A comparison between the A-10 Warthog and the F-35 Lightning based on the BRRRTS by their autocannons.

The 30mm Gau-8 Avenger Gatling gun of the A-10 or the 25mm Gau-22 Equalizer Gatling gun of the F-35 jet?

Who you think will win?

About the Gatling gun specs:

The General Electric GAU-8/A Avenger is a 30 mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type autocannon that is typically mounted in the United States Air Force’s Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II. Designed specifically for the anti-tank role, the Avenger delivers very powerful rounds at a high rate of fire.

The A-10 has a rate of fire of 4,200 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 3,500 ft/s (1,070 m/s) while having a maximum firing range of over 12,000 feet (3,660 m).

TheF-35’s  GAU-22 is based on the General Dynamics GAU-12/U Equalizer five-barrel 25 mm Gatling-type rotary cannon. The GAU-12/U is used by the United States, Italy, and Spain, which mount the weapon in their fighter jets such as the AV-8B Harrier II, airborne gunships such as the Lockheed AC-130, and land-based fighting vehicles.

Its rate of fire is about 1800–4200 rounds per minute while having a muzzle velocity of between 3280 ft/s (1000 m/s) and 3400 ft/s (1040 m/s).

The maximum firing range is also like the A-10s GAU-8 12,000 feet (3,660 m).

The problem with the A-10’s GAU-8, is that the AP rounds can only kill most main battle tanks now, so a smaller gun with more ammo seems like it would be much more useful in a modern conflict since the entire reason for the gun in the first place was as an AT weapon.

The F-35 has a 25mm specifically for ground targets, it’s a good weapon for strafing light vehicles and infantry, but it can only carry between 182 and 220 rounds, depending on the numbered variant.


The Aircraft:

The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is an American twin-engine, straight-wing jet aircraft developed by Fairchild-Republic in the 1970s. It entered service in 1976 and is the only United States Air Force production-built aircraft designed solely for close air support, i.e. close quarters support of ground troops. This includes attacking tanks, armored vehicles, and other ground targets.About the planes themselves:

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of Single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters undergoing final development and testing by the United States. The fifth generation combat aircraft is designed to perform a ground attack and air defense missions.

The F-35 has three main models: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant and the F-35C carrier-based Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant.

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On 31 July 2015, the first squadron was declared ready for deployment after intensive testing by the United States. The program is the most expensive military weapons system in history, and it has been the object of much criticism from those inside and outside government — in the US and allied countries.

Ammo Issues:

Another problem with the F-35 is that it is super overweight and cannot carry any additional  ammo, even if it is lighter. The A-10 carries 5-6 times as much ammo than the F-35, depending on the model.

Also, the 30mm GAU-8 round is approximately twice the weight of the GAU-22s. Heavier weight round with higher muzzle velocity is going to result in more range, more damage on target and more penetration.

Yet, API DU rounds out of the GAU-8 can penetrate 76mm of RHA at 30 degrees at 300m.

Despite the wonders of the “BRRRRT!” many of the armored kills by the A-10 have been with the AGM-65 and not the main cannon.

Consider this –

If the bullet has enough kinetic energy to penetrate the upper arc of the turret’s frontal armour of a T-55 then it has enough kinetic energy to penetrate the armour in the back of the turret of a T-90A or a T-72B let alone other variants, destroy the engine, completely destroy the optics and probably damage parts of the reactive armour. If the ammo doesn’t get hit then the tank is salvageable because it doesn’t cook off but it is inoperable until fixed. Also, the engine block will stop only some of the bullets, the rest will demolish the hydraulics or possibly get through into the crew compartment. Have you ever seen what happens when a tank is hit.

Also, the engine block will stop only some of the bullets, the rest will demolish the hydraulics or possibly get through into the crew compartment. Have you ever seen what happens when a tank is hit inside? There’s plenty of material to study too… It’s not the same as a hard kill where you need to build a new tank but the A-10s weren’t meant to kill tanks. They were meant to stop, slow down and disorganize armored columns and kill mostly lightly armored vehicles, trucks etc

T-72s and T-90s can be penetrated from the back by a regular AP rounds of a 30mm Bushmaster at up to several hundred meters, can’t recall the correct distance but I think it’s below 500m. The whole trick is to get that close and behind and although it is not recommended it is practiced as means of dealing with tanks – for example in built up terrain – by the Polish army among others. They would have a pretty decent knowledge of how to kill a T-72 since they have been operating them for decades.

Here is a T-90 blueprint to get a better understanding of what tank armor really looks like and take a good look at where the armor is really thick and where it is really thin. Now consider at what angles a typical tank shell hits the armor and at what angles a GAU-8 burst would hit it.

What is comes down to:

The A-10 is argued as too expensive for most COIN missions, though its the cheapest jet option available, and a helluva cheaper than the other options outside of the F-16.

Our “weird” attraction to the A-10 is its ability to provide effective air support for us grunts. It’s by far way better than any other fixed wing asset when grunts need immediate CAS.

Helicopters are a nice alternative, but they are too soft and too slow. The A-10 will get to you quick, and has been doing its job for a long time now.

It’s like replacing Peyton Manning (A-10) for Michael Vick (F-35).


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