into the target and nearly crashed.  The hard turn to avoid crashing damaged his aircraft and the pilot had difficulty landing on the aircraft carrier later that night.  Since the A-10 gun is tilted down, it can fly level and strafe without accidentally crashing into the target.

Lt Cols Tim Eddins and Eric Murphy climb up the telescoping ladder into their jets and go through one of many checklists.  Watching Air Force missions and all the checklists is reminiscent of watching space launches.  Checklist after checklist of obscure terms.  Occasionally they say things normal people might recognize, like “brakes.”

Comments   

 
# John Hewish 2010-03-23 03:01
Nice to see the co-operation between the US A-10s and the British footsoldiers, something that always warms the heart!
Fantastic photographs and a well told story, an inspiration as always.

Many thanks, and, on behalf of any welshmen, Diolch yn fawr iawn to the Americans who support our boys and who ur boys support.
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# Chris Muir 2010-03-23 03:42
Standby, as in, it is impossible to think of war coverage without Michael Y. Stellar work, man.
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# Chris Smith 2010-03-23 04:12
Michael Yon is this generation's Ernie Pyle. I can think of no better compliment — except that Yon takes it to a whole new level by not only covering the grunt in the field in an up-close and personal way, but also in brilliantly portraying the big picture.
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# Donnette Davis 2010-03-23 04:18
So well written, I nearly understood everything :-) I managed to get the "brakes" bit also!

Thank you for the awesome pictures and commentary - reading this dispatch is like watching a movie unfold, step-by-step... . Brilliant! This article is so well worth sharing, I am reposting to FB and A few other Social Media Sites.
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# John Dough 2010-03-23 04:24
The A-10 was supposed to have been retired years ago. By scavenging from older A-10's they have been kept in service. I hope the Air Force is planning to replace this aircraft with something similar when these airframes finally give out. We will need this kind of air support of ground troops in perpetuity. I've talked with Air Force A-10 pilots who have flown in Iraq and Afghanistan who think of themselves as part of the Army ground troops. One pilot choked up as he told of a small army group that searched him out to thank him for saving their behinds in a vicious battle. Many pilots just bomb and strafe the bad guys. A-10's are in close combat support of our guys. God Bless them all.
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# Greg 2010-03-23 04:38
A-10's are so compelling. Michael could you obtain interviews with ground crew, pilots and thankful soldiers about what it's like to work with these planes?
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# Lee Keller King 2010-03-23 04:42
The Air Force's treatment of the A-10 (and its pilots) is one reason many think that close-air support should be taken away from the Air Force, which doesn't want the job but won't give it up. I have heard many times that Warthog pilots are at a career disadvantage to fighter pilots, and it is obvious to me that the Air Force would prefer to concentrate on pretty fighter jets, rather than ugly (but extremely useful) close-air support planes.
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# John Bunce 2010-03-23 04:42
As a kid we had a National Guard Unit in Connecticut that flew the A-10's, I remember hearing them as they flew over the trees super low, banking and following the terrain. What a sound they made! After I joined the marines, I heard the 30mm cannon fire for the first time, what a sound!
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# Tommy Barrios 2010-03-23 04:55
The warthog is such an inglorious animal that naming the A-10 such is rather an inept attempt to label the aircraft's look rather than it's capabilities.

If one where to do that, then Dragon or some other such mythical destructive beast would be more appropriate. The A-10 is truly death from above for anything on the ground that it can see. The aircraft was designed to take out the wave of Soviet tanks in Europe, but it has grown into a more formidable beast as a solid ground support fighter bomber capable of complete destruction of ground targets one moment and then able to engage and destroy air threats of every kind the next moment!

A truly combat versatile and deadly machine!
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# ex- fighter jock 2010-03-23 05:03
A-10s are the business when the enemy doesn't have fighters, whereas they would have been deathtraps during a 'hot' Cold War (hence the out-dated prejudice I guess). I once flew with a tank driver on a CAS training mission. He was so scared when he saw what aircraft could do to tanks he left the tank corps two months later!
Keep up the great work Michael.
p.s. liked the line about 'brakes' - my old a/c had over 330 buttons, dials and switches, so if we didn't speak in acronyms we'd never have got airborne.
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# Jesse 2010-03-23 05:12
I noticed the tail markings show these A-10's are from the Maryland ANG. Turning up the wayback machine I remember working on these birds back in the 80's when I was in charge of the A-10 ACS Field Return Shop at Fairchild in Germantown, MD. Made a number of trips to the Martin field in Essex and also over to Suwan South Korea to work on the systems in the field.

Anecdote: I was sitting in the cockpit of an Md ANG A-10 running tests on the ACS with the Field Test Set pod in my hand. The cable snaked over the edge of the cockpit and down to the test set sitting on the tarmac. The cable accidentally wrapped around the canopy switch and caused the canopy to close - on the test set cable! Bent the edge of the canopy. I was not invited back.
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# Walt Lucken 2010-03-23 05:17
I remember seeing one flying a demo over Heidelberg back in 76.
All us basebrats hanging out in front of the PHV bowling alley thought it was a model airplane.
Great article Mike.
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# IronMike 2010-03-23 05:52
I grew up near Camp (now Fort) Drum. The A-10 pilots would practice their target approaches by cruising along the highway at about 30 meters altitude and shadow cars driving along route 11. Many times I have been amazed to find that a jet has snuck up behind me as I was driving. It was always a mixture of fear and pride to think about what the Warthogs could do and to know they are on our side.
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# Dr. Kenneth Noisewater 2010-03-23 06:03
IIRC the MD A-10s were picked up from the MD factory by their first pilots and flown to their base a few miles away?

Also, glad to see we're helping the Welsh, who gave us Rick Rescorla:

