Manufactured by Fairchild Republic in San Antonio Texas, the A-10 is a single-seat, straight wing, Twin engine attack aircraft. It was originally developed in 1970 around the GAU-8 Avenger 30mm Gatling-type cannon, which forms its primary weapon system, coincidentally it is the heaviest rotary cannon to date ever mounted on an aircraft, with 2 firing modes(2100 or 4200 Rounds per minute), firing rounds made of depleted-uranium. The primary objective for the airframe design was survivability, as the hull boasts over 1,200lbs of armor, allowing it to take a significant amount of damage and continue flight. The cockpit is reinforced with titanium and the airframe can withstand direct hits from high-explosive and armor piercing rounds up to 23mm and some 57mm rounds. The A-10's have triple redundancy and their flight systems, double redundancy in their mechanical hydraulic systems to ensure its survivability and the fuel are self sealing as well as encased in flame resistant foam.
The A-10 can fly at sub-sonic speeds, low to the ground, making it very difficult to see. The large wing area gives it the ability to fly at lower speeds without stalling, allowing it to strafe targets with bone chilling accuracy. The engines were strategically placed so that the exhaust passes over its horizontal stabilizer and between the twin tails, lowering the infrared signature. The A-10's official name, Thunderbolt II, comes from the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt of World War II, which itself was known for being very effective as at close air support. Though its primary function is as an attack aircraft, it is also utilized for forward air control, guiding other aircraft attacks against ground targets. As a testament to its versatility/effective design, the A-10 is not expected to be replaced until 2028 or later. It is even said that the Iraqi Republican Guard feared the A-10 more than any other weapon in the US arsenal.
Although the airframe was designed around the 30mm GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling cannon, the A-10 has a total of 11 hardpoints making it possible for it to carry 16,000lbs (7,260kg) of weapons when fully armed. This can include, but is not limited to: 4x LAU-61/LAU-68 rocket pods (each with 19x / 7x Hydra 70 mm rockets, respectively), 4x LAU-5003 rocket pods (each with 19x CRV7 70 mm rockets), 6x LAU-10 rocket pods (each with 4x 127 mm (5.0 in) Zuni rockets), 2x AIM-9 Sidewinders air-to-air missiles for self-defense, 6x AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missiles, Mark 80 series of unguided iron bombs, Mk 77 incendiary bombs, BLU-1, BLU-27/B Rockeye II, Mk20, BL-755 and CBU-52/58/71/87/89/97 cluster bombs, Paveway series of Laser-guided bombs, Joint Direct Attack Munition (A-10C).