Almost anyone with an internet connection has probably seen an A-10 meme or heard someone talk about the (very) distinctive BRRRTTTTT sound of an A-10, diving down and spouting its flame from under its body. Those flames come courtesy of the GAU-8 Avenger.
The venerable A-10 Thunderbolt, affectionately nicknamed the Warthog, is the only U.S. Air Force aircraft built for the express purpose of close-air support (CAS). To that end, the whole thing was designed and built around the GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon. That’s right: cannon.
The Beginnings of the A-10
As the Vietnam War began to heat up in the early ’60s, the DoD realized the A-1 Skyraider, the only ground-support aircraft in the inventory, was woefully underpowered against North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces. Between the Air Force, Navy, and South Vietnamese AF, almost 400 were lost in combat.