🎥 How The USAF Reloads the World’s Largest Combat Jet Gun
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Most combat jets have guns built into them, but the GAU-8 Avenger is so big it has to have a plane built around it. Residing in the belly of the insanely badass A-10 Thunderbolt, the Avenger is a legitimately ridiculous piece of artillery, capable of slinging large chunks of hot lead downrange at a head-spinning rate of fire. Capable of firing up to 3,900 rounds per minute, the Avenger literally requires a truck load of ammunition to satisfy its hunger for bullets.
You can see in the video below that just loading this thing up is quite a task requiring several people and a trailer full of rounds. The ammo is delivered to the gun via a flatbed trailer stacked with boxes of bullets, amounting to thousands of rounds that have to be fed into the A-10’s onboard storage drum. They’re then readied for use by routing them into the guns feed system, which routs the rounds from the drum to the Avenger’s barrel.
The system is generally used for anti-tank missions in the belly of the A-10, but is also used aboard our warships as part of the Goalkeeper system used to defend our vessels against missiles, aircraft and other vessels.
The gun makes a distinct “BRRRRRTTT” sound when fired, so recognizable that if the A-10 comes up in conversation, there’s a really good chance somebody will just start making that sound. I’ve seen it happen several times, and it cracks me up each time, but it is a sound that is unmistakeable, as you’ll see toward the end of this short clip.
The GAU-8 system if such an integral part of the A-10’s construction that if it’s removed from the fuselage, the plane will tip backwards onto its tail. Weighing over 4,000 pounds when fully loaded, the system accounts for 16% of the A-10’s weight.