A-10 Warthog Thunderbolt Striker USAF
The Thunderbolt II's 30mm GAU-8/A Gatling gun can fire 3,900 rounds a minute and can defeat an array of ground targets to include tanks. Some of their other equipment includes an inertial navigation system, electronic countermeasures, target penetration aids, self-protection systems, and AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.
The AGM-65 Maverick is an air-to-ground tactical missile (AGM) designed for close air support. It is effective against a wide range of tactical targets, including armor, air defenses, ships, ground transportation, and fuel storage facilities.
The AGM-65F (infrared targeting) used by the U.S. Navy has an infrared guidance system optimized for ship tracking and a larger penetrating warhead than the shaped charge warhead used by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force (300 pounds / 140 kilograms vs. 125 pounds / 57 kilograms). The infrared TV camera enables the pilot to lock-on to targets through light fog where the conventional TV seeker's view would be just as limited as the pilot's. The AGM-65 has two types of warheads; one has a contact fuze in the nose, the other has a heavyweight warhead fitted with a delayed-action fuze, which penetrates the target with its kinetic energy before detonating. The latter is most effective against large, hard targets. The propulsion system for both types is a solid-fuel rocket motor behind the warhead.
Thunderbolt IIs have Night Vision Imaging Systems (NVIS), compatible single-seat cockpits forward of their wings and a large bubble canopy which provides pilots all-around vision. The pilots are encircled by titanium armor that also protects parts of the flight-control system.
The redundant primary structural sections allow the aircraft to enjoy better survivability during close air support than did previous aircraft. The aircraft can survive direct hits from armor-piercing and high-explosive projectiles up to 23mm. Their self-sealing fuel cells are protected by internal and external foam. Their redundant hydraulic flight-control systems are backed up by manual systems. This permits pilots to fly and land when hydraulic power is lost.
Proven against armor targets, GAU-8 ammunition (PGU series) is currently in use with the 30mm GAU-8/A Gatling gun on the U.S. Air Force A-10 close-support aircraft. Its application on the GPU-5A gun pod is designed to provide antiarmor capabilities to the A-7, F-4, F-5, and F-16 aircraft.
The GAU-8/A gun is capable of firing rates of 2100 and 4200 spm. The primary ammunition of the 30mm family is the Armor-Piercing Incendiary (API) round, PGU-14/B, produced by ATK Co.Ltd. With the kinetic energy needed to defeat armor, this projectile possesses a high-density penetrator. High-Explosive Incendiary (HEI) round, PGU-13/B, provides the necessary capability for light material targets. It also incorporates extended-range incendiary capability against fuel targets.
The GAU-8 gun system is under the cockpit and the nose.
To complete this family of ammunition, GAU-8/A ammunition offers a low-cost Target Practice (TP) round, PGU-15/B. This design, used for training, has been proven in application against light armor. In the photo down here, from left to right, they are PGU-14/B, PGU-13/B, PGU-15/B round. All produced by ATK Co.Ltd in 1976.