The 'Chopper Popper' scored the A-10's first air-to-air kill...against an Iraqi helicopter
The A-10 Thunderbolt II, known affectionately as the Warthog, is the U.S. Air Force’s most beloved and capable close air support craft. Its low airspeed and low altitude ability give it an accuracy unmatched by any aircraft in the Air Force fleet. No matter what anyone in an Air Force uniform tells you.
For one A-10 pilot, the CAS world was turned upside down in the First Gulf War. Captain Bob Swain was flying anti-armor sorties in central Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. After dropping six 500-pound bombs and taking out two Iraqi tanks with Maverick missiles, he saw potential tangos several miles away, just barely moving around.
“I noticed two black dots running across the desert that looked really different than anything I had seen before,” Swain told the LA Times in a February 1991 interview. “They weren’t putting up any dust and they were moving fast and quickly over the desert.”
He was tracking what he thought was a helicopter. When his OV-10 Bronco observation plane confirmed the target, Swain moved in for the kill. One of the targets broke off and moved north (back toward Iraq), the other moved south. The A-10 pilot tracked the one moving south but couldn’t get a lock with his AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles because the target was too close to the ground, just 50 feet above.
So he switched to the A-10’s 30mm GAU-8 Avenger cannon – aka the BRRRRRT.
It would be the first air-to-air kill in the A-10’s operational history. But Swain didn’t know that. He was just concerned with taking it down and started firing a mile away from the helicopter. His shots were on target, but the helicopter didn’t go down.
“On the final pass, I shot about 300 bullets at him,” Swain recalled to a press pool at the time. “That’s a pretty good burst. On the first pass, maybe 75 rounds. The second pass, I put enough bullets down, it looked like I hit with a bomb.”
Swain’s A-10 became known as the “Chopper Popper” in Air Force lore and is now displayed on the grounds of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
“We tried to identify the type of [helicopter] after we were finished, but it was just a bunch of pieces,” he later told the Air Force Academy’s news service.
After the war, Swain went back to his job flying Boeing 747s for U.S. Air and is still in the Air Force Reserve, now with the rank of Colonel.
This is the fictional country the Russians are training to fight
Just like the U.S. trains to fight in Atropia, Centralia, and North Brownland, the Russian military gears up to fight Veishnoriya to protect its interests.
9 struggles infantrymen know all too well about mail drops
While you're deployed, mail becomes a commodity. Emotions can roller coaster as that mail truck rolls in, though — you never actually know what you'll get.
Putin is keeping a watchful eye on the Zapad exercises
Putin attended the week-long war games with Belarus that have demonstrated the Russian military's resurgent might and made neighboring countries nervous.
This video of a Russian helicopter accidentally firing on observers is crazy
Two people were hospitalized with heavy injuries after a helicopter accidentally fired on observers, likely journalists, of the Zapad '17 exercises.
This is the story behind one of the most successful fighters ever built
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle was the pinnacle of US air superiority, incorporating advanced technology to create a fierce multi-role fighter aircraft.
Japan has built a baby Globemaster
The Kawasaki C-2 can haul 30 tons of cargo over 3,000 nautical miles and costs almost half the amount to build as the C-17 Globemaster III.
This 'gun' sends drones running for home - literally
The DroneDefender jams remote control and GPS frequencies, and sends the ISIS drone home without photos - or with the IED still attached. Win-win.
This company is helping to solve the hypoxia epidemic
Both the F-35 and the T-45 have been grounded after pilots reported symptoms of hypoxia.
That time a Marine general led a fictional Iran against the US military – and won
The Pentagon asked Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper, a Marine with 41 years of service, to lead the OPFOR. He sank an entire carrier battle group in ten minutes.
THE MIGHTY SURVEY GIVE-AWAY
We want to hear your thoughts. Complete our survey for a chance to win 1 of 5 gaming consoles