A-10C Precision Engagement
The newly designated C-model A-10 Thunderbolt II, modified with precision engagement technology, was flown for the first time at Eglin AFB, FL. in January 2005. The A-10 Program Office at at Hill AFB has managed the precision engagement program since 2001. The office's precision engagement program management team, made up of about 25 people, acts as a liaison between Air Combat Command and the project's prime contractor, Lockheed Martin Systems Integration.
Calling the A-10C the "best friend to the boots on the ground," Lt. Col. Mark Donahue, director of the A-10 Program Office, spoke during the rollout ceremony. "The Air Force always strives to enhance its combat capabilities," said Lt. Col. Mark Donahue, director of the A-10 Program Office. "The A-10 Precision Engagement modification is the critical first step. Battlefield data-links and upgraded engines, plus expanded cockpit and weapon upgrades are next. These upgrades keep the A-10 viable on the 21st century battlefield until it retires in 2028.
Precision-engagement technology allows the Air Force's premier close-air support aircraft to also use smart weapons such as Joint Direct Attack Munitions and wind-corrected munitions dispensers, incapable in the previous model. The Air Force has taken the world's greatest close-air support platform and made it even better by adding a wide array of laser and Global Positioning System-aided munitions, the latest in targeting pods and the infrastructure to support data link. The increased capability also allows for the A-10C to accept more high-value target missions.
Despite some speculation into whether to retire the A-10 in full or in part in years past, its performance in recent conflicts and its program enhancements make it an invaluable part of the Air Force fleet. The A-10 provides a ground commander with a capability no other platform can in terms of survivability, loiter time and array of weapons.
For those who have seen an A-10, the new model looks identical from the outside because the modifications are largely in the software and cockpit hardware. The appearance would be different, though, when loaded with a new array of munitions. The new capability will enable the A-10C to carry six smart munitions, with a standard load of four. The modification moved the center of gravity slightly forward in the aircraft, but it was not distinguishable.
The estimated $360 million program has been a joint Air Force and industry effort that leaders said they believe will breathe yet more life into the 30-year-old aircraft.
The A-10C program effectively takes one of the most lethal air-to-ground platforms ever designed and significantly upgrades its ability to precisely detect, identify and destroy targets while increasing situational awareness and standoff capability. As part of the upgrade effort, the A/OA-10 fleet is receiving advanced integrated cockpit controls and displays, an improved pilot vehicle interface using two new multifunction color displays and a new central interface control unit with three state-of-the-art computer processors to provide stores management -- the control of weapons release and pod employment -- and overall avionics systems integration.
A/OA-10 pilots will enjoy hands-on-stick-and-throttle control of weapons, targeting pods and navigation systems, simplifying their duties considerably. Simply put, in the C model, we will have 10 times the information available, from both on- and off-board sources, and the ability to process and act on that information significantly quicker. Even for a simple laser-guided-bomb delivery, what took roughly 14 cockpit switch changes now takes four with the C model. Just imagine what will happen when we combine machine-to-machine datalink technology with the lethality of the Hawg.
The massive modification encompasses multiple enhancements that will provide the aircraft with all-weather capability to detect and strike targets from greater altitudes and distances using precision-guided weapons. The improvements represent a significant leap in operational capability for the Warthog.
Under Precision Engagement, the A/OA-10 is being modified to employ the Joint Direct Attack Munition and the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser. The program is integrating advanced sensors, a datalink and the LITENING AT and Sniper XR targeting pods onto the aircraft, which will boost pilot situational awareness, targeting capabilities, survivability and communication with other coalition ground and air elements.
The Full Mission Trainer [FMT] is a critical component for the A-10A to A-10C conversion. he ANG, AFRC, and ACC have jointly fielded a high fidelity flight simulator with 360 degree full field of vision displays for the A-10 community. ACC funding for additional procurement beyond the eleven devices currently fielded ended in FY 03. As of 2006 current MAJCOM funding did not include additional FMTs for the ANG or AFRC, but did re-initiate a procurement program of eleven devices for active duty units in FY 08. The A-10 FMT PMD committed to six ACC procured devices for the Guard. Three ANG units (103 FW, 110 FW and 124 FW) had one FMT each as of 2006. The ANG funded a fourth FMT in FY 04 with the Precision Engagement upgrade for delivery in June 06 to the 175th FW. There was an immediate need to deploy one FMT to the remaining two ANG units and the 188th FW in FY 07.
The requirement is established in the A-10 ORD of 19 Oct 1999 and CAF DMO Roadmap. The ANG has a requirement for seven (7) additional FMTs to complete the deployment of one or two devices per unit with associated brief/debriefing suite, threat systems, and associated equipment and software. Failure to fund this requirement precludes completion of the CSAF A-10 DMO Roadmap. Mission rehearsal and tactics development for all ANG A-10 aircrews will not be available. The current Contractor Logistic Support contract, under the TSA II contract vehicle, is in its second base year with five option years. Lockheed-Martin Information Systems, Mesa, AZ is the prime contractor.
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