The much-maligned A-10 Thunderbolt ground attack airplane could prove to be a savior if fighting breaks out with North Korea. However, the US Air Force wants to get rid of the plane, and is not asking for funds to fix the wings on some 100 A-10s, which therefore may end up in the scrap yard.
In any conflict with North Korea, a US-South Korean-Coalition’s objective will be to knock out North Korea’s nuclear facilities and missiles. This will surely involve strategic bombers and maybe even stealth aircraft. But one immediate consequence will be that North Korea will attack South Korea, probably aiming first at neutralizing US and Korean forces by destroying bases, airfields, depots and equipment.
North Korea has a very large army that may number 3.5 million men and women, although the quality of the forces is open to question and skepticism. The country also has a considerable armored capability. There are 4,200 tanks, 2,200 armored personnel carriers, 8,600 artillery pieces and 4,800 multiple rocket launchers. While most of these are of old designs, if North Korea is able to move them in position, cross the DMZ and mount an attack on the south, its army could quickly defeat the south.
But if that is what the North Koreans are betting on, they had better be ready for US airpower. And the aircraft that could cause them the most harm is the A-10.
The A-10 was originally designed and deployed to support NATO forces against a land attack coming from the Soviet Union. It was purposely built to be able to knock out tanks, APCs and other mobile hardware.
A Soviet attack never came and the Soviet Union disintegrated by 1991. Consequently the A-10 was repurposed to perform COIN (counterinsurgency) duties and was used heavily in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not only was it used to blast away at Taliban and al-Qaeda, and more recently ISIS formations, but it also played an important role in offering close support to advancing coalition forces.
Combinations of coalition aircraft can keep the skies clear and go to work on the main strategic targets, leaving the A-10 with a prime role of blasting North Korea’s armored forces
But the threat from North Korea of a massive land attack is no different than the one that was feared from the USSR. The A-10 design is perfectly suited to the mission.
The heart of the A-10 is its formidable and highly effective GAU-8 30mm canon. The GAU-8, termed the “Avenger,” is a 7-barrel gatling gun that can fire 4,200 rounds per minute. It carries two types of ammunition: an armor piercing shell that uses a depleted uranium core, and an incendiary shell. It could take out any and all of North Korea’s armor.
The US Air Force has been trying to kill the A-10 program. It claims (among other things) that existing aircraft can fill its role (argument 1) and that the plane is not survivable in complex environments where the enemy has real air defenses (argument 2).
Of course, when the A-10 was built and first deployed, the adversary had air defenses in depth. These were shown off by Egypt and Syria in the 1973 Yom Kippur war, where fighting, especially in the Sinai, was a clash of large armies and where air power was crucial to Israel’s ability to blunt the Egyptian attack and turn the war around.
Israel’s Air Force faced SA-6 air defense missiles coupled with ZSU Quad 4 23mm guns. Both were mobile and could move with the Egyptian armored force. In seeking to knock them out, Israel used A-4s and had a tough time, losing many aircraft (mostly to the ZSU guns). Most of the time the losses happened when the A-4s were pulling away from an attack and got shot up when they were most vulnerable.
North Korea has fairly modern air defenses, especially a system known as the S-75 and another called the KN-06. The S-75 is more or less the same things as the Russian SA-2. The KN-06 is thought to be an early version of the Russian S-300, but manufactured locally.
These systems are great targets for the F-35 or F-22, or they can be jammed and knocked out by long range bombers such as the B-1.
The argument the Air Force carefully avoids is that US aircraft don’t operate singularly. The F-22 is a strategic long-range pure stealth fighter bomber; the F-35 is a new tactical stealth plane that can play a role against North Korean missile sites. Much of North Korea’s largely obsolete Air Force is food for F-15s and F- 16s.
While nothing ever works exactly as advertised, combinations of coalition aircraft can keep the skies clear and go to work on the main strategic targets (long range missiles and nuclear facilities), leaving the A-10 with a prime role of blasting North Korea’s armored forces.
