It may be a slow mover, but US troops love their 'warhog'. The US A-10 'Warhog' ground attack aircraft can fly low and slow, and is designed, and armoured, to survive lots of ground fire. The troops trust the A-10 more than the F-16, or any other aircraft used for supporting the ground troops.
So popular is the A-10 with ground troops that the air force brass sat up and took note of it. So they speeded up plans to upgrade the aircraft's electronics. The new, improved A-10C is now headed for Iraq and Afghanistan, as the first of the new models became available last month.
New gadgetry in the A-10C equips the pilot with the same targeting and fire control systems that the latest fighters have. The A-10C's all- new cockpit has flashy colour displays and easy-to-use controls.
Since the A-10 is a three-decade-old design, the new stuff seems even more spectacular in comparison. New communication gear allows A-10C pilots to share pictures and video with troops on the ground. It can also use smart bombs, making it a do-it-all aircraft for troop support.
While the first newly equipped A-10Cs will fly into battle this year, it will take five years to upgrade all 350 aircraft in service. The air force is also upgrading the engines and airframes of the '70s era aircraft. Altogether, the upgrades will cost about $13 million per aircraft.
Ironically, the air force has been trying to retire the ugly, elderly, aircraft for over a decade. But when it actually comes to war, the A-10s are just too effective, and popular. So they go on and on…