The Airforce’s Newest Bomber… the A-10?

| April 29, 2023


Seems the lads at the 422 Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) have been busy. They have updated the software and weapons racks on an A-10 to carry up to 16 GBU-39  Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs). Think of it like this – a flight of 4 A-10s could  carry up to 64 of these “little” (250 pounds of oh-shit) fellas….in ADDITION to the big Gatling gun and all the normal toys. And these aren’t just dumb ‘fly-overhead-and-push-the-button’ dumb bombs.

With initial low-rate production beginning in 2005, the standard GBU-39/B features a combination inertial navigation system with a GPS guidance system, while the GBU-39B/B adds laser guidance. At just 250 pounds, the GBU-39/B provides A-10 pilots with greater ability to make precision standoff strikes compared to Joint Direct Attack Munitions and AGM-65 Maverick missiles due to the SDB’s ability to glide for dozens of miles to its target. While light in weight, SDBs still pack a formidable punch and can even penetrate hardened structures.

To quote Beetlejuice “Hmm…think I’m feelin’ a little …anxious…if ya know what I mean.’ Oh baby…

Of course, these new photos come as part of a wider bid to modernize the A-10 and keep it relevant for future high-end conflicts, potentially one against China. The A-10 Common Fleet Initiative, initiated in 2018, is designed to keep the Warthog flying into the 2030s, although the Pentagon now wants the type gone by the end of the decade. As The War Zone highlighted in August last year, the 422nd TES at Nellis AFB is playing a central role in this effort.

One could imagine that SDB’s follow-on, the GBU-53/B SDBII ‘Strombreaker’ would be something of a dream weapon for the A-10, as it has the ability to hit moving targets dozens of miles away and in any weather conditions. If the A-10 were paired with a radar pod or third party sensor data from another platform, a single A-10 could take out an entire formation of armor on the move from many miles away, even during a storm. The same could be said for a swarm of boats.

The Drive

Nice to see part of the Air Force to keep one of its best platforms (who knows, possibly even saving the taxpayers a few trillion in F-35 costs in the process.) We already know an F-35 carries a fraction of the ammo an A-10 carried before – have to wonder how many external bomb racks they can carry, especially while remaining stealthy. I suspect the answer is “somewhere less than one”.

The A-10 isn’t sexy enough or fast enough to suit the fighter jock fraternity – ferchrissakes, just give the plane to the Marines and Army!


Category: Air Force, Science and Technology

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Anna Puma

The A-10C keeps adding meaning to the phrase “Death from Above.”


The “F”35 is a fighter. The “A”10 is a ground attack jet. I would certainly hope that the A10 carried more than the F 35. Still, the F35 carries four 250 lb bombs.

I do think the A10 would make a good light, short range, low altitude bomber.


But then again at 1000 pounds of bombs, in context, so did the P51 Mustang 80 years ago.


Similar flight characteristics, yes? Just more earth-shattering kabooms than a B-17

George V

I wonder is anyone in that building that has 4 walls and spare has asked “Any possibility the Chinese could jam the GPS signal?” If they can, pretty much all our capability is gone. Is iron sight bombing still practiced at all?

jeff LPH 3 63-66

Back in the early 70’s, Shotgun news had a Nordon bombsight for sale which I should have bought but I didn’t, and they had an Enigma machine which I should have bought but didn’t.


Do you have of those old ads? That would be a treasure all by itself.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

No 5JC, geez that was a long time ago that I used to read shotgun news.


GPS and the Internet getting cut off must be considered, if not planned-for.


We need bigger guns!


No A10 has ever shot down a jet, although it might be possible. Destroying one on the ground would be too easy.

Old tanker

The only way to replace the aging A-10 fleet is t make brand new A-10s with fresh airframes and all the upgrades.


If they did all that they should make it carrier capable. That would increase the enemy love for Jesus.


“… just give the plane to the Marines and Army!”

Where’s mine? Of all the Aerial Artillery Platforms out there, I do believe that the ‘Hog is my favorite.


Everyone always says to give the A-10 to the Marines, but they are more all in on the F-35 than the Air Force.


Low and slow is great… with adequate air cover.

The 35 should stick to what she’s good at, being expensive, and my favorite way of saying ‘fuck you’ to the enemy should have’r fangs sharpened.

Zero TICs in and around Kirkuk when those beautiful ugly bastards where up.

yeah she is.jpeg
RGR 4-78

I have wondered lately how a P-38 Lighting would perform if it was redesigned around the GAU-8/A Avenger with all the modern avionics and turbojet engines.

RGR 4-78

Turbofan not jet. Thats what I get for not double checking my memory.

  • What you envision would be very similar to an OV-10 Bronco with more powerful engines sans propellers. But I have to wonder how the jet engines would attach to a twin tail boom design.
RGR 4-78

The P-38 already has engine nacelles in the wings, re-engineer them for the larger turbofan along with an exit for the jet blast.

Yes, it would be a strange looking beast. Don’t forget the sharks’ teeth.


The OV-10 airframe could likely be modified to take those PT6A engines, as it is already powered by turboprops. Whether it could be modded to take an anti-tank minigun is the question.


A flight of A-10s with cover from some fighters could be a game changer in a Ukraine type scenario, I would think.
They’ve certainly been a favorite of ground pounders in the field.


Too bad we are not training Uke pilots and giving them those A-10’s the ChairForce wants so badly to jettison.


A10’s are ugly as sin but effective as hell. I’m sure we’ve all seen the pics of them shot to pieces and able to still fly.

No, they are not glamorous and sleek, but more like a dependable, beater farm truck that reliably keeps chugging along.


If neither the Marines nor the Navy pick up the A-10, it is a dead duck, going the way of the Dodo Bird. I would hope that the current A-10 pilots would follow the A-10 wherever it goes, as long as the service picking it up weren’t their usual asshole selves, playing games with the A-10 pilots.