The Time magazine reported exclusively that veteran U.S. Air Force (USAF) pilots were seen providing training to Ukrainian pilots. Ukraine was previously reported to want to get fast-flying fighter jets such as the F-16 or F-15 from the U.S. The A-10 may not be their choice.
One of them said that Ukrainian pilots who train on the A-10 simulator believe they can change the balance of power in the air with this plane. According to the magazine, five Ukrainian pilots are currently being trained on the A-10 simulator. Training using a simulator will speed up pilots to become proficient in mastering the aircraft they fly.
The A-10 is known for its 30 mm GAU-8 Avenger seven-barrelled gun, demonstrating the aircraft’s Close Air Support (CAS) superiority when deployed in the 1991 Gulf War.
Some video footage had created discussions on the first days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A 70 km long convoy was at the centre of social media attention. Many argued that an A-10 aircraft would be enough to take these tanks out of war.
The aircraft, however, can reach a maximum speed of 420 mph. It is an easy target for Russian SAM air defence and air domination fighters. The GAU-8 Avenger, hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-style autocannon may fire 4,200 30mm armour-piercing rounds per minute. They can be effective against the armour adorning Russia’s T-72 Main Battle Tanks. The rounds, however, are not enough alone to be effective. A great deal of pilot skill and effective operational planning is required for such an attack.
The U.S. Naval Postgraduate School tested the efficacy against Soviet T-62 tanks and reported in the late ’70s. (The “Combat Damage Assessment Team A-10/GAU-8 Low Angel Firing Versus Individual Soviet Tanks” report can be found as a PDF in the article) The team found out the aircraft was ineffective against the tank when engaging from the front but effective when attacking from behind or from the sides.
The CAS mission aircraft also had accuracy problems when flying below 200 feet, ranging from 4,400 feet to just 1,587 feet. A-10s fired 957 rounds and hit the tanks with just 93, while 17 out of 93 rounds impacted T-62s.
The test shows that A-10s have a very low rate of taking tanks out and engaging these vehicles from the front is useless and that Ukrainian A-10 pilots have to be highly skilled at operating their aircraft to attack from effective angles and distances while flying under active threats from Russian SAM air defence systems, MANPADs, and enemy aircraft.