Lockheed Martin can expect to earn $226 million from the US Air Force by giving the Fairchild A/OA-10 Thunderbolt attack/observation aircraft a precision engagement capability.


The approach combines multiple A-10 upgrades into one programme, which should save the USAF $150 million compared with the cost of executing them individually. The 367 A-10s will now be pulled out of service just once - for 60 days each - reducing aircraft downtime. The work will advance an enhanced close air support and precision strike capability by a year.

The precision engagement work was rolled into the nine-year A/OA-10 support contract awarded to Lockheed Martin's Systems Integration unit in December 1997. Under the original $488 million contract, Lockheed Martin is developing and integrating modifications and providing engineering services. The contract modification includes $74 million for a 36 month engineering and manufacturing development phase lasting to 2004 with follow-on production in 2005-7 worth $152 million.

The USAF had planned and funded a digital stores management system, situational aware-ness datalink and 1760 databus. Lockheed Martin saw the need for other changes and offered three unplanned and unfunded items at no extra charge. The upgrade also includes: a DC generator upgrade; integration of the Boeing Joint Direct Attack Munition and the Lockheed Martin Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser; and, future integration of a targeting pod.

The USAF has yet to select its Advanced Targeting Pod, but Lockheed Martin is prepared to handle all candidates, says William Paradies, Lockheed Martin A/OA-10 programme manager.

The 60 mothballed A-10s in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, are also candidates for the modernisation work, but they are not part of the basic programme. An A-10 re-engining effort is also unfunded, but interest in a new powerplant is expected to grow as the precision engagement work progresses.

Source: Flight International