http://www.rickrescorla.com/

You couldn't make that guy up in a thousand years of fiction, a man like that is worth ten thousand leechf--k TBTF bankers..
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# ckb 2010-03-23 06:07
Back in the 90's I did a lot of primary (civilian) flight training at Martin airfield. I remember sharing the pattern with these guys on a number of occasions; nice to see them hard at work! Thanks for the report.
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# Diana 2010-03-23 06:17
I was an air traffic controller when I was in the Air Force, and the A-10 was my favorite airplane to watch. They turn like break dancers. Great visuals.
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# spratico 2010-03-23 06:25
Great dispatch, Michael. The A-10's are a great asset to our military. A 'tool' that I hope we keep in the toolbox in the future. I remember hearing about Capt. Kim Campbell landing a badly damages A-10 after a mission over Baghdad. Awesome pilot flying a great aircraft. Here's the story;
http://www.aircraftresourcecenter.com/Stories1/001-100/0016_A-10-battle-damage/story0016.htm
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# jim 2010-03-23 06:26
I used to deer hunt near Stillwater in the adirondacks and watched them sneak up on me dressed in blaze orange a few times. Sure was spooky to see those guns pointed right down your throat. They's sneak in from behind and scare you to death. It was fun. Some of the pilots hunted around there too.
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# thomas pomilla 2010-03-23 06:32
I got my start in the MDANG working hydraulics on the A10 before I switched to active duty. The A10 still holds a special place in my heart. I call it God's jet built by the hand of God himself. It is the most maintenance friendly and reliable air craft I have worked in my 18 years of service. Great article nice ot see some glory given to the Wart Hogs!!!
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# HawgDriver 2010-03-23 06:33
I was fortunate and proud to have flown the A-10 in the early 80's when the wall was still up. Like all A-10 pilot's my first flight was solo at the young age of 23. I'm glad after all these years that the A-10 has gotten its recognition and that the military has spent the money for all the upgrades. What I would give to be in Afghanistan or Iraq with my fellow aviators. It isn't the sleekst like the F-15/16/18, but its the workhouse in the battlefield. Check Six.. By the way Michael Yon does a great job, but the cannon aiming down so the plane can straight and level is new to me??
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# Charles 2010-03-23 06:33
I worked on those A-10 when I was in Afghanistam with the same unit that is there now. The MD Air national guard. I was a Aircratft Fuels Systems Mechanic. I can't working in any fuel tank on any plane is fun. But it makes it easier when your actually deployed. Gives you a sense of duty. I worked on those for 14 years full and part time. One thing about A-10's. They fly so slow they need to worry about bird strikes from the rear.
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# thegreywolf 2010-03-23 06:34
I remember watching A 10's on the flight line when McLellan AFB, before BRAC closed it down. In my opinion these are beautiful planes, though most say they are built ugly. At the museum there, there is a shot up one from the Gulf War. If I decide to join the AF, and not the Army after college, I would want to fly these.
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# Bigdaa 2010-03-23 06:42
There is only one thing uglier than a Warthog: Two Warthogs!
Thank you Fairchild for the Great Equalizer that the A10 is.
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# A&N 2010-03-23 06:45
Saw your work on Fox too....awesome photos Mike. Great job as usual. Thanks
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# shawn nottingham 2010-03-23 06:47
Any airman to have had any contact with the A-10 dosent need anything but a picture of it to stir up emotions of an underated thing of beauty. Its not pretty,like alot of us,but it gets the job done.So long england afb La.You are missed.
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# A&N 2010-03-23 06:49
Years ago we watched these A 10s practicing over the desert around Tucson, AZ. out of Davis Monthan Air Base. They are beautiful . Always sent a shiver up your spine to watch them.
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# Jim 2010-03-23 06:51
WHat is often forgotten about these birds is just how tough they are. The weaponry and agility are often hot topics on this plane, but the sheer ability to support flight even when heavily damaged is a thing of beauty on this plane. Many gulf war veterans have stories of how they were shot up and shot at and the plane kept on rolling like it was another day at the park. The Pilot sits in a tub inside the cockpit that can withstand 20mm gunfire! There was one particular instance of an A10 during Desert Storm that was unbelievable. This one plane had taken a direct hit from anti aircraft weapon that pierced a hole in the wing the size of a dinner table. The debris was ingested into the right turbofan, which typically means the motor will be completely disabled. Not in this case! Not only did the A10 return successfully to base with the huge hole in the wing, but the engine merely "burped and chugged" before continuing to provide thrust to assist in getting the plane home safe. Testimony that this "ugly" bird is unbelievably tough!
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# James R McCain 2010-03-23 06:53
The A-10s are awesome. My cousin was an A10 jock and instructor pilot with the 917th. There are a couple of errors in the story. A-10 30mm rounds will most certainly completely penetrate the walls of an Afghan home with ease especially the depeleted uranium armor piercing rounds and the HE rounds would make short work of them. Also while the A10 30 mm cannon is slanted downhill to help with sighting the planes cant fly level as any video will show the angle of attack is just much less. They are awesome machines and this was a tribute to them.
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# Marcus 2010-03-23 07:00
At leasty one of those A-10s is from Fort Smith, AR. They used to fly F-16s. This is their first deployment with the 'new' aircraft. Tusk 'em Hogs!
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# Josh 2010-03-23 07:04
Nice work Mike! Your stats on the ordnance is spot on. I was an Air Force AMMO troop with the A-10s at Bagram in 06. keep it up.
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# LA DOc 2010-03-23 07:05
That's the prettiest aircraft I've ever seen.
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# Rescueman 2010-03-23 07:13
I loved the picture of the HH-60 flying over the A-10, what an amazing pair of USAF aircraft. Arguably the two most important capabilities the USAF provides to our combatant commands, and unfortunately to two of the most poorly supported. The AF and Congress need to support the great Airmen who fly and maintain these by ensuring we have enough of them. They have some of the highest optempo of any forces in all of DoD!!!
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# Droozer 2010-03-23 07:13
I remember the training flights of an A-10 reserve unit based at Richards-Gebaue r in Kansas City in the late 80s, early 90s. The way the planes could dance at tree top levels was amazing. Like IronMike posted, they often used I-35 for target practice. There is nothing like driving down a road and having an A-10 coming from the opposite direction 40 ft above you.
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# NK 2010-03-23 07:15
A venerable aircraft designed and assembled on Long Island. Aircraft is a bit of a misnomer, it is a flying cannon. The airframe is literally built around the gun. One of my college roomates wrote the flight simulator program for Fairchild-Repub lic back in 78-79. His boss told him to allow the instrument only landing program to go to negative 50 feet before exploding. His reason? all of the lieu. cols.and majors who were coming into the flight program through the simulator would fly 'seat of the pants' rather than the needles, and on landing take the simulator to negative 50 feet 'feeling' for the ground, and the program should call them on it. And they did just that.
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# nahkhii 2010-03-23 07:18
Great to see those Hawgs! As a mechanic and aircraft maintenance officer with experience on more than half a dozen airframes in over 20 years of active duty, I found them to be the best aircraft in the inventory; great at what they were designed to do and easy to maintain. Not as pretty as the go fast types, but as I was taught as a young lieutenant by a Vietnam veteran air-to-ground pilot, wars are won by killing the enemy on the ground by the dozens, hundreds or thousands, not one at a time at 20 thousand feet.
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# Jack Spectre 2010-03-23 07:19
The A-10 is my favorite warplane of all time. It's a warrior designed for getting it's hands dirty and coming home alive. Another excellent dispatch as usual. BTW you are the only blogger I've ever donated to.
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# Darrell 2010-03-23 07:21
Those 30mm guns... someone once said, "If dragons were real, that's what dragons would sound like..."
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# Don McGee 2010-03-23 07:22
What a nice piece of work, Mr. Yon. Outstanding!
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# Voodoo 6 2010-03-23 07:25
Nothing better than being on the ground in a developing situation and look up to see a Hawg laying some flares to say hello...
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# Joshua 2010-03-23 07:27
Background on the A-10 retirement myths - having grown up around them at the 917th and served around Hog drivers elsewhere, here's my two cents: planners tried to keep the ugly old fella out of Desert Storm and use only F-16s for CAS. That fellow was asked to retire. After the A-10 earned its keep in the Gulf some folks wanted to get rid of it in the drawdown that followed. The Army said they'd happily take them and the AF decided they wanted to hang on to the Hogs after all. After OEF and OIF kicked off and once again the Hog proved itself, upgrades in the works for years were finally applied, though the serving fleet was reduced by about a third. The remaining aircraft are receiving avionics upgrades to include glass cockpits, Sniper targeting pods (I think), and some other goodies that also make it more suitable to counter-insurge ncy warfare in addition to its CAS capabilities. Unfortunately, the planned engine upgrades were scrapped due to cost - a situation of one upgrade or the other. In the meantime, the production line at Ogden opened back up and new tail numbers will join the upgraded A-10C fleet. Last I read, these mean bastards are scheduled to be around until 2028.
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# Gregg Edwards 2010-03-23 07:32
Great work Michael! Keep safe!
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# KMO 2010-03-23 07:40
I have always loved these aircraft. I grew up in the southern Adirondack mountains, and the A-10's based somewhere down near Albany would fly over our house on a regular basis. I have been in the mountains watching them fly 'nap of the Earth' and it is astounding what these birds can do. There was one time I recall where I was looking DOWN on the A-10 from one of the hills near the Sacandaga Reservoir, and he was flying straight at me before he pulled up and went over my head at maybe 200 ft AGL. Totally awesome. I have never thought of them as ugly, I think they are very cool looking. Definitely a case of form following function, but a huge amount of thought went into making them almost impervious to light arms fire from the ground and it shows in the design. The whole thing is basically a flying cannon, with other armament to round out the capabilities.
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# Trashhauler 2010-03-23 07:42
A couple of corrections to comments:

The A-10's formal name is the Thunderbolt II. Its pilots gave it the name "Warthog," as a way of showing their cheerful affection for the beast.

2. It's funny how those stories about the Air Force not liking the Warthog and CAS not being a desired mission always seem to come from people who haven't worn an Air Force flight suit. Every unit that can drop bombs practices CAS every day. Sometimes it is necessary to use something with a bit of speed just to get to the fight in time, so fast movers do CAS as well. (Two of my pilot training classmates - including my roommate - died while practicing CAS. Neither was flying an A-10.) When the Wall fell, the Air Force was reduced by 40% and the Army no longer thought it would fight against massive tank formations. So most of the A-10s were parked until the First Gulf War showed that we still needed them. The decision was siimilar to the Navy mothballing most P-3 sub hunting aircaft around the same time. It wasn't because "fighter pilots like fast aircraft."

