Today we’re taking a closer look at the General Dynamics GAU-19.
Originally called the GECAL 50, this electrically driven gatling gun chambered in 50 bmg entered the design phase in 1982 at General Electric. Originally the design called for six barrels, instead of three seen above. GE wanted to scale up their widely popular M134 minigun. Initially a six barrel variant was built to fire 4,000 rounds per minute, but could be pushed up to a staggering 8,000 rounds per minute. Spinning the barrels up to achieve this rate of fire could be done in an astonishing .4 seconds.
Among the first to adopt it, the United States Navy was quick to recommend this new weapon system as a potential main gun for its V-22 Osprey, although sadly the design was later scrapped. Later in 2005 the Navy began mounting them to their naval helicopters.
General Dynamics in 2010 would take over the project in an effort to shave some weight off the 138 lbs (63 kg) GAU-19/A. Later this variant would be known as the GAU-19/B. A much needed improvement, the “B” variant would shave off an additional 22 lbs, bringing the total weight down to 106lb (48kg). All of this was done at the request of the U.S. Army’s Armed Scout Helicopter Program. Sucessfull tested, the U.S. Army would order 30 of the “B” variants for use on the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior aircraft.
GAU-19 variants have been used on rotary and fixed wing aircraft, as well as naval vessels, and a handful of other land based vehicles.
GAU-19 variants can carry 500-1,200 round m9 linked ammo belts, or can also function with linkless ammo. General Dynamics advertises a rate of fire of either 1,000, 1,300, and 2,000 rounds per minute.