In the 1980s the U.S. Air Force planned to deploy 68 A-10 warplanes to each of six Forward Operating Locations in West Germany in the event of war with the Soviets. The twin-engine A-10s, with their 30-millimeter guns and Maverick missiles, were NATO’s main tank-killing weapon.
According to the latest issue of Combat Aircraft, the flying branch predicted that, if the A-10s went into action, seven percent of the jets would be lost per 100 sorties. Since each pilot was expected to fly at most four missions per day, each base would in theory generate more than 250 sorties daily. At this pace, a seven-percent loss rate per 100 flights equaled at least 10 A-10s shot down at each FOL every 24 hours — and that’s being conservative.
At that rate, in less than two weeks the entire A-10 force at the time — around 700 jets — would have been destroyed and the pilots killed, injured, captured or, at the very least, very shook up.