One nice feature about the A-10 was the ability to be "hot turned," which means it could be routinely refueled and rearmed with the engines running. It's not needed or done now, but was a necessity in Central Europe given the possibility of attacks by enemy aircraft on our forward operating bases.
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# Chuck McKinley 2010-03-23 07:53
I was a "Load Toad" on the A-10s back in the 80s at England AFB, LA working for the 74th AMU, 23 AGS, the "Flying Tigers." This brought back so many good memories, especially seeing the GBUs (I remember when they first came out) and remembering trying to get them loaded without "busting the load." I was fortunate enough to work A-10s not only at England AFB, but also at Suwon, Korea. These were my first jet, and I've never lost that love for them. It's good to see them still in action and glad to see they are still appreciated by our sister service. Hang tough fellow loaders and pilots. You are still making a difference in this world!!!
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# L Rodriguez 2010-03-23 07:53
I remember scanning the National Training Center horizon during training operations and seeing the business end of the A-10 focused on me, the opposing forces (OPFOR) grunt on the ground. I was glad those A-10's were on our side overseas! One hears nothing of its approach until it's too late. My father flew an A-1E in close support in Vietnam -- that aircraft was slower, uglier and just about as old then! Now my son will be a grunt on the ground in Afghanistan with the A-10 on our side. Keep em' flying! Great job, Michael Yon.
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# Norton Jackson 2010-03-23 07:54
What a fabulous article... the Warthog is a tremendous piece of equipment and it really gets the enemy's attention when it arrives on site. Our thoughts and prayers are with our brave soldiers and their families back home. When I'm flying commercially, these are the gentlemen I like to see up front!
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# Willy Grover 2010-03-23 07:56
Broke my heart when they Brac'd Willow Grove. Worked on the A-10's since 1989. Deployed everywhere with them. Nothing gives you a reality check more abrubtly than catching a jet with clean wings that you launched earlier full up. Got caught up in a battle between a blue state govenor and a red state president.
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# John Siwicki 2010-03-23 07:58
The other day I was taking a bicycle ride out on country roads near Lexington, Michigan and all of a sudden heard a jet very close. I looked up and it was a Warthog less than 100 feet over my head, a second later another one passed over at the same low altitude. I assume they were flying out of Selfrdge ANG base in Mt. Clemens which is about 40 miles south of Lexington. This morning two flew right over the house about 30 to 50 feet above the trees. Again, I didn't see or hear them until they were directly above and going past - which means if I were the enemy I would have been dead about 15 seconds before I would have known they were there.
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# Jason Cleck 2010-03-23 08:01
M.Y., Great article on a forgotten (but most effective) airplane. Recognized one of my babies from the MDANG right away. Thanks for the great read!. Jason
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# George 2010-03-23 08:06
The unit currently in Afgan is the 188th FW/184th FS from Fort Smith, AR. Currently, two ANG units will share 4 month deployment cycles,(2 mos each). Baltimore flew those aircraft over there and flew them for the first two months, and Ft Smith will fly the last two months and them fly them back. I believe some of the MD pilots stayed for the transition, possibly longer. So the 184th FS is there right now, protecting our forces. About 1/2 the jets are from MD, the other half from AR.
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# Johncs 2010-03-23 08:10
My USMC helo squadron worked with A-10's practicing SAR, Escort, and CASEVAC in 2002. Terrific aircraft and squadrons that fly it. Grunts of the sky. Wish the USMC had them.
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# macho79 2010-03-23 08:12
I flew the Hog in the late 80's and early 90's in Europe and spent a lttle time over the gulf during Desert Storm. Just a little clarification - the A-10's were not part of the original deployment package to support Desert Storm. When the AF Commander met up with Stormin Norman, it was Schwartzkof who demanded A-10s be part of the package. The original AF plan was to have all A-10's out of the active inventory by 1995, until Desert Storm saved them. They had A-10's doing things you wouldn't believe - they were truly the war horses of the battlefield. The upgrades came after I left the AF, its good to see the venerable ol' Hawg get its recognition. It was a great plane and a great mission.
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# jsanmac 2010-03-23 08:13
Thanks for a super article highlighting the business end of the A-10. I was a member of the Test & Evaluation Office in the A-10 SPO during its development during 1973-76. My job was to plan and manage the stores certification developement and testing. That means makiing sure the armament system was designed and produced properly and that all the various bombs, missiles, rockets, external gun pods, or anything else that hangs from an A-10 pylon could be safely carried and dropped without damaging the aircraft. I did just about everything in the testing phase except fly the aircraft. And what a magnificent fighting machine is that aircraft. I was on the radio during one test where we dropped a full load of 500 lb bombs in a 45 degree dive at 450 knots. Our test aircraft had recently been fitted with leading edge slats on the inboard section of the wings, in order to correct the flow of air into the engines at high angles of attack. The contractor pilot radioed, "Bombs away", then calmly stated, "The left slat has departed the aircraft and impacted the left engine. I am shutting down the engine and request permission for priority landing." He was very calm, while those of us listening in the radio room said, "WHAT???" He landed the aircraft without further incident. We tested the Maverick missile using live missiles and fired them at tanks over at the Navy Test Range at China Lake. Blew the heck out of those tanks, but burned the paint off the bottom of the vertical stabiler (tail) of the A-10, so they put an ablative coating on that part of the tail. Later, we loaded the plane with live bombs on multiple ejector racks for a tactical test at a nearby range in Nevada. One of those live bombs hung in the ejector rack on one of its two lugs and the pilot had to make an emergency landing at the range. We did a lot of ground testing to find the cause, which turned out to be a bad lot of ejector cartridges. I am very proud of that aircraft and its capabilities. It looks very beautiful to me.
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# MAJ Mike Bonine - SOCOM 2010-03-23 08:16
On my last patrol in the Sunni Triangle of Death (an aptly named region just south of Baghdad) in March of 2007, we were taking some serious 82mm mortar fire from local insurgents. An A-10 was on station, providing Close Air Support (CAS) to our battalion. As we hunkered down, that A-10 rolled in and with one short burst from that GAU-8 30mm cannon, the insurgent mortar team was obliterated. There is an A-10 driver out there to whom I still owe a cold beer for that one. Thanks Warthogs!
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# Jack E. Hammond 2010-03-23 08:19
Folks,

If you look at one of the head on photos of the A-10 you will notice that the nose landing gear is on the side and the cannon is mounted directly in the center. The reason is the 30mm cannon is so powerful when fired that actually slows the aircraft down in forward speed. If the cannon was mounted to the side the firing would cause the aircraft to move to the side!

The first unit A-10 unit to be dispatched to Saudi Arabia was based in South Carolina. That unit was suppose to start retiring their A-10s and replacing them with F-16s. One disadvantage of the early A-10s was they had no auto pilot. And when you are flying an aircraft across the Atlantic and refueling in mid air that is going slower than a WW2 P-51 Mustang, not having an auto pilot is a pain. The USAF did try one unit in Desert Storm with F-16s mounting a podded three barrel 30mm cannon on its center pylon -- ie you can't do it with the pods mounted on the wing pylon the wing pylons, because if when you fire, one pod does not fire or does not fire in sync with the other pod, it will cause the aircraft to go out of control.

Jack E. Hammond

.
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# Udo 2010-03-23 08:32
If anyone wants to find out what it's like to be close to the business end of an A-10, just head over to Avon Park in Florida, and go hiking on the Florida Trail through there. I did that some years ago. The trail goes right through the range (unless something has now changed). When I hiked in nothing happened, but I got a rude awakening the next morning when I heard sharp explosions (100 yards away approx), a sound like a car driving over a steel grill bridge, then the whining sound of shrapnel going through the trees overhead. I spent the next two hours keeping my head low while I hiked out. The A-10's kept strafing the areas beside the trail. An interesting experience. They were easily a mile or more away when they opened fire, so 100 yards of deflection wouldn't take much. I hoped the pilot didn't sneeze while firing.
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# Wayne Brownell 2010-03-23 08:42
I was a proud ground pounder who had the honor to participate in five National Training Center rotations, Fort Irwin CA, in the late 80s and early 90s. Watching them beautiful beasts go in while your unit is in the valley of death, or from Brigade Hill, or hear the dragon's roar at the live fire ranges, at north Ft Irwin, was memory stirrer. Now seeing your photos brings back the heart pounding excitement I had watching the A10 fly. As a side note, prior to my getting out in 92, the USAF had changed their close air support understanding with the Army. Following the blue on blue incidents in DS/DS USAF would go out to 30 kms from forward line of troops (FLOT) and commence their close air support missions. Glad to see that has changed.
Wayne
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# Jonathan Devens 2010-03-23 08:46
Great pics and words.
Lived for a while up in Vermont where, I believe, they made (make?) the cannon (GE?)
I used to drive to school through the Jericho/Underhi ll area where they had a test firing range for the cannons.
Always knew when they were firing! BRAAAAAAAAPPPPP P! (sorry, close as I can get!_
I also remember the VTANG used to fly Phantoms (back in the 80's) and I would love to watch them fly around the area- Awesome! They would do mock dogfights over I-89 and I'd pull to the shoulder and watch.
Used to deliver pizzas to the base and they'd let me peek into the planes- I remember peeking into the cockpits of the F-16's after they transitioned to them from the F-4. Used to drive right up onto the flightline and park my car 20 ft from the F-16's...... something tells me that's no longer the case!
God bless these brave men; Pilots, ground crews.... everybody over there; And those with the guts to stand with us.
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# heyboom 2010-03-23 08:53
Thanks to those in the know who are defending the Warthog from some of the negative comments. Nice to hear from you folks. I had the good fortune to serve as a boom operator in the KC-135 and the KC-10 back in the 80's. Had a chance to refuel the A-10 on many occasions. Two incidents come to mind; one mission over Germany, had a newbie doing refueling training, and he overshot the contact. I raised the boom to get it out of the way but when he looked up he got into a PIO. The side of his nose hit the end of the boom and put a big gash in it just to the left of the cannon. The flight lead looked at it and decided to head home, so I always take credit for one kill in my career! The second was when we departed the Azores with four A-10's to drag back to New Hampshire. We were scheduled to refuel them right after level off, but we were both still too heavy...we couldn't fly slow enough, even with gear and flaps down and they couldn't fly fast enough (they each had six wing tanks, if I recall correctly). The refueling speed for the A-10 was 200 KIAS, the same as a C-130. By contrast, the F-15 refueling speed was 315 KIAS. I consider those who flew it to be very lucky, indeed.
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# J Lindsay 2010-03-23 08:53
" I have heard many times that Warthog pilots are at a career disadvantage to fighter pilots, and it is obvious to me that the Air Force would prefer to concentrate on pretty fighter jets, rather than ugly (but extremely useful) close-air support planes.
Lee Keller King , March 23, 2010 "