The A-10 is the perfect aircraft to blast any plans Kim Jong-un has to dominate the Korean peninsula. If his army is chopped up and decimated, he will only have himself to blame. And if he
survives, he will remember the A-10.
South Korea will never agree to an attack on the North and it is impossible to attack without that agreement. End of strory.
If USA attacked North Korea, Washington DC will be the first city to be vaporized.
And China had made it clear that if USA attacks North Korea first, China will support North Korea.
How much do you get paid to write anti-semitic garbage?
Stephen Bryen sorry, whom are you asking to ?
A very narrow view which is easily countered.
On the OT, If you ask the guys on the ground that need a lil "BRRRRRRRT" from time to time will tell you there is a great feeling when one is overhead.
You are crazy?war against north is not a Hollywood,you can start war and won.USA& Co. Are going lose war against north,China& Russia.
Are you drunk..?
Michael Chan China is and always be a traitor to the whole world.
The A-10’s strength is its armor. The plan can be pretty badly shot up and continue flying. It solves the problem the A4 faced. Drones don’t have the same capability. The F-35, the targeted replacement, is unarmored. At the low altitudes, it could be victim to small arms fire.
The AH-64 Apache is armored, but still both more vulnerable and slower. The latter a big issue it time to get to the target. Those with mud on their boots know the difference.
There is no alternative for the plane. The real fix is to transfer them to the Army.
This is a picture of an A-10 flown back to base without hydraulics: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b6/Kim_campbell_damage_a10.jpg
Stephen, you sure stired up the dust bin. The HOG is one of the best close air support aircraft I’ve seen since the old Thunderbolt. We need a lot more like them, of course improved versions, to help make short work of these brush wars we always seem to be involved with. Another excellent defense tool Made In The USA. No better place to put our tax dollars than defense development of everything from aircraft to walls.
I read somewhere online thst the SECTY of the USAF likes the A-10. I AGREE,I am prior USAF, I worked close to the hogs.They are a GREAT plane. AND if they deploy AC-130’s too THEY can be a DEADLY DUO!! to anyine.!! anytime.!!!
So now Asia Times has cbetween North &limbed on to the ‘Save the A-10’ bandwagon… as it rolls inexhorably off the cliff. Stop flogging a dead horse!
But then, of course, there is also thequite strong possibility of a raprochement between North & South Korea; something the US has been hell-bent on preventing for decades.
Bob Son You’re thinking of the US!
Yes. Much Respect to you. .
Is this some sort of advertisement for the A-10?
War is not the answer. There is still a room for peaceful negotiations.
The US has no intention of attacking North Korea, If the A-10 were used it would be used to repel aggression from the DPRK. In that role, make no mistake, the A-10 in combination with other air assets would reign supreme. But it will not happen unless the North strikes first at US allies, South Korea or Japan. The US defense policies in the region have allowed both of these nations to prosper and become economic giants among the nations of the world, where as we can see by contrast what a devasted wasteland the DPRK has become relying on its allies, Communist Russia and more recently Communist China.
That is possibly the worst article I’ve ever read!
You have mentioned India here…. but sir let me remind you that India has had an unblemished track record of a responsible nuclear power using it for peaceful purposes and as a deterrent. Neither does it threaten anyone nor does it take a self-righteous position and preach others.
Bob Son and America will be a bully to the world
hold your tongue please, n korea will be dust when they are still proveke us
B1, bomber is the true animal,in my opinion
Michael Chan Excellent
Philos Mukuru America Is A Devil. No one now cares about. It has become more rude and will be slapped soon.
Don’t worry you people, when world war III ends I will like to see most of you people commenting, saying rubbish.
Slow flying easy target for anyone with decent ground to air capability? They been used heavily but mainly uncontested turkey shoots.try selling to Taiwan,they love to pay billions for outdated us arms
Evidently you have never served a day in the military to write such drivel…
Uh..no. North Korean ICBMs don’t have the range.
If they took out Washington no one would cry, though.
The cost of America’s war against Iraq and Afganstan amounted to around 4000 billion dollars, this gave Russia a chance to come back again and helped China to develop its economy.
War against N. Korea will mark the end of America as a super power nation!
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