A-10’s External Fuel Tank Tested for Combat Environments

The 40th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin AFB, Fla., is testing whether the A-10 can safely carry its 600-gallon external fuel tank into combat, according to a base release. “Currently, the A-10 doesn’t carry an external fuel store into combat,” said Maj. Olivia Elliott, test pilot for this evaluation. “The present flight limitations on the Sargent Fletcher tank restrict it from being flown in a combat environment,” she said. So far, in more than 30 test flights, there have been no anomalies, states Eglin’s Aug. 26 release. Once the testing is complete, and the data are reviewed, the Air Force will decide whether to clear the fuel tank in this role. If approved, the A-10’s loiter time would expand by 45 minutes to an hour, states the release. “This will allow the aircraft to remain in flight during a combat situation longer, provide lengthier periods of armed overwatch for ground missions, as well as limit the amount of time spent air-to-air refueling during a combat sortie,” said Elliott. (Eglin report by Samuel King Jr.)