Osan squadron will fly upgraded Warthog
By FRANKLIN FISHER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 17, 2010
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The Air Force’s ground-attack airplane in South Korea is being replaced with an upgraded version that can strike targets with state-of-the-art satellite-guided smart bombs, officials said Monday.
The 25th Fighter Squadron at Osan Air Base currently flies the A-10A Thunderbolt II, known as the Warthog.
It received its first three C-models with smarter weapons capability earlier this month, with more to come at an undisclosed future date.
The squadron is known as the Assam Draggins and has 30 aircraft.
The A-model Warthog can launch high-tech laser-guided bombs and other munitions, but not the more advanced satellite-guided JDAM — or joint direct attack munition — that C-models can. The newer version started entering the Air Force inventory in 2007.
“As ‘Hog drivers,’ the 25th Fighter Squadron, we never forget about that grunt on the ground, that 18-year-old soldier on the ground who might need us to get him out of a pinch,” said Air Force Capt. Matthew Kaercher, an A-10 pilot.
“We’re excited that … we’ve got increased ability to provide that support.”
Besides the ability to launch JDAMs, the C-model is fitted with new electronics gear that allows pilots to receive key targeting and other data digitally.
That can help them get vital information earlier in the mission and can shorten the “kill chain” — the time that elapses from takeoff to the striking of the target, Kaercher said.
“They can send you all of this information as you’re driving inbound to the target,” he said. “Rather than getting on station, trying to figure out where everybody is on the ground … you can be thinking about it en route.”
In addition, the digital situational awareness data link, or SADL, reduces the A-10 pilot’s reliance on radio transmissions, which can sometimes be impeded by distance, weather conditions, mountains and other obstructions, and heavy radio traffic, Kaercher said.
From the outside, the A-10C looks no different from the A model, and it has the same 30mm Gatling gun, which has a reputation for devastating lethality.
“Best thing about it, it’s still an A-10,” Kaercher said. “Still flies like an A-10. And they didn’t play with the gun, which is damn near perfect.”