a-10 thunderbolt II warthog cannon
By Staff Sgt. Steve Thurow - A-10 Thunderbolt II, Public Domain, Link
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By Travis Smola

When soldiers in our armed forces need air support, they welcome the sound of an A-10 Thunderbolt II, AKA the A-10 Warthog. This awesome plane and her pilots have been in service since 1972, despite repeated efforts over the years to kill it.

The Warthog is a favorite of pilots and troops alike because of its ability to support soldiers on the ground. It’s been called a gun with a plane that was built around it because of the devastating 30mm autocannon in the nose can fire armor-piercing depleted uranium shells at up to 3,900 rounds a minute.

That’s a lot of firepower to the rescue when ground troops are in a pinch. In the video below, a convoy comes under heavy attack when the A-10 comes to their rescue. [NSFW: there’s some harsh language in the video.]

You can hear the relief in the voices of these soldiers at the distinctive sound of the A-10’s cannon pounding the enemy position.

The sound of the A-10 is intense. The rounds hit the ground before you hear the BRRRRT buzzing sound of those 30mm cannons. There’s a common saying: “If you hear an A-10 shooting, you weren’t the plane’s intended target.” Imagine the psychological effect this plane must have on anyone on the receiving end of its fire.

A-10 Lightningbolt GAU-8 cannon
By USAF – nationalmuseum.af.mil, Public Domain, Link

Seeing raw combat footage like this reminds us that the movies aren’t accurate when it comes to portraying how things often play out in real life on the battlefield. It just makes us even more thankful for the dangerous job performed by our brave service men and women in uniform.

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      • “Little” is a relative term when it comes to aircraft. And when it’s 500 ft overhead, it looks even smaller. An A10, while not exactly “tiny”, IS a smaller aircraft, at least compared to others like, say the C17’s that those guys on the ground are probably more familiar with seeing, likely having jumped out of or ridden in on occasion.

      • Great aircraft, I hate to see them being retired. This time I think its for real. I hope they mothball them for awhile before they scrap them.

      • “Ever seen a Hog up close?”

        Not as small as one would think.

        The fighter of amazing size was the F-105. Could walk upright under the fuselage.

      • “And the (Ch)Air Force thinks the F-35 can replace the A-10? I think not.”

        You grossly underestimate the power of imagination.

  1. I live in South GA near Valdosta and see Warthogs flying several times a month. Moody AFB is just North of Valdosta and they to a good bit of flying in the area. It’s a great sight and sound.

    • Here in Twin Falls, Idaho we had a flight of 2 WartHogs & 2 F-15H fly over the other day at low level. What a Beautiful sight it was!!

      Wish I could load the photo’s I took of them……

    • Back in high school outside Bossier City, B-52s and A-10s would alternate days. The pattern had a corner right over the house. Awesome sights. The two best planes the Air Force has ever had.

      My dad was a B-52 Navigator.

      • “Back in high school outside Bossier City,…”

        Did some time at Barskport. Met my future bried, a 1Lt who commanded long before she became a Colonel. Lived a while in Houghton. Abandoned the unendurable humidity and decamped to Colorado (before it became California-East)

    • Up in the Adirondacks, many years ago, A-10s would do low level practice out of Ft. Drum, flying low between the mountains. You’d be swimming or hiking, minding your own business in peaceful tranquility, and then, suddenly, you’d be wetting yourself as a pair of death machines blasted by at what felt like about ten feet overhead. Then everything would be silent again.

      It was awesome.

  2. That is a typical day at work for some of our service people. A day that many Americans don’t appreciate, by service men they don’t appreciate. God bless them all.

    • Part of what makes this country great is that they have the right and the freedom to not appreciate it, and judging by your bootlicking comment, you will probably never understand that.

      • Do you ever wonder why the only friends you have are terrible people, too? It’s because of comments like that.

      • X marks the spot

        You’re right in saying “what makes our country great is our freedom not to appreciate it”. However, that comment was brash.

        If you go out to dinner are you rude to the server who brings you your food because you have the right?

        Keep in mind that this country is free because of the amazing service men and women who protect it. If it wasn’t for them, we might all be speaking German, or Russia or Chinese. We might also not have the 1st amendment, or any amendment for that matter.

        I would make the argument that most people who comment on this website are appreciative of the service members who protect our borders (and protect our allies for that matter). And while I am a firm believer in individual rights; saying thank you to those that have died or appreciating those that protect you shouldn’t be that hard.

      • Hey X (former person) DAMN, YOU REALLY ARE AN ARSEHOLE. I say that as I don’t think you are aware enough of your assholiness and therefore I am doing you a big favor….no need to thank me….it’s a public service.

