Maintenance unit completes upgrade of 100th A-10
By Bill Orndorff, 309th Maintenance Wing
/ Published January 14, 2008
Hill AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- An upgraded A-10C, which took off in early January for Moody Air Force Base, Ga., represents another production milestone for the 571st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here.
Aircraft 80-0172 is the 100th A-10 to go through the Precision Engagement Program, started in the 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group in July 2006. On average, the 571st technicians are upgrading each A-10 aircraft to the new A-10C configuration in less than 90 days.
"The 571st mechanics are successfully executing the A-10 Precision Engagement program," said Greg Hoffman 571st AMXS director. "While our overall modification time has been reduced, the increase in positive feedback from our warfighting customers has been our biggest success. Without giving them a quality aircraft to carry out their mission, we would have failed. The program was a challenge from the start, but with the support of Team Hill, to include our Lockheed Martin prime contractor, we have been able to get better each day.
The upgrade to the 100th aircraft, first built in 1980, will extend its service life for at least another 20 years. The aircraft was in the Pope AFB, N.C., inventory before the modification and transfers to Moody AFB as part of the base realignment and closure recommendations.
Precision Engagement evolved by merging several smaller, funded programs, into one large modification. The combination saved money for development, testing and installation previously done separately. The A-10C has a number of avionics and weapons system upgrades, designed to extend its service life until 2028.
The modification includes a totally redesigned main instrument panel, smart weapons capabilities, and aircraft DC power upgrades. The A-10C cockpit receives two 5-by-5-inch multifunction color displays, a hands-on stick and throttle system with a modified F-15E right throttle grip, and a modified F-16 control stick grip. Other cockpit items include an upfront controller, new armament heads up display control panel, and a redesigned main instrument panel.
Modified aircraft can now carry both the LITENING II and Sniper laser targeting pods, and have Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser capabilities. The direct current power will be doubled and a more powerful computer will be added to the Low Altitude Safety and Targeting Enhancement system.
The A-10C has proven itself a formidable asset in the war on terror, Mr. Hoffman noted, as the Air National Guard's 175th Fighter Wing from Baltimore, Md., deployed the modified aircraft to Iraq in September. Within hours of arrival, the new systems were put to the test by successfully destroying an insurgent safe house with a GPS-guided munitions system.
"You just can't get more proof that what you have done matters than to see the true end result of your efforts," Mr. Hoffman said.