The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, or “Warthog” as it’s commonly known, was the first aircraft the U.S. Air Force ever purpose built specifically for close air support operations. In the years since its introduction in 1976, it has become a trademark of American combat operations, providing quick-action support for U.S. and allied ground troops in nearly every conflict the U.S. has been involved in since, liquefying enemy armored vehicles, combatants, and even tanks with its massive rotary canon, defined audibly by its tell-tale sound… BRRRRRRRRRRT
The A-10 was unusual from its very inception, as its design could, in some ways, be considered a bit backwards. Whereas most combat aircraft are designed and built around a functional air frame first, the A-10 began its design phase differently: The A-10 was built specifically to house the massive 30 mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon. In order to get this massive gun into the air, the A-10 had to be built around it. Because the A-10 was intended to get right into the middle of the fight, it was also adorned with some serious armor – with over 1,200 pounds of titanium tasked with protecting the cockpit and flight systems alone. The A-10 can take off and land on short runways, absorb a seemingly otherworldly amount of punishment, and lay waste to enemy armored assets to the tune of 65 massive 30mm rounds on target per second.
In fact, as massive as the A-10’s GAU-8 gun is, it’s dwarfed by the size of the ammunition drum it’s got to carry to keep up with its massive fire rate. The GAU-8 30 mm cannon weighs in at a formidable 620 pounds (imagine holding a 620 pound machine gun…) but once coupled with the feed system and a full drum, the weapon alone weighs 4,029 pounds.
But you didn’t come here to memorize numbers. You came here to see the A-10 in action.