US contracts Korean Air to provide A-10 support

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has contracted Korean Airlines to provide support for USAF Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) A-10C Thunderbolt IIs stationed in South Korea.

The contract, worth US$213m, will see Korean Airlines Aerospace Division providing depot-level support for A-10Cs assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron 'Assam Draggins’, which is based at Osan Air Base, South Korea. 

Korean Airlines is expected to provide support for the A-10s until December 31, 2029 – performing the work in Buson, South Korea. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLC), based at Hill AFB, Utah, contracted the activity.

A-10C [USMC/Sgt Jesus Sepulveda Torres]
442nd Fighter Wing airmen secure three A-10C Thunderbolt IIs at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, in February 2019. USMC/Sgt Jesus Sepulveda Torres

Introduced into USAF service in 1977, the air arm’s Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II fleet has recently undergone a re-winging process, which gives the dedicated close air support (CAS) aircraft the potential to stay in operational service until the early 2030s. The process was completed in mid-2019 and was covered in September’s issue of Combat Aircraft Journal, which you can read here – A-10 re-wing project is completed.

The A-10 – commonly known as the ‘Warthog' – is armed with the famous General Electric-designed 30mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel rotary Gatling cannon, which the airframe itself is built around. It also has a 16,000lbs (7,260kg) armament capacity, which includes an array of unguided and laser/GPS-guided weapons, AIM-9 air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground rockets – along with targeting pods, drop tanks and additional electronic countermeasures which can be equipped onto the aircraft’s 11 hardpoints.

During the summer of 2019, the Boeing GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) was added, providing the A-10 with that new standoff capability. Another plan is to pull out the central ‘six-pack’ of analog flight instruments in the cockpit and replace this with a single large electronic primary flight display, which will work in conjunction with the two older multifunction colour displays. This will likely be combined with a significant core processor upgrade, which will give the A-10 a huge jump in data speed and storage capacity.