The Air Force Gunsmith Shop has completed the delivery of a new rifle developed for the US Air Force (USAF) aircrew.

The rifle is used in ejection seat aircraft and was designed by Gunsmith Shop, which is a part of the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s (AFLCMC) Armament Directorate.

The 5.56mm calibre rifle weighs 7lb and is based on M4 Carbine. It is known as the Aircrew Self Defense Weapon (GAU-5A).

Under the $2.6m deal, 2,700 rifles have been delivered over two years from February 2018 to January 2020.

Gunsmith Shop chief Richard Shelton said: “We were asked to design a stand-off weapon that was capable of hitting a man-size target at 200m.

“It disconnects at the upper receiver, is located inside the seat kit (of ACES 2 ejection seats), and can be put together within 30 seconds if needed.

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“The original intent of the office was to improve marksmanship and shooting abilities of airmen, and over time the shop grew into what it is today.”

As confirmed by the Small Arms Program Office, the contract to develop the new rifle system was awarded to increase aircrew survivability.

The system requires aircrew to use iron sights.

GAU-5A has been designed and manufactured in close coordination with small arms engineer to provide additional firepower to the downed crew.

Shelton added: “The most rewarding part of my job is getting assets (small arms) through the shop and taking a weapon that has been beat-up and heavily used, and returning it to the user practically brand new.

“The other rewarding thing is when we work with the user community to develop specific weapons for a specific airforce need.”