F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter

General Dynamics (GD) has been awarded a contract by Lockheed Martin to deliver more than two dozen GAU-22/A gun systems in support of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF).

Under the $23.6m contract, the company will develop and deliver the lightweight GAU-22/A systems, a four-barrel version with improved accuracy over the GAU-12/U 25mm Gatling gun, for installation onboard the F-35 JSF.

The GAU-22/A gun system has a firing rate of 3,300 rounds per minute and can be installed internally or externally on the F-35 depending on the aircraft variant.

General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products armament systems vice president and general manager, Steve Elgin, said: "The GAU-22/A’s reliability lends a significant advantage in lower aircraft maintenance costs, while the gun’s high rate of fire and increased range bring air superiority in tactical air-to-air and air-to-ground combat situations."

The Lockheed-built F-35 Lightning II, currently under development, is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth-generation multirole fighters designed with stealth capability to perform ground attack, reconnaissance and air defence missions.

The supersonic F-35 JSF is equipped with an electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) that provides long-range detection, precision targeting and advanced efficient higher-capacity avionics.

The aircraft, set to replace the A-10, the AV-8 Harrier, the F-16 and the F/A-18 Super Hornet, combines advanced stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully-fused sensor information, network-enabled operations, advanced sustainment and lower operational and support costs.

The JSF programme is principally financed by the US, with additional funding from the UK and seven international partners, namely Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and Turkey.

Work on the $23.6m contract will be carried out at the company’s facility in Saco, Maine, US with programme management and engineering to be performed at GD Technology Centre in Williston, Vermont, US.

The company is also producing and supplying advanced, lightweight composite radomes for the F-35 aircraft under a separate contract.

Image: GD to provide GAU-22/A gun systems for the Lockheed Martin-built F-35A Lightning II JSF for the USAF.