HAGERSTOWN, MD News (5/10/2023) – Today marks the 51st anniversary of the first flight of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, produced right here in Hagerstown, MD. All of the aircraft were built by Fairchild in Hagerstown, and are among the last aircraft ever produced before Fairchild’s closure.
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The A-10 Thunderbolt II, also known as the Warthog, is a single-seat, twin-engine aircraft that was developed by Fairchild Republic in the 1970s. It was designed specifically for close air support missions, which involve supporting ground troops by attacking enemy ground targets and providing cover for friendly forces.
The A-10 was developed in response to a need for a aircraft that could withstand heavy enemy fire and still be able to complete its mission. It is built with a titanium armor plating that protects the pilot and the aircraft’s critical systems, and it is equipped with a GAU-8 Avenger cannon, which is a 30mm cannon that can fire up to 4,200 rounds per minute.
The A-10 made its first flight in 1972 and entered into service with the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1976. It was initially deployed to Europe, where it was used to support NATO forces during the Cold War. In the 1980s, the A-10 was also deployed to the Middle East, where it played a key role in Operation Desert Storm.
During the Gulf War, the A-10 was used for a variety of missions, including attacking enemy tanks, artillery, and other ground targets. It was particularly effective at destroying Iraqi tanks, thanks to its GAU-8 cannon and its ability to fly low and slow, which allowed it to get close to the enemy and deliver precise fire.
In the years following the Gulf War, the A-10 has been deployed to a number of conflict zones around the world, including Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. It has continued to play a vital role in close air support missions and has earned a reputation as a highly effective and reliable aircraft.
Despite its many successes, the A-10 has faced some challenges in recent years. In 2015, the USAF announced that it was planning to retire the A-10 in favor of newer, more advanced aircraft. This decision was met with opposition from some quarters, who argued that the A-10 was still a vital asset for close air support missions and that retiring it would leave a gap in the military’s capabilities.
Ultimately, the A-10 was spared from retirement, thanks in part to the efforts of lawmakers who supported the aircraft and argued for its continued use. Today, the A-10 continues to be an important part of the USAF’s fleet and is expected to remain in service for the foreseeable future.
Despite facing challenges in recent years, the A-10 has managed to remain in service and continues to be an important part of the USAF’s fleet.