Even as Congress debates the proposed retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt II — a core of operations at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — a new report by a Dutch peace group blames the venerated close-air support plane for contaminating civilian areas of Iraq with radioactive, depleted-uranium bullets.
Using some U.S. Air Force firing coordinates obtained from the Dutch Ministry of Defence, the group PAX found that A-10 "Warthogs" fired armor-piercing munitions made of depleted uranium into civilian areas of Iraq and at Iraqi troops during the 2003 invasion and occupation.
The 1970s-era A-10 was built around a 30-millimeter nose cannon that can rapidly and accurately fire the Coke-bottle sized anti-tank rounds. The Air Force in its fiscal 2015 budget request has proposed retiring the entire fleet of nearly 300 A-10s, including more than 80 A-10Cs stationed in three squadrons at D-M.
The practice of firing depleted uranium rounds in civilian areas defied the Air Force's own legal advice that the toxic and radioactive ammunition be used only against hardened targets like tanks, PAX said.
The PAX study, “Laid to Waste,” concludes that the lack of obligations on coalition forces to help clean-up after using depleted-uranium weapons has left Iraqi civilians and workers exposed to the radioactive and toxic heavy metal years after the war.
Find more details and a link to the full report at tinyurl.com/ne9o9kf