Last week at the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River, Maryland, US Marines carried out the first successful test of the F-35B’s gun pod, Business Insider has confirmed.
Business Insider previously reported on the first test of the F-35A’s integrated gun, but the gun pod, which will be used on the F-35B and C variants, is an entirely different animal.
Instead of the integrated design of the Air Force’s F-35A, the Marine Corps’ F-35B and the Navy’s F-35C will feature a 220 round, 25 mm gun in a modular pod.
This means that the Navy and Marine variants, which launch from aircraft carriers or amphibious assault vessels, will have the option of excluding the gun to save weight and increase fuel efficiency.
Watch the GAU-22 gun pod fire for the first time below:
While the F-35 has fielded some criticism for its gun, which at 55 rounds per second can empty its entire magazine in under four seconds, the gun actually makes sense for the type of close air support environment the F-35 is expected to operate in.
The much loved A-10 Warthog, which holds 1,350 rounds, is ideal for flying low and slow, loitering in the sky, and delivering their precise fire to provide close air support. However, this only makes sense in an uncontested air space.
The F-35’s smaller magazine capacity reflect the future of close air support as military planners envision it. The F-35 will usher in an era of quick, and precise strikes that leverage a suite of sensors, electronic warfare capabilities, and stealth.
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