Aerial Weapon Systems
The M60 machine gun is a gas-operated, belt-fed, air-cooled weapon which fires from an open bolt and in automatic mode only. It was once the primary squad support machine gun of the United States military, being fielded in the squad support and vehicle mounted roles. The vehicle mounts included naval patrol boats, naval vessels, helicopters, wheeled and tracked vehicles.
The M240 family of medium machine guns has long been employed by all services of the U.S. Armed Forces. It comes in several variants and mounting configurations. These configurations include a coaxial version for armored combat vehicles, a pintle-mounted version for light tactical vehicles and rotary-wing aircraft, and bipod and tripod versions for dismounted infantry units.
The M3 .50 caliber machine gun is an automatic, recoil-operated, link-belt-fed, air-cooled machine gun having a rate of fire over 1,000 rounds per minute. The gun can be mounted in the wing or fuselage of a fighter plane or in a detachable gun pod for use on fixed and rotary wing aircraft.
The M134 7.62mm minigun was designed to provide a lightweight high rate of fire armament package for use on helicopters and light fixed-wing aircraft. It is an electrically driven, 6 barreled, rotary action weapon. The basic M61 Vulcan has been simplified and redesigned to fire percussion primed 7.62mm ammunition.
The Mk19 Grenade Machine Gun is an air-cooled, disintegrating metallic link-belt fed, blowback operated, fully automatic weapon. It can fire a variety of 40mm grenades. It is crew transportable over short distances with limited amounts of ammunition. The weapon delivers a heavy volume of accurate and continuous firepower against enemy personnel and lightly armored vehicles, as well as hovering rotary-wing aircraft. It is also able to provide indirect fire into an engagement area from a hidden position.
The Mk44 Bushmaster II 30mm chain gun is the growth version of the M242 Bushmaster. It is capable of firing 30mm ammunition, including new programmable air burst munitions. It has a 60% logistics commonality with the original Bushmaster. The GAU-23/A is the airborne version of the cannon.
The M197 utilized by the AH-1 aircraft is a lightweight short-barreled three-barrel Gatling type gun. It is based on the M61 Vulcan, as it was modified into a lighter three-barrel version by removing three of the barrels, shortening the barrels, and changing the ammunition feed mechanism. The light weight modified Vulcan was type classified as the M197 20mm automatic gun.
The M230 is a single barrel, externally powered, electrically fired, chain driven weapon used on the Apache helicopters. It fires 30mm linkless ammunition.
The 25mm GAU-12/U Equalizer is an externally powered Gatling gun adaptable for air, land and sea platforms. It has significant muzzle energy and combat lethality. These factors provide an effective weapon for a variety of combat missions.
The 25mm GAU-22/A is an externally powered Gatling gun installed in the F-35 Lightning II fighter. This four-barrel gun is a derivative of the 25mm GAU-12/U gun. It is over 40 pounds lighter and occupies 20 percent less volume than the comparably equipped 5-barrel counterpart. The gun is easily configured to mount in either the F-35A internal gun system installation or the F-35B/C missionized gun pods.
The M61 Vulcan is a 6 barreled, rotary action, air cooled, electrically fired weapon. The gun system is mated to a linkless ammunition storage and handling system. Each of the gun's six barrels fires only once during each revolution of the barrel cluster. The six rotating barrels contribute to long weapon life by minimizing barrel erosion and heat generation.
The GAU-8/A Avenger, mounted only on the A-10 attack jet, is a 30mm, 7 barrel gattling gun used primarily in the air to ground role as a soft target killer and tank buster. The gun fires a mix of both high explosive incendiary (HEI) and armored piercing incendiary (API) ammunition.
The GAU-19 is a three-barreled gatling gun ideally suited for scout or utility helicopters and light fixed-wing aircraft. Its high rate of fire, combined with the 12.7mm ammunition's short time of flight, permits reduced exposure time while the gunner is unmasked.
The 40mm Bofors Light Anti-Aircraft Gun, based on a Swedish design and built in Canada, served in a number of different theaters during the Second World War. A derivative design is mounted on the AC-130 gunship, with a shortened barrel and a bell-shaped blast deflector. A flexible hood closes the gun mechanism from the outside and allows for cabin pressurization.
The M102 light towed howitzer was used by the U.S. Army since the Vietnam War. They are no longer fielded as artillery pieces, but some of them were modified by the U.S. Air Force to be fired from the left rear side door of the AC-130 gunship aircraft.