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US Air Force’s A-10 Ground Attack Aircraft Get Surround Sound Cockpits

© AFP 2021 / TED ALJIBE A US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II, originally designed to counter Soviet armor on the European battlefield during the Cold War.
A US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II, originally designed to counter Soviet armor on the European battlefield during the Cold War. - Sputnik International
Thanks to a new initiative by the US Air Force, the branch’s A-10 Thunderbolt II ground attack aircraft will finally catch up to their pilots’ living rooms, once new surround sound alert systems are installed in their cockpits.

The new system, which will be installed in 328 jets by Terma North America Inc., will help pilots discern radio calls and warnings by playing them on different sides of the cockpit, according to where they’re coming from, reported.

The 3D audio and Active Noise Reduction (ANR) technology uniquely supplied by Terma “reduces stress and enhances operational effectiveness through dynamic spatial audio cues that highlight the precise direction of attack,” according to Defense-Blog.

A Pentagon bulletin published Wednesday noted the indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract is worth $60 million, and the work must be completed by February 28, 2024. The system is already in use by the Air Force’s F-16 Falcon as well as aircraft of the Royal Danish Air Force, as Terma is headquartered in Århus.

Built by Fairchild Republic since the 1970s, the A-10, affectionately known as the “Warthog,” has proven one of the Air Force’s most resilient ground attack and close air support aircraft. Supremely maneuverable, the Warthog is built around its enormous GAU-8 Avenger gatling gun and designed to be able to take significant punishment and still remain in the air.

The 3D sound upgrade is designed to enhance the plane’s survivability in combat as the Air Force finds itself rushing to extend the plane’s life. Some had hoped the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter might supplant the Warthog in the close air support role, but it’s proven inferior since it’s both too fast and too fragile, to say nothing of too expensive to risk, Sputnik reported. Instead, Pentagon strategists want to use the F-35 as a “quarterback,” coordinating strikes by other aircraft from high above the battlefield.

Now, the Air Force intends to keep the A-10s flying until perhaps 2040, approving a $999 million contract in August for Boeing to produce up to 112 new A-10 wing assemblies and spare wing kits.
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