The A-10 Thunderbolt II has earned a reputation among American war fighters as perhaps the best close air support aircraft ever to take to the skies. In service since 1977, the A-10 has seen repeated service extensions and updates aimed at keeping it in the fight for years to come for one reason and one reason only: nothing else seems to do the job quite as well as the trusty old Warthog and it’s massive cannons.
The 30 mm General Electric GAU-8/A Avenger rotary canon first entered into service in 1977 along with the A-10. The 619 pound monster Gatling gun measured just shy of 2 feet wide and 20 feet long when completed, but more than compensated for its gargantuan size by boasting a terrifying fire rate of 3,900 rounds per minute, fired from its rotating array of seven barrels. That means the GAU-8/A releases a whopping 65 rounds per second when unleashed onto a target.
Of course, it isn’t just that massive cannon that makes the A-10 such a valuable asset in air support missions; the A-10 tends to engage America’s enemies from distances that range from a speck in the distance to “up close and personal,” meaning it’s also got to be capable of absorbing a good deal of punishment — and you can really see why in this video. In order to effectively engage the enemy with the A-10’s mighty cannons, you’ve got to point your nose at them and come in low and slow enough to accurately put rounds on target… which often means being close enough for the enemy to shoot back.
Ride along with a few A-10 training strafing runs below to see what it’s like to have that much power at your fingertips.
Imaeg courtesy of YouTube