I’m In Love With A Hog

Updated: March 14, 2014


By RU Rob

I am in love.

It started in the sixth grade when my father was stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas and I attended Custer Hill Elementary School. My classroom overlooked the vast training area which was heavily wooded. The ground wasn’t the location of my affection though, but rather the sky. I would frequently look out the window to catch a glimpse of my infatuation, hoping to see it dance gracefully as it dove, twisted and climbed to its own majestic music and always with a partner. When I did see it there was a mesmerizing effect on me and I would end up lost in the moment.

a-10-warthog-tank-buster-1aThe A-10 Thunderbolt was and is the object of my long standing love affair. More commonly referred to as “The Warthog” due to the appearance that only a grunt could love, its gracefulness in the sky and ability to wreak havoc on the ground has made me a life-long fan.

Originally conceived in the early 1970’s to fill the critical need of Close Air Support (CAS), the A-10 is one of the few aircraft entirely designed around a weapon, in this case, the 30 mm GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling cannon. Firing at a rate of over 3,900 rounds a minute, the A-10’s Gatling gun is more than capable of living up to the expectation of making it rain harder than a strip club on Victory Drive. There are few such weapons that have the ability not only to physically destroy the enemy but also put fear of god in their hearts with the sound alone.

In addition, the A-10 typically carries an array of air-to-surface Maverick (talk to me Goose) missiles, cluster bombs and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles for self-defense. It is also capable, but not commonly used, of being armed with laser guided munitions (yes, I did say “LASER”)

A-10 1The odd placement of the engines, elevated at the rear of the aircraft, helps in two entirely different areas. First, the engines are able to remain running during rearmament operations which allows for the aircraft to return to the battlefield quicker. Second, provides the ability to fly with minimal forward sound allowing it to creep upon the enemy, like a lion stalking his prey, without announcing its presence.

The unique wing design of the aircraft allows for superior maneuverability at slower speeds and lower altitude, literally giving it the ability to turn on a dime. It also allows for shorter take-off and landing requirements which make the airframe deployable to shorter, unimproved runways in combat situations.

Not only is this beast of an aircraft tough looking and capable of reaching out to touch the enemy, but in the rare circumstance that someone tries to reciprocate, it can take a beating as well. With over 1,200 lbs of armament, and specially designed fuel cells to withstand enemy fire I can find only five instances where an A-10 was shot down by the enemy since the Vietnam War. That is one tough bitch.

Ask any infantryman if they have a preference in CAS while on a combat mission and I am willing to bet that the number one answer would be a Hog.

warthog2Unfortunately, the Air Force doesn’t seem to value the A-10 like we do. They have stated that in light of budget constrictions, the A-10’s retirement would save $3.7 billion from 2015 to 2019 even though its current schedule would allow for appropriations to continue until 2028. Seems to me that the less glamorous A-10 just isn’t in keeping with the over-budget, highly problematic F-35, which is where all monies saved would be spent.

The Air Force has frequently tried to kill the A-10 program for the last seven years, each time being saved by an act of Congress. While it was saved again last year, it has again been placed on the chopping block for 2015. It is my hope that one of the other branches…ahem…Marines…pick up the airframe for sponsorship. I say the Marines as they already have combat fixed-wing aviators and it makes the most sense to align this airframe with those who know and utilize its capabilities often. This is one plane that has proven its worth time and time again to the people who need it the most.

As for me, since I no longer have the regular ability to watch the awesomeness of its flight in person I will instead watch Youtube videos to fill my desires. It’s kind of like porn with wings.





  1. Spitfyre051

    March 19, 2014 at 10:02 am

    I was a crew chief on the A-10 for about 11 years or so of my career before I retrained. It was a dream to work on and watch fly. There is no more beautiful sight then a flight of A-10s. I was even fortunate enough to get to go to Bagram twice while I worked on her. There is nothing like hearing “SCRAMBLE SCRAMBLE SCRAMBLE” come over the radios and then getting the alerts in record time.

    It really does suck to see them get retired…..but I understand. The airframe was only designed with 8k flying hours in mind and when I left there were jets with 13-14k hours on them. Cracks in the wing frames, engine mounts and backbone were becoming an ever increasing problem. The “newest” A-10 was built in 1982 and the majority of parts used to fix the ones that are still flying are either pulled off of jets in AMARC or refurbished broken parts. Something needed to be done. Either build new ones for a 10th of the cost of 1 F-35 or retire her and put her out to pasture, so to speak.

    It’ll be a sad day when the last one arrives at the boneyard. She will always have a special place in my heart and will be truly be missed.

    • Whitey

      March 20, 2014 at 9:18 am

      As a taxpayer, I think my money is far better spent buying 12 new A-10s for the price of an F-35’s windshield.

      Tried, true, tested, tough, and cost-effective vs untested, already 500% over-budget, doesn’t live up to expectations, will probably fall out of the sky if hit with a BB gun, and can’t do anything well. That’s a no-brainer.

  2. Gunship Load

    March 19, 2014 at 11:08 am

    While I am a crewmember on a far superior CAS platform, I too love the Hog. When I got out of the infantry and into the AF, I had really hoped that I would wind up as a crew chief on the Hog.

    As for “Ask any infantryman if they have a preference in CAS while on a combat mission and I am willing to bet that the number one answer would be a Hog.”

    I would disagree, for those that have been under the cover of a “four engine fighter”, or a four engine flying fortress of doom… They would probably disagree.

    Sorry fella’s, I had to…

    • leftoftheboom

      March 20, 2014 at 6:55 am

      Puff the Magic Dragon lives by the sea….

      I love anything with a gun that has three or more barrels.

      When they retire the A-10, I want a surplus GAU-8 for my yard.

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