Lee: That would be wrong. This A-10 is what the jocks love. It is greasy nasty, dirty and like the F-4 Phantom, a double-ugly. But they LOVE it trust me. Especially when it evokes the love you see from the ground pounders.
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# Kenny Komodo 2010-03-23 09:04
Thanks Michael for another terrific story and pictures.
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# Alexander D. Mitchell IV 2010-03-23 09:11
My thanks for your coverage. As it turns out, we know Lt. Col. Murphy:

http://beerinbaltimore.blogspot.com/2010/03/baltimore-beer-drinker-abroad.html
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# Greg 2010-03-23 09:23
I live in Tucson AZ ...we are honored to have the 355th TFW and thier A-10's based here. I have been raised watching the warthogs fly over our city all the time .... it is such a war plane and a symbol of great American engineering , graceful yet deadly. People say the aircraft is ugly .... I have ever seen a more beautiful aircraft ever! ( F-15 is close second)

Warthogs forever !
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# Orion 2010-03-23 09:27
I love this plane - I'm an Army Chinook maintainer, but hey! There was a story I heard that supposedly took place during Desert Storm. An interrogator asked an Iraqi prisoner how they knew that A-10's were operating in their area. He replied, "Stuff starts exploding."

Seems about right.

Orion
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# Sean D. 2010-03-23 09:27
The GAU cannon will NOT stall the A-10. This is a persistant myth that goes along with the aircraft's mystic.

http://www.economicexpert.com/a/GAU:8.htm

The article explains in more detail. Semper Fi.
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# Will Cushman 2010-03-23 09:47
Another great Dispatch.

The Air Force has made lots of noise about getting rid of the A-10s- not glamorous enough for the fighter jocks who call the shots, I guess. Why not transfer the units to the Army? That way the fighter jocks could have their hi tech, high cost Space Cadet rides and the ground troops could have an additional tightly integrated ground support resource.
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# Jack The Fac 2010-03-23 09:51
The greatest aircraft I ever flew was (and is) the A-10. "Hogdrivers" were also a great community of aviators - not so much dash; an overload of determination, skill and guts. My hat is off to those still flying the mighty Hog-C version against America's enemies. The best picture on the wall in my bar is an A-10 taxiing out for a mission with the following quote from the Bible below:

"And when the Angel opened the next seal, there appeared a Pale Rider on a Grey Steed. Death was his name and Hell followed after him."

Check six and throw a nickel on the grass for me! Great article and coverage, Michael.
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# Marvin D. 2010-03-23 09:56
As a former Army Air Defender (Duck Hunter), I am glad they are are on our side. I remember participating in exercises in Fort Polk, LA back in the 80s. The A-10s would clean our clocks. They would fly just above tree level and you couldn't hear them until they passed you. Then they would turn and be right on top of you before you could blink.

Great story and fond memories.
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# brian pratt 2010-03-23 09:59
Do not fail to cature the human aspect of these photos. The looks of perserverance and determination make me proud. God bless America!
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# Michael Hoger 2010-03-23 10:10
Back in the late 70's and early 80's the A-10's used to make bomb runs over the area we deer hunted in central WI. The pilots were so low that we could see them wave at us. It's great to see that this awsome machine is still doing the job for our team and the Brit's. God's speed to our men and women in the armed services...my son is a U.S. Marine.
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# troychief162 2010-03-23 10:29
When I was in Jbad from 04-05 we would occasionally see A-10's fly over or around, taking care of business. Always brought a smile to my face and gave me a good feeling to know they were around. God Bless the pilots that fly them.
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+1 # RE: WarthogWes 2010-03-23 10:30
Full team, 1/2 a team, I don't care. If I could have a 'hog' available in the sky during the day and a Spectre to tuck me in at night, that is livin' large. And woe be to the interlopers.
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# deadgeneral24 2010-03-23 10:43
The A-10 is a fantastic bit of hardware. I was lucky enough to have one in support of my unit while pushing North along HWY 1 into Baghdad back in '03. The pilot took out a T55 and T62 tank along with 3 BMPs and a number of dismounted infantry in one quick pass with it's cannon. Absolutely awesome to witness and more importantly spared us a great deal of risk. The 30mm literally turns a human being into a vapor. Semper Fi Warthog
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# Mark Holdgrafer 2010-03-23 10:47
I was a Huey crewchief for 1/4 Cavalry at Ft. Riley KS in the mid 80's and we would get the occasional Warthog support on our training missions. It is quite an impressive sight to have a Warthog fly directly over the top of your Huey right after you set down to pick up a recon team. Their moves really did seem to defy physics.
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# John F Welch 2010-03-23 11:23
Michael Yon the Warthog was developed as a counter to Russian tanks in Europe little did we know it would finally be accorded it's just reward. Its outstanding range, pilot protection and fan engines make it a great ground attack weapon. My 100 Missions over North Vietnam in an F 4 leaves me to believe that it could have served well there also.
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# mike1234 2010-03-23 11:27
thank god for you yanks.2 days ago the british goverment were forced to say how much money from the uk coffers are spent on the uk armed forces. it works out at 0.27 cents out of every dollar raised in taxes.yes 0.27 cents .or 3 billion pounds per year.but our benifit bill for unmarried mothers illigal immigrants so called aysslum seekers was 187 billion pounds.so thank god for america
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# Di 2010-03-23 11:28
My grandfather worked on the gunning systems of these planes and worked on writing the technical/maint enance manuals for them while in Tucson. i heard from my family that when the first gulf war happened, he received some phone calls on how to fix some issues they were having. I'm just so proud that not only was he a hero in the army in WWII but his work as a civilian Air Force employee is helping to protect soldiers even now, after his death.
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# Jimbo 2010-03-23 11:29
Back in the late 80's, when I was a cadet, I would drill with NYS National Guard units up at Ft. Drum - for fun - on weekends. I recall practicing driving around an M113 in a huge open area and seeing these warthogs coming in. First time I saw one, I couldn't help but notice it was coming straight at me from long off. Just for the heck of it (and b/c I was practicing my driving) I made a sharp left turn. The warthog immediately turned to his right and stayed on me. I figured it was a coincidence, but decided to make a sharp right turn back. Again, right away, this guy kept his nose on me. Some sort of primal feeling made all my hair stand on end. So I started going back and forth as hard as I could like a maniac and this plane just stayed on me like glue and coming in fast. It passed over me - dead on me - at about 250 feet and about a second later I heard BBBRRRRWWWAAAPP ! Holy Shit! That guy was trackin me with LIVE AMMO, and I was next to a live fire range! (Guys in my track were all screamin WTF?! ha ha.) They kept doing that. "Boys from Syracuse" I think they were. Good training. Very glad they were on my side.
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# Fellow MDANG Member 2010-03-23 11:31
Thanks Maryland ANG. You guys ROCK!!!
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# Carl Youngblood 2010-03-23 11:55
Needs to check facts . The bullets don't fly in a laser-like stream, but sort of spray in a lethal mist,A-10 cannons are tilted down so that the pilot can fly level while strafing. both FALSE
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# Jim R. 2010-03-23 12:02
Minor correction: The IR flares launched from the SUU-25s are LUU-19s (not BLU-19).
Great article, but wish you'd put in a full shot of the Warthog nose art!
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# tez 2010-03-23 12:05
so why are you losing?
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# lcdrugo 2010-03-23 12:13
With all the Warthog love notes being traded in these comments I feel the need to give respect to the Reaper photo. Robots need love too!
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# Shortimer52 2010-03-23 12:36
Before the Iraq war kicked off I was at a base where F-16, F-18, Harrier, and these guys took off. I always knew the sound when they took off you could hear that engine. While we were fighting our way to Baghdad in March 2003 I saw one of these bad boys go toe to toe with some Iraq military. I’ll never forget it and it freaked me out how loud that gun was, sounded like the devil screaming. Still makes the hair on my arms stand up. Being that I was an anti tank guy on the ground I always thought of the A-10 as my brothers in the sky.
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# Mark 2010-03-23 12:37
When I was in the IL Army NG in the 80's we often trained at Ft. McCoy, WI. I was awestruck each time I watched these magnificent aircraft making their runs over the bombing range. We could see the brownish smoke pouring out of their 30mm cannons more than a few seconds before we could hear the guttural growl of the firing. Often the A-10's would turn completely on their sides, seemingly barely above the ground, and make absolutely shocking turns to the left or right. At night we'd see the flares and hear the trademark staccato burping sound, often followed by a flash and a rumble as they released something nasty on some unseen and mangled piece of obsolete military hardware. As an infantryman, I thanked God these machines and these pilots were on our side and must admit I drew great comfort in knowing so. Great topic and great job or reporting, Michael! Thanks!
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# deogi 2010-03-23 12:48
Since the 30mm will not penetrate Afgan walls does that mean it won't penetrate s**t. Sorry could not pass up on that.
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# SPortz 2010-03-23 12:57
At Ft Riley KS during tank maneuvers, you would see the A-10's fly over from Topeka to go play. During GLFW 1, I lived with a friend in a "berm" home meaning it was buried to the roof on one side. Only took a couple times of them circling the house to figure out that from the air, it probably looked like a bunker and the A-10's were lighting us up. Roommate and I discussed painting a bed sheet with red cross-hairs and attaching it to the roof, but decided against it....
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# msavwah 2010-03-23 13:29
Have been fascinated with A-10's since the first time I saw and heard one strafe a range in training. The 30mm just sounds absolutely sick!
I had never seen a picture or a video of one so I was completely blown away with this thing when first introduced to it in action.
First impression was something like "WTF WAS THAT?! I Love it!!
Could never imagine the pucker factor being on the business end of one of these things.

