Dubbed 'Warthog' - or just 'Hog' - by those who fly and maintain it, the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is the world's undisputed close air support attack jet. As tough as it is ugly, it has built a fearsome reputation as a tank buster and infantry killer in conflicts around the globe, and its GAU-8 Avenger 30mm cannon strikes fear into the hearts of all unlucky enough to be on the wrong side of it.he A-10 was clutched from the jaws of retirement by the 1991 Gulf War. At the time of the conflict, the United States Air Force was making plans to shed it's A-10 fleet, citing obsolescence and redundancy. As the ensuing conflict showed, nothing could have been further from the truth, and no other airframe could have provided the US and Coalition commanders with the sort of forward air control, close air support, combat search and rescue, and tank busting capabilities that the Hog did. Since then the A-10 has delivered capabilities to battlefield commanders in the Balkans (1990s), Afghanistan (2001 onwards) and the second Gulf War (2003 onwards), and Libya (2011). A-10s have flown around 11 per cent of Operation Inherent Resolve sorties (striking IS targets in Iraq) since combat operations began in August 2014.
Steve Davies is a freelance aviation journalist and photographer living in Cambridge, England. He is the author of F-15E Units in Combat 1991-2005 (Osprey), F-15C Units in Combat (Osprey), F-15C/E Units in OIF (Osprey), F-15E Strike Eagle: All Weather Attack Aircraft (Airlife), and F-15 Eagle & Strike Eagle: Combat Legends (Airlife). He is also a regular contributor to the aviation press including International Air Power Review, Combat Aircraft, Air Forces Monthly, Aircraft Illustrated and Air Pictorial.