USAF completes A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft wing replacement project

14 August 2019 (Last Updated August 14th, 2019 11:29)

The US Air Force (USAF) has completed a programme to install 173 new wings on A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support aircraft.

USAF completes A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft wing replacement project
514th Flight Test Squadron commander and A-10 test pilot lieutenant colonel Ryan Richardson takes off during a functional check flight of an A-10 Thunderbolt II, tail no 80-0252. Credit: USAF / Alex R Lloyd.

The US Air Force (USAF) has completed a programme to install 173 new wings on A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support aircraft.

The Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill Air Force Base completed the installation of new wings on the last A-10 in the project.

The A-10 Enhanced Wing Assembly replacement programme started in 2011.

Built by Fairchild Republic Company, now a part of Northrop Grumman, the A-10 is nicknamed ‘The Warthog’. The aircraft has a wingspan of 17.42m, length of 16.16m, and height of 4.42m.

While the Ogden ALC’s 571st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AXMS) replaced wings on 162 A-10 aircraft, the remaining 11 were installed at Osan Air Base in South Korea.

571st AXMS director Stephen Zaiser said: “From a warfighter point of view, bringing this programme to a successful conclusion was a significant accomplishment for the entire enterprise team.”

As part of the replacement project, new parts were created for the fuselage. In addition, the team had to procure other A-10 parts from the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, US.

Zaiser added: “At the end of the programme, making sure we had all the pieces and parts that we needed to make that happen required a really significant team effort.

“I think the fact that we produced the aircraft so successfully is a testament to the whole team, the special programme office, Boeing and others that were a part of making it all work.”

The new wings will have a lifespan of up to 10,000 equivalent flight hours without a depot inspection. The project also created an improved wire harness design to enable easier wing removal.

The A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft can fly close to the ground in support of friendly ground troops. It can also drop heavy loads of weapons and attack armoured vehicles or tanks.

The replacement of some of the A-10 fleet’s wings is aimed at maintaining the airworthiness of the weapon system and to ensure the aircraft remains operational into the late 2030s.

In 2007, Boeing received a contract worth $1.1bn to build replacement wings for the aircraft.