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What if there was a virtually invincible plane that could decimate tanks, armored vehicles, and troops in a single fly-by? That question has long been answered when the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt came into service.
The Thunderbolt has been in operation for decades and is the most survivable and versatile aircraft to take to the sky.
It’s been instrumental in several American conflicts, such as Grenada, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the War on Terror. The A-10’s clean track record can be attributed to its suitability in makeshift environments due to its short landing capability and its rugged landing gear assembly, making it the premiere choice for frontline combat.
Its maneuverability allows it to fly low and slow, able to effectively target enemies of all shapes and sizes. Meanwhile, its cockpit – which others may call the ‘Titanium Tub’, is made with 3.8cm-thick titanium armor plating bolted together.
The A-10’s cockpit is also equipped with a heads-up targeting system, radio communication, and tactical air navigation systems. Eleven pylons were installed to allow it to carry extra fuel, rockets, and everything it needed to dominate the battlefield.
But perhaps its best weapon comes in the form of its rotary cannon. The 30mm GAU-8 Avenger is a hydraulically-driven seven-barrel rotary cannon that fires large armor-piercing shells containing depleted-uranium cores.
These rounds, which are extremely dense and powerful, are also self-sharpening, meaning it doesn’t flatten as it pierces armor but fractures and remains relatively pointed to cause maximum damage upon impact.