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A-10 Thunderbolt Aircraft

Of all the US military platforms that fire DU, the A-10 is responsible for the greatest proportion of DU fired

  • Used for close air support
  • Responsible for the largest share of DU ammunition fired by US forces
  • Due to be replaced by the Joint Strike Figher

 

 

 

 

 

A-10 Thunderbolt in flight Schematic Drawing of the A-10

 

The A-10, often called the 'Warthog', is a close air support aircraft, meaning that it is used as back-up for ground units - typically strafing enemy forces during battle. The main armament on the A-10 is the GAU-8/A, a five barrelled gatling cannon. This cannon can shoot both the PGU-14/B Armour Piercing Incendiary (API) DU round, and the PGU-13/B High Explosive Incendiary (HEI) round, typically in a mix of 5 API to 1 HEI.

Because the A-10 has been used so widely, and because it can fire almost 4000 rounds of ammunition per minute, it is responsible for most of the DU contamination from the 1991 Gulf war, and for all the contamination in Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia & Herzegovina.

In early 2010, ICBUW discovered that the US is planning to move away from using DU in medium calibre ammunition, such as the 30 mm rounds used in the GAU-8/A. The A-10 is also scheduled to be replaced by the F-35 Joint Strke Fighter. However, some sources question the suitability of the F-35 for an air support role, and it is expected that the A-10 and it's uranium ammunition will remain part of US forces for some time to come.