Coming from the airborne infantry, the only other USAF fixed-wing airframe that compares is Spooky and that is because they are both family in a very special way and in a class of their own.

My favorite picture here is the flare dispensers, have never seen that before. Very cool
Thx Michael.

Oh and im down with the robot love too!
Those things are mind boggling.
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# Larry Stack 2010-03-23 13:51
Bravo Zulu Mike! Fantastic work!!
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# Dom 2010-03-23 14:03
Great story, as ever, Michael. Thanks!

Been a long time fan of the Hog since being a teenager in England in the 80s. I lived about 20 miles up the coast from an RAF bombing range, and over the years I saw just about every ground attack/strike aircraft in NATO service fly past to use the range. I loved hearing the whistle of the turbofans throttling back whenever a pair of A10s flew by (often only a few dozen feet above the level of the 70 foot high cliff-top near my house!), but the weirdest sound was a grating noise that sounded like heavy furniture being dragged across a wooden floor. Had me baffled for weeks, until I realised it was the sound of A10 cannon fire from 20 miles distant!
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# JG 2010-03-23 14:05
There is no better aircraft suited for the job that the A-10 does. There is nothing currently on the drawing board to replace it except for the F35. The F-35 is a far cry from an A-10 and will never be able to compare to the weapons and armament that the A-10 can carry and deliver. The A-10C is second to none when it comes to ground support aircraft. Good article, again the gun pointing down is news to me too.
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# Rob Hutchins 2010-03-23 14:13
I cut my teeth on the A-10 as a weapons load crew member (3 man). I was assigned to the 23TFW from 88 - 91 and the 917th FW from 91 - 92. I've worked F-16's since but the A-10 will always be my favorite. Awesome aiframe. The A-10 is one of the easiest airframs to work from a weapons perspective. I can only imagine what they are like now with all the upgrades.
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# War Pig 2010-03-23 14:28
Y'all should be quiet now. All this praise for a perfect weapon will surely offend the current regime. The Boys & I from Myrtle Beach, secured these magnificent hellions at King Fahd International Airport, Saudi Arabia during Desert Shield/Storm.
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# Tony Dultz 2010-03-23 14:30
640 was my aircraft from 1996 until it went to grow up to be an A-10C. It was once assigned to the 104th in Mass. I miss this working on this jet every day. Glad to see it is still raking care of business and it looks great. Great article, thanks for sending chills up my spine and a smile on my face!
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# Gene 2010-03-23 14:48
The article was very good, but had very little information about the capabilities of the WartHog. It's probably the best close air support aircraft ever built, what with its ability to loiter over the battlefield and its redundant control systems. I won't go into a lot of detail here, but look up A-10 on Wikipedia and you'll be even more amazed by this supposedly "obsolete" aircraft.
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# CM 2010-03-23 14:51
Back in '76, I would watch the trial birds flying over Davis Monthan- Saturdays were special, while working as a volunteer at the Pima County Air Museum...
In the '80's, going across the line with the Canadian Reserves to Yakima, we'd watch the '10's strafing on the ranges next door to our trace...
To this day, I run all my computers with an A10 cursor, courtesy of the defunct ACC website of the mid '00's..
A very special article for me, Mr. Yon- keep up the outstanding work1
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# Hugh 2010-03-23 14:53
I was a jet engine mech on these birds in the early 80's at Myrtle Beech, S.C. and loved ever minute of it.
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# shawn scott 2010-03-23 15:02
Back in the 80's when i was a kid my dad would take me over to Warren Grove, a firing range in the Pine Barrens of NJ. I t was awesome! like a personal airshow. F4, A4, F16 and A7 would come in for there strafing or bomb runs, but the one we really enjoyed was the A-10. The incredible flatulating sound of the big cannon letting loose nearly stopping the plane in mid flight. then the hard high arcing bank left....ooooh the memories! THe other memory is at a NASCAR race at dover where they did a 2-ship A-10 flyover then one of them came back and did a lap INSIDE the race track!
Thank you A-10 pilots and crew and all of our amazing US military, keep up the great work! wish i was there with you.
Thank you Michael for the great article!
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# Matthew Chisholm 2010-03-23 15:08
I remember the first time I saw an A-10 was on MCAS Iwakuni, Japan in 1983 or ealry 84. Impressive then, impressive now. I've never understood why the Marine Corps didn't buy any of these... it couldn't be THAT tought to beef up the gear for carrier landings and/or fold the wings, or whatever the reason was.

Great report, as usual.
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# jp 2010-03-23 15:47
I see a pulitzer here for Mr Michael Yon...very well done and reported
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# Jarvi 2010-03-23 16:08
This by far is my favorite, I recall driving through the back woods of Wisconsin only to look in my rear view mirror finding two hogs tracking my every move.
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# Whitelightning 2010-03-23 16:40
If i remember right didn't they have the "P-39 AIR-COBRA.It had a 20mm cannon mounted in the nose &
they USED IT FOR CLOSE AIR SUPPORT in WW2....Just a little history.Unfortu natly the russiians got ahold of
it with the LEND-LEASE program.It ws a beast TOO.Anyone can elaborate?
Ken&Whitelightning(British restored TriumphSpitfire )
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# WHITELIGHTNING 2010-03-23 16:49
WERE CLOSE AIR SUPPORT AIRCRAFT. WITH MIDENGINE SHAFT DRIVEN.FOR GROUND SUPPORT.
W/20 MM CANNON.VERY EFFECTIVE AT GROUND LEVEL.
BELL AIRCRAFT MFG.
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# Fred Barnabe 2010-03-23 17:22
When comparing the A-10 to any other fighter jet, it is the "young bull old bull " story. The A-10 being the old bull of course.
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# Mallory 2010-03-23 17:55
Thanks for the article and great pics. My husband is with the 175th Wing - MD ANG and just got back from Kandahar. He works in AMMO and is responsible for making, delivering and loading the ammunition on the A-10s!
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# Scooter 2010-03-23 18:12
Dominican Republic designed A-10 Warhog. Great plane of all time!
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# simon no 2010-03-23 18:23
I saw a pair of A-10s over Sacandaga also. It was in the mid 1980's and I was in a boat with friends taking turns water skiing. We were at the north end of the lake near the dam. I think the lake is a big landmark in a lightly populated area. It is easy to find for navigation.
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# HawgDriver 2010-03-23 18:43
Emotive article, but it and some of the comments are factually as full of holes as a T-55 on the Highway of Death. Having flown the A-10 in three wars in three theaters (Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq), I can tell you that the Air Force does NOT want to get rid of the Warthog, nor would we ever give up the CAS mission. The gun is NOT canted downward and is not centerline boresighted to keep the aircraft from going out of control. Nor does the force of firing slow the aircraft down, albeit when 2,000 pounds are spinning at 4,000 RPM the old "right-hand-rul e" does cause the nose of the aircraft to tuck. The only mist that comes from the gun is the mist that is left of what the GAU-8 30mm cannon was shooting. Mud walls offer no protection from even our training rounds. However, we WILL support our Army and USMC (and USAF JTAC) brothers unto our last round, last drop of gas, and last breath.
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# Art Durante 2010-03-23 18:46
In 2003, just after the invasion of Iraq, I was with a unit in Baghdad. We had gotten mortared from an old abandoned factory building nearby. An A-10 was called in to deal with the problem. I had been in the Army a long time by then, and I had seen and heard them at the National Training Center many times. I thought I knew what to expect...but I was wrong. I had never been on the ground under them when they went in for REAL! It was awesome! There is no way to put into printed words that great burping, chugging, roaring, BLASTING sound they make. It is truly the sound a dragon would make if there were dragons. The cheers from the soldiers on the ground were loud enough to be heard by the pilot. The sound of those turbofan engines is with me today as it was then. Combat - mortar explosions - soldiers screaming - A10s diving in - cannon fire - rounds exploding - debris flying into the air -- It all added up to an adrenalin high that took hours to wear off. Thanks guys, and thanks to you Michael.
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# Jack E. Hammond 2010-03-23 19:11
Folks,

