US did not sell A-10s and AC-130s?

So I was reading this CNN article about the US pulling back some of our forces and planes from the Libya. Specifically the portion:

*But a NATO official said that, weather aside, only the United States has the ability from the air to strike at mobile troops and equipment.

NATO needed that from the United States, the NATO official said.

“Specifically the A10s and the AC-130s nobody else but the U.S. has,” the official noted.*

I looked on Wikipedia, and it doesn’t list any other operators besides US forces.

The A-10 and AC-130 gunships are not cutting edge planes. Is there a reason we did not sell them? Did one one want them?

Heck, the USAF didn’t really want the A-10 (or rather, its mission) when it was introduced.

Sometimes it’s good to keep some things proprietary. We wouldn’t want someone to buy an AC-130 and turn it against us. There was some concern in 1979 about the F-14s and Phoenix missiles we sold to Iran. Typically, we keep the best systems to ourselves and let the buyers fit out the platform or else sell them systems that are ‘almost as good’.

They’re not cutting edge planes? They certainly are. Their capabilities are unparalleled, even 40-50 years later.

The C-130 is an old design, and there are a ton of operators worldwide. They’re constantly being upgraded to keep them fresh. (In another life I drew wiring diagrams for them on CADAM.) I’m sure the more advanced users could make an AC-130 gunship if they wanted to, but AFAIK we don’t sell them the systems we put in them.

It just seems strange the things we sell and do not sell. We sell F-16s like they are going out of style. We sell Black Hawks. We sell M1 Abrams tanks. Heck, we even sell the UK our Trident II submarine launched ballistic missiles.

I don’t mean that the A-10 or AC-130 are out of date or anything, they are obviously needed and they work well. I just don’t think of them as having any super advanced technologies that we want to only keep to ourselves.

Maybe there is a demand side component also. Maybe no one thought they needed them.

They Russians were afraid of the A10. It fires 4200 armor piercing shells a minute from a rifled gattling gun accurate to 3 miles and can hang 8 tons of weapons from the wing. A 130 gunship can circle an area and essentially put a bullet in every square foot of covered area.

Other planes are faster, stealthier, or have longer ranges. Or more sophisticated avionics. But if I had to choose which airplane, in all the world, I did not want to see flying towards my house, it would be the A-10. (An AC-130 would be flying around my house. Though I doubt it would need to bother for very long.)

You just have to watch it fly to understand why an A-10 fulfills it’s mission design so well. It flies over 400 mph and is far more maneuverable than a helicopter. It’s designed to take a pounding and the engines are above the tail plane so the infrared signature is blocked.

Not every airforce is big enough or rich enough to have dedicated aircraft, so they generally want more bang for their buck and go with a multi-role. Or they go with the cheapest and improvise.

You could probably make a reasonable facimile of the A-10, the russians do it with the Frogfoot, but with a more standard cannon, but I would think most air forces that operate the C-130 probably need the cargo version more than a nice to have plane that may or may not get used as often.


I was surprised to see a video of Iraqi Army soldiers training in M1A1 tanks that we have apparently sold them. I thought the details of the armor were secret.

Egypt has M1s as well. Because the tank armor can be custom modified, I’m more than certain what we export is not up to the same protection as that fielded by US troops.

Only the largest and richest air forces can afford a specialized system like the A-10, because after all, fighter jets like the F-15 and F-16 can also take out tanks and fortifications. Can they do that was well as the A-10 can? Of course not - but they can also help achieve air superiority, take out anti-aircraft batteries and perform long-range bombing raids, and when you’re working with a limited budget (and unless you’re the USAF, you are), you need that flexibility.

If we sold the A-10 then Cobra could get their hands on some, and we just can’t have that!

The A-10 uses depleted uranium munitions. Don’t know if that could be a factor in our ability to export.

Is that NATO official new to his job, cause striking from air on mobile troops or equipments seems to be one of the roles of any airforce in the world.

During training exercises I’ve been “killed” by A-10s. They are scary. You kind of expect to see a plane coming. A-10’s just pop out from behind some trees and you’re dead. They don’t just go screaming past. It’s like they can stop and look right at you, just to mess with you.

I am not familiar with modern European air tactics. The one aircraft I think of when I think of European fighter-bombers is the Tornado. That seems like a good platform for attacking relatively small areas, much as the A-7 Corsair II was. But I don’t know of the European Air Forces have anything equivalent to the A-10, which is designed for taking out specific, fairly small, targets. Of course they have helicopters.

A friend said he’s heard them when he was on exercises. The gun sounds like a zipper. He said he’d hate to be on the receiving end.

You can take out tanks with F-15s, F-16s and their European equivalents.

I was in the White Mountains one afternoon when a couple of NHANG A-10s just materialized from the hillside below us, flashed by overhead and were gone. Startled the crap out of me. An aircraft amazingly well-suited for its role.

I’d say more like a buzzsaw than a zipper. Here’s a short video for anyone that hasn’t heard it. The first sound is the rounds impacting the ground, the second sound is the gun firing.