BAE Systems has unveiled a remotely operated gun it is developing as a private venture and offering as a defensive weapon for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor.
The unveiling comes as the US Marine Corps is criticised for deploying the V-22 to Iraq without a weapon that can provide 360° of suppressive fire.
As an interim measure, MV-22Bs making their combat debut in Iraq are armed with a 0.50-calibre gun mounted on the rear loading ramp, but this has a limited field of fire.
BAE Systems remotely operated gun available for installation in the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey
The US Marine Corps has a requirement for an all-aspect defensive weapon. It has looked at a nose-mounted gun turret, but this has weight and vibration problems.
BAE’s Remote Guardian System comprises a GAU-17 7.62mm minigun mounted on a retractable turret that would be installed in the "hell hole" under the V-22’s cabin.
The gun is slaved to a retractable infrared/television sensor turret mounted in a second, forward hell hole and operated by a rear crew member using a hand-held controller.
The operator simply "points and shoots", says BAE, and the weapon system, cued by the sensor, automatically compensates for wind and aircraft motion to ensure the bullets hit the target.
Company-funded development of the system has been under way for two years, and BAE recently completed "fire on the move" stability testing on a land-vehicle test platform.
BAE says it is planning to make the gun system available for installation in the V-22 beginning in the third quarter of 2008.
In September, US Special Operations Command disclosed it is seeking an "interim all-quadrant defensive weapon system" for its CV-22 tiltrotor, with flight testing to begin within 120 days of contract award.