Ive been planning to do a post on this for a while but hadnt got the chance with all the other stuff going on. But I want to draw your attention to a story that our friends over at Defense Industry Daily have updated recently.
There are few things Id rather see when the rounds are zipping by from an insurgent ambush than the slow, low swoop of an A-10 Thunderbolt II overhead. The Warthog is one of those just purely American planes that says bigger and badder is better. No frills here. Just an armored bathtub, run-flat tires and a huge gun that says hey buddy, wanna play?
Well, after years of a fighter mafia dominance that kicked the A-10 to the curb, Air Force officials finally woke up and realized all anyone cares about these days is putting warheads on foreheads, not shooting down MiGs from 10 miles away. So the blue-suiters have finally given the Hog its due and funneled some much-needed money to the workhorse CAS platform. And now theyre accelerating the Warthog renaissance.
The Precision Engagement modification is the largest single upgrade effort ever undertaken for the USA's unique A-10 "Warthog" close air support aircraft fleet. When complete, it will give them precision strike capability sooner than planned, combining multiple upgrade requirements into one time and money-saving program rather than executing them as standalone projects. Indeed, the USAF has accelerated the PE program by 9 months as a result of its experiences in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The entire A-10 fleet will be modified over 4-5 years, at an estimated total contract value of $168 million. While A/OA-10 aircraft continue to outperform technology-packed rivals on the battlefield, this set of upgrades is expected to help keep the aircraft current until the fleet's planned phase-out in 2028.
To date, A-10 fleet upgrades have been somewhat patchwork and piecemeal. This program changes all that. An April 2, 2007 GAO report places the A-10 Precision Engagement program's total overall cost is estimated at around $420 million in an April 2, 2007 GAO report.
Lockheed Martin Systems Integration - Owego is the prime contractor and systems integrator under the direction of the A-10 program office (508th Attack Sustainment Squadron), leading a team that includes Northrop Grumman of St. Augustine, FL; BAE Systems of Johnson City, NY; and Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) of San Antonio, TX. The Air Force awarded the Precision Engagement development contract to Lockheed Martin in 2001, and as the prime contractor Lockheed is expected to deliver a total of 356 kits over 5 years, at an estimated cost of $168 million. Lockheed Martin received the production contract in February 2005, with the first production kits delivered to Hill AFB in March 2006.
While the program was originally supposed to consist of several spirals, these plans were modified in light of USAF requests and needs. The program now consists of 2 increments, with JTRS fielding left as an open item to be addressed once the JTRS AMF equipment is available.
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