A-10 Thunderbolt II
A-10 Thunderbolt IIThe A-10/OA-10 Thunderbolt II, nicknamed the "Warthog", is the first US Air Force aircraft designed for close air support of ground forces. It is a simple, effective and hardy single-seat, twin-engine jet aircraft designed to attack tanks, armored vehicles, and other ground targets.
The A-10/OA-10 has excellent maneuverability at low speeds and altitude, thanks to wide, straight wings. These also allow short takeoffs and landings, permitting operations from airfields near front lines. The plane can loiter for extended periods of time and operate under 1,000 foot (300 m) ceilings with 1.5-mile (2.4 km) visibility. It can fly at a relatively slow speed of 200 mph (320 km/h), which makes it better at ground-attack than fast fighter-bombers, which often have difficulty pursuing small and slow-moving targets.
The 'Warthog' is exceptionally hardy, with a strong airframe that can survive direct hits from armor-piercing and high-explosive projectiles up to 23mm. The aircraft has triple redundancy in its flight systems, with manual systems to back up double-redundant hydraulic systems. This permits pilots to fly and land when hydraulic power or part of a wing is lost. Self-sealing fuel tanks are protected by fire-retardant foam.
The cockpit and parts of the flight-control system are protected by 900 pounds (400 kg) of titanium armor, referred to as a "titanium bathtub". Its engine exhaust passes over the aircraft's horizontal stabilizer and between the twin tails, decreasing the A-10's infrared signature and the likelihood that the aircraft can be targeted by heatseeking missiles. The placement of the engines partially shields them from anti-aircraft fire behind the wings and tail. The A-10 can fly even with one engine completely shot away.