The US’ most advanced F-35 stealth fighters will soon be equipped with its 25mm Gatling guns, which would make them more lethal on the battlefield, according to reports.
American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin is known for fielding some of the most modern aircraft in the world, including the Nighthawk, Blackbird SR-71, and the F-22 Raptors.
And, its most advanced fighter to date, F-35 Lightning II is a single-seat, single-engine, all-weather multirole fighter designed to perform both air superiority and strike missions.
The fighter is incredibly stealthy, has advanced avionics, and can provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
The fighter which comes with an impressive weapons load will turn more lethal with the integration of the Gatling guns.
The four-barrel 25mm Gatling gun, also known as the Gun Airborne Unit, or GAU-22/A, has been designed for rapid-fire so as to quickly blanket an enemy with gunfire and to destroy targets.
The weapon’s maker General Dynamics, said in a statement that it can fire 3,300 rounds per minute. It has been under development for a number of years and was successfully test-fired in California back in 2015.
“This milestone was the first in a series of test flights to functionally evaluate the in-flight operation of the F-35A’s internal 25mm gun throughout its employment envelope.” according to a Pentagon statement.
The integration of the gun to the F-35 has been carried out in separate phases, with the first phase of test execution consisting of 13 ground gunfire events. According to the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) office, this was carried out over a period of three months to verify the integration.
On the other hand, the second phase of testing was aimed at the further integration of the gun into the fighter’s airframe during various types of flying conditions.
The integration of the weapon to the F-35 stealth fighter will further enhance its ability to carry out air-to-air attacks and provide close air support to troops on the ground.
According to reports, the gun is also set to be integrated with the fighter jet’s software, which will enable the pilot to spot and take down targets with the help of his helmet-mounted display.
The F-35 is the most sought-after fighter in the world currently, with the demand coming from the Middle East and a host of other nations. It is already in service with nine nations.
The US F-35 is probably the only fighter that has the ability to take on the lethal Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems.
The F-35s and F-22 Raptors are the most capable fighters, especially due to their advanced stealth features, which enable them to evade detection on enemy radars.
Anything installed on the F-35 needs to be integrated in a manner that the fighters remain stealthy as ever, and the integration of the Gatling gun has not made any impact on its stealth configuration.
A statement released by the JSF office said, “Three bursts of one 30 rounds and two 60 rounds each were fired from the aircraft’s four-barrel, 25-millimeter Gatling gun. In integrating the weapon into the stealthy F 35Aairframe, the gun must be kept hidden behind closed doors to reduce its radar cross-section until the trigger is pulled.”