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A-10 Warthogs slated for major upgrade

This is a discussion on A-10 Warthogs slated for major upgrade within the Air Force & Aviation forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Initial flight testing of an extensive modernization package for the U.S. Air Force’s A-10 close air support aircraft will begin ...


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Old September 22nd, 2004   #1
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A-10 Warthogs slated for major upgrade

Initial flight testing of an extensive modernization package for the U.S. Air Force’s A-10 close air support aircraft will begin in December 2004. The Precision Engagement (PE) program aims to upgrade the twin-engine, single-seat “Warthog” so it will remain effective through 2028. Field installations of production PE kits by the Ogden (Utah) Air Logistics Center are scheduled to begin in Sept. 2005 following operational testing. A total of 356 A-10s and forward air controller OA-10s built between 1978 and 1982 will receive the upgrade through 2009.

The A-10s, which are flown by the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve in addition to active Air Force units, will receive a new “glass” cockpit that includes two 5x5-inch multi-function color display screens, digital controls and a new integrated flight and fire control computer. The GPS satellite-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition family, as well as the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser, will be integrated on the aircraft. The PE upgrade also will give the A-10 an external targeting pod capability – it will be able to carry either the Northrop Grumman Litening AT or the Lockheed Martin Sniper XR pod, both of which are being purchased by the Air Force, on an underwing pylon. The pods, which include long-range TV and infrared cameras with zoom capabilities and a laser target designator, will enable the pilot to identify targets from medium altitudes on the order of 20,000 to 30,000 feet day or night and “illuminate” them for homing, laser-guided bombs. The A-10s also are slated to get a Joint Tactical Radio System-based tactical data link to improve their pilot’s battlefield situational awareness. The Warthog, officially called the Thunderbolt II, will retain its awesome primary weapon – a 30mm seven-barrel Gatling gun.

Air Force Lt. Col. Bob “Mumbles” Silva, chief of the A-10 requirements branch at Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va., said PE will give the aircraft an all-weather, precision weapons capability that it never had before. In addition, the targeting pod will help reduce mistaken attacks on friendly forces and noncombatants by giving the pilot a close look at potential targets on the ground, he said. The upgrade also adds “hands-on throttle and stick” controls that will allow the pilot to change radio frequencies, display menus and other settings and drop bombs without having to look down. Silva said the Air Force, as a result of its Iraq War experience, has accelerated the PE program by nine months. The first fully trained squadron of A-10s with the PE upgrade, likely an Air National Guard unit, should become operational in the summer of 2006, he said.The Air Force also plans to upgrade the existing General Electric TF34-GE-100 turbofan engines on the A-10s, beginning the effort in earnest in fiscal 2006. Components of the existing engine will be replaced. In particular, a more efficient fan section with wider blades will be installed by General Electric along with digital engine controls. Flight testing of the revamped engine is slated to begin in fiscal 2008 and production in 2009-2010.

Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego (N.Y.) is the prime contractor for all A-10 upgrades and heads a team that includes BAE Systems’ Controls division, Northrop Grumman and the Southwest Research Institute.



http://www.isrjournal.com/story.php?F=360364
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Old September 29th, 2004   #2
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A-10 Pilots Might Get Digital Photos To Target Enemy

How many times have the grunts on the ground had problems talking an A-10 pilot onto a target?

Scientists at the Air Force Research Laboratory say they are working on a solution called the Electronic Kneeboard.

The kneeboard is a computer display that service officials hope to tuck into the console of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, said Vince Parisi, chief technical lead for the lab's helmet-mounted sensory technology office. With it, A-10 pilots would be able to receive digital pictures from the ground-pounders who need those pilots to take out enemy fighters. "We're trying to get the information [to the A-10] quickly and efficiently," said Parisi, who is an electrical engineer by trade.

Now, A-10 pilots must communicate verbally with the troops they are flying support missions for, Parisi said. When the guys on the ground come under fire, they send nine-line messages to the pilots to describe enemy forces' location.

The electronic kneeboard will give the pilots a visual, close-up look at what the ground troops want them to see, providing the pilots with better situation awareness. AFRL officials began working on the kneeboard in June to give the A-10 community an interim digital communication capability while it waits for the data link upgrades expected toward the end of this decade, lab officials said.

The design hasn't been finalized, but the display in the A-10 will probably be something like a 5-inch-by-7-inch touch screen that weighs about two or three pounds, Parisi said.

With this system, troops on the ground will use their existing computer and radio transmitters to send the pictures, which will be received by the existing radios and antennas on the jet.

Initial testing has proven successful. Lab results show that the pictures can be passed through the system, Parisi said.

Flight tests conducted by Air Combat Command will begin next summer. However, engineers will have to integrate the computer and find a place for the kneeboard in the cockpit. They have ruled out strapping the device to the pilots' legs because it could get in the way during ejection.

The kneeboard concept grew out of two programs -- Lil Hal and PACMAN, or pilot aircrew management. Both are attempts to take all of a pilot's paper flight documents such as flight plans, instrument approach plates and checklists and condense them onto a digital assistant.

Those documents, plus any other digital information -- such as maps, satellite imagery and charts -- could be stored on the kneeboard because it's a computer.

One of the program's goals is to have a "John Madden pencil," referring to the NFL commentator who uses a telestrator to draw lines and diagrams on the television screen. This would allow both ground forces and pilots to mark the pictures to indicate where the good and bad guys are.

This technology enjoys the support of several high-ranking Air Force officers, and AFRL officials say it could one day spread to the rest of the Air Force's fleets.


http://www.isrjournal.com/story.php?F=378779
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Old September 30th, 2004   #3
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Re: A-10 Warthogs slated for major upgrade

I always liked the Warthog and thought it was the ultimate CAS aircraft. Now it's being given battlefield strike capabilities as well. Nice.
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Old September 30th, 2004   #4
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Interesting. So they dont plan to replace the A-10's with JSF anymore? I always wondered how they would achieve the same performance with the small JSF anyway, esp. thinking about the Avenger...
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Old September 30th, 2004   #5
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I think after upgrades it will remain in service till 2025 becoz it is only best CAS with USA.
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Old November 10th, 2004   #6
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Me too i think that the warthog is still a great plane

for its purpose
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Old February 26th, 2005   #7
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Re: A-10 Warthogs slated for major upgrade

The cost of the program is US $300m (AUS$390) for 150 Airframes to be upgraded to A10 C to serve to 2020-2025 the non upgraded airfranes will
possibly be replaced from 2012-2016 by F 35's and then slowly over the next
4-9 years will be replaced but they've said that they'll be replaced before.
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