A-10 THUNDERBOLT 2 MUG
A-10 THUNDERBOLT 2 -- This A-10 Thunderbolt II suffered extensive damage over Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom in early 2003, but still made it back to base.The A-10 is exceptionally tough. Its strong airframe can survive direct hits from armor-piercing and high-explosive projectiles up to 23 mm. The aircraft has triple redundancy in its flight systems, with mechanical systems to back up double-redundant hydraulic systems. This permits pilots to fly and land when hydraulic power or part of a wing is lost. Flight without hydraulic power uses the manual reversion flight control system; this engages automatically for pitch and yaw control, and under pilot control (manual reversion switch) for roll control. In manual reversion mode, the A-10 is sufficiently controllable under favorable conditions to return to base and land, though control forces are much higher than normal. The aircraft is designed to fly with one engine, one tail, one elevator and half a wing torn off. Self-sealing fuel tanks are protected by fire-retardant foam. Additionally, the main landing gear is designed so that the wheels semi-protrude from their nacelles when the gear is retracted so as to make gear-up landings (belly landing) easier to control and less damaging to the aircraft's underside. A belly landing would be required in the case of a landing gear failure; for other jets, the only options would be a water landing, or a rough, risky landing on the aircraft's underside, engine(s), or external fuel tanks. Also, the A-10's landing gear are all hinged toward the rear of the aircraft, so if hydraulic power is lost the pilot can simply drop the gear and a combination of gravity and wind resistance will open and lock the gear in place.An A-10 after a gear-up landing at Edwards AFB, CA.The cockpit and parts of the flight-control system are protected by 900 pounds of titanium armor, referred to as a titanium "bathtub". The tub has been tested to withstand strikes from 23 mm cannon fire and some strikes from 57 mm rounds. It is made up of titanium plates with thicknesses from ½ inch to 1½ inches determined by a study of likely trajectories and deflection angles. This protection comes at a cost, though; the armor itself weighs almost 6% of the entire aircraft’s empty weight. To protect the pilot from the fragmentation likely to be created from impact of a shell, any interior surface of the tub that is directly exposed to the pilot is covered by a multi-layer spall shield. The canopy consists of a bullet-proof diffusion-bonded stretched-acrylic to withstand small arms fire and is resistant to spalling. The front windscreen offers shielding resistant to 20 mm cannon fire!