The US Air Force’s (USAF) Edwards Base in California has successfully conducted a ground test that demonstrated an F-35A Lightning II joint fighter aircraft (JSF) firing 181 rounds from its four-barrel, 25mm Gatling gun.
Fitted on the F-35A’s left wing, the Gatling gun is aimed to provide pilots with the capability to destroy air-to-ground or air-to-air targets.
The F-35 JSF Integrated Test Force is expected to complete ground testing this month and the airborne gun testing is scheduled to start in the fall.
The aircraft will have an operational gun after the completion of the programme’s system development and demonstration phase in 2017.
Started in June, F-35 gun testing initially witnessed firing from the ground at the base’s gun harmonising range, while the amount of munitions fired gradually increased until the 181 rounds.
The test is aimed to certify the gun’s ability to spin up and down correctly.
An F-35 flight sciences aircraft, AF-2, had received instrumentation modifications in order to perform the testing in addition to the use of GAU-22/A gun.
The gun will be tested with a line production F-35A next year in order to integrate it with the aircraft’s full avionics and mission systems capabilities.
During the test, test pilots will be responsible to observe qualitative effects, such as muzzle flash, human factors, and flying qualities. In July, the USAF activated the first F-35 JSF squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, US.
The squadron becomes the first operational air force unit to fly combat-coded F-35 aircraft, and will start receiving the fifth-generation fighters from September.
Image: An F-35A fired 181 rounds from its four-barrel, 25mm Gatling gun during a ground test at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.