There you are, an Islamic State fighter minding your own business on a crisp winter day in the suburbs of Raqqa. Perhaps it’s been a busy morning—your work on the morals patrol is always a hassle, your team leader Mahmoud will not shut up, and you hurt your hand beating that recalcitrant shopkeeper who has been selling pop music despite your stern admonitions.
Now, you’ve got to stand duty on a checkpoint just outside of town, but it’s a quiet and peaceful spot, and you can rest a bit before getting back to the wives later in the day.
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Then, literally out of the clear blue sky, you hear the swelling roar of a jet engine. As you turn, there is a new, unfamiliar noise, the kind of noise an industrial steam engine would make if it could burp like Jessica Simpson. It sounds like this:
That is the noise that a 30-mm Gatling gun makes, firing 3,900 rounds per minute—or 65 depleted uranium slugs every second—from its mount on the U.S. Air Force’s ugly, slow, fat, and entirely irreplaceable A-10 Warthog. It is widely believed that the force of the gun firing actually slows the A-10 in flight. (Some say this is a myth—but life is more fun if some myths aren’t debunked.)
Truth be told, you didn’t actually hear that noise. See, the bullets go faster than sound. But all of your compatriots within a few miles did. They should be happy for you! For over a decade now, the A-10 has been serving in the role of an online dating service, connecting jihadists with those eager 72 virgins awaiting them in heaven. It’s a Tinder for the terrorist set.
Today, the U.S. Air Force swiped right for you.