This Photo Shows The Damage Caused By A Tanker’s Refueling Boom To The Nose Of An A-10 “Warthog” Aircraft

No, that’s not a bullet hole.

Taken at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, by U.S. Air Force’s Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan, this photo features the A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft 81-0995 from the 75th Fighter Squadron taxiing down the runway prior to take off on Apr. 28, 2017, during Exercise Combat Hammer, an air-to-ground exercise hosted at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, designed to collect and analyze data on the performance of precision weapons and measure their suitability for use in combat.

The image is particularly interesting as it shows what looks like a large hole in the nose of the Warthog (as the A-10 is nicknamed in the pilots community). However, that is not a bullet hole but the damage caused by a tanker’s boom during AAR (Air to Air Refueling) operations.

Most of the A-10s have their noses more or less damaged by the flying boom that is inserted by the tanker’s “boomer” into the Warthog’s receptacle, in the nose of the aircraft in front of the cockpit. Usually, such dents don’t affect the aircraft’s ability to fly hence they are left there until the next major maintenance work.

By the way, a Moody pilot confirmed us that the one in the photo is a nose significantly damaged by a KC-135’s boom.

Click below for the full resolution version of the photo.

81-0995 is a 1981 A-10C Thunderbolt II C/N A10-0690 assigned to the 75th FS “Tiger Sharks”



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 Comment

  1. The nose damage has several contributing factors. The Hawg is the only fighter that has the refueling receptacle in the nose forward of the cockpit. The rest have receptacles behind the cockpit, in the wing root or use a drogue. The Hawg pilot has a tendency to fly referencing the boom rather than the tanker. This may lead to the pilot or boomer to overcontrol either the Hawg or the boom leading to an inadvertent contact.

    The Hawg is also one of the slowest aircraft that receives air to air refueling. The tanker must slow to an airspeed that is compatable with the Hawg, while the Hawg is flying at it’s top speed for the altitude and aircraft weight. Because of the slow tanker speed, it has an increased angle of attack creating greater than normal wing turbulence. The Hawg, with its large wing area and higher maneuverability at low airspeed is more susceptible to the wing turbulence from the tanker. This makes any control input from the Hawg pilot especially critical to stay in the correct location for refueling.

    Another issue may be training. Since the Hawg has a long loiter and mission time compared to other fighters, the need for regular in-flight refueling is less. Where many fighters include refueling in many of their training missions, the Hawg pilot has less exposure to refueling and their priority for tankers is lower. When I flew the Hawg operationally, it was difficult to attain the required refueling sorties. When I became a Hawg instructor pilot, the number of refueling missions increased to support the training requirements. My air refueling proficiency increased substantially as my instructor time increased.

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