  3. Oh yeah. Wait until the F-35 takes over the close air support (CAS) mission. 118rds on target will put an end to all the bad guys. Then it’s back to the ranch for a refill.

    Of course, there will be hundreds of f-35s in range of troops in contact (TIC), and one by one, they can put their 118rds onto the enemy. Ok, not hundreds, dozens. Ok, ok, not dozens, but at least one dozen. Ok, ok, ok, not a dozen, but a bunch, I’m sure.

      • “Heh guy the AF almost always hits the ground. Somewhere. Then they go hit the club.”

        Yeah. I never really understood that. Always thought staying at the club was the better tactic.

        • The O-club life that you knew pretty much doesn’t exist any more, these days. In any of the branches…

          • “The O-club life that you knew pretty much doesn’t exist any more, these days. In any of the branches…”

            Actually, the O-club life I knew was staid, under-attended, stodgy, anxiety-filled (lest a senior officer saw you drinking at the bar), low-key, a place pretty much avoided. Strategic Air Command was not known for its sense of humor.

    • But you don’t understand man! It’s multi mission capable and have you seen how it can take off from less runway?!

      I think the a10 will be around for a while still. There is nothing close to them in capability unless they want to replace with a long range attack chopper or something maybe.

      • “But you don’t understand man! It’s multi mission capable and have you seen how it can take off from less runway?! ”

        The controversy over the A-10 goes all the way back to 1965, when the Air Force finally forced the Army to get rid of its fixed-wing aircraft. You see, the Army actually had more fixed-wing aircraft than the Air Force, at that time. The Army was using the C-9 Caribou and C-10 Buffalo for tactical air supply of forces fielded, especially in Vietnam. The AF wrested control of those airplanes from the Army, and expanded the AF tactical airlift capability rapidly.

        Regarding the A-10, the AF only consented to accepting the A-10 because otherwise, the US/NATO forces in Europe would be slaughtered by the Russian armor units. And, it was unconscionable that the Army should have organic fixed wing attack aircraft. Not long after the idea that massive Russian tank units would overrun NATO, the AF began trying to phase out the A-10, or reduce it to one or two units to support NATO, JIC.

        For the last, at least, ten years, the AF has been trying to eliminate the A-10 because it is hopeless in an air-to-air confrontation (i.e. Dogfight). Not to mention the AF bristles at the idea that one of their major missions should be CAS for the Army. Thus, the F-35 was given a gun (originally the bird was to be all stand-off ordnance) in order to “absorb” the A-10 mission, making the A-10 obsolete.

        The AF remains highly sensitive to the idea that the Army would accept the A-10 CAS mission in a heart-beat. Even while grudgingly including CAS for the F-35, the AF touts how the F-35 is so sophisticated, that enemy troops in contact with US forces can be destroyed from miles away, negating the need for ground attack with a gun.

        And, truth be told, you don’t need a 30mm bullet to kill ground troops.

        • I think the Harrier II’s are seriously underappreciated, especially considering they are another common CAS plane floating around over there, with perhaps much more flexibility because of how forward they can be parked compared to some other planes.

          But ya know.

          • “I think the Harrier II’s are seriously underappreciated…”

            Not being a fighter pilot, I never really understood the intention of fielding the Harrier. However, if the Marines were happy with it, good on ’em. I never argue with a Marine aviator.

        • No you need a multimillion dollar missle to kill ground troops. Yup makes sense.

          • “No you need a multimillion dollar missle to kill ground troops. Yup makes sense.”

            I think there is a place for you, with a defense contractor. Not so many see the importance of limited capability, expensive weapons. If a multi-million dollar missile can’t do the job, then more of them will.

        • Should transfer them to the Army and the Marines, the guys that actually appreciate CAS.

          • “Should transfer them to the Army and the Marines, the guys that actually appreciate CAS.”

            I’m sure this ties the AF in knots, at times. Don’t want the A-10, don’t want nobody else to have ’em.

  4. I haven’t looked yet but I think they came later out than 1972. They were just showing up about the time I left the service in 1976.

      • “Developed in 1972 and entered service in 1976.”

        The original mission concept was airborne artillery to counter the massive imbalance between the number of tanks the Russians could put in the field, and what NATO could muster. The A-10 was designed to be a tank destroyer (tank buster in post-ww2 parlance)

        • First Hog I saw in person was at Mildenhall AFB, about 1980.

          It was designed to pop Russian tanks pouring through the Fulda gap invading western Europe…

        • The design team even consulted Hans Ulrich Rudel, the famous Nazi Stuka pilot, on how to provide CAS and destroy Soviet tanks from the air.