I wrote an article on the A-10A in the early 1980s for one of those SOF type magazines that ever magazine publisher was putting out (Hey, it paid the bills!) "The 30mm Cannon and the Stall" story. To wit, when the 30mm cannon was first fired in test, there was a problem engine "compressor stall" with the ingestion of the cannon gases, into on or both of the engines. So the newspapers got the story and wrote it as "flight stall" which is when an aircraft goes to slow and looses lift. Two different animals. Its a common problem with about all jets they have to come up with a fix. The "fix" Fairchild came up with was that cover you see on the front of the six barrels at the nose of the A-10.

Also, a recent article in an aviation magazine whose reporter went to the main A-10 squadron for training pilots, stated that firing the A-10 30mm cannon is a "perishable skill" and he likes pilots to get to fire the cannon at least one time a week. Also, with the improved C models of the A-10 they have new gun sight connected to GPS they can hit targets at 5 miles range. On one aviation forum I asked a retired A-10 pilot who flew the A-10 in the 1980s. He stated that is a great improvement. Although he said they trained firing the 30mm cannon firing HEI rounds at extreme distances in a sort of lobe mode (think of aiming the garden hose at the kids playing) with decreased accuracy as an area weapon to keep the bad guys with antiair weapons heads down.

Jack E. Hammond

.
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# trashhauler 2010-03-23 19:16
Some commenter posted: "the A-10's were not part of the original deployment package to support Desert Storm."

That's wrong. I was an airlift flow cell chief in the Military Airlift Command (MAC) CAT on the day we began to respond to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. The A-10s at Myrtle Beach were the unchanging highest priority Air Force assets in an often-changed priority list validated by HQ USCENTCOM. The duty ready brigage (DRB) of the 82nd Airborne was sometimes before, sometimes after, depending on the latest frantic message from Tampa. Anti-tank TOW missiles and launchers were also right up there while we waited for the armored division equipment to arrive by sea. As I recall, the only unit consistently getting higher priority for airlift in the first days was the CENTCOM HQ itself.

The A-10s were always right up front in the Air Force deployment package.
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# Jack E. Hammond 2010-03-23 19:21
Folks,

The original cannon for the USAAF and Russian P-39s was a 37mm cannon. That was why the Russians like the P-39s they got. The British ordered the P-39 designated the P-400 which had the 37mm cannon replaced with a 20mm cannon. The British did not like the P-400 and the USAAF took them and sent them to the SE Pacific and the USAAF pilots "hated" the P-37 or the P-400. Neither had the ability to get to altitude and were dead meat with the Zeroes out of Lae. (trivia: the first P-400 tested had four .303 machine guns mounted in the nose above the prop spinner, but the British went back to two .303s above the prop and two .303s in each wing - ie the Pacific the USAAF put two .50 calibers above the prop)

The P-63 solved the problems of altitude that the P-37 and P-400 had. It could be fitted with either a 37mm cannon or a 20mm cannon. Most were sent as Lease Lend to the Free French Air Force or the Red Air Force.

The 37mm cannon was not a high velocity weapon like the US 37mm antitank cannon. But a medium velocity weapon. But if a 37mm HE shell hit an aircraft, that aircraft was a goner.

The Russians say it is a myth that they wanted the P-37 because it was a great ground attack aircraft. Most air to air engagements over the Eastern Front in Europe took place at 10,000 feet or lower. And they stated it was an excellent fighter for engaging other aircraft. Which is the reason that Stalin sent a letter to FDR asking that the P-37 have #1 priority.

Jack E. Hammond

.
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# Drak 2010-03-23 19:56
I was serving with the 451st EAMXS (175th AMXS normally) and would like to thank Mr. Yon for his excellent work putting this article together. I was there when he was working on this peice. All of the men pictured in this article I am proud to call my comrades and all served extremely well. I have been working on this jet for the last 5 years and in Air Force parlance have a "7 level" in Armament (just as to add a little wieght to my comments). There is a very popular myth that the Gun will slow the jet down, as cool as this sounds, it doesnt. In fact a number of systems are built into the jet to keep the gun from effecting the flight of the aircraft (Rounds limiting by the GCU, wing slats and engine ignitors). During our combat trour in Afghanistan we flew LU-19 flares for IR illumination. Very helpful for NVG equipped pilots attempting helicopter insertions. The LU-2 flares are the "illuminators" with 2-million candle power. Also, it is nice to see that there are so many fans of our nasty, ugly jet. The A-10C conversion has been incredibly painful. And as advanced as this jet is now, it didnt come with out a price. We worked our tails off keeping the "advanced" systems working. ARC-210 radios and JDAMs all come with a maintenance cost. In some ways the old 'A model was better (at least easier to work on). I have worked on both. Again, thanks Mr. Yon for the great work, I will notify the NCO's and Airman pictured here so they can check out your work!
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# Drak 2010-03-23 20:03
Oh, for those living in or around Avon Park florida or Ft. Drum NY...Sorry for the noise, but I dont think we are going to stop bombing and strafing your area anytime soon. For the last 3 years all my TDY's are to the same places...Avon park, Ft. Drum, and DM. If you look up and see a MD tail flash, that's us. We got some of the best pilots and best maitainers out there...so your houses are safe (but I make no promises LOL!). Forgot to add on my last post...The gun is amazing, mechanically it is a work of art, there is nothing like it in the world. When the Iranians wanted A-10s, the US gave them F-14s instead, mostly due to the gun! I have seen first hand what it can do to a target, and a couple hundred rounds of HEI ammo will ruin anyones day, I dont care what you hiding in, behind or around. There are many Insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq that in the last few years that did not understand this...and they are no longer with us, of this I am certain!
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# Drak 2010-03-23 20:12
The A-10's gun is NOT canted...just backing up other posts. The guns on fighters set up for dogfighting ARE canted UP! This part is true. However the A-10's gun is set up like this: The GAU-8 is a 7 barreled gattlin style weapon system. The entire gun systems is set off to the left of the pilot (the nose landing gear is set to the RIGHT of the pilot). The Firing barrel of the gun is set at the roughly 7 oclock possition of the gun, and is centered DEAD on the centerline of the jet. The reason for this is to provide the most stable gunnery platform possible. With the gun set up this way, the pilot has a very easytime setting up his "pepper track" and putting rounds on target. The IFFCC takes care of the math, all he has to do is get the pipper on target. Now, the gun does APPEAR to be canted when sitting on the ground, on most (every jet sits a little different) jets it appears to point down a little. There are many reasons for this (mostly the nose gear strut). Again, I still thank Mr. Yon for his great work in getting the accomplishments of my comrades out there!
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# Keith 2010-03-23 20:38
...yet, so agile and resilient. Hard to take down, too. I loved watching them soar around in "Transformers".
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# Kevin 2010-03-23 21:21
Sorry Trashhauler, but as someone involved with joint ops I can attest to big Air Force's disdain for CAS. And the Navy and Marine Corps had to fight to add a rotary section to the Air Force-created ATO. There are many articles discussing USAF intent to rid themselves of the A-10, pre and post DESERT SHIELD, but the fighter mafia could not ignore the A-10s fantastic performance during DESERT SHIELD and beyond. With the unfortunate retirement of the A-6 Intruder the A-10 is the only true fixed-wing CAS platform in our inventory. The F/A-18 & JSF have a CAS capability but one platform cannot do all things as well as a dedicated platform like the A-10. Great article and extra kudos for ensuring the enlisted side of the mission was written on as well.
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# Michael in Kandahar 2010-03-23 22:14
Thank you for all the comments. Will have some comments later today (circumstances permitting) about accuracy. Looks like there was at least one inaccuracy in my dispatch. Nailing it down, now. However, some of the comments about inaccuracies are themselves inaccurate.

Am away from Kandahar Airfield and out with an infantry battalion, so cannot just head over to A-10s to ask questions. Have emailed.

