August 18, 2006:
The U.S. Air Force wants to keep it's A-10 ground attack aircraft going at least another ten years. That means that over 300 of them have to be rebuilt and upgraded. That's because the A-10s were built three decades ago, with a service life of 4,000 hours in the air. Most have already got over 6,000 hours. So refurbishment will extend service life to 16,000 hours, and install an F-16 like cockpit, along with the ability to use a targeting pod and deliver GPS and laser guided bombs. This makes the A-10 the most versatile ground support aircraft in service. The A-10 still has its 30mm cannon, which, while designed to destroying armored vehicles, has proved useful against all manner of targets. The targeting pod also enables A-10 pilots to cruise around at night, and get a high-resolution view of what's going on down there. The infantry depend on the extra eye in the sky, and the ability to deliver anything from 30mm cannon fire, to Maverick missiles to 500 pound JDAM smart bombs.