The US Air Force has deployed the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II to Afghanistan and Iraq in the past 13 years, using it mostly to support infantry units on the ground with directed air support. Currently, it has flown strike missions against Daesh (ISIS) targets in the Middle East as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. For the most part, these conflicts are waged against irregular enemies who fight without the use of larger conventional military hardware, including tanks, armored personnel carriers (APCs), etc. This means that, since Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s, A-10 pilots have only had sparse opportunities to use their jet for the mission it was originally designed to fly: armor-killing.
Back in the 1970s, one of the key requirements for the A-X program (which spawned the A-10), was that the final product needed to be particularly effective against vehicles protected by heavy armor. Namely, Soviet tanks and APCs parked all over Eastern Europe, ready to cross the Iron Curtain should the Cold War have gone hot. The A-10 never did get its chance to fight the armored fury of the Red Army, but it did see a bit of action against Iraqi military tanks and tracked fighting vehicles, all bought from the USSR on export deals in the 1970s and 1980s. But in the 20-something years since, missions involving such targets evaporated nearly completely.
At least until now.
This footage, recently posted (just yesterday) to the official Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve YouTube page shows an A-10 destroying an armored vehicle, presumable laden with explosives. The vehicle, commandeered by Daesh guerrillas, was identified as a Soviet-era BMP-1 by Sofrep.com. Syria possesses thousands of these infantry fighting vehicles, bought from the Soviet Union in the mid-1970s.
In the video, an A-10 saturates the general area of the BMP-1 with 30mm PGU-14/B Armory Piercing Incendiary rounds, which detonate upon impact. Each PGU-14/B contains a depleted uranium tip, allowing the bullet to penetrate most forms of armor on tanks and personnel carriers, and subsequently detonate, virtually turning everything inside the doomed vehicle into a version of fiery hell. The resultant explosion, after the BMP-1 is hit, proves that it was carrying a hell of a lot of explosives inside. This video lacks sound, so you won’t be able to hear the infamous BRRRTTT! of the GAU-8 as the cannon fires.