V/r,

Michael Yon
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# Sra Mahan 2010-03-23 23:06
As a crewcheif on these beautiful machines, you did an excellent job on this dispatch. Thank you for recognizing the groundcrews. We dont see too much of that.
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# Slartibartfast 2010-03-23 23:51
Sniper targeting pods (I think)

Yes, among other things. The Sniper/A-10 integration was completed a few years ago, and it gives them the capability to target LGBs and JDAMs with high accuracy. Among other improvements the A-10 has gotten are the H-764G GPS/INS and F-16-ish 1553 bus.

The targeting system shown in Michael's photos appears to be a LANTIRN pod, though.

I too love the A-10, and was very happy that I could help extend its life by helping to give it precision targeting capability.
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# Steve Schlieper 2010-03-24 01:55
Pound for pound, dollar for dollar the A10 is nothing less than a masterpiece of good engineering. This is not to diminish in the least the bugs-in-the-tee th "Sticks" who yank and bank (at considerable peril) over the enemy in the CAS death dance to the great delight of our troops, or the devoted guys/gals on the ground who maintain, fuel and arm to put the birds back in the air. Great Article. Great Pictures.
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# Joe 2010-03-24 03:43
My daughter is there with the 188th Air Guard from Ft Smith, AR. She works in the flight operations and no words can tell how proud we are of her and all members of the 188th. The warthogs will make the entire nation proud of our fighting forces. May God richly bless them all
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# Don Windt 2010-03-24 04:02
Mr. Hammond, your statement about the gun slowing down the aircraft is wrong. That's an old wive's tale. Shooting the GAU-8 did not cause the airplane to lose speed. Yes, the nose gear was offset to the side to make room for the cannon in the fuselage. The actual gun was not on the centerline of the airplane. Specifically, as you looked at the gun from the nose of the airplane, the barrel in the 3 o'clock position (the location of the barrel that fired during gun employment) was actually on the centerline of the airplane. Also, the GAU-8 is seven barrels, not six as you stated. I don't know what "cover" you are referencing when you talk about Fairchild's solution to the engine stall problem. If you are talking about the flat plate that is located just aft of the barrel muzzles, that has been standard equipment from day one. Several years ago, an ugly contraption was installed over the front of the gun to divert gun gases under the airplane. It didn't work and was later abandoned. The solution to the engine stall problem is when the trigger is pulled, the engine igniters automatically fire to prevent engine stall/flameout. I flew the Hog for 14 years beginning in 1980.
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# A-10 Grissom AFBMartin Pratt 2012-12-14 14:17
Dear Sir, I am looking for some historical information relating to the last four A-10's that left Grisson AFB in 1994. Would you be willing to help me if I gave further details? Thank you.
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# Tony 2010-03-24 04:14
Great piece! Your book was excellent as well!

It is nice to see that a reporter values what our troops are doing. Please keep up the good work!
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# TSgt Shawn Thorne 2010-03-24 05:29
I was present during your time out here on the Ramp. I watched you taking pictures! This is really quite nice to see the aftermath of such a visitor. I am a Crew Chief (mechanic) on the A-10C. I thoroughly enjoyed your pictures. Thank you for your work! We here would also like to thank everyone out there for their support!
Shawn
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# S 2010-03-24 06:06
Joe, God bless your daughter and all of the 188th from Fort Smith, AR, now in Afghanistan in support of the MD ANG...all of whom proudly work with the A-10 Warthog. If it weren't for the change-over to Warthogs, the FS ANG would have been toast due to BRAC. My boys LOVE to watch the jets fly over...we lived a mile from the airport a year ago, but enjoy their flight patterns over our new home miles from town as well! Michael, thanks again for the awesome photos and the great shout-outs to those who keep it all rollin'! Be safe!
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# debbie cohill 2010-03-24 06:59
I worked at Fairchild in Hagerstown Md when we built the Thunderbolt . It was the one of the proudest times of my life . We were lucky enough to watch the pilots fly each and everyone off and I would get goose bumps every time. Even to this day I know that one is overhead just by the sound. And the pride is still there and so are the goose bumps. May the A-10 help to keep our military safe and our nation free.
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# Gary E. Dimig 2010-03-24 07:39
A friend just sent me this article. Damn it, it made me cry. I flew it for 5 years, back in the 80's. I loved it. There was nothing that compared with its ability in air- to- ground work. I am going to be 70 this year, and I still miss flying the "Hog".
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# cas 2010-03-24 10:58
Slartibartfast , March 24, 2010 wrote:
"...The targeting system shown in Michael's photos appears to be a LANTIRN pod, though."
I have to disagree, the Laser Pod on these A10's is (was?) called Pave Penny. Just below the cockpit, to the left of the Nose Gear. I spent 4 years, winning the Cold War, from the UK (RAF Bentwaters/RAF Woodbridge) working on those pods. Also, deploying to various locations in Germany, training for the war that fortunately never came.
While there, I heard another myth I was never able to confirm. "Someone said" that certain portions of the Autobahn were designated as "combat reload areas". The A-10, with its' turbofan engines, require less runway to take off or land than it's more glamourous fighter cousins. The way I heard it, they would land on the Autobahn, taxi under an overpass, fill up on fuel, bullets and missles, and then taxi right out and take off... to get right back into the battle. It's such an elegant solution to keep the Wrthogs in the battle, it's probably not true.
I loved ever minute that I worked on these; it's great to see them still in the fight!
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# Jason 2010-03-24 11:41
Don't think that the warthog is a disrespectful name. Warthogs are ferocious, low to the ground, and they tear your shit up. Go Warthogs!
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# 5050noline 2010-03-24 13:45
@ADvanced Avionix. You heard right about autobahns/motor ways being reinforced in some (straight :o) stretches to operate aircraft from. Some in Germany i used to know of, common in Scandanavia, I even took pictures of one in a ME country. From the air can be identified by turning circle areas at each end of the stretch to be able to taxi/turn the operating aircraft, but you usually need to know pretty much where to look in the first place :o) Its not the sort of information that is easy to come by.

Great Article again Michael. Keep up the outstanding work.
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# DesertYote 2010-03-24 16:06
Some already titled a post "Go Ugly Early" :-) Fighters are cool and all, but for pure awesomeness, nothing beats an A-10. It has been my favourite since its introduction. I still remember vividly, climbing over one at the 1980 Paris Air Show when I was stationed in Germany (at a Wild Weasel base, yay). The display had a mock-up of the cannon; Oh Boy, made me proud to be an American Airman! I guess I have a thing for air interdiction as my other favourite air craft is the A-6. Thank you for such wonderful photography. I especially like the ones documenting our hero's in action. History owes you much. And the world owes much to the Men and Woman who's commitment to freedom you document.
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# Jerry 2010-03-24 17:49
I just wish we had a few of them in Viet Nam... on a few occassions, they would have been excellent! But-- picture Iwo Jima with a couple of FAC's in OV-10's, a couple of ALO's and their ROMAD's on the ground and a squadron or two of WARTHOG's loaded for bear! I do believe that the USMC casaulties would have been MUCH different... can you imagine being able to use the HOG on the Pacific Islands during the march to Tokoyo? YES, it would have been unleashing a dragon!
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# Paul Lindenberg 2010-03-24 19:12
Good stuff. The A10 is the machine! A superb article and images. Lucky you to get close up.
Paul Lindenberg
EDITOR eDIGImag®USA
and le Cirque Volant (The Flying Circus) emagazine.
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# Davinci_shadow 2010-03-24 23:26
Never had the pleasure of being close to one....Never heard the whine of those beautiful fans, or heard the roar out of that cannon's ferocious maw, but oddly enough this plane has been a favorite of mine since I was 13 years old in '79 and bought a model kit of the A10. It's very different-ness intrigued the young artist I was then. It hung by black threads in a special spot from the ceiling in my room, right next to my other favorites, a P-38 and a 1/24 scale F-4 phantom, blue angels edition. The moment I opened the box and read the specs on this amazing aircraft, that came printed with the instructions, I was hooked. That amazing downward curved wingtip, and the all business looking cannon had me zooming that model around my room, mowing down my star wars figures and making imaginary mincemeat of my little plastic green army men. It was me in that armored cockpit, strapped in and coming in on the targets inverted, to snap over only at the last minute, to let loose with that glorious cannon. The stories over the years since then about this amazing bird have NEVER disappointed me, and instead have only served to justify my adolescent love affair. The A10 is truly the baddest of the bad. Perhaps some day I will have the opportunity to get close enough to one that I can snap my own pin-ups, and hang them on my wall to remind me of my youth, and one mechanical hero that I've never quite outgrown. Godspeed, Hog pilots and Crews!
and Michael....stay safe bro.
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# A. Brit 2010-03-25 00:49
Outstanding.

