Anyone who grew up watching cartoons, or playing video games, or just taking an interest in large, expensive vehicles will be saddened to hear today that the US military has indicated the end is nigh for the fabled A-10 Warthog.
Incorrectly labelled “ugly” by some detractors, the fact is the A-10 is the coolest damn aircraft to have ever served in the United States armed forces. Sure, the F-14 was sexy in Top Gun, and other fighters have captured the public’s imagination at some point or another, but know this:
The A-10 was designed to be a pair of wings built around the GAU-8 Avenger, the biggest gun to have ever been put in an aircraft.
It also has shark teeth on the front of it.
That, plus the fact it looked like nothing else on this planet, was more than enough to earn it a special place in the hearts of generations of kids growing up since the 70s, who have seen the A-10 star in everything from Transformers to GI Joe to Ace Combat to Saints Row.
Even if getting the thing off the ground was sometimes more trouble than it was worth.
Designed in the early ’70s and first entering active service in 1977, the A-10 has served with distinction in a number of conflicts and roles, from the Gulf War (where A-10s destroyed around 900 Iraqi tanks) through to Afghanistan, where its ability to not just hunt enemy armour (it’s why the thing was designed, and has the huge freakin’ gun) but to also provide close support for infantry has seen it adored by not just the Air Force, but troops on the ground as well.
While the ridiculous Avenger cannon – which can fire enormous 30mm rounds at a rate of 4200 per minute – was the main reason for the Warthog’s design, the A-10 was also famous for its rugged construction, able to withstand a ton of punishment.
Below is an image of the Avenger. So when people say the Warthog was literally built around the gun, they’re not kidding.
Another fun Avenger/Warthog fact: the gun fires its rounds so fast, and so powerfully, that if you were close enough to a target you’d hear the rounds hitting the ground before you’d hear them leaving the A-10.
Originally pegged for a gradual retirement by 2028, recent budget cuts – and the looming arrival of the F-35 – have seen the Air Force declare that the entire A-10 fleet is now on the chopping block.
It’ll be a sad day to see the Warthog mothballed, but it might be for the best. When the machines rise up and take over, we’re going to need them fresh and well-rested.