The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthog" is the only aircraft in United States Air Force (USAF) history designed specifically for the close air support mission.
It was designed to survive in an intense anti-aircraft environment including anti-aircraft guns, radar-guided and infrared missiles and absorb battle damage and keep flying.
In fact, the A-10 is probably the most difficult plane ever built to shoot down due to its extreme maneuverability, self-sealing fuel tanks, wide separated jet engines on top of the fuselage,
twin vertical tails, multiple independent hydraulic systems, manual backup flight control system and redundant wing spars.
A total of 165 of these most recognizable and feared aircraft
from 5 different units participated in Operation Desert Storm. All units were formalized under the
354th Provisional Wing with 144 aircraft
at a time. The remaining aircraft above those 144 were replacements standing by at an off-site location to replace aircraft damaged beyond
continued combat status or aircraft destroyed.
Together, these A-10 and OA-10 aircraft conducted 8,624 sorties
maintaining a 95.7% mission capable rate
, 5% above A-10 peace-time rates, had the highest sortie rate of any
USAF aircraft. They achieved:
- 967 tanks destroyed
- 1026 pieces of artillery destroyed
- 1306 trucks destroyed
- 281 military structures destroyed
- 53 Scud missiles destroyed
- 10 aircraft on the ground destroyed
- 2 air-to-air aircraft (helicopter) kills with the GAU-8A 30mm Avenger cannon: 6 February 1991 by Capt. Bob Swain in 77-0205 of the 706th Tactical Fighter Squadron,
926th Tactical Fighter Group "Cajuns" from New Orleans Louisiana and the second by Capt Todd "Shanghai" Sheehy in 81-0964 with the 511th TFS "Vultures" out of RAF Alcombury United Kingdom.
Pilots often flew up to three missions per day with A-10's accounted for destroying 1/4 of Iraq's entire arsenal. [Read more on statistics....]
Often exposed to withering anti-aircraft fire and surface-to-air missile threats the slow, highly maneuverable A-10's incurred extensive combat battle damage
during Desert Storm. A total of six A-10s were lost
: five in combat action, another destroyed attempting to land at KKMC Forward Operating
Location #1 after being badly battle damaged durng combat. Nearly twenty more sustained significant battle damage and many others incurred minor damage.
Roughly half the total A-10 force, about 70, supporting Desert Storm suffered some type of damage.
Our 2951st Combat Logistics Support Squadron (CLSS)
CLSS, role was to repair battle damaged A-10's and get them back into the war.
My job was as Aircraft Battle Damage Repair (ABDR) Assessor to evaluate damages, develop a plan for the repairs required and prioritize those repairs in a triage method, although in a reverse triage
philosophy than in a hospital emergency room where the worse gets treated first... in ABDR you get the easiest, or smallest damaged aircraft repaired first to get them in the air faster.
2951 CLSS with A-10 540 at the McClellan Air Museum after its return from the Gulf
In addition to A-10 battle damage repairs we also performed major depot level repairs on some of the A-10's, as well as battle damage repairs and routine repairs on
F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-4 Phantom, C-130 Hercules and C-5 Galaxy aircraft as well as a couple trucks, a front-end loader...
Jacks of all trades! I was assigned to the 2951st Combat Logistics Support Squadron, later re-activated as the 652nd CLSS, McClellan AFB from 1988-1993.
In addition to our A-10 role, the 2951 CLSS had F-111 ABDR teams deployed as well as Supply and Transportation teams deployed around the Gulf region.
While my website here focuses on our A-10 mission (my mission), our other teams performed the same type of high quality, professional and extremely valuable missions as any of us.
CLSS... "A Touch of CLaSS!"