I think Rick Rescorla was Cornish ? "Celtic fringe", yes, but not Welsh.
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# LT 2010-03-25 07:01
My husband was Nimrod 26 at Myrtle Beach AFB and England AFB, the sound of those engines still gives me goose bumps. And the sight of that plane is awe inspiring. I know he touches the face of God now and is forever proud of his time in the Warthog.
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# Michael Yon in Kandahar 2010-03-25 11:20
Corrections/clarifications:

I made mistakes in two sentences in the dispatch. Firstly, the A-10 gun is not canted down. I'll never listen again to an F-14 pilot when talking A-10s. This is purely my error. Secondly, I identified the LUU 19 illumination as BLU 19. I stood right under the wing next to the rockets and wrote BLU 19 instead of LUU. It's loud out there, but not that loud. (Note to self: Get ears checked.)

There were a number of other "corrections" by commenters above. However, those all appear to be incorrect. For instance, 30mm vs Afghan mud walls is not a clear match. According to British infantry I have been with, and one A-10 pilot, HEI rounds have a poor chance against the walls. (Ross Kemp video points to some blemishes on a compound in Helmand, which he identifies as 30mm hits.) One thing is certain: many of our British friends are convinced that 30mm rounds can be stopped by the mud. However...the depleted uranium and training rounds might crash through. Some American infantry soldiers here in Kandahar Province insist that .50 cal SLAP rounds will punch through, but takes many hits. Again...this is tricky. Afghanistan is a big country and construction varies. Rounds vary. Circumstances vary. (Range/angle/round/wall...etc.)

Michael
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# Jet Mech 2010-03-25 13:34
Great story once again Mike. Really like the way you recognized all involved, pilots/ground crews. The guys who fly & maintain all these aircraft (fixed & rotary wing) that work in close proximity with our ground troops are a breed all their own.
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# Hobart 2010-03-25 16:32
My son is a "Hog Driver" with the Michigan ANG. No doubt the A-10C is a most capable weapons system, but it is the determination and profesionalism of the aircrew, maintenance and ground support personnel that make the airplane successful. Yes, we are very proud of all of them!
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# Big Time 2010-03-26 06:49
For those interested/conc erned, the A-10 will be around for a LONG time; current projections go through at least 2030 (let's just hope we're not still in Afghanistan). The A-10A to C (Precision Engagement) upgrade will be completed next year, but there are other modernization efforts underway. The USAF has, and will continue, to spend $$ to keep it a viable and effective weapon system. To whit, we will spend $1.2B to retrofit most of the fleet with brand new wings over the next 10 years or so. Additionally, as it is an aging airframe (avg. is ~30 yrs), we're doing eveything we can to keep it from showing its age, especially from a structural standpoint. Rest assured, it will continue to support our troops and be the CAS 'go-to' platform for years to come. The articles and stories filtering back from the AOR about how the Hog saved someone's bacon (no pun intended) are a particular source of pride here at the program office. It's why we do what we do. "Go Ugly Early!"
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# Bartos 2010-03-26 09:04
The photographs are nice, and the text is informative with a proper mix between a description of what we see and some additional background info. I like the whole feel of going out there and talking with the guys who use the hogs (hands-on style).
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# Slartibartfast 2010-03-29 06:22
"I have to disagree, the Laser Pod on these A10's is (was?) called Pave Penny. Just below the cockpit, to the left of the Nose Gear. I spent 4 years, winning the Cold War, from the UK (RAF Bentwaters/RAF Woodbridge) working on those pods. Also, deploying to various locations in Germany, training for the war that fortunately never came."

Sorry, you're wrong. If it makes you feel any better, I'm wrong too; the pod shown on these aircraft is a Litening pod, which is what the Maryland ANG use. I'm not saying there isn't a Pave Penny pod on these aircraft; I'm saying that there's a targeting pod on it, and that targeting pod is a (and this is the part I'm having to correct myself on) a Litening pod. Probably mounted on the RT10 station. Sniper/ATP mounts at either RT2 or RT10.

Last photo on the first page, you can see the pod out on a right wing station. Here's another look: http://www.es.northropgrumman.com/solutions/litening/assets/litening_a10.jpg

LANTIRN and Litening are both ball-turret pods, so they have some superficial visual similarities.
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# Paul Jackson 2010-03-30 13:57
In the Michigan Air Guard, all of our former A10 Pilots have been transitioned to C-21A, which is a Learjet 35A if you can believe it; experienced and proficient Air-warriors turned into fling taxi-cab pilots, such a waste.
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# ron smith 2011-10-04 08:30
Well Paul, not ALL of your A-10 pilots transitioned to the C-21, just the ones that wanted to stay at that base, some of the pilots followed the A-10 to another Michigan base.
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# olivier 2010-03-31 16:04
hello,

im loocking for pictures of interior of acces panel for a model im building.i want to open all the panel but missing pictures


[url removed by webmaster]

could you help with picture???

this is my email

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# olivier 2010-03-31 16:09
hello,

i'm making an a-10 for a model competition in canada.
i ave open many panel but missing picture of detail of all the acces panel
could somebody help mi whith pictures???
thi is the link of the making in progress off my a-10

[url removed by webmaster]

thank for your help

olivier

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# Gary H 2010-04-01 11:54
Back in October of 2009 I was able to up close and personal with the A-10. Personally, as a pilot (of sorts) I think I would have a great time flying one of these.
Here is a pic I took – I couldn’t tell you if this was just a training machine or what.
http://www.pbase.com/garyhall/image/105739143

Thanks Michael – read every dispatch and as an avid photographer, love yours.

Gary
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# Michael Yon In Kandahar Province 2010-04-01 22:34
Thank you for the great comments on my photography. Canon makes great gear, and our military folks are naturally compelling. The rest is click!

There was comment above about 30mm cannons vs Afghan mud walls. More feedback has come to me offline -- from very well informed A-10 sources -- that my statements in the dispatch are accurate. Clarification is in order, however. The 30mm HEI rounds explode when they hit the walls, causing cosmetic damage to the mud. DU and training rounds, however, likely will go through the walls.

Plenty of American, British and others can vouch for the liberal amount of plastic explosives needed to breach the thicker walls. 30mm DU obviously will have lots of KE, but the HEI round will have little HE and its KE apparently splats on the wall when the tiny HE charge explodes.

Thank you,

Michael
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# jic 2010-04-02 04:26
"Dominican Republic designed A-10 Warhog."

Don't you mean Fairchild-Repub lic? I don't know enough about the A-10's design process to say that there were no Dominicans or people of Dominican desent involved, but it seems ridiculous to call it "Dominican Republic designed".
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# HBW 2010-04-05 12:14
Michael,

Thank you for the fine job. I was part of the 81st TFW at RAF Bentwaters in England when we were the largest fighter wing in the AF. 118 of the warthogs in six squadrons. Thanks again for the memories.
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# OliviaMorse23 2010-07-01 08:41
Different people in every country receive the loans from different banks, because this is fast and easy.
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-1 # Nick 2010-07-02 16:58
I have a question - what are the external differences between the A/OA-10A & the A-10C. I now do aviation graphics & designs - so the info will be used to add Front, Top & Side Views of the A-10C to my drawings. I'll be glad to send you a sample if you're interested. I flew the AH-1G "Cobra" aka 'Snake' during my 2d tour in Vietnam, and then other F/W & Helo's for the Army for 25+ yrs. Thanks so very much for your service to our country.
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-1 # Neil G. Gow 2011-02-25 06:57
I came home tonight after a long day & thought I'd give Twitter a "quick check". Some two hours later I'm still sitting here, having read this great article & these amazing comments, with tears in my eyes & gratitude that I can never properly express.
Now I'm heading off to my warm, comfy bed, a pleasure granted to me by millions of brave men & women who volunteered not to head off to theirs, but instead to stand guard as I slumber. To them I can only say: Thank you. Bless you. Godspeed.
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# RE: WarthogCallie Fisher 2013-09-16 15:35
I worked for 20 yrs. on Ft. Hood, I so loved watching the A-10 Warthog during live fire exercises at the impact area. They would position an old vehicle on the ground for target practice. The A-10 would make a triangular pattern in the sky. 2.points corners were an awe-inspiring turn on a dime, with the last point of the triangle being the actual attack. A thing of beauty!!
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# WarthogCarol 2016-08-03 22:28
It's going to bee finish of mine day, but before ennd I am reading this wonderful article to improve my know-how.


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# Msgt. (Get USAF/ANG)Benjamin Howard 2016-09-21 19:13
Loved the article! I was there in Khandahar when the author of this article. I worked in Aicraft Munitions supporting the A-10s. I was with the 188th re Arkansas Air National Guard. Interesting to note, the aircraft in the pics in article were out ( 188fw flying razorbacks) planes.
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# RE: WarthogBenjamin Howard 2016-09-21 19:15
Planes in article were out of Ft. Smith, At working alongside the Baltimore unit.
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