> During Desert Storm F-16s and other strike fighter aircraft flew a lot more missions deep into an Iraq air defence network which had been degraded by sanctions and pinpoint strikes, and they only lost 6 aircraft too facing greater threats.
> Putting a plane within range of the other guy's heavy machine guns and light cannon in today's wars is stupid, basically. The Warthog may be "badass" but it's slow (all-out max about 700km/hr, a Boeing 737's cruise speed is about 900km/hr), it's difficult to fly low and shoot straight at the same time, the fleet is ageing out rapidly -- the last new A-10 airframe came off the production line in 1984 -- and generally it's only suitable for attacking forces that can't shoot back. Even then it's a logistical nightmare, having to be based well forward close to enemy forces to make it available quickly if needed for CAS and it requires a lot of custom kit like the ammo loader system for the GAU/8 gun to keep it operational.
> As for "surviving multiple hits", any significant damage to an aircraft is a mission kill, it has to break off and attempt to return to base before bad shit happens. Yes I know, "titanium bathtub" and all that but it should never get hit by light cannon fire at all. The day of the bayonet charge, the horse cavalry and the battleship is over and it's time for the Warthog to go too.
I'm not even sure where to start.
Try flying a 737 at 900km.hr at 200 feet and see how far you can get. The reason the Warthog is slow is it was designed that way, it wasn't a case of they couldn't make it go faster it was a conscious decision during the design process.
Any plane doing CAS has to factor in a number of issues, however subjectively the most important for CAS missions is the loiter time of the aircraft.
An A10 holds 10,700 lbs of fuel and up to a further 12,240 lbs in three external drop tanks for a total of almost 23,000 lbs
An F16 holds 7,160 lbs of fuel and up to a further 4,550 lbs in three external drop tanks for a total of almost 12,000 lbs.
At low altitude (below 4000 ft) the A10s two engines provide more thrust for less fuel usage then the F16s single engine. Also the F16 doesn't have the BFG which is a very fast response weapon that a loitering A10 can have time on target sometimes in under a minute from a call.
Your point about hits aborting a mission seems that you may not have in depth understanding of how much effort goes into pre flight briefings these days, a threat assessment is taken for every leg of an inbound and exfil route to account for every threat that may be present, including something as simple as a single technical with a heavy duty machine gun on the back. Now while no intel is 100% reliable I can assure you that it's pretty damn good these days and the after flight briefing will address any locations where a threat 'popped up' unexpectedly.
Finally the survivability of the aircraft after a hit is paramount so that 'none important' bathtub is critical to saving more then one pilots life.
They're both excellent aircraft, but for a CAS mission where you're not quite sure exactly where the target is I'd prefer an A10 covering my back then an F16.