Posted on 442d Fighter Wing Facebook Page, the impressive photo of this article shows how the main landing gear of the A-10 retracts into a sponson on the lower wing. This allows the aircraft to land with the gear up and still roll (and brake!), minimizing damage to the aircraft. It also allows the three structural spars in each wing to extend from the fuselage to the tip – rather than breaking at the wheel well – increasing the strength of the wing.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II, affectionately nicknamed “The Warthog,” was developed for the US Air Force (USAF) by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Team from Fairchild Republic, now a part of Northrop Grumman. Following in the footsteps of the legendary P-47 Thunderbolt, the OEM Team was awarded a study contract in the 1960s to define requirements for a new Close Air Support (CAS) aircraft, rugged and survivable, to protect combat troops on the ground. This initial study was followed up by a prototype development contract for the A-X, and a final flyoff competition resulting in the selection of the A-10 Thunderbolt II.
Selection of the A-10 Thunderbolt II for this mission was based on the dramatic low altitude maneuverability, lethality, “get home safe” survivability, and mission capable maintainability designed into the jet by the OEM team. This design features a titanium “bathtub” that protects the pilot from injury, and dually redundant flight control systems that allow the pilot to fly the aircraft out of enemy range, despite severe damage such as complete loss of hydraulic capability. These features have been utilized to great effect in both the Desert Storm conflict of the 1990’s and in the more recent Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and Global War on Terror engagements.
In 1987, the A-10 OEM Team and all A-10 assets were acquired by Grumman from Fairchild Republic, and are now part of the Northrop Grumman, presently partnered with Lockheed Martin as a member of the A-10 Prime Team.
The OEM Team has maintained continuous involvement in the modernization of the jet, integrating the Inertial Navigation System in the 1970s, developing and installing the Low Altitude Safety and Targeting Enhancement ground collision avoidance system in the 1980s, and the Night Vision Imaging System in the 1990s.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force
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