Military Aviation

A-10 pilot tells how many bullets the Warthog’s GAU-8/A cannon carries into battle and for how long the Avenger can fire continuously

Designed specifically for the anti-tank role, the General Electric GAU-8/A Avenger is 20 ft long and delivers very powerful rounds at a high rate of fire.

The General Electric GAU-8/A Avenger is a 30 mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-style autocannon that is typically mounted in the US Air Force’s Fairchild Republic A-10 Warthog.

Designed specifically for the anti-tank role, the Avenger is 20 ft long and delivers very powerful rounds at a high rate of fire.

How many rounds does the GAU-8/A carry into battle and for how long can it fire continuously?

Former A-10 Warthog pilot Lynn Taylor explains on Quora;

‘From Wikipedia’s excellent article on the GAU-8 Avenger:

The magazine can hold 1,174 rounds, although 1,150 is the typical load-out.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. A-10C Thunderbolt II 355th FW, 354th FS Bulldogs, FS/82-684. Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ – 2015


The Avenger’s rate of fire was originally selectable, 2,100 rounds per minute (rpm) in the low setting, or 4,200 rpm in the high setting. Later this was changed to a fixed rate of 3,900 rpm.

‘Here, I’ll even do the math for you.

‘3,900 rpm = 65 rounds per second (rps)

‘1,150 rounds / 65 rps = 17.69 seconds of gun’

Taylor continues;

‘Now, there are some other factors like barrel spin-up time in the first half second, so you can actually get a little more time out of it, depending on how many shots you take.

‘Also from that fine Wikipedia article:

This model is available from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

In practice, the cannon is limited to one and two-second bursts to avoid overheating and conserve ammunition

‘We never really worried about overheating the barrels, though we did try to shepherd our bullets. It’s always better to run out of targets before you run out of ammo.

‘Still, you’re looking at anywhere from 9 to 18 gun passes before you’re dry. Not too shabby. And that’s not even counting all of the other care packages hanging from the wings.’

Taylor concludes;

‘Here is a short video of what that looks like on the receiving end, using high-explosive incendiary ammunition. Note that this is a gun run against a strafe target, not a point target. So, the bullets are spread out in a line, and the run lasts a little longer than usual to cover the target area.’

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Recent Posts

Northrop Grumman to develop SiAW, a new Stand-in Attack Weapon for the F-35 and possibly the B-21

The F-35 is the initial platform for the Stand-in Attack Weapon (SiAW), and the USAF… Read More

9 hours ago

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works tests U-2 new advanced capabilities in first flight of the Dragon Lady’s Avionics Tech Refresh program

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, in partnership with the US Air Force, completed the first flight… Read More

1 day ago

When the Warthog became Snowhog: the story of the A-10 that received a unique arctic camouflage

Not long after arriving at Eielson, A-10 Warthog 80-221 was repainted in an arctic camouflage… Read More

1 day ago

The story of the Royal Air Force CF-105 Arrow All-Weather Fighters that Never Were

It was on the basis of the Arrow’s future potential, more than CF-105 then-current design,… Read More

2 days ago

The Argentine Air Force may buy surplus CH-46 Sea Knight medium-lift helicopter stored at 309 AMARG

The Argentine Air Force may give new life to the Boeing CH-46 medium-lift helicopter, retired… Read More

2 days ago