The last of the U.S. Air Force’s 173 A-10 Thunderbolt planes to receive a wing replacement takes off from Hill AFB, Utah, on August 12, 2019. Photo by Alex R. Lloyd/U.S. Air Force/UPI
A technician at Hill AFB, Utah, checks the wings on the last of 173 A-10 Thunderbolt planes to receive a wing replacement. Photo by Alex R. Lloyd/U.S. Air Force/UPI
Aug. 14 (UPI) — The last pair of new wings for 173 A-10 Thunderbolt planes was successfully installed last week, the U.S. Air Force announced.
The 571st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron of the Air Logistics Complex at Hill AFB, Utah, made 162 of the swaps, with the remaining 11 done at Osan Air Base in South Korea, the Air Force said in a statement on Monday.
“From a warfighter point of view, bringing this program to a successful conclusion was a significant accomplishment for the entire enterprise team,” said Stephen Zaiser, director of the 571st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
The $2 billion project to remove and replace the wings on the planes, some of which have been flying for nearly 40 years, began in 2011.
The Cold War-era plane entered service in 1976.
Informally known as the Warthog, it remains a potent asset in ground support missions, with a 30mm cannon and an assortment of bomb and missile-carrying potential.
Although superseded by a variety of military planes, it was designed for close air support of ground troops, attacking armored vehicles and tanks, and providing support against enemy ground forces.
The new wings are expected to last for up to 10,000 equivalent flight hours without a depot inspection, the Air Force said. An improved wire harness design was also installed for easier wing removal, and new fuselage parts for wing installation were created and installed.
The A-10 is also in use by the air forces of South Korea, Britain and Germany, with seven variants of the air craft having been produced since its introduction.