This plane is the face of salvation when you're outgunned in the US Army

When you’re hunkered down behind a sliver of cover taking heavy fire, it seems like there’s no more reassuring sound than the twin engines of the A-10 Thunderbolt screaming in from the distance.

That’s what you think anyway, until you hear the 30mm Gatling gun that can pound 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 air support to ground troops. It has cannon and missiles that can take out a main battle tank in a single shot. But the plane has been a subject of recent controversy, with the Air Force fighting Congress over the military’s plans to phase it out of service. The Air Force wants to get rid of the venerated aircraft, with members of Congress working to keep it flying.

This post was originally by Robert Johnson and Walter Hickey

The A-10 Thunderbolt II was introduced in 1977.

The A-10 is more commonly known as the 'Warthog' or 'Hog.'

The A-10 has a reputation for extreme toughness and an ability to remain in the air even after sustaining damage.

It's powered by two huge General Electric TF34 turbofan engines.

The aircraft weighs 12 tons if it's flying empty -- but it can fly with up to 13 tons more worth of arms.

The phrase 'Go Ugly Early' is associated with the aircraft. It refers to calling the Warthog in for heavy close air support early on in an engagement.

The A-10 is mostly used for ground attack missions, like softening up enemy forces for an upcoming wave of American infantry.

In addition to a 30mm Gatling gun, the A-10 has 11 mounts for additional firepower.

This is the GAU-8 Avenger Gatling gun, the cannon on the nose of the plane.

It fires 30mm calibre rounds and can blast up to 3,500 rounds per minute.

The A-10 can hold 1,174 rounds of ammunition for the Avenger cannon.

Needless to say, that kind of firepower is very, very effective against armoured ground targets.

A warthog fully loaded with eight tons of firepower is truly a sight to behold.

This AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile weighs up to 670 lbs and can wipe out a tank in a single shot.

The Maverick missile costs between $17,000 and $160,000 depending on the guidance system used.

The A-10 can also fire Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions: Ten-foot-long smart bombs with an accuracy of up to 7 meters.

Now that you've seen what's in the skies, see what's going on under the sea

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