The A-10 Thunderbolt II: From A to C Page 3

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Situational Awareness Datalink (SADL):
The Raytheon produced SADL gives the pilot a bird’s-eye-view map of the immediate area and position information of nearby friendlies and targeted baddies. An A-10C (or A-10A+) pilot making an attack run “danger close” will see the five nearest friendlies (that are equipped with a compatible datalink) on his display. The SADL can also share information with Remote Optical Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER) terminals to give the boots-on-the-ground guys some much need info.

Notional SADL display
Notional SADL display
(Photo courtesy United States Air Force)

MIL-STD-1760 (smart weapons capability):
Some time ago the aircraft weapons industry decided that the MIL-STD-1760 communication protocol was the way to go and began designing their smart weapons around this expansive interface. This unfortunately left the Warthog, which had an older interface, unable to play with new weapons like the JSOW, JDAM, WCMD, and the GBU-39 and -40 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB). Not any longer! (Note: as of this writing, only the JDAM and WCMD smart weapons have been integrated onto the A-10C, but the 1760 interface opens up all sorts of possibilities for existing and future weapons.)

A transport cart with GPS-guided JDAMs
A transport cart with GPS-guided JDAMs
(Photo courtesy United States Air Force)

Litening and Sniper Targeting Pod Capability:
I expect we’ll see lots of hot debate on which targeting pod is better than the other, but both of these targeting pods, with their integrated FLIRs, laser designators, and high-zoom optics, when combined with today’s smart weapons and battlespace-wide datalinks, have revolutionized ground attack warfare. Either pod can be carried on station 2 or 10 on an A-10C, freeing up more stations for more convincing weapons like the Maverick or JDAM.

Note the angled front-end of this Sniper targeting pod
Note the angled front-end of this Sniper targeting pod
(Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin)

F-16-Style Control Handle:
Falcon drivers will be pleased to see this familiar sight in the cockpit, although the stick is still center-mounted in the A-10C and is not force-sensing. I wasn’t able to find confirmation, but one can assume the Target Management System (TMS), Display Management System (DMS), and Countermeasures Management System (CMS) switches on the new stick all operate the same as on their fast-mover counterpart.

The New 'Hog Handle
The New ‘Hog Handle
(Photo by Sander Vlekke)

Modified Throttle HOTAS:
Additional controls were added to the right throttle to enable the pilot to interface with the MFDs, weapons, and targeting pods.

Beautiful ‘Hogs
Beautiful ‘Hogs
(Photo courtesy United States Air Force)

Despite having an airframe over 30 years old and an already legendary legacy, the A-10C returns the A-10 Thunderbolt II to the status of a modern fighter. The new avionics add tremendous capability to an already capable platform and enable it to carry weapons of the future, ensuring its place on the front line of combat zones for the foreseeable future. It makes one wonder just how long the Warthog will be around and just what kind of replacement aircraft could ever be made to fill its well-worn and scuffed shoes.

Hog in a hangar
Hog in a hangar
(Photo courtesy United States Air Force)

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