Firing tests of the 27mm cannon that Boeing is proposing for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) were scheduled to begin in the USA by 12 March. The gun is based on the BK27 cannon developed by Germany's Mauser for the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The cannon is being offered to both JSF teams, led by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Competition is expected to come from General Dynamics with the 25mm GAU-12, says Cal Calvert, manager of 27mm business development at Boeing's Mesa, Arizona-based ordnance division.

The JSF teams are expected to make their gun selections in October or November.

If selected, Boeing would produce the BK27 under licence, with Western Design providing the linear linkless feed and case recovery system. Primex Technologies would produce the 27mm ammunition for the gun.

Primex is developing a high-explosive, dual-purpose round for the gun. Based on a 30mm round used in the AH-64's Boeing-produced chain gun, this will sense whether the target is hard or soft and select between penetration and blast modes, says Calvert. Flight tests are to begin in August.

The BK27, an improved version of the 27mm Mauser cannon used in the Panavia Tornado, fires 1,800 rounds per minute. Calvert says the gun meets the JSF requirement for a minimum slant range of less than 2,700m (9,000ft) and a maximum of 4,300-4,600m. The BK27 also comes in under the JSF primes' weight allowance of 134kg (296lb) for the gun, rising to 238kg with 150 rounds of ammunition.

Calvert says the modernised BK27 has completed a 20,000-round endurance test in Europe, and has been test fired in a centrifuge at 10.2g. Testing in the USA will produce engineering data for use when designing the JSF installation.

Source: Flight International