One of the most challenging exercises military pilots must perform is refueling their aircraft from a tanker jet midair. It takes years of training to become proficient at this task, and it requires intense sustained focus every time to perform successfully.
A-10 Thunderbolt II Cockpit Footage of a 190th Fighter Squadron, 124th Fighter Wing, Idaho Air National Guard, dropping live bombs and conducting flying operations June 8, 2019 for Green Flag-West at Nellis AFB, Nevada.
A-10 Strafing Run Video
The sheer power shown in the above video is incredible. The 30 mm rounds fired by the A-10 are devastating to any targets that are hit, which are usually numerous considering the aircraft’s accuracy. Re-watching the video a few times gives you an even better impression of the effects of the weapon on the aircraft, and the pilot’s deadly precision despite it.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II has been a formidable asset in the US Air Force’s arsenal for decades. Its origins can be tied all the way back to the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, when the Military began looking for more intense Close Air Support (CAS) options. The original requirements for the plane from the Air Force included “extreme survivability.” The result is this massive tank of an airplane below, the A-10.
The A-10’s most notorious feature is also its most deadly – the massive 30 mm canon mounted directly under the pilot. The effects of this canon are pure devastation. Each round is crafted from depleted uranium, which means they are incredibly dense and strong. Traveling twice as fast as most projectiles fired from aircraft, that combination of speed and density takes the impact of these shots to whole new levels.
The canon on the A-10 can fire up to 3,900 rounds per minute. Yes, that’s about 65 rounds every single second. 65 rounds of depleted uranium, delivered timely and accurately, every single second. Unsurprisingly that spells some pretty bad news for any tanks or other armored units in the area. For this reason, and many more, the A-10 is one of the most deadly aircraft for enemy ground troops in the US Air Force.
Why is the A-10 so formidable?
So much of the A-10’s advantage comes from the “extreme survivability” aspect the Air Force requested. Specifically the A-10 is designed to take direct hits from armor-piercing and high-explosive projectiles, and keep on flying! The pilot is protected by the “Bathtub,” a 1200-lb titanium shield capable of withstanding a hit from projectiles up to 23 mm in size. The cockpit windows are also bullet-proof, protecting the pilot against small arms fire from the ground.
The A-10’s unusual design also lends to the overall survivability of the aircraft. The plane features two large turbofan engines mounted up and behind the center of the jet. Having the engines positioned where they are allows the A-10 to operate on unimproved airports, meaning this awesome combat aircraft can literally lift off from a dirt road.
A-10 Thunderbolt II In Action
The end result of all of the above, extreme survivability, an incredible weapons system, and unique overall design, combined to create a one-of-a-kind Close Air Support asset for the US Military. Fortunately we’re the only military in the world that gets to enjoy air support from such a cunning and deadly platform.
The A-10 will hopefully remain flying for the US Military for decades to come. Despite several efforts to ditch the airframe in favor of less costly and less capable options, so far the Thunderbolt II has come up on top. Its Close Air Support skills and capabilities are just too fantastic to pass up.
U.S. Army AH-64D Apache helicopter, assigned to the 25th Infantry Division, flies in formation for the 25th Infantry Division Review over Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, December 21, 2018. The Division’s activation date is October 1, 1941. Due to a robust training schedule in October, the Division is celebrating its birthday from December 17-21 with the culminating event being the Division Review at historic Weyand Field. More than 11,000 Tropic Lightning Soldiers will take part in the Division Review. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ian Morales)
U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers assigned to Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 223, conduct an aerial refuel near Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., Nov. 15, 2016. Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 participated in an aerial refueling exercise with VMA-223, Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3, and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 to maintain interservice operability. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Brosilow/Released)
USAF A-10 attack jets landing and taking off on a highway in Estonia near the Russian border. These aircraft are temporarily stationed at Ämari Air Base in Estonia. Pilots are training for combat scenarios in which a temporary or remote landing strip would be required for refueling and rearmament.
An A-10C “Warthog” pilot from the 163rd Fighter Squadron, and Aircraft Maintenance Crew Chiefs from the 122nd Fighter Wing, Fort Wayne, Ind., prepare for takeoff during Operation Guardian Blitz, Jan 23, 2018, at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Operation Guardian Blitz provided training opportunities to practice our core skills of Close Air Support, Forward Air Control and Combat Search and Rescue in a joint environment. The Blacksnakes of the 122nd Fighter Wing and our 163rd Fighter Squadron constantly train to ensure our members are always prepared to defend the nation. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. William Hopper/Released)
U.S. Soldiers with 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division perform preflight checks on their AH-64 Apache helicopter before they take off from Chièvres Air Base, Belgium, for Germany, Latvia, Romania and Poland, in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, Oct. 27, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Pierre-Etienne Courtejoie)
Members of the 146th Air Support Operations Squadron, from Oklahoma City, and Estonian tactical air control party specialists acknowledge a 442nd Fighter Wing A-10 Thunderbolt II from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., during a show of force after completing close air support training at Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range in Salina, Kan., Dec. 13, 2017. The Estonian TACPs traveled to the U.S. to work alongside members of the 146 ASOS to complete upgrade training and enhance multi-national relationships. This was the first time the 146 ASOS hosted the Estonian TACPs. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tyler Woodward)
A 442nd Fighter Wing A-10 Thunderbolt II, from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., completes close air support training with members of the 146th Air Support Operations Squadron and Estonian tactical air control party specialists at Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range in Salina, Kan., Dec. 13, 2017. Members of the 146 ASOS, in Oklahoma City, organized the training between the 442 FW and Estonia TACP. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tyler Woodward)
RODRIGUEZ LIVE FIRE COMPLEX, Republic of Korea – An AH-64 Apache from 4th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division fires a 30mm M230 Chain Gun during a joint Gunnery Qualification Table XII with 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division on October 20, 2017.