The US Army is in the market for more 7.62x51mm M134 ‘Miniguns’. A Request for Information (or RFI) was posted on the US Government’s new SAM procurement website on 30th January, 2020. The sources sought notice covers not just the M134 weapon system but also the necessary tools, parts and accessories to keep the guns in action. The ‘market survey’ is seeking “to identify sources/vendors capable of supplying M134” and its accessories.
The US Army primarily mounts the M134 ‘Minigun’ aboard its transport helicopters as a suppression fire and point target engagement weapon to provide support to ground troops or those disembarking from aircraft.
Developed in the late 1950s by General Electric the six barrelled ‘Minigun’ entered production in 1963/4 and has seen action in every US conflict since the Vietnam War. The US Air Force and US Navy also use the ‘Minigun’ under the designations GAU-2/A and GAU-17/A. With a variable rate of fire up to 6,000 rounds per minute the 7.62x51mm full-auto Gatling gun is a formidable and flexible weapon. While General Electric successfully scaled down their 20x102mm rotary-barrel M61 Vulcan aircraft cannon, which had been in development since the late 1940s, the technical package for the weapon has since disseminated with a number of companies offering Minigun-patterned weapons. These companies include Dillon Aero, Garwood Industries and General Dynamics (who produce a .50 calibre variant).
As is usual with RFIs and sources sought notices, the US Army has made clear that the purpose of the notice is to “obtain information from industry to assist in the market research” and shouldn’t be considered “as a Request for Proposal (RFP) or a commitment by the U.S. Government.” The Army has given small companies (of 1,000 or less employees) until the 13th February, 2020 to respond to the questionaire about their capabilities to manufacture the M134 and its parts and accessories. The notice clarifies that ‘parts and accessories’ include: “power supplies, mounts, spare part kits, spare barrels, Support equipment should include maintenance kits and special tools packages.”