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The Air Force's entire A-10 Warthog fleet is getting a raft of lethal new upgrades
Fresh off a fraught decade-long rewinging effort, the Air Force's beloved A-10 Thunderbolt II fleet is poised to keep on BRRRTing in the free world for at least another decade — and the beloved attack aircraft will pick up some tasty new upgrades along the way.
Personnel at Air Combat Command are currently working to integrate the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB I) on all A-10 airframes as part of the Common Fleet Initiative (CFI) that, initiated in August 2018, is designed to bring the decades-old fleet "back to a common baseline" for ongoing operations.
"GBU-39 munitions have proven to be highly-desired weapons in ongoing conflicts, and the addition of this weapon to the A-10's arsenal will greatly improve the flexibility of ground commanders," Alexi Worley, an ACC spokesman, told Task & Purpose.
"Adding the GBU-39 will continue efforts to keep the A-10 relevant in ongoing and future conflicts, where versatility in weaponeering is critical to meeting ground commander needs."
Military aviation magazine Combat Aircraft first reported news of the SDB integration on Sept. 5, noting that a new "multi-target engagement capability" will make the A-10 "theoretically ... able to target 18 weapons individually" while hauling four SDBs on a single hardpoint.
First introduced to Air Force inventory back in 1976, the A-10 had earned a reputation as a close air support workhorse among infantry troops for the distinctive roar of its GAU-8/A Avenger gatling gun. And while Worley said that no particular weapons were "expressly covered" in the CFI, the clear focus of the initiative is on enhancing the airframe's overall lethality.
Those enhancement include a new high-definition cockpit display that will improve the A-10's ability to find and fix targets from greater distances, jam-resistant GPS, an improved communication suite, and a three-dimensional surround-sound audio system that, according to a November 2018 request for information, will "drastically improve the spatial, battlespace, and situational awareness" for pilots.
"While Air Combat Command continually seeks new and improved weapons for all its fighter aircraft, A-10 planners and programmers are also keeping an eye out for which new weapons will prove useful to ground commanders," Worley said.
While Combat Aircraft reported that the A-10 was set to receive "a Synthetic Aperture Radar pod," Worley told Task & Purpose that ACC has "only conducted initial suitability studies and [has] not yet made a final determination."
Worley did confirm, however, that A-10 pilots are now outfitted with an improved helmet mounted Hybrid Optical-based Inertial Tracker (HObIT) site that more accurately responds pilot head movements.
The first A-10 airframes are set to receive the first batch of modifications as early as fiscal year 2020.
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The police officer killed during a traffic stop in Newport News on Thursday night was a well-liked young officer who just graduated from the police academy seven months ago, Police Chief Steve Drew said at a somber news conference Friday.