Military

F-35A Lightning II fires guns in flight for the first time

F-35A Lightning II fires guns ...
The F-35A Lightning II completed the first three airborne gunfire bursts from its internal Gun Airborne Unit (GAU)-22/A 25mm Gatling gun system
The F-35A Lightning II completed the first three airborne gunfire bursts from its internal Gun Airborne Unit (GAU)-22/A 25mm Gatling gun system
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The F-35A Lightning II completed the first three airborne gunfire bursts from its internal Gun Airborne Unit (GAU)-22/A 25mm Gatling gun system
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The F-35A Lightning II completed the first three airborne gunfire bursts from its internal Gun Airborne Unit (GAU)-22/A 25mm Gatling gun system

A Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft has fired its machine guns for the first time while airborne. The three bursts from the internal Gun Airborne Unit (GAU)-22/A 25mm Gatling gun system mark the second phase of testing to certify that the machine gun configuration is functional in all parts of the F-35A Conventional TakeOff and Landing (CTOL) variant's configurations and flight envelope.

The test was carried out over the Edwards Air Force Flight Test Center's gun harmonizing range in California using the F-35A test aircraft AF-2, which was converted to conform to full-production internal gun installation. The four-barrel, 182-round, 25mm gun is embedded in the F-35A's left wing and covered by a door to reduce its radar signature when not in use. It had previously performed 13 ground firings before the October 30 flight test.

Designed to engage air-to-ground and air-to-air targets, the machine gun is part of the standard armament for all three variants of the 5th generation fighter. The F-35 is designed to combine stealth with fighter speed and agility, as well as advanced sensors and networking capability. Ultimately, it's intended to replace a large number of US combat aircraft, as well as those of 10 other nations.

Lockheed says that the latest test was a major milestone for obtaining US Air Force Initial Operational Capability (IOC) next year. Further testing will be carried out over the next year as the gun is fully integrated into the production F-35's systems and sensor fusion software, which feeds data to the pilot's helmet display. These tests will include air-to-air and air-to-ground exercises and are expected to be completed by 2017.

"The successful aerial gun test sortie was a culmination of several years' planning, which intensified in the first half of 2015 at the Edwards F-35 Integrated Test Force Flight Test Squadron with a team of Air Force, Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman personnel," said Mike Glass, Edwards ITF flight test director. "The results of this testing will be used in future blocks of testing, where the accuracy and mission effectiveness capabilities will be evaluated."

The video below shows the in-flight test firing.

Source: Lockheed Martin

First F-35 Aerial Gun Firing

23 comments
JimRD
Our new Model A - while everyone else is driving a Ferrari.
Captain Danger
@JimRD I'll take a Ford over a Ferrari every time. I also would think cannon would be a more apt description than a machine gun.
owlbeyou
They're building a hyper-expensive machine that is still not battle-ready and could potentially have more growing pains due to its cutting edge technologies. If I was a potential enemy, I would develop ever more superior ground-to-air capability to compensate for having a smaller budget, so that the F-35 can be dealt with as efficiently as can be. The Americans have the deepest pockets to pay for this technology, and will stop at nothing to be on top of the war game business. Spending horrendous amounts of capital of tax payer's money will continue unabated. This feeling of superiority may be based on insecurity and is really not necessary.
Marke
Strange that the lack of maneuverability is said to be irrelevant due to stealth and long range missile capability... yet they've installed a gun in it?
Bob
182 rounds? How long does that last? Less than a second? Add a couple inboard missiles and you have a good short range lightly armed stealth reconnaissance aircraft. Now, add a bunch of missiles under the wings and you get a combat aircraft that is no longer stealthy and horrendously expensive. Without external fuel tanks, it can't have much range. No one design can do everything well. Putting all your eggs in one basket has always been a fundamentally bad idea.
drgnfly004
god help this thing if an enemy gets inside its missle envelope, and it EVER has to engage in ACM (dogfighting) with a 5th gen mig that has an optival lock on it with the Mk1 eyeball. it will be dead
Iman Azol
It's a rotary cannon, not a "machine gun." A machine gun is a crew served or vehicle mounted small arm. The other is a support weapon.
ezeflyer
I agree with Marke. And new fighter jets have been or will soon be made obsolete by drones. This is a huge waste of taxpayers money. Just another boondoggle for the sake of the corporation and the politicians it buys.
chann94501
Dude. It doesn't have machine guns, it has a canon. A machine gun is a small caliber weapon that fires solid projectiles. A canon is a larger caliber weapon that can fire high explosive rounds. Anything much over 0.5 inch caliber is a canon.
Len Simpson
Wonderful! Now all "we" have to is find another bunch of bad guys to justify it's existence, -----& ridiculous costs.