U.S. A-10 reportedly shot at by ISIS militants with Strela MANPADS in Iraq

U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft face the threat of Man Portable Air Defense Systems in Iraq.

According to a report by Iraqi News, American A-10 were shot at with four Strela missiles during the recent air strikes carried out by the Warthogs (as the Thunderbolts are referred to by the pilot community) on ISIS positions near Mosul, in Iraq.

Based on reports by unnamed sources who witnessed the attack, the A-10s killed and wounded several terrorists but were also targeted by the ISIS militants who allegedly attempted to shoot down the U.S. planes fling at low altitude using 9K32 Strela-2 (NATO reporting name SA-7 Grail) man-portable, shoulder-fired, low-altitude, IR (infra-red) guided, surface-to-air missile systems.

Even though the Warthogs were not hit by the surface-to-air missiles, the episode seems to confirm that, flying at medium and low altitude and loitering over the battlefield, the A-10s deployed to Kuwait face the threat of MANPADS known to be in possession of Islamic State forces.

Still, the “Hog” is a tough plane, that has already shown its special ability to bring the pilot back to the homebase in spite of heavy damages by ground fire.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. I believe the real question is whether the job that needs to be done has changed to the point of making the airplane obsolete, the points raised seem to be better addressed by an upgraded ECM.

  2. The F-35 can’t do close air support mission. I reckon one of the test office’s conclusion is misleading. The vulnerability has decreased 25 percent focused on a small area “if the aircraft is hit.” The probability is actually high, classified number. This means the overall impact to aircraft’s survivability is high, higher than 0.5 percent.

    Why is the survivability higher than 0.5 percent?

    To restore a 2 lb safety valve system part of 43 lb (20 kg) equipment will increase more weight on the F-35 affecting the aircraft’s flight performance parameters, making it draggier that can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run to escape enemy fighters/guns/missiles, terrible acceleration, limited range/endurance and doesn’t have enough motor for the weight. Lockheed Martin has done very little with major safety precautions on the F-35 which is a very delicate aeroplane that makes it more vulnerable (if flown at low altitudes when performing close air support missions) from a high-explosive round such as .22 Rifle, or any form of gunfire that will disable or destroy an engine and fuel tank and the F-35 has no armour cockpit tub to protect the pilot if hit by a bullet or fragment. The F-35 doesn’t carry flame-retardant foam in its fuel tanks because the foam displaces fuel. The fuel tanks are not equipped with self-sealing membranes to plug bullet or shrapnel holes. As its limitations are inherent to the design, they cannot be altered by incremental upgrades.

    It is built for a dumb idea of not be able to perform anything. It is just a super failure that is going to weaken any nations frontline of defence.

    • ( Responding to your two comments )

      Most people have heard and read that load of bovine fecal matter before. To make a wild ass claim that the A-10 is superior to the F-35 in all aspects is quite an assertion. By that logic the A-10 should BEST all around combat aircraft in the WORLD and there should be no reason to have any other type of combat aircraft! So lets review.

      Okay first off lets look at your wild ass claim that the F-35’s combat radius is at a laughable ( much like your claim ) 250mi. I don’t know where or how you came up with that but maybe you should actually do some open source research instead of trying to pull something like that out of your posterior and trying to pass it up to the rest of us logical and reasonable people as fact.
      F-35A – 705.4mi
      F-35B – 517.8mi
      F-35C – 695.5mi
      Those are open source figures from both wikipedia and the Lockheed Martin website. How you came up with 250mi for the F-35 I don’t know. So in reality if these open source figures are correct; the F-35 in all its variants have longer legs than an A-10 and can thus loiter in the area longer than an A-10. Point 1 for the F-35.

      Will the F-35 perform a CAS mission the SAME way as an A-10? NO! Will the F-35 perform CAS missions yes. How many times do I and others have to say it that CAS is a MISSION and NOT a platform. CAS missions have been performed by “fast movers” for years now with PCMs and coordination with ETACs, forward observers, and FACs. As much as I love the A-10 for what it is and what its done, CAS coming from an A-10 or from another asset in my AO is a welcome sight and capability. Draw

      6 hard points. Yes 6 external hard points. Altogether all the F-35 variants have 8 hard points, you missed its internal weapons bay. The GAU-22 for the F-35 is put at a cyclic of 3000rpm. The GAU-22 is 4 barreled derivative of the GAU-12. The GAU-12 is used currently used on the AV-8B and has a cyclic of 1800-4200rpm. On the AV-8B the GAU-12 is loaded 300 rounds of 25mm but to conserve ammo the GAU-12 has a kept at a reduced cyclic. The F-35s GAU-22 has 180 rounds though. Its not unreasonable that the GAU-22 will have a reduced cyclic rate to conserve ammo. Interestingly the GAU-22 is reported to be more accurate than the GAU-12. Draw

