The A-10 is a high -survivability and versatile aircraft, popular with pilots for the ‘get home’ effectiveness. The mission of the aircraft is ground attack against tanks, armoured vehicles and installations, and close air support of ground forces. The aircraft is suitable for eperation from forward air bases, with short take-off and landing capability. The aircraft has a long range (800 miles) and endurance and can loiter in the battle area. The manoeuvrability at low speed and at low altitude (below 1,000ft) allows accurate and effective targeting and weapon delivery over all types of terrain. The first flight of the A-10 was in May 1972, and a total of 715 aircraft have since been produced. Originally manufactured by Fairchild, since 1987 the prime contractor for the A-10 has been Northrop Grumman, Which carries out support and structural upgrade programmes from the Integrated Systems and Aerostructures Divisions at New York and at St Augustine in Florida. Over 350 A-10 aircraft are in service with the US Air Force, and the Air National Guard.