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October 04, 2004

OK, OK, You got a rise out of me...

Here I am trying to do some research on something political (like trying to ferret out what the Iranians think of the mullahs and would they get even more pissed off than they already are when they realize what getting a nuke REALLY means, etc.)...and John starts in on big, no, very large, no, enormous guns.

Yeah, I like the Avenger for all the reasons John mentioned, but here are a couple of other things to consider...

This is point-and-shoot weapon.
Meaning? It's responsive. This is good, especially against pop-up targets and arrogant Eagle drivers dumb enough to go hand-to-hand with a Hog. Just pull the nose over to the target and pull the trigger; none of this seeker cranium slewing, lock-on crap and other assorted frustrations. Just point and shoot...and shoot some more. (Gotta lead, of course but the LASTE system gives us a truly in-your-face firing solution, even against air-to-air targets.)

This is one of the few guns with a mil dispersion the size of a gnat's ass.
Most cannons start spewing stuff all over creation after a few thousand yards (If that much). At 4000 feet, I'm putting 80% of my bullets in a 20-foot circle. Twenty feet sounds like a lot. It isn't. Why? Two things, primarily: the bullets' speed and density--heavy and fast means really stable. These little guys sail for miles and, because each weighs about seven-tenths of a pound (.66 lb actually), even if they were going 10 mph, they'd still hurt when they hit. If you took one of the rebar rods they used in Hoover Dam and cut it to length to match the width of your hand, you'd have a pretty good replica of what's comin' atcha at about 3400 feet per second (the depleted uranium rounds are a tad slower...mebbe 140-160 fps). At 15,000 feet, if you're in something other than a tank, and I hit you, I will at the very least get a mobility kill more'n likely. Hence the name the Lead Laser.

Lots of stuff coming your way.
That would be about 70 rounds per second. I carry 1100 the math. You will be spanked a loooong time. A combat load is usually a 5:1 mix of API (the DU stuff) and HEI. Each HEI round carries the explosive weight equivalent of an infantryman's hand grenade. I've seen full HEI loads on occasion--forget the about 70 grenades a a 5-foot circle at 1000 feet.

GE built the gun (they do more than light bulbs apparently)...18 feet long and so big the jet had to be built around it. You've probably noticed how the barrel assembly is mounted off-center? That puts the firing barrel on fuselage centerline. Since the gun generates 18,000 lbs of thrust when it fires, firing off centerline would damn near have you shooting sideways. But...the damn thing hardly ever breaks...I'll bet there's about a million rounds fired between failures. I am not making this up. This is a machine that spins up hundreds of moving parts from a standing start to about 3900 RPM in less than a second, fires 3900 rounds a minute then, when the trigger's released, ceases firing, spins down to zero RPM, reverses, unloads all the barrels, checks to make sure the gun is safe and repositions the bullets to just outside the breech for the next pass. How long does that take? Wait for it...1.5 seconds. I love American engineers.

So, what would this thing look/feel/sound like close up? Heh.

Back before dinosaurs roamed the earth (I was a young captain), we had just converted the Flying Tigers (23rd Fighter Wing) from A-7s to A-10s. Not only were the pilots learning the ropes, so were the maintainers. Well, we had a gun break (electrical problem) and since it couldn't be safed up in dearm, it was downloaded from the jet in the gun butt (place you point into with a squirrley gun after landing) and trucked over to the weapons maintenance barn.

Early the next morning, the SPs found an airman wandering around the England AFB, LA housing area in the dark, apparently stoned. He wasn't stoned; he had been slapped silly by the concussion of a GAU-8 round going off in a hangar and was still suffering from scrambled circuits when the cops picked him up.

So, after interrogating this guy for a few minutes, they take him to the scene of the crime. In they walk, to find the hangar full of smoke and a sergeant, apparently unconscious in front of the (no pun intended) smoking gun.

This guy they revive. About the time he's ready to stand on his feet unassisted, he looks down, hesitates, and faints dead away.


Then the cops notice the burn mark across the chest of his field jacket. At the exact instant the airman was mucking up the gun tear-down and (long story) fired the gun, his supervisor is one micromillimeter away from the bullet's path, the latter zipping by his body and neatly slicing off the lower half of the little cloth tab thingy you grab when pulling your coat zipper up and down.


When the Sarge saw the burn mark--he could still see through th cordite haze, his concussed eardrums just couldn't hear crap at that point--his NCO mind put two and two together at the speed the NCO mind works (way too damn fast for this attack pilot) and went back to sleep.

So, by this time, the cops are starting to put things together...
Hmmmm...gun...gun go off...bullet come out. Mongo say, "Where bullet go?" (I'm kidding...I love you guys, really.)

Anyway, the round struck about 7 or 8 Maverick missle launch rail canisters (and the rails therein), went through a steel I-beam holding up the building and, without skipping a beat, out into the Louisiana swamps, never to be seen again. Moral of the story? Follow the Tech Orders. The cops spent the rest of the night restraining the Tech Sergeant and hiding the airman...protective custody, maybe. I don't know. In any case, we all got a better appreciation for what this thing could do.


Dusty | Permalink | Comments (2) | Observations on things Military
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