The beloved A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft is picking up a brand new “three-dimensional” surround-sound audio system too boost Warthog pilots' situational awareness.
spending nearly a year mulling over exactly how many surround-sound systems the service actually needed, the Air Force on Wednesday finally announced a $60 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with Georgia-based aerospace contractor Terma North America for 328 3D audio systems to retrofit its Warthog fleet.
The logic behind Terma's 3D audio system is simple: with pilots bombarded by a deluge of audio during operations, the system breaks down individual audio feeds and separates them into single, identifiable streams through a stereo headset, allowing pilots to better discern warnings or radio calls among the din of battle.
Consider it the world's deadliest sound mixer.
Radio Separation and 3D-Audio
The Air Force
basically settled on the Terma system as its commercial off-the-shelf system of choice back in November 2018 to “drastically improve the spatial, battlespace, and situational awareness of the A-10C pilots,” according to the solicitation, a critical capability for the Warthog given its primary role close air support by infantry forces on the ground.
The news of the 3D audio retrofit comes amid a swell of good news for the Air Force's once-beleaguered Warthog fleet. In August, Air Force Material Command
announced that it had finally installed the last set of new wings for 173 of the service's 283 airframes as part of a $1.1 billion contract with Boeing to keep the A-10 flying for at least another decade.
As Military.com reports, officials that same month announced a $999 million IDIQ contract to Boeing to create up to 112 new A-10 wing assemblies and spare wing kits for aircraft under the service's new A-10-Thunderbolt II Advanced-Wing Continuation Kit (ATTACK) program.
The following September, Air Combat Command
told Task & Purpose that the Warthog would pick up a raft of lethal new upgrades under the airframe's Common Fleet Initiative (CFI), including integration with the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB I) and a new “multi-target engagement capability,” as military aviation magazine Combat Aircraft described it at the time.
All of these upgrades sound great, but we have one outstanding question regarding the Warthog's new 3D audio system:
does it go to 11?
The famous “these go to 11” scene from 'This Is Spinal Tap'