The Warthog of the Skies: The Story of the A-10 Thunderbolt II

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Abhinav Mudigonda

The A-10 Thunderbolt II has been an icon of the United States Air Force for 50 years with its renowned sound and shape. However, the Air Force is beginning the process of retiring the aircraft in favor of the modern multirole F-35. 

The Thunderbolt II got its famous nickname from the company’s reputation within the air force. Since the 1980s, the A-10 Thunderbolt II has been affectionately called the “Warthog and  was first produced in 1972 and entered service in 1977. The Warthog was built to replace the aging Douglas A-1 Skyraider as a close air support attack aircraft and first saw combat in the first Iraq War during Operation Desert Storm and was known for obliterating both enemy compounds and vehicles.

The A-10 provided “a sense of hope and relief,” said Jim Scott, Iraq veteran and engineering teacher at Briar Woods.

At the time, the A-10 was cutting edge technology. A titanium tub that protected the pilot from flak and shrapnel and engines placed between the forward and aft wings, allowing the aircraft to compensate in case it loses a wing and allows it to be maneuverable at high speeds. Not to mention, its armaments which give the aircraft its iconic “BRRRRRRRRRRRT” sound.

The F-35A Lightning II is set to succeed the Warthog since it is cheaper to maintain due to its multirole capability. However, according to Dr. Daniel Buchanan, a Science teacher at Briar Woods and former Lieutenant in the Navy, “the F-35 is a jack of all trades but a master of none.” He cites that due to the F-35s speed, it cannot provide the same support as an A-10 without endangering the pilot’s life, relying on air-to-ground missiles, which can increase the chances of friendly casualties.

Overall, the A-10 is an old, but memorable component of American air power and a symbol of our nation. It’s one of the greatest pieces of military technology ever built and its legacy will hold up to show future generations.