ABOUT THE A-10s OF THE GULF WAR
The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthog" is the only aircraft in United States Air Force (USAF) history designed specifically for the close air support mission. It was designed to survive in an intense
anti-aircraft environment including anti-aircraft guns, radar-guided and infrared missiles and absorb battle damage and keep flying. In fact, the A-10 is probably the most difficult plane ever built to shoot down due
to its extreme maneuverability, self-sealing fuel tanks, wide separated jet engines on top of the fuselage, twin vertical tails, multiple independent hydraulic systems, manual backup flight control system and
redundant wing spars.
A total of 165 of these most recognizable and feared aircraft from 5 different units participated in Operation Desert Storm. All units were formalized under the 354th Provisional Wing with 144 aircraft at a time.
The remaining aircraft above those 144 were replacements standing by at an off-site location to replace aircraft damaged beyond continued combat status or aircraft destroyed.
Together, these A-10 and OA-10 aircraft conducted 8,775 sorties maintaining a 95.7% mission capable rate, 5% above A-10 peace-time rates, had the highest sortie rate of any USAF aircraft at 16.5% of all sorties
in the Gulf.
Pilots often flew up to three missions per day with A-10's accounted for destroying 1/4 of Iraq's entire arsenal.
Often exposed to withering anti-aircraft fire and surface-to-air missile threats the slow, highly maneuverable A-10's incurred extensive combat battle damage
during Desert Storm. A total of six A-10s were lost: five in combat action, another destroyed attempting to land at KKMC Forward Operating
Location #1 after being badly battle damaged durng combat. Nearly twenty more sustained significant battle damage and many others incurred minor damage.
The A-10 had lower losses-to-missions rate than the F16, F-15E, or Tornado,
Roughly half the total A-10 force, about 70, supporting Desert Storm suffered some type of damage.