New Wings to Secure A-10 Longevity

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (ACCNS) -- New wings are the answer to Air Force concerns on the aging A-10 Thunderbolt II, an airframe flying since 1975.
The Air Force awarded a contract to Boeing last year requiring 242 new A-10 wings constructed and delivered to depots for installment on the thin-skinned airframes by 2011. This upgrade is expected to keep the aircraft flying until about 2030.

Not all 356 of the Air Force's A-10s require new wings because more than 100 airframes were constructed in the 1980s with "thick skin," giving them a stronger structure, said Master Sgt. Steven Grimes, A-10 maintenance liaison for Air Combat Command.

A-10s also are undergoing modernization. The old airframe is midway through a major upgrade to a more capable A-10C. It boasts the latest technology of smart weapons, including GPS-guided bombs and all-weather capability.

Furthermore, the sturdy airframe design enables the A-10 to operate from austere airfields and take battle damage without degrading capability. Examples of its survivability include armor, self-sealing fuel cells protected by foam, manual flight control systems that back up hydraulic controls, and a ballistic tub surrounding the cockpit.

-- Tech. Sgt. Russell Wicke,
Air Combat Command Public Affairs