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The business end
The most prominent feature of the A-10 Thunderbolt II is the 30-millimeter GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling-gun cannon. Designed before the aircraft that carries it, this weapon is capable of firing 3,900 rounds a minute and can defeat an array of ground targets to include tanks. Both the A-10 and GAU-8 entered service in 1977 and the gun represents 16 percent of the aircraft's weight. The 442nd Fighter Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command unit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., has 24 A-10s assigned to its 303rd Fighter Squadron. (US Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Bill Huntington)
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A-10 gun facts

Posted 6/2/2007   Updated 6/2/2007 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Tom Talbert
442nd Fighter Wing public affairs

6/2/2007 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- In 1970, when General Electric first produced the GAU -8/A Avenger 30- mm aerial mounted cannon for the U.S. Air Force, who could have imagined the gun and airplane built around it would play such a key role in its air-assault arsenal for so many years to come?

This incredible weapon, the heart of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, is the largest, heaviest and most powerful aircraft cannon in the United States military. The Avenger was designed for the anti-tank role and delivers 62 very powerful rounds a second.

The A-10 was designed around the gun and not vice versa, the opposite of most aircraft weapons systems. Both the A-10 and GAU-8 entered service in 1977 and the incredibly powerful gun represents 16 percent of the aircraft's weight.

Another unique feature is the gun's placement -- slightly off center in the nose of the plane with the front landing gear positioned to the side.

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