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Ugly, Slow Warthogs Could Be Key To U.S. Victory In Iraq

Posted April 2, 2003

— One of the military's meanest fighting machines, the A-10 Thunderbolt, could be a key to victory in the war with Iraq.

To those who've graced its cockpit, the A-10 Thunderbolt is known as the "Warthog." According to Air Force Lt. Col. Jack Allison, pilots nicknamed the plane Warthog because "it's ugly and slow."

What the A-10 lacks in speed, it makes up for in brute force.

Compared to most fighter planes, the A-10 is a dinosaur; pilots use grease pencils to map out their missions on the canopy. But the aircraft is flying a third of the missions in the war with Iraq.

"It's capable of providing lethal fire power to the fighter pilot," said Allison, stationed at Pope Air Force Base, "and there's really no other aircraft that can do the threat regimes that we face."

So what makes the A-10 so unique? For starters: the gun, capable of firing 3,900 rounds every minute.

The armor-piercing round is a 34-millimeter projectile with a piece of uranium in it that equates to a hand grenade's worth of explosives. It's essentially a flying gun.

The A-10 is one of the most durable planes in the military. The cockpit is reinforced with titanium and can withstand multiple hits from 23-millimeter rounds.

It's a plane that earned its wings during the Gulf War and that is hailed as the weapon of choice in Operation Iraqi Freedom.


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