Ukraine is facing the opportunity to receive the legendary American A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft with the nickname “tank killer”.

It was information that went viral in the past few days and attracted a lot of comments. But it should be noted that in the words of US Air Force Chief of Staff Charles Brown and Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall at the Aspen Security Forum, it is just “possible”.

Journalists asked questions regarding the decommissioning of 21 A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft by the US Air Force in fiscal year 2023, and about the possibility of being delivered to Ukraine, but the answer is still only “under discussion”. However, the media still highly appreciates the possibility that the Ukrainian Air Force will receive A-10s from the US, because there have been contacts between Washington and Kyiv, along with pilot training.

The supply of the A-10 Thunderbolt II involves the delivery of Western fighters to Ukraine, which was not discussed just a few months ago. But is this attack aircraft useful for the Ukrainian Air Force in the current conditions? And is their delivery a top priority for the United States? That is still a controversial question.

It should be remembered that the A-10 was created by the US for the war with the Soviet Union, in the conditions of full-scale conflict. This war machine is half a century old. Exceptionally survivable, easy to maintain, low cost and efficient, this attack aircraft is still used by the US Army, and even plans to keep it at least until the 2040s.

A-10 made a name for itself in the “Desert Storm” operation. It destroyed 900 tanks, 1,200 artillery systems and 2,000 other vehicles, and also demonstrated the highest operational readiness at more than 90%, far exceeding the capabilities of other types. The success of the A-10 benefited from the fact that the US and its allies had achieved complete air superiority, neutralizing Iraqi air defenses in the early days. More than 2,150 aircraft took part in the operation. But at present Ukraine cannot guarantee such environment. In Ukraine the A-10s will face much more danger than in Iraq.

On the other hand, Ukrainian pilots will have easy access to A-10s, because they already have experience on Su-24s. They successfully performed many combat missions, despite facing Russian fighters and air defense systems.

The A-10 has a major advantage over the Soviet Su-25, which is its high-precision arsenal. Typical are the AGM-65 Maverick anti-tank missile, with a range of about 30 km and “fire and forget”, as well as the high-precision JDAM bomb.

However, with the current situation of Ukraine, it is difficult for the A-10 to repeat the successes in the Gulf. If supplying Ukraine with A-10, the US needs to think about providing the Ukrainian Air Force with air superiority fighters. And if left alone the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the prospect of being shot down in large numbers like what is happening with the Su-25 is predictable.


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