For between $98 million and $108 million each, it’s possible for America to still make a fighter jet with a gun that works. The Air Force’s F-35A, the cheapest version of America’s newest and priciest stealth fighter, successfully fired its 25mm gatling gun in midair on October 30th.
The first is 30 rounds, and the second and third are each 60 rounds. After firing, the F-35A pilot would have 31 rounds of its initial 181 left in its gun. The gun fires at 3,000 rounds per minute, which means a pilot can be out of ammunition in under four seconds of combat. The Marines’ F-35B and the Navy’s F-35C variants will each carry 220 rounds of ammunitionin external “conformal pods”, rather than internally like in the F-35A. Their guns run out of ammo after six seconds of firing instead.
In normal flight, the gun is hidden behind a retractable panel, so it doesn’t take away from the plane’s stealthy profile. F-35 makers at Lockheed Martin say the gun “will provide pilots with the ability to engage air-to-ground and -to-air targets.” Since pilots have it, that’s invariably how they will use it, but it’s likely to be a worse tool for attack than the guns on the planes the F-35 is replacing. The 20mm gun carried by the F-16 fighter-bombers deploys a smaller round each burst, but it also carries over 500 rounds of ammunition to battle. The F-35 is also replacing the A-10 ground attack plane, whose powerful 30mm cannon was fed by a magazine holding 1,350 rounds of ammunition. As it replaces both of these planes, F-35 pilots will have the gun as an option in battle, but to win a fight, they may need to rely on other weapons first.
Watch a clip of the firing below, in which F-35 test pilot Maj Charles “Flak” Trickey discusses the flight:
Original article found here.