  5. I helped test the Gau 8 chain drive at Red River Army Depot and they had a few depleted uranium rounds, when they test fired

    • About twice as dense as lead and *extremely* hard metal…

      • “About twice as dense as lead and *extremely* hard metal…”

        In about 1983/4, I read a TIME magazine article about the AF Colonel who saved the AF a zillion dollars on ammunition….and was canned for it.

        In short, the Colonel led a project to reduce the cost of A-10 ammunition from about $500/rd to $50. The project replaced the depleted uranium with frangible casings. The modifications worked, and also eliminated any jamming of the gun caused by metal casings. Ultimately, the Colonel was re-assigned from the A-10 Program Office, to a converted closet some where in the Pentagon. The Colonel retired shortly thereafter.

        In my tours at higher headquarters commands, I learned that budget creep was a key to promotion; budget reduction made one seem injurious to the cause.

  6. I used to work at a General Dynamics plant in Burlington, VT where the 30mm guns were made. A trip to the range for a test fire was something I’ll never forget. I love these A-10s. They need to keep these in service.

    • I was in Texas, Hooks, we built the first Abrams also, I had friends that worked on the Phoenix missile, for the F14….I’m old

  7. “It’s been called a gun with a plane that was built around it”
    That’s very accurate. The GAU-8 was spec’d first, and then the YA-9 and YA-10 were designed to carry it.

  8. Nothing calms the nerves quite like the soothing BRRRRTTTT of a friendly Warthog in the distance.

  9. Couldn’t this conflict have been squashed over a couple of beers and some ladies of the night like real gentlemen?

  10. The A-10 is the engineer’s best counter to the “multi-mission, multi-customer, multi-branch” argument for such nonsense as the F-35.

    The F-35 tries to be all things to all users.

    The A-10 doesn’t give a rip about speed, or sexy looks, or tailstands, etc. It cares about one thing: close air support of troops on the ground. It does it better than everything else in the air – and that’s why it will survive the “fighter mafia’s” attempts to kill it for years to come.

    • “…that’s why it will survive the “fighter mafia’s” attempts to kill it for years to come.”

      The fighter mafia is victorious within the AF, it is the Congress that saved the Hog, every time. Congress shoves the A-10 down the throat of the AF, each budget year. The AF would be quite content to use A-10 money to fund the upgrades to make the F-35 reach its IOC (the bird is not yet fully capable of combat, regardless of the CAS mission).

      • I’ve heard rumors that, with proper upgrades, the A-10 is likely to be in service for a long time to come.
        What would an unmanned vehicle with a
        30mm cannon look like, anyway? Some kind of warthog?

        • “I’ve heard rumors that, with proper upgrades, the A-10 is likely to be in service for a long time to come.”

          The A-10 unique capabilities are aging to the point that it can only be used in a low-threat environment. Give one point to a more sophisticated craft.

          “What would an unmanned vehicle with a
          30mm cannon look like, anyway? Some kind of warthog?”

          Armed drones are already proving useful in ground attack. To date, the weaponry is missiles. Putting a GAU-8 on a drone would be problematic. However, you don’t need a 30mm round to put down suppressive fire supporting troops-in-contact. Compared to current, or upgraded, A-10s, drones are cheaper. Not being read-in on the latest drone control capability, one question I would have is whether the lack of 3-D vision for the controllers would make dron CAS too risky?

  11. It’s amusing to me that the sound an A-10 makes sounds, from a distance, somewhat similar to some of the recreations of Roman Infantry horns used to signal on a battlefield.

    The difference being that if you heard the horn you knew trouble was on the way. If you hear the A-10, someone very likely was already was served a whole heap of trouble. The rough equivalent of *bang bang bang bang* followed by “Stop or I’ll shoot!”

    • I’m assuming you mean the sound a GAU-8 makes is like Roman Infantry horns. I can’t imagine the Roman Infantry having horns that sound like Hoover vacuum cleaners.

      The A-10 sounds like a “Flying Hoover” just like the Navy’s S-3 Viking did- compliments of the GE TF34 turbofan engine.

      Used to hear that “wonderful whistle” all the time living so close NAS Jax, but now have to head up towards Moody to hear ’em.

      • The Romans had some, by our standards, very odd sounding horns for combat. They also had some strange whistles for “shorter range”. They were all meant to make sounds that were distinct over distance. Some horns and drums are great for marching but failed miserably over distance in ancient combat.

        Hearing those command sounds is a major reason why Roman helmets were designed the way they were, as opposed to, say, a Corinthian helmet from Greece a few centuries earlier.

