A-10C GAU-8 Avenger Munitions Render Explosive Reactive Armored Tanks Inoperative During Test
A-10C GAU-8 Avenger Munitions Render Explosive Reactive Armored Tanks Inoperative During Test

A-10C GAU-8 Avenger Munitions Render Explosive Reactive Armored Tanks Inoperative During Test

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The 422nd and 59th Test and Evaluation Squadrons proved that modern-day armored vehicles equipped with Explosive Reactive Armor are vulnerable to the A-10C Thunderbolt II’s GAU-8 Avenger. This first-ever test was conducted at the Nevada Test and Training Range, February 14-25, 2022. Through post-shot analysis of video, photo imagery, and visual inspection of the targets, analysts were able to ascertain the battle damage inflicted upon the tanks and determine that the tanks were rendered inoperative. Each test mission included a two-ship of A-10Cs employing armor-piercing incendiary rounds against two surrogate main battle tanks equipped with ERA. The pilots varied attack parameters and directions to evaluate weapons’ effects against the up-armored targets.

“This has been an ongoing test effort since the idea originated in 2020. Now that it’s come to fruition and proven successful, we will work towards testing other types of anti-armor munitions in the Air Force inventory against ERA and collect more data,” said 1st Lt. Christopher Earle, 59th TES A-10C operations test analyst.

“A typical A-10 gun employment uses 120 rounds, which means an A-10 is capable of employing fires on nine to ten targets before exhausting its gun munitions. Against large fielded forces, A-10 formations are capable of engaging nearly 40 armored vehicles with 30 mm munitions,” said Maj. Kyle Adkison, 422nd TES A-10C division commander.

Close-up of the A-10 Thunderbolt II 30mm seven-barrel Gatling gun from the 59th and 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadrons at Hill Air Force Base, Utah

In addition to 30mm gun rounds, the test also collected data on AGM-65L Maverick and AGR-20E Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System effectiveness against armored vehicles. The A-10 is well suited for Agile Combat Employment roles, and this test proves the A-10 can continue to deliver massive rapid firepower with devastating effects on enemy vehicles in a contested environment. Multiple agencies were included throughout the test including the 422nd TES, 59th TES, 53rd Test and Evaluation Group, and the Air Force Lifecycle Management Center’s Operational Weaponeering and Analysis Division.

The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is a single-seat, twin-turbofan, straight-wing, subsonic attack aircraft developed by the Fairchild Republic for the U.S. Air Force. In service since 1976, it is named for the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt but is commonly referred to as the “Warthog” or “Hog”. The A-10 was designed to provide close air support (CAS) to friendly ground troops by attacking armored vehicles, tanks, and other enemy ground forces. Although the A-10 can carry a considerable amount of munitions, its primary built-in weapon is the 30×173 mm GAU-8/A Avenger autocannon. One of the most powerful aircraft cannons ever flown, it fires large depleted uranium armor-piercing shells.