On June 9, five U.S. Special Operations Forces commandos died when a U.S. Air Force B-1 bomber mistakenly attacked their position in southern Afghanistan.
The accidental bombing comes as the Air Force is trying—with some success—to convince Congress to allow the flying branch to retire all 230 of its remaining A-10 Warthog attack jets, which specialize in low, slow attacks in close proximity to friendly troops.
A-10 is incredibly powerful, especially when trying to surgically take out Taliban fighters operating very close to friendly troops and/or in urban environments where the chances of harm to innocent bystanders is really high.
In the above video a village in Afghanistan, troops are under direct fire from fighters taking cover around a number of buildings close by. A section of A-10 Warthogs, callsign HOG 01 and HOG 04, have arrived overhead to give much needed close air support to American soldiers that have found themselves in an increasingly dire situation.
A-10 pilots rapidly employ their extremely potent 30mm GAU-8 Avenger cannons against the nearby fighters with great precision. The voice you are hearing requesting the strafing runs is the JTAC on the ground, callsign NIGHT OWL.
To help you interpret what you are seeing in the A-10’s Heads Up Display (HUD), above is a screencap from the video.
Here is the important information it is displaying in regards to what is going on. The 323 on the left is the airspeed in knots. Across from it, the 4860 is the barometric altitude. Below it is a -9, which means the aircraft is in a nine-degree dive. The 590 below that in the corner right stack is the radar altimeter’s altitude, so the true height above the ground in this case. The next three lines have to do with steering points, which can include tagged locations on the earth’s surface and their time and distance to the aircraft’s present location. The bottom number is the current time.
At the center bottom of the screen is the heading, with the jet pointing north. ARM means the master arm is on and the aircraft is ready to employ its weapons. Above that is the selected weapon profile and the quantity and type of weapon. In this case, the aircraft shows 950 rounds of high-explosive incendiary 30mm ammunition ready to fire. The upper left figure is the G-force on the aircraft at any given moment. In this case 1.4G.
In the center is the pitch ladder with the gun’s aiming reticle towards the top. Once in firing range, the inner circle highlight begins to diminish, with the approximate range to where the gun is pointing, or the constantly computed impact point on the ground, showing in miles. In this case 1.5 as in 1.5 miles. The little ball-bar inside of the reticle is the velocity vector showing where the aircraft is headed.
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