That’s right folks, everybody’s favorite fire-breathing pig had a two seat cousin, built from an existing single-seater as a demonstrator for an all weather and night attack expansion of the A-10A Warthog. The A-10B N/AW (Night / All Weather) would attempt to make the A-10 more exportable as well as more relevant to the USAF, and a few countries were actually interested in the B model as a sea control platform focused on littoral “brown water” and anti-piracy operations. Included in the A-10B N/AW concept were an advanced inertial navigation system, a cutting edge HUD, improved radios, terrain following radar, low light TV camera, FLIR and laser targeting pods amongst other improvements. The A-10B N/AW was test in 1979-1980 with positive results, but alas, by the early 1990s, with the Air Force brass firmly in love with super fast, super thirsty and singularly crewed tactical aircraft, the A-10B N/AW was killed and in its place the powers the be promised the A-10 would get the modular LANTIRN night targeting and navigational system. This never happened, which is not a surprise as the mutli-role F-16 Block 40 received the system instead.
Today, some two decades later, we see a mature night attack capability in the A-10C, with its cutting-edge precision engagement package and pilot mounted NVGs, but still one has to wonder just how fantastic of a forward air control and battlefield interdiction platform the A-10B N/AW model could have possibly been. In the wars of the last decade there in no doubt that another man in cockpit could not have been bad to have had as directing rapid and precise firepower over a 3 dimensional battlefield for troops in dangerously close contact with the enemy is a very demanding task, especially while trying to fly an airplane at the same time.
The only A-10B ever created rests at the slowly budding Edwards AFB museum as seen below.
*Special thanks to Joe Copalman on this one, he was right about the A-10B – F-15E competition for funds. Cheers buddy!