Since 1997, the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin-led A-10 Prime Team have worked closely to significantly digitize the A-10A Thunderbolt II close air support fighter to its A-10C configuration, enabling employment of new GPS and inertially-guided munitions, fingertip control of aircraft avionics and integration of Litening and Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods through a program called Precision Engagement (PE).
The improvements automate many functions (navigation, weapons employment and communications) previously performed manually by the pilot, while also providing enhanced situational awareness and the ability to deliver precision-guided air-to-ground weapons. The upcoming addition of a Helmet Mounted Cueing System (HMCS) in Suite 7 will allow for even greater efficiencies in targeting and situational awareness.
The most extensive upgrade in the A-10's celebrated 35-year history, Precision Engagement combined multiple upgrades into a single contract award.
Awarded to Lockheed Martin in 2001, the government-industry partnership has enabled the modifications to be completed earlier than planned and at lower cost.
2007 - The Department of Defense and the National Defense Industrial Association recognized the success of the A-10 Precision Engagement program in October 2007 when Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force were awarded a Top 5 DoD Program Award for excellence in systems engineering and program management.
2007 - U.S. Air Force A-10 Depot at Hill Air Force Base (AFB), UT, wins the "Fox Award"; Lockheed Martin was invited to participate in the receipt of the prestigious award due in part to our assistance in providing continuous process improvement for the A-10C modification line.
2008 - Lockheed Martin wins the A-10 program a Nova Award, the highest Corporate Program Achievement Award, for exceptional performance on the A-10 Precision Engagement program.
With 13 years' experience with A-10 modernization and sustainment, Lockheed Martin has the knowledge of the U.S. Air Force processes and procedures necessary to support the A-10 for the remainder of its life.
Systems Integration Lab
In February 2004, Lockheed Martin opened the first-ever A-10 Systems Integration Lab (SIL). The SIL duplicates the aircraft's wiring and cabling infrastructure and is outfitted with actual weapons hardware, missile seekers, suspension racks and rocket launchers to emulate an A-10 aircraft on the flight line.
The Precision Engagement program has benefited significantly during systems development by allowing pilots and engineers to "fly and fix"; software and hardware updates in the SIL before aircraft installation and test.
A-10C is the only Combat Air Forces’ aircraft that receives an avionics modernization and sustainment update (called Suites) on an annual cycle. This rhythm brings critical combat capability to the warfighter.
The U.S. Air Force at Hill AFB, Ogden, UT, is upgrading each A-10 aircraft from a kit of parts supplied by Lockheed Martin Systems Integration - Owego, in Owego, NY. The Air Force expects to upgrade the fleet of 356 aircraft by 2012.
Each kit includes:
- new cockpit instrument panel with two 5x5 inch multi-function color displays
- new grip stick and right throttle to provide true hands-on-throttle-and-stick fingertip control of aircraft systems and targeting pod functionality
- upgrades for six pylons, enabling "smart"; weapons capability
- replaced wiring for new capabilities, which also increased reliability and maintainability
- upgraded (doubled) DC power output
- a central interface control unit that provides digital stores management and overall avionics systems integration
- improved data management and display for mission and weapons employment operational test equipment with diagnostics interface to the avionics and weapons systems
January 2005: First A-10C test jet rolls out, Eglin AFB, FL
August 2006: First production A-10C rolls out, Hill AFB, UT
August 2007: Air Force declares A-10C operationally capable, Langely AFB, VA
September 2007: First A-10C wing deploys
October 2007: First Joint Direct Attack Munitions employed in combat from A-10C
June 2009: The first annual software suite upgrades was delivered on schedule