So, we are back with another complete hater’s guide to one of the Air Force’s aircraft. Last time, we discussed the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
This time, we will go to the plane that everyone in the Air Force loves…and yet, it keeps ending up on the chopping block. That’s right, it’s time for us to discuss the Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II.
Why it is easy to make fun of the A-10
Let’s see, it’s slow. It doesn’t fly high, if anything, the plane is best flying very low.
As any of its pilots will tell you, it’s ugly — but well hung. (U.S. Air Force photo)
It’s not going to win any airplane beauty pageants any time soon due to being quite aesthetically-challenged. Also, when it was first designed, it was a daylight-only plane with none of the sensors to drop precision-guided weapons.
Why you should hate the A-10
Because it has this cult following that seems to think it can do just about anything and take out any one. Because its pilots think the GAU-8 cannon in the nose is all that — never mind that a number of other planes took bigger guns into the fight — including 75mm guns.
Because that low, slow, flight profile means it is a big target. Because you’d rather claim that a relative died in a motorcycle accident than admit they fly that ugly plane.
Because that plane always seems to stick around when the Air Force wants to retire it. Because it is useless in a dogfight.
Why you should love the A-10
Because this plane can bring its pilot home when the bad guys hit it — just ask “Killer Chick.” Because it also has a proven combat record in Desert Storm, the Balkans, and the War on Terror.
Because it not only has a powerful tank-killing gun, it can carry lots of bombs and missiles to put the hurt on the bad guys.
Because while it is designed for close-air support, it also proved to be very good at covering the combat search-and-rescue choppers.
Because, when it comes right down to it, the A-10, for all its faults, has saved a lot of grunts over the years.