Will the A-10 Thunderbolt II Help And Should the Armed Forces of Ukraine Count On It At All?

2795
The USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II / Illustrative photo from open sources
The USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II / Illustrative photo from open sources

The A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft during Operation Desert Storm destroyed 900 Iraqi tanks and showed the highest flight readiness in combat conditions, this legendary aircraft can strengthen the Air Force of Ukraine, the question of timing and, surprisingly, expediency

The news that Ukraine may receive the legendary American A-10 attack aircraft spread across the Internet. But it should be taken into account that in this particular case "can" is exclusively the interpretation of the words of the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force Charles Brown and the Secretary of the US Air Force Frank Kendall during the Aspen Security Forum.

Will the A-10 Thunderbolt II Help And Should the Armed Forces of Ukraine Count On It At All?, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
The USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II / Illustrative photo from open sources

Charles Brown stated that sooner or later, the Air Force of Ukraine will abandon Soviet aircraft and switch to Western models. Frank Kendall didn’t provide any specific information in the answer to the journalist's question regarding the decommissioning of 21 A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft in the 2023 fiscal year (beginning on October 1) and the possibility of their transfer to Ukraine.

Read more: A-10 Thunderbolt II and Su-25 Comparison and Survivability

"General Brown addressed that question this morning about what fighters Ukraine might be interested in. That's largely up to Ukraine. ... Older U.S. systems are a possibility," Kendall said in response. "We will be open to discussions with them on what their requirements are and how we might be able to satisfy them", Charles Brown stated.

But even this was enough for a real wave of publications about the transfer of A-10 attack aircraft to Ukraine in the near future. It is necessary to remind that back in March, Frank Kendall, when asked by journalists about the possibility of arming the Air Force of Ukraine with these attack aircraft, answered that he was completely unaware of the US plans to supply A-10 to Ukraine.

Will the A-10 Thunderbolt II Help And Should the Armed Forces of Ukraine Count On It At All?, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
The USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II / Illustrative photo from open sources

That is, in Washington, taking everything into account, the issue has already been finally resolved that Ukraine will receive Western aircraft. But what exactly Ukraine will get is still a debatable issue. Moreover, even the training of Ukrainian pilots in the USA does not mean that the planes will be exclusively American.

As noted by the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, Charles Brown, it is possible that these will be European machines as well. The words of the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikov, are worth considering: he stated that not only the F-16, but also other jets, such as the Swedish Gripen by Saab, are among the candidates.

Will the A-10 Thunderbolt II Help And Should the Armed Forces of Ukraine Count On It At All?, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
The Swedish Gripen / Illustrative photo

In any case, the acquisition of the A-10 Thunderbolt II is now already a subject for discussion and this is quite a big step forward in relation to the transfer of Western aircraft to Ukraine, which was not even discussed a few months ago. But it is a rather debatable question whether this attack aircraft will be useful for the Air Force of Ukraine.

First of all, it should be remembered that the A-10 was created for the war with the USSR in the conditions of a full-scale conflict, and the jet is already 50 years old. Due to its exceptional survivability, ease of maintenance, low cost of flight and proven combat effectiveness, it is still in service with the United States. And it will be in service at least until the 2040s.

Its legendary time fell on the Operation Desert Storm, where these machines destroyed 900 tanks, 1200 artillery systems and 2000 other vehicles, and also demonstrated the highest flight readiness at the level of more than 90%, which significantly exceeded the capabilities of other US aircraft. But this high rate is a direct consequence of the fact that the USA during the first war in Iraq gained total superiority in the air and destroyed all the enemy's anti-aircraft defense in the first days. And this is not surprising, as more than 2150 aircraft were involved in the air part of the operation.

Will the A-10 Thunderbolt II Help And Should the Armed Forces of Ukraine Count On It At All?, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
The USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II / Illustrative photo from open sources

Ukraine surely doesn’t have such superiority. And hypothetical Ukrainian A-10s will be forced to operate in far from “soft” conditions.

But despite everything, Ukraine’s Su-25 pilots are working in the skies of Ukraine every day right now. And they successfully perform combat missions despite russian fighters and air defense systems.

At the same time, the A-10 has a unique advantage over the Soviet Su-25 in high-precision weapons. These are AGM-65 Maverick anti-tank missiles with a flight range of about 30 km, as well as high-precision JDAM bombs. And, of course, the BRRRT 30-mm seven-barreled gun GAU-8 Avenger with a rate of fire of 3900 rounds per minute.

Another extremely important advantage of the A-10 is the absence of high requirements for runways, because it can be based even on ground airfields. And also simplicity of service in field conditions.

Speaking objectively, in a situation where Ukraine has a choice between fighters or attack aircraft to get, then the choice will obviously not be made in favor of the A-10. Because it’s a narrow specialization jet, its advantages are unfold during dominance in the air. And without Western fighters, it is extremely difficult to clear the Ukrainian sky.

Read more: What Is Special About Polish PT-91 Twardy Tanks, which Ukraine Is About to Receive