Photo: Wikipedia Commons
When you’re hunkered down behind a thin sliver of cover taking heavy fire, there is no more reassuring sound than the twin engines of the A-10 Thunderbolt screaming in from the distance.Check out the A-10 >
That’s what you think anyway, until you hear the 30mm Gatling gun that pounds out 3,500 rounds per minute at the guys trying to kill you.
Then you know the most reassuring sound you’ll ever hear.
The A-10 is an old plane that continues to provide massive air support to ground troops, both with that cannon, and with missiles that can take out a main battle tank in a single shot.
We looked at the A-10 over the summer, with it’s distinctive shape, and historic time in service and decided it was time for another look.
Sometimes old really is good.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II was introduced to service in the disco-driven year of 1977 — two years after Vietnam officially ended
What the 'Hog' lacks in pretty lines and smooth curves it makes up for in sheer determination and toughness and may suffer extreme damage while still holding to the skies
The phrase 'Go Ugly Early' is not some off-colour nightlife advice, but a reference to calling in the A-10 before you're getting your butt handed to you be the enemy
While the A-10 is called in for spot rescues — it's overarching mission is to spread that destruction more widely and 'soften' enemy strongholds so ground troops can move in
Backing up the 30mm Gatling gun cannon are 11 separate mounts for all manner of additional firepower
Here's a close look at the GAU-8 Avenger Gatling gun mounted to the nose of the plane — it's so powerful that for years rumours insisted the firing weapon actually slowed the 'Hogs' air speed
These are 30mm rounds being loaded on an Apache — about 1-inch wide by 7-inches long — they come in armour piercing and high-explosive variants
The rounds are so powerful that they are not targeted at individuals but equipment like armoured vehicles and fortified bunkers
This AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile weighs up to 670 lbs and can wipe out a tank in a single shot
The 'Hog' also has more than six other hefty pieces of ordnance at its disposal — including 500-pound smart bombs and cluster bombs
The A-10 also carries the Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (L-JDAM) — a smart bomb up to 10-feet long 2,000 pounds
Some things are just so damn good at their job it doesn't matter how old they get, it's rare, but the A-10 is one of those things
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