Fairchild Republic A-10

The A-10 is the first USAF aircraft designed specifically for close air support of ground forces. It is named for the famous P-47 Thunderbolt, a fighter often used in a close air support role during the latter part of WW II. The A-10 is designed for manoeuvrability at low speeds and low altitudes for accurate weapons delivery, and carries systems and armour to permit it to survive in this environment. It is intended for use against all ground targets, but specifically tanks and other armoured vehicles. The Thunderbolt II's great endurance gives it a large combat radius and/or long loiter time in a battle area. Its short takeoff and landing capability permits operation from airstrips close to the front lines. Service at forward area bases with limited facilities is possible because of the A-10's simplicity of design.

The first prototype Thunderbolt II made its initial flight on May 10, 1972. A-10A production commenced in 1975. Delivery of aircraft to USAF units began in 1976 and ended in 1984.

Span: 57 ft. 6 in.
Length: 53 ft. 4 in.
Height: 14 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 47,000 lbs.
Armament: One GAU-8/A 30mm Gatling Gun and 16,000 lbs. of mixed ordnance
Engines: Two General Electric TF34-GE-100 turbofans of 9,000 lbs. thrust each
Crew: One
Cost: $2,400,000

Maximum speed: 450 mph.
Cruising speed: 335 mph.
Range: 800 miles
Service Ceiling: 44,200 ft.