A-10 Thunderbolt

One of the unexpected highlights of our visit to Tucson was the frequent fighter jet flybys from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.  We saw numerous F-16s take off and scream away into the distance.  But what really gets my blood pumping are the A-10 Thunderbolts.

The A-10 Thunderbolt II is an American single-seat, twin-engine, straight-wing jet aircraft developed by Fairchild-Republic in the early 1970s.  The A-10 was designed for the United States Air Force to provide close air support for ground forces by attacking tanks, armored vehicles, and other ground targets.



Times like this I hate the slight lag on a digital camera.  These two A-10s were at their lowest point, just a few hundred feet above us.  I pressed the shutter button, and a half-second later my camera snapped this amazing photo with a stupid street pole right through the middle.



The A-10 took its first flight at Davis-Monthan back in 1975.  The A-10 has superior maneuverability at low speeds and altitude because of its large wing area, high wing aspect ratio, and large ailerons.  The aircraft can loiter for extended periods and operate below 1,000 feet.  It often flies at a relatively slow speed of 350 mph that enables it to attack ground forces much better than fast fighter-bombers, which have difficulty targeting small and slow-moving objects.  (Source: Wikipedia)  Hence, the A-10 has the nickname, “Tank Killer.”



We saw over a dozen A-10s on our 4-day visit to Tucson. Many were flying in pairs, and some were engaged in mock dogfights.  I love how the A-10 can turn on a dime and drop like a rock from the sky.  Yes, I have a man-crush on a fighter jet.



The A-10 was used in combat for the first time during the Gulf War in 1991, destroying more than 900 Iraqi tanks, 2,000 military vehicles, and 1,200 artillery pieces.  (Source: Wikipedia)




Here we see two A-10s flying over Saguaro (West) National Park, providing an interesting combination and contrast of high-tech weaponry and natural desert environment.

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