Pilots from the United States Air Force 388th Fighter Wing’s 4th Fighter Squadron were the first operational unit to fire the F-35As 25mm cannon in a strafing run during training.

According to the US Air Force, the two-ship formation fired on two sets of ground targets on the Utah Test and Training range Aug. 13. Loading and firing the cannon was one of the few capabilities Airmen in the 388th and 419th FWs had yet to demonstrate.

Lockheed Martin say that F-35As internal cannon allows the aircraft to maintain stealth against air adversaries as well as fire more accurately on ground targets, giving pilots more tactical flexibility.

For the F-35A, 180 rounds can be housed in the gun’s linkless ammunition handling system. For the F-35B and F-35C, they both rely on an external gun pod carrying the GAU-22. The GAU-22/A uses a 25mm shell, which is significantly more powerful than what the F-16 the F-15E, F-15C use — all of those aircraft use a 20mm shell.

On June the 9th 2015, a test F-35A shot its first salvos from its four-barrel GAU-22/A Gatling gun.

30 COMMENTS

  1. 180 rounds? 180 rounds??? And there’s been a maximum (but ultimately failed push thank Heavens) to replace the A10 in the CAS role???

    Cheers

      • Actually Lee, the A10 GAU 8 Cannon is laser accurate due to the LAS T / stabilizer system that’s installed. It’s the number 1 requested CAS platform in combat theaters of ops. A 20MM? Wouldn’t let that get within 1000 meters of me.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GAU-8_Avenger

        See my post to you in the other thread concerning the A10 for more info.

        Cheers!

        • The Cannon on the F35 is about 3 times more accurate than that of the A10.

          The A10 is not an ideal CAS platform. It is expensive to keep running, slow and quite outdated (even with the updates it has had). The F35 will be orders of magnitude better, but I would rather have an Apache around as they are brilliant for that role.

          • I believe I have some experience when I speak of the A10 – I was in the CAS / BAI /SAR business for most of my military career. The A10 costs a fraction to operate compared to fastjets / long loiter, heavy armor (far surpassing an Apache’s ability to take damage), massive weapons load, and of course, the gun.

            I will absolutely grant you the 20MM can be wildly inaccurate, but the GAU 8 is not. The Air Battle Captains in the Apaches during SEAD and JAAT ops would always give the A10’s their lead in the actual killing of the worst threats due to their ability to absorb damage. The A10 reigns supreme in CAS for any CAS professional… The F35? Not so much…

            https://www.airspacemag.com/military-aviation/why-the-a-10-survives-180960962/

            Cheers!

          • Gun runs from aircraft such as A-10s and C-130 gunship variants even the old Skyraiders (when they were still in service) are the best form of CAS.
            You do not want set off explosive and incendiary ordnance by bombs or missiles in close proximity to ground forces. Gun runs tend to land EXACTLY where they are aimed. So the only variables to account for become how well trained was the pilot and how well the strike was called in.
            Also you must take into account that helicopters are always going to be to slow. They are wonderful for planned operations where they can be prepositioned. For QRF and units in need of emergency support you need fixed wing support for their speed and loiter time.

          • True Elliot, if you are using blast or fragmentation ordnance close to friendlies it takes time and multiple restrictions to safely work out frag patterns, blast radii, and throw / skip potential. Guns can be used quickly and cleanly as long as there is positive control from the ground and hard “eyes on” with the pilot.

            I have colleagues who have controlled CAS missions which brought A10 30MM within 25 meters of themselves in some very serious combat without harming a hair on their troops. I personally have brought 40MM AC130H Specter rounds down on enemy combatants literally across the street from where I was controlling – still here.

            I am very happy that the PTB “chose” to keep the Hawg…

            Cheers!

          • Lee do you even know what your talking about?
            There’s a reason JTACs and infantry want A10 on station as opposed to anything else.
            What planet are you on? expert on absolutely fuck all.

        • reaper… as are you… I am not sure there was any need for profanity.

          Apaches are far more accurate and are able to make a far greater assessment of the battlefield. I think I would rather have the F35s more accurate gun than the A10s.

          • However, please see Helions reply for the correct way to post a disagreement.

            I bow to his vastly superior knowledge on the subject.

          • get off your knees son, there’s no need to bow to anyone. you’re a man aren’t you? not a servant.

            It’s just another topic you’ve commented, talking rubbish because there’s no first hand experience. absolute walt of the highest order. you weren’t raf reg by any chance?!

          • Apologies to all!

            Didn’t mean to cause affray! It’s just that – like most people – I’m not an expert in much. The one area I DO consider myself an expert in is this particular arena – and only through the”school of hard knocks” as a youngster did I learn many of these lessons I still carry today I assure you :D!

            Cheers!

        • Hellions has been really professional and informative, not to mention modest. A few others could learn from him, makes for a much classier, not to mention useful discussion to follow. Cue more profanities.

  2. Hmmm – wonder if the RAF/RN will even use them – ref. the Typhoon debacle some time ago whereby the RAF wanted to delete the 27mm cannon as a cost save….. as always with British defence…… money, money, money – or lack thereof more often than not!

      • I think money prevailed in the end lol. They were told it would be more expensive to remove them than to keep them I believe.

        • Thats correct. Modern aircraft are finely balanced. It was going to cost more to develop and retrofit a correctly sized and weighted ‘weight’ to replace the cannon than just to leave it there. So it got left. And now they train on it. Sanity by accident than design.

          • Rudeboy – yes correct although I read to compensate for the weight difference an expensive Software upgrade was needed for the FBW System,but having gone to the trouble of fitting it as originally planned but not being able to use it it is now used and maintained etc.

  3. I hate to say it but in Afghan, most of the UK Ops I was on were supported by either A10s or AC130s. We used to call in the GR7/9s but they got replaced by the Tornado which were not as good and had a rubbish loiter time. The Apaches were good, but they had to be pre-positioned and again could only stay on station for a while. The AC130 was perhaps the best asset for local support, but the A10s were King as they not only had the gun but a plethora of other weapons. Its very difficult to describe the noise and the effect when its fired when your nearby, Youtube does not do it justice! Yes the A10’s relatively slow, but they had a better chance of observing and identifying a target which at high speed becomes a problem.
    For CAS you require a long loiter time, a large weapon load and the ability to be re-attack the target if the first pass failed.

    • Even I with no military experience know that the Tornado was designed as an Strike Interdictor at low level at night or poor visibility targeting Warsaw Pact Targets in Eastern Europe.

      It is not a CAS platform!! That they used it replacing our small number of Harriers shows just how poorly equipped we are in some areas.

    • The RN Goalkeeper CIWS mounts had the Avenger cannon.
      It is an absolute monster of a gun ,and yes the noise from it along with the impressive muzzle flash was one of the things I used to love when we fired it…
      That and the smell of cordite….Its a Gunbuster thing…

  4. As our 13 surviving C130’s are being kept for the foreseeable future, I would like to see some ( gunship lite) kits procured for persistent overwatch of our SF.

    The door mounted bushmaster cannon and associated kit would give an extremely useful additional capability, procured in a highly cost effective way.

    • There were rumours DSF wanted this years ago. Never happened AFAIK.

      And Cameron broadcast 2 billion extra for SF. Wonder where the money went?

  5. UK F-35 in a CAS role?
    I dont think so. That would be stupid, to put our most expensive aircraft at risk from peasant with a AK47.
    Our MOD just likes to spend lots of money on very expensive kit, and then not buy enough to make a difference. Not enough P-8’s, not enough submarines, not enough tanks, not enough frigates, you get the picture.
    We should be gutting the MOD and getting more for our money.

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