Okay, we usually just blog about firearms that you can actually get your hands on. Most people will never get the opportunity to get anywhere near one of these machines, but that doesn’t mean we can’t drool on it. It is what makes the A-10 so damn impressive. This is one of the most proven and effective tools in the U.S. Military’s arsenal—the venerable GAU-8/A Avenger.
Need something completely decimated? Sweet. You’ve come to the right place. The Avenger fires an absolutely huge 30mm projectile. Not to be confused with a .30 caliber projectile, the 30x173mm NATO makes the .50 BMG look like a dinky little .22 LR. Specifically designed for autocannons, warfighters use the 30x173mm for anti-material, armor-defeating and bunker busting roles.
General Electric developed this massive gun for the purpose of delivering an intense amount of firepower to its target. It eats leftover cold war tanks for breakfast and does it with a good amount of panache.
Fairchild-Republic used their experience from building planes in the Second World War and attempted to design a plane around the gun itself, rather than retrofitting the gun onto an existing platform. The result was a close air support asset that could fly low and slow with a huge level of survivability. It doesn’t have the sleek lines of an F-15 or the speed and stealth of an F-22 Raptor, but it decimates enemy armor and clears paths through whatever needs doing away with. It takes hits from all kinds of enemy munitions and keeps on flying. This aircraft is almost indestructible. Before Operation Desert Storm, the Pentagon considered retiring the A-10 and rolling the close air support mission into other platforms. However, the Warthog earned its place and proved absolutely invaluable during allied operations.
The GAU-8/A has seven barrels that spin on a hydraulic motor. It fires a variety of munitions, including depleted uranium armor-piercing and incendiary rounds. Current models allow the pilot to fire at 3,900 rounds per minute. The cannon takes about half a second to spin up, which dumps about 50 rounds in the first second. It continues to fire between 65 and 70 rounds per second thereafter. A fully loaded drum will hold 1,350 rounds of 30mm ammunition.
Oddly, the Avenger doesn’t sit in the middle of the aircraft. They mounted it slightly to one side, but put the firing barrel on the centerline of the A-10 for easier shooting. Designers used this arrangement to help minimize the effect of the gun’s massive recoil. Without this design, the spinning cannon would push the aircraft off target. The recoil measures in at about 10,000 pounds-force. This is greater than the force of its two jet engines. The gun is so powerful, it slows down the entire aircraft even when it is in a nosedive! I would never want to be on the business end of something so deadly and powerful.
|Barrels||7-barrel (progressive RH parabolic twist, 14 grooves)|
|Rate of fire||up to 4,200|
|Muzzle Velocity||3,500 ft/s (1,070 m/s)|
|Effective range||4,000 feet|
|Maximum range||Over 12,000 feet|
|Feed system||Linkless Feed System|