Video: F-35 Completes First Aerial Gun Test


The Pentagon's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter engaged its Gatling gun for the first time in flight, the program office announced.

An Air Force F-35A variant of the aircraft, known as AF-2, on Oct. 30 at Edwards Air Force Base in California fired three bursts from its four-barrel GAU-22/A 25mm Gatling gun, according to a statement from the program office.

The test involved one 30-round burst and two 60-found burst from the weapon, which is embedded in the aircraft's left-wing until the pilot pulls the trigger to reduce the plane's radar cross-section, it states.

"It was the first airborne gunfire for the F-35," Maj. Charles Trickey, the test pilot, said in a video released with the statement. "Just going out there today to make sure the functionality, loads ... acoustics -- all that stuff worked. And it absolutely did -- it went about as smooth as you could have expected on the first flight."

The Gatling gun is a four-barrel version of the five-barrel 25mm GAU-12/U Equalizer rotary cannon found on the Marine Corps' AV-8B Harrier II jump set. Both guns are made by General Dynamics Corp.

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The weapon earlier this summer underwent ground testing in which it fired almost a couple of hundred rounds in seconds.

The GAU-22/A is designed to be internally mounted on the Air Force's F-35A version of the aircraft. It's slated to be externally mounted on the Marine Corps' F-35B jump-jet variant and the Navy's F-35C aircraft carrier version and hold slightly more rounds at 220.

The F-35 made by Lockheed Martin Corp. is the Pentagon's most expensive weapons acquisition program, estimated to cost $391 billion to purchase 2,457 aircraft for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy. The Corps this year declared the F-35B ready for initial operations -- albeit with a less lethal version of the aircraft. The Air Force is expected to follow suit in 2016 and the Navy in 2018.

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