After several delays, the US Air Force (USAF) flew the first Farchild Republic A-10C Thunderbolt II to Davis Monthan, Arizona, where it will be dismantled.
The close air support aircraft, known as “Warthog”, has been in service since 1977 and is revered by pilots for its unique characteristics, such as armor, resistance and, above all, the powerful 30 mm GAU-8A Avenger cannon, which is still capable of to destroy armored tanks.
The first A-10C withdrawn from service carries the designation 80-149 and has accumulated 14,125 flight hours in 43 years. The aircraft departed April 5 from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, heading for the Arizona desert.
There, the aircraft will have useful parts removed to be used in other active A-10s. In its place, the 74th Fighter Squadron will receive another Warthog, which was at Fort Wayne Air National Guard Base, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The squadron, however, should operate 5th generation fighters in the future.
“This is bittersweet, it’s an old aircraft and there comes a time when each of them need to be retired,” said Staff Sgt. Austin Bryne, 74th FS dedicated crew chief. “They are still combat capable, but after all the hours put in, their time comes.”
Developed in the 1970s, the A-10 beat the Northrop A-9 to be an aircraft capable of operating close to the battlefield, given the US experience in the Vietnam War.
To achieve this performance, Farchild designed an aircraft with a heterodox layout, with wings without sweeping and that partially house the landing gear.
The twin tail is just behind the twin GE TF34 turbofans, mounted on pylons like a business jet.
To protect the pilot, there is a titanium cockpit that also surrounds the huge 30mm cannon, which can fire up to 1,350 rounds.
Its speed, of only 300 knots, is considered an advantage as it allows it to spend more time over its targets.
The Air Force took delivery of over 700 A-10s until 1984, when production ended and is the sole operator of the subsonic jet.
Between 2011 and 2019, the USAF contracted Boeing to replace the set of wings of 283 A-10s in order to extend the useful life until 2030. However, it is already defined that 18 of these admirable planes will leave the front line from this year.