      Can’t run, Can’t turn, can’t climb. We have all heard those old claims and those claims have been REFUTED. Those who still cling to those claims are in my opinion being willfully ignorant or stuck in the past believing that the F-16 should have never gotten its upgrades over its service life and should have stayed as a pure daytime fighter aircraft armed with only early versions of the AIM-9 ( everything pre AIM-9L ) and with one EFT. The F-35 by actual pilots have stated you get the best of both worlds from the F-18 and from the F-16. You get the nose pointing capability and low speed handling of the F-18 with an acceleration very comparable to an F-16 block50. Interestingly its been reported that in the dry thrust the F-35A has been known to out accelerated it’s chase aircraft. If that is the case than the F-18 and F-16 are by default terrible aircraft and should have never been used as performance standards to which the F-35 was originally held at. The A-10 has its best turning capability down low, real low and real slow. Comparing the A-10 to the F-35, the A-10 can’t run ( top speed at sea level is at 439mph, open source wikipedia ) compared to the F-35s top speed of 1.6mach and a supercruise dash of 1.2mach for 150mi. So point 4 to the F-35

      A high explosive .22 rifle round…. HAHAHAHAHAH!!! where the F did you find that?! Please don’t confuse a Peter Jackson film with real life. Okay lets say that .22cal HE does in fact exist. For one it would be too complex to mass produce and FAR too expensive to equip your all your average infantry soldier or marine. ( Personally if an enemy aircraft is flying low to make attack passes at me the last thing I want to do is piss it off even more by shooting at it with my service rifle. No first thing I will do is look for some form of cover and pray I don’t die that day ). Yes there have been instances where the A-10 had to get low enough to get hit by small arms and heavy crew serve fire and the A-10 came and its pilot successfully RTB. No one will argue or refute that. CAS missions done by other aircraft ( excluding attack helicopters or other low flying air assets ) NEVER ( if ever ) get that low and slow to receive that type of fire. If an F-16, F-15E, or A-10 can drop 1 or 2 SDBs and still complete its mission without putting the pilot and their aircraft in an unnecessary risk than that is a good thing.


      ( to the others ) please do not mistake my personal feeling of the A-10. As a former US Army ground pounder I love the A-10 for what it is. Do we need the A-10? I can split both ways on that. Do we need a dedicated aircraft like the A-10 to replace it? I can split both ways on that too. But when people make a wild ass not well thought up claim to try and compare two different aircraft that will fly their missions in two entirely different ways but try to hold them to the same standard, than that seems stupid to me.

      • You are making several assumptions here

        1.) The F35s combat radius, assuming the program specifications are true, do beat the A10. Paper wise. What would be proper is to compare real life ranges at 5,000 ft with a CAS-specific payload. Ill go ahead and concede that the F35 may have the advantage in this aspect.

        2.)”Will the F-35 perform a CAS mission the SAME way as an A-10? NO! Will the F-35 perform CAS missions yes. How many times do I and others have to say it that CAS is a MISSION and NOT a platform.”

        Like I have said previously, not all CAS missions are the same and using the cookie cutter approach to them is wildly reckless to say the least.

        For some missions, you need aircraft that perform CAS in the same manner as the A10, namely, the slow and sharp turn radius with eyes on friendly and enemy targets. This is to see what you are shooting at because sometimes technology is not a replacement for a CAS pilot’s human perception and because sometimes the assets calling in support make mistakes.

        “CAS missions have been performed by “fast movers” for years now with PCMs and coordination with ETACs, forward observers, and FACs.”

        Indeed they have and in some instances, they have been utter disasters at worst and utterly impotent at best.

        This is not saying that fast movers are terrible or that they are inadequate for all CAS-type missions. It is recongizing that fast and high characteristics are not ideal for all environments and mission types.

        “As much as I love the A-10 for what it is and what its done, CAS coming from an A-10 or from another asset in my AO is a welcome sight and capability. Draw”

        That I agree on ;) When we needed it in A-stan or Iraq, we NEEDED IT!

        3.) “Comparing the A-10 to the F-35, the A-10 can’t run”

        Its not designed to “run” in the same circumstances as a F35, so this comparison is invalid.

        I agree that it comparing them overall is a bit of apples and oranges. The merits of the F35 remain to be seen. But its merits for CAS leave much room for skepticism.

        My primary concern for the F35 in its relevance for CAS is two-fold: cost and availability.

        Personally, Im eaglerly awaiting the developments in new munitions, particularly SDBs and laser guided hydras. I believe these will have much to add to the dynamic of CAS.

  3. Let’s
    take ground support for example since that is the hot topic of the day. Can the
    F-35 provide ground support? No it cannot. It has a total of 6 hard points, 180
    rnds of ammo and 250 mi combat radius. The A-10 has 11 hard points, 1350 rnds
    and 290 mi combat radius. Does the F-35 have self-sealing fuel tanks. No. Is
    the pilot protected? No. Does it have redundant flight controls? No. Can it fly
    back to base if its engine is damaged? No. The F-35 IS INFERIOR to the A-10 in
    all aspects. The software is not ready for the plane yet making it unfinished.

  4. A-10s were designed from the start to dodge or survive IR MANPADS and ground fire, and have gotten all the upgraded countermeasures over the years, so the fact that the missiles missed is to be expected. Would an F-35 have fared as well if it got low enough to conduct real CAS?

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