  12. It’s basically a gun with a plane built around it. The plane loses air speed when it fires.

    • “…equal and opposite reaction.”
      Says something about the power of that gun.

      I shudder at imagining 3,900 rounds of 30mm in 60 seconds. That is devastation I cannot get my mind around.


      • Knew quite a few A10 pilots. Slow plane but they felt like Thor hitting on tanks and buildings.
        A USAF Major told me he cut a steel bridge in half with that gun. He said the noise inside the cockpit is very loud.

  13. Amazing aircraft. The lunacy of wanting to get rid of it is just inexcusable. USAF brass pursuing that path deserve to see their careers derailed.

    Had an interesting view of the A-10 in flight once. Was on a climb of Baboquivari Peak in Arizona in the 1980’s. That’s a granite monolith jutting out of a mountain range south of the Kitt Peak Observatory.

    So there we are, on a rock face pretty high up our climb when these two A-10’s come flying by at a low altitude, and a little below us. The pilots probably didn’t know we were there on the rock face. They circled that peak two or three times in tight, banking turns. And we could look down into the cockpits as they went past!

    No weapons that we could see as they leveled out and flew away. The Goldwater bombing range is out west so maybe they were returning from a training flight, no more ordnance on board.

    A thrilling sight, and a bit scary as all the noise and vibration had rocks and gravel coming off the peak and hitting our helmets. Nobody got hurt, sure was exhilarating to see them that way!

    • That’s awesome! I, too, had a “goose-bump” moment with an A-10. I had just exited the track at JenningsGP (a motorcycle-only road course in Jennings, FL) at the end of track day session and pulled into my pit. I got off my bike and removed my helmet just as something in the sky caught my eye.

      It was an A-10 flying level at what could not have been much more than 1,000ft. I thought (and probably said out loud), “That’s bad-ass!” I was just about to turn to my teammate to make sure he saw it when the A-10 started to bank to the left. It banked about 45 degrees for a few seconds- just long enough for me to see the pilot wave. It then leveled out and flew off.

      I got tears in my eyes just as I do every time I watch the scene at the airfield in Empire of the Sun (P-51! Cadillac of the Skies!). I had a MOMENT with an A-10 that I’ll never forget.

      I then turned to my teammate (who hadn’t taken his helmet off yet) and I said, “Did you see that?!” He said, “See what?” (“Where’d who go?”) I said, “nevermind”, and decided to just keep that special moment to myself.

  14. Cool 😎We just a tornado,severe thunderstorms and hail. Welcome to summer!

  15. I’m surprised nobody has expounded on the survival characteristics of the A-10. There are many pics around. It’s just hard to believe the hog got a pilot home flying with 1 and 1/2 wings, and many others. Sets a high bar for the latest do it all McFighter.

  16. Support Republican Senator Martha McSally, former A-10 pilot, for re-election. She was apparently the first female Hog driver to see combat. She is running against the husband of Gabby Gifford, gun grabber extraordinaire, and the out of state money has been rolling in to flip the seat. Contribute generously. If you don’t do it for her time doing close air support, or to get more conservative judges on the bench, do It to protect your 2nd Amdt rights.

  17. It was proven, without a doubt, that the A-10 WAS a multi-role airframe during Gulf 1. There wasn’t any role that, at one point or another, it didn’t perform. Accept maybe cargo or strategic bomber. One of its nicknames was Wartweasel. It worked in hunter-killer teams with high speed-low drag fraternity. It was also the only coalition aircraft to shoot down any enemy aircraft. It took out two Iraqi helicopters. IIRC the A-10 performed: attack, armed reconnaissance, fighter, observation, bomber, wild weasel and SAR.

    Read “WARTHOG” by William L. Smallwood. Great book, lotsa info.

  18. I always wanted a .22LR version of a mini-gun because that would be a mini-gun I could ‘afford to shoot’. Until I did the math and realized it would still cost $9000/hr. in ammunition.

  19. No better sight in the middle of a fight than a Cobra helo or A-10 lighting up the opposition.
    God bless air support!!

  20. Wasting taxpayer $ while fighting for the globalist warmongers, I mean for our “freedom” sorry. When it comes to Iraq or Adfghanistan, I have to say we reinvented the wheel, decades of CIA filth, politics, dirty business…just brilliant.

  21. Ive posted this before but in 1983 I was on a corporate training program near Chicago and one of the instructors flew in on an Air National Guard A10. At that time he said the Pentagon was sending A10 to the NG as the first step towards moth balling all of them. Dont know when this video was taken but it would appear the perfumed princes figured out that the A10 has a role to play yet to this day. Awesome weapons platform.

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