The 30 mm General Electric GAU-8/A Avenger rotary canon first entered into service in 1977. The 619 pound monster Gatling gun measured just shy of 2 feet wide and 20 feet long when completed, but more than compensating 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.
Oh, and just in case that wasn’t impressive enough, each of those rounds in its shell measures nearly a foot in length.
Of course, you may be more familiar with the GAU-8/A Avenger rotary canon thanks to the air frame engineers wrapped around it in order to get this massive weapon platform aloft: the legendary Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, affectionately known to many as the A-10 Warthog, or just “Hog” for short.
The A-10 has since proven itself a favorite among war fighters who have been relying on the aircraft’s long loiter capabilities coupled with its massive firepower and ability to put rounds on target with high levels of accuracy. When it comes to the Warthog’s abilities as a close air support aircraft in the U.S. Military, the A-10 is sort of like Kevin Bacon. No matter who you ask, they’re likely within six degrees of separation of someone that credits the A-10 with saving their life in a firefight.