The US Air Force (USAF) has installed new lightweight airborne recovery systems on the A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft, specially designed for close air support of ground forces.
The air force technicians have so far installed new LARS V-12 systems on 19 A-10Cs in the past three months.
The LARS system facilitates effective communication between A-10 pilots and individuals on the ground such as downed pilots, pararescuemen and joint terminal attack controllers.
In addition to providing A-10 pilots with GPS coordinates of ground personnel, the system allows them to communicate via voice or text.
The systems’ upgrades to aircraft from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB) and Moody AFB was carried out by the 309th Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG).
309th AMARG acting director Timothy Gray said: "This urgent operational need arose in August (2016).
"Air Combat Command and the A-10 Program Office asked me if AMARG could complete 16 aircraft by (Dec. 16).
"I said, 'Absolutely!'
"It was awesome to see Team AMARG take on this massive logistical challenge, build a production machine, find facilities, manpower, equipment, tools, and make material kits (to) execute the requirement."
The twin-engine jet aircraft is equipped with night vision imaging systems, goggle compatible single-seat cockpits forward of their wings and a large bubble canopy which provides pilots all-around vision.
It has been designed to be used against all ground targets, including tanks and other armoured vehicles.
The aircraft can survive direct hits from armour-piercing and high explosive projectiles up to 23mm, the USAF said in a statement.
Image: An A-10C Thunderbolt II, upgraded with a new lightweight airborne recovery system V-12. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Mya M. Crosby.