F-16 is probably not going to happen soon – could Ukraine employ A-10 Warthogs? – Technology Org

While the F-16 is a tempting machine, its alternatives must be considered too. The representative of the Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Serhiy Cherevatyi discussed the opportunities of Western military aviation supply to Ukraine and listed the aircraft that would significantly help the Ukrainian effort to defend against the ongoing Russian invasion.

Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II has been in service since 1977.

Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II has been in service since 1977. Image credit: Air Combat Command United States Air Force via Wikimedia

Evaluating the American F-16 Fighting Falcon multi-role fighter jet, Cherevatyi said that with its help, the Ukrainian Forces could control the country’s airspace in such a way that the enemy would not be free to organize attacks there anymore. Cherevatyi emphasized that the F-16 is a very successful fighter jet that has demonstrated its effectiveness in more than one military conflict.

However, it is becoming clear that the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon will not be transferred to Ukraine in the near future.

In the latest meetings of Ukrainian supporters, such a possibility was not even considered. The US has said that other countries may independently consider transfers or military aircraft, but the US is not currently offering its own F-16s to Ukraine.

It is pretty much clear that Ukraine will not receive Western fighter jets in the near future, and if it did, their integration – both in terms of pilot training and maintenance – would require a significant length of time.

So maybe the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is a better choice? The A-10 is an American attack aircraft that has been in service since 1977. Surprisingly, during the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the US had almost no close support aircraft. The Douglas A-1 Skyraider of the 1940s was old, weak, and poorly armed. Thus, the A-10, later nicknamed the Warthog, was created.

The A-10 has been flown exclusively by the United States Air Force and its Air Reserve components.  It was never exported.

The A-10 has been flown exclusively by the United States Air Force and its Air Reserve components. It was never exported. Image credit: Master Sgt. William Greer via Wikimedia

The Warthog is a very tough plane. It can fly with severely damaged wings, with one non-working engine, and bullet holes in the fuselage.

The pilot sits in his titanium cockpit and dives to blast enemy tanks with the GAU-8/A Avenger 30mm cannon, which could in theory fire nearly for a thousand rounds per minute. It can’t, because the A-10 simply cannot fit so much ammunition in its belly. The A-10 also has 11 hardpoints for various missiles (including the AIM-9 Sidewinder and the AGM-65 Maverick) and bombs.

The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II was produced until 1984 and the US is considering phasing out these aircraft. The A-10 is often criticized for its speed and is mocked as an easy target for modern MANPADS and other air defense systems.

However, Ukraine is already using Soviet Su-25s for a similar purpose. The A-10 still has a place in modern warfare, especially if the enemy’s air defense systems can be suppressed in preparation for the battle. So…maybe?

Cherevatyi called the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II “a very powerful machine” and said that together with Apache helicopters (which Ukraine is also not getting) it could deliver significant results and change the course of military operations. This was reported by a Ukrainian news outlet RBC.

However, the diplomatic brakes that prevent the US from supplying Ukraine with the F-16 will not allow the A-10 to be offered either. In addition, the A-10 is not a much simpler plane to operate – it also needs maintenance and pilots need long training. Not to mention that the US is the sole operator of the A-10, which is not the case with the F-16. Only the US could provide training and support, which is a huge undertaking.

Sources: Dialog.ua, Wikipedia.

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