April 26, 2011: STRATEGY PAGE
For the first time in twenty years, the U.S. Air Force has placed an order for PGU-13 30mm cannon rounds used in the A-10 aircraft. The A-10 is a 23 ton, twin engine, single seat aircraft whose primary weapon is a multi-barrel 30mm cannon originally designed to fire armored piercing shells at Russian tanks. These days, the 30mm rounds are mostly high explosive, and it has been heavily used in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Libya. The 30mm cannon fires 363 gram (12.7 ounce) rounds at the rate of about 65 a second. The cannon is usually fired in one or two second bursts.
The new $32.5 million contract will not only include new rounds, but refurbishment of older 30mm high explosive rounds still in inventory. Over 200,000 new and refurbished rounds will be delivered within two years. Since 1991, the A-10s have been using up large Cold War era inventories, which is why refurbishing of some older munitions is included. Some of the older 30mm ammo was quite old indeed, since large war stocks had been maintained since the A-10 was introduced in the late 1970s. While only 716 A-10s were built, each carried the 30mm cannon, and 1,174 rounds of 30mm ammo. Wartime use of the 30mm rounds was expected to be high, and the ammo was bought and stockpiled accordingly.