Thunder(bolt) vs Lightning: Can the F-35 Lightning II Replace the A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog”?

A-10 Warthog, 12-1/2 tons of whoop-ass!

vs

F-35 Lightning, the golden bullet?

Thunder(bolt) versus Lightning. Old versus new. There has been much debate on whether the F-35 can replace the A-10, whether the F-35 is worth continued funding, and whether the modern Air Force needs the A-10. A direct comparison of the two platforms merely indicates that the two aircraft are very different–built for very different purposes for very different adversaries in a very different era. Some points are certain: the F-35 is much more expensive, less versatile, less durable, and less capable for close air support (CAS). What remains to be determined is whether the concept of operations for the F-35 can be adjusted to meet more requirements for CAS, or even if CAS will be required against a near-peer adversary.

A-10 Thunderbolt
F-35A Lightning
Range
  • 2,577 mile ferry range
  • 288 miles CAS (~2 hour loiter)
  • 1,379 mile ferry range 
  • 672 miles combat (CAS range unknown)
Top speed
439 mph
1,199 mph
Engine type
General Electric TF34
Pratt & Whitney F135
Operating Cost
$17,564/ flight hour
$35,200/ flight hour
Fuel Cost
$4,730/ mission
$7,840/ mission
Armament Total
16,000 lbs (8 under wing, 3 under fuselage)
5,000 lbs (internal bays)
Armament (gun)
GAU-8/A, 30 mm, 1350 rounds
GAU-22/A, 20 mm, 182 rounds
Armament (bombs)
  • Mark 81/82/83/84 unguided bombs
  • Mark 77 incendiary bombs
  • BLU-1, BLU-27, Mark 20, BL-755, CBU-52/58/71/87/89/97 Cluster Bombs
  • Paveway Laser Guided Bombs w/ AN/AAS-35 Pave Penny pod
  • JDAM
  • WCMD
  • Mark 82/83/84 unguided bombs
  • Mark 20 Cluster Bombs
  • Paveway Laser Guided Bombs w/ AN/AAS-35 Pave Penny pod
  • JDAM
  • WCMD
  • AGM-154 JSOW
  • B61 mod 12 nuclear
Armament (rockets)
  • 4 x LAU-61/68 with 70 mm Hydra rockets
  • 4 x LAU-5003 with 70 mm CRV7 rockets
  • 6 x LAU-10 with 127 mm Zuni rockets
N/A
Armament (missiles)
  • 2 x AIM-9 Sidewinder AAM
  • 6 x AGM-65 Maverick AGM
  • AIM-120 AMRAAM AAM
  • AIM-9X Sidewinder AAM
  • IRIS-T AAM
  • MBDA Meteor (pending) AAM
  • AGM-88 AARGM AGM
  • AGM-158 JASSM AGM
  • Brimstone/ MBDA SPEAR AGM
  • JAGM AGM
  • Storm Shadow AGM
  • SOM AGM
  • JSM (anti-ship)
  • LRASM (anti-ship)
Armament/ Avionics (other)
  • SUU-42A/A Flare & Chaff
  • AN/ALQ-131, AN/ALQ-184 ECM
  • AN/AAQ-33 Sniper, AN/AAQ-28 LITENING targeting pod
  • AN/APG-81 AESA radar
  • AN/AAQ-40 E/O Targeting System
  • AN/AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System missile warning
  • AN/ASQ-239 Barracuda EW
  • MADL communication system
Service Ceiling
45,000 ft
50,000 feet
Rate of Climb
6,000 ft/min
classified
Wing Loading
99 lb/ft2
107.7 lb/ft2
Thrust/weight
0.36
0.87

References:
1. http://www.democracyarsenal.org/2013/12/can-the-.html

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_F-35_Lightning_II

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairchild_Republic_A-10_Thunderbolt_II

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