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A-10s Slaughter Helicopters
by James Dunnigan
May 29, 2014

A U.S. Air Force A-10 unit (the 190th Fighter Squadron) recently issued a press release about a March training exercise it participated in and noted that the unit set a record for air-to-air kills. What was not mentioned was what the A-10s had shot down. A little more digging and you would have discovered that the kills were mostly U.S. Army UH-72A armed transport helicopters. In the last decade the UH-72A replaced the aging UH-1 helicopters, which were still used by reserve units. The 3.6 ton UH-72A has a top speed of 260 kilometers an hour and a max range of 660 kilometers. Average endurance per sortie is about two hours. The helicopter has a crew of two, and can carry up to eight passengers, or about three-quarters of a ton of cargo or weapons.

The A-10C is a 23 ton, twin engine, single seat aircraft whose primary weapon is a multi-barrel 30mm cannon originally designed to fire armored piercing shells at Russian tanks. These days the 1,174 30mm rounds are mostly high explosive. The 30mm cannon fires 363 gram (12.7 ounce) rounds at the rate of about 65 a second. The cannon usually fires in one or two second bursts. In addition, the A-10 can carry seven tons of bombs and missiles. These days the A-10 goes out with smart bombs (GPS and laser guided) and Maverick missiles. It can also carry a targeting pod, enabling the pilot to use high magnification day/night cameras to scour the area for enemy activity. Cruising speed is 560 kilometers an hour and the A-10 can slow down to about 230 kilometers an hour. A-10s have long been the bane of helicopters because the ability to go low and maneuver more radically gives choppers some protection against fast moving jets.

 


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