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US Army Tests New Gatling Gun for Reconnaissance Aircraft

The US Army has tested the capabilities of a new 20mm Gatling gun, which will be mounted on the service’s next-generation Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA).

Tested for the first time at the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, the new weapon system will serve as a rotary cannon mounted on a turreted cradle to allow it to hit targets regardless of the aircraft’s direction of travel.

According to US Army flight test chief Lt. Col. Cameron Keogh, the Gatling gun can fire at high speed and with improved accuracy. He expressed his approval of the weapon, citing his experience as a previous attack and recon pilot.

Last year, the service presented a 20mm Gatling-style gun called the XM915 that can fire up to 1,500 rounds per minute and weighs under 115 pounds (52 kilograms). The three-barrel weapon uses a linkless carrier drive system for ammunition.

Weapon engineers said that the gun could provide sufficient range and lethality to the army while minimizing system weight and forces applied to the FARA.

“We have been able to accomplish a significant amount of engineering development. These next few years of development and testing are critical to push technology to the warfighter,” acting Future Vertical Lift (FVL) acquisition lead Michael Colonnello remarked in 2020.

Gatling Gun Development

Developers of the XM915 weapon system were told that the FARA aircraft prioritizes lightweight platform and mission system technologies for increased mobility and survivability during reconnaissance missions.

In response, weapon engineers conducted thousands of modeling and combat-derived simulation runs to fit the weapon’s capabilities to a representative aircraft.

According to acting FVL Science and Technology Lead Daniel DiMartino, the developers considered the aircraft elevation and position, rate of fire and accuracy, ammunition characteristics, and target type to provide engineering data for product development.

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