The F-35 successfully tested its onboard cannon for the first time.
On June 9, an F-35A shot its first salvos from its onboard four-barrel GAU-22/A Gatling gun. The gun fires 25-millimetre rounds that can be used to target enemies in both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat.
“As an Air Force pilot, it’s going to be one more thing that I can select to either strafe air-to-ground targets or shoot as an air-to-air weapon,” Maj. Andrew Rollins of the 461st Flight Test Squadron said of the F-35’s weapons capabilities, according to the Air Force.
But video of the test shows a stationary aircraft that doesn’t appear to be running its engines — far from the conditions the plane would face in actual combat.
According to Guns.com, the F-35 cannon can fire 55 rounds per second, but must fire relatively slowly in order to conserve ammunition. That conservation is important for the F-35, as the plane can only hold a 220-round magazine. If fired at 55 rounds per second continuously, the F-35 would run out of ammunition within four seconds.
This small supply of ammunition could pose a problem, as the F-35 is intended to replace the A-10, which can hold 1,350 rounds, for close air support missions. Cannons play an important role in these operations as they can target enemy combatants with less danger of collateral damage than missiles.
Still, the F-35’s cannon packs greater firepower than cannons on previous fighter aircraft.
“The GAU-22/A uses a 25mm shell, which is significantly more powerful than what I’ve been used to in legacy aircraft, the F-16 the F-15E, F-15C – all those aircraft use a 20mm shell,” Rollins said.
You can view a video of